Madissyn Fredericks, Licensed Professional Counselor, Symmetry Counseling

Every person wants to feel loved by their partner, and at the same time, wants their partner to feel loved by them. When this is not the case, one partner may feel unloved or misunderstood. We all express and feel love differently, and understanding those differences can help enhance your relationship. Dr. Gary Chapman discovered five ways to express or receive love in his book, The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. These “love languages” he refers to include: words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, quality time, and physical touch. It is important to pay attention to how you give or show love to others because this is most likely your love language. Your partner’s love language may be evident through simply observing your partner or by listening what they ask for. For example, they may ask for a back rub, an indicator they appreciate physical touch. The five love languages described by Dr. Gary Chapman are described in more detail below.

1. Words of Affirmation: When was the last time you told your partner why you love them or how wonderful they are? Words of affirmation are kind, encouraging, and supportive and they want to hear how you feel about them or what you think of them.

2. Acts of Service: Acts of service include doing the dishes after dinner, taking the dog for the evening walk for your partner, or bringing them breakfast in bed. Acts of service is all about doing something nice for the one you care about.

3. Gift Giving: Gift giving is a symbolic and thoughtful way of expressing love and affection. Examples include sending flowers or a note to express your feelings for another.

4. Quality Time: Quality time is about the experiences you share with your partner. How do you spend your time together? Do you make the most of it? Uninterrupted and undistracted time may mean the world to the one you love.

5. Physical Touch: Physical touch can include sex, holding hands, kissing, or even touching your partner’s leg. With this love language, the individual feels affection through physical touch and closeness.

It is ideal if you and your significant other have a common love language such as quality time that you both enjoy because it makes it easy to express and feel love. However, if your love languages don’t match up, it doesn’t mean you aren’t compatible. For example, if your love language is words of affirmation and your partner’s is physical touch, you may have to adjust how you are showing affection and vice versa. You may have to learn what kind of physical touch your partner needs from you and make a conscious effort to do that for them regularly. Figuring out how to show your partner you love them using their preferred language can only bring you closer together. Many believe if you are both speaking each other’s love language, you are setting yourselves up for success in your relationship.

If you would like to know more about you or your partner’s love language and need some guidance, it may be useful to connect with a therapist. Contact Symmetry Counseling to set up an appointment with one of our highly skilled therapists at one of our two Chicago locations.