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Lessons in Love: Expressions of Love

It is one thing to love and quite another to feel loved. Without feeling loved, you may become disillusioned with your partner and your relationship. To make your partner feel loved and appreciated, it is essential to understand how best to express love so that your partner can feel it and to be open with your partner about what helps you feel most loved.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is no standard on how to express love, and partners can vary greatly in how they most feel loved. Rather than finding a partner who shares the same love language as you, you can benefit your relationship by having a conversation with your partner about how he or she feels most loved.

A popular theory on love concerns the Five Love Languages identified by Gary Chapman. In essence, the theory states that people feel loved in different ways. This is normal, and it is something that partners must pay attention to if they plan to sustain intimacy and passion in their relationships. The five love languages that Chapman identifies are:

  1. Quality Time
    A high score on quality time means you feel loved when your partner gives you his or her undivided attention. You desire spending one-on-one time with your partner and feel loved when he or she makes time for you.
  2. Acts of Service
    This language refers to taking action to do something for your partner, from washing the dishes to picking the kids up from school.
  3. Words of Affirmation
    Partners who desire words of affirmation feel loved when you validate and compliment them. They feel loved when you directly voice your love and appreciation.
  4. Physical Touch
    A high score on physical touch means you feel loved when your partner cuddles with you, holds your hand, kisses and hugs you. It does not refer exclusively to sexual intimacy but encompasses all modes of physical affection, and love is felt most when you partner initiates touch with you.
  5. Receiving Gifts
    Partners who score high on this love language feel most loved when they receive gifts. The gifts do not need to be big or elaborate because it is the thought that counts.

Partners tend to express love in ways that reflect how they feel most loved. Thus, if you feel loved when an intimate partner performs acts of service for you, you are more likely to automatically express love to your partner through acts of service. Often our love languages develop from what we were exposed to growing up by witnessing our parents and experiences in other relationships. Distance can manifest in a relationship if partners do not match in their love languages or refuse to make efforts to better understand what makes a partner feel loved.

Chapman notes that successful relationships are made not by changing your partner to prefer your language but by making the effort to speak your partner’s language, no matter what. If your partner’s main love language is physical touch but you are not a touchy-feely person, it is your responsibility to find a way to meet your partner’s needs for love. If gifts do not mean much
to you but your partner scores high on the receiving gifts love language, you need to work on ways to change your behavior so you can speak your partner’s love language.

Take some time to identify what makes you feel loved and try to guess what your partner prefers. Then take this quiz with your partner and see if you were right. Some partners in healthy intimate relationships will naturally seek out ways to learn the other’s love language, but many partners are not aware of how normal it is for partners to vary in how they most feel loved. Start having the conversation with your partner today, and find new ways to express love in your relationship.

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