What makes you feel appreciated by your partner? Is it when he gives you his undivided attention, or when she holds your hand? How do you show your partner you love them? Do you tell them? Gift him a new gadget? Or do you make sure things are taken care of at home?
The ways that we communicate love are called love languages. When partners speak the same language, they often naturally feel closer to one another. But when you have different love languages, it can be surprisingly easy to hurt your partner’s feelings, or vice versa.
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Dr. Gary Chapman identified five categories that describe how people receive love. They are:
Do you know which one most speaks to you? What about your partner? Both of you can take a quick quiz to find out how the two of you are receiving love from each other.
The love language with the highest score is your primary love language. You can look at how all five languages compare to one another. You may find that two love languages have similar scores, while one language lags far behind.
Most men and women in the United States report that their top love language is quality time, while the least common love language is receiving gifts. While these trends are similar for men and women, in fact, most couples report having different primary love languages.
Some love language pairings are more compatible than others. Cuddling is a great way to combine quality time with physical touch. For a couple with gifts and acts of service in their top slots, giving gifts can include doing something nice for the other person. And deep discussions can combine words of affirmation and quality time.
On the flip side, hurt feelings can pop up if either you or your partner don’t know how to express love in other love languages than the ones you score highest in.
Can people with less compatible love languages work in a relationship?
A successful relationship depends on open communication. If you and your partner have different love languages, you have to tell your partner what showing love looks like to you. To forge a deeper connection with each other, you have to speak openly about your needs.
Making sure your partner feels loved by using their preferred love language does not necessarily come easy to everyone.
If your primary love language is one that your partner scores low on, it can feel impossible to get on the same page. But there are many ways to combine love languages.
Here are 13 ways to show your person you love them, even when you have mismatched love languages.
Movie marathons are a great way to combine physical touch and spend meaningful time together. Cuddle up on the couch and pick a series to binge together.
You can add words of affirmation by telling him how much you love doing this with each other.
Does he want to see a film that’s coming out? Gift him with a pair of tickets (don't forget the popcorn).
If he’s an acts-of-service person, make sure he knows that you’ve gotten everything ready beforehand. All he has to do is sit down and relax.
Dance lessons make for a great gift, especially if either of you scores highly in physical touch. If you both love it, you could make regular lessons a way to spend quality time in each other’s arms.
As an act of service, you can help to clear his calendar of chores and tasks before you head to your lessons. When he’s not worrying about the dog or the dishes, he can be more relaxed and focused on you.
If your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, make sure you compliment his dancing. Even if he’s not so great yet, he’ll appreciate the acknowledgement.
After a rough day, you probably want to spend time with your partner. While talking about your day, hold hands to meet both of your touching needs. Hand-holding is shown to improve communication.
Telling him how much this means to you can be an affirmation that you appreciate his time.
As an act of service, have some refreshments ready for both of you - tea, coffee, or even just a cup of water can show him you want him to be comfortable. If you know he appreciates gifts, consider stopping on the way home to pick up his favorite snack.
By using your words, you are affirming that your relationship is important. Following through on the tasks or gifting them with a service or tool is also a great way to express your love by taking tasks off of his plate.
Offer to give him a hand massage, if he appreciates touch. There are many benefits to daily hand massages, even if you’re not a professional masseur. Take the opportunity to spend quiet time together.
Tell him what you like most about his body. He might be surprised to hear what you like - a lot of men want compliments but don’t often get them. Add a physical touch to these words of affirmation by touching him as you talk.
Putting into words how he makes you feel can be a wonderful and reassuring gift. Invite him to spend time writing with you or read poems together that remind you of your relationship.
Use a heavy stock paper when you give it to him if he’s a touch person, or have it framed so that he can put it somewhere special without having to figure out the best way to preserve it.
Dr. John M. Gottman calls the part of your mind that stores important information about your partner your love map. Love mapping is a way to strengthen your relationship by asking and answering questions about each other.
This activity naturally leads itself to quality time and words of affirmation, but can also be gifted with a couple’s question card game. Getting a card game can also be an act of service that takes the work out of thinking of questions to ask!
This activity can also lead to you touching each other if you specifically discuss what touch means to you.
Who doesn’t love getting a massage? You could always get each other gift cards for a professional, but massages at home can also be a great way to feel connected.
Massages can be an act of service that literally removes the stress of the day from the recipient. Don’t rush. Make sure you have at least 20 minutes to devote to each other.
Meaningful gifts don’t have to be something you bought. Provide him with a book of coupons for tasks around the house, a sexy getaway, or even just time to lay in bed together.
Make sure you don’t just put them in his hand. Tell him why you’re giving this gift: you love and appreciate him, and want to give him something to show that.
Has he been working on something for the house? Spending quality time together can be as easy as joining him. Consider making him a care basket with snacks, drinks, or any small item that he would usually need to hunt down on his own.
Asking him about the project is a great way to tell him you care.
A matching set of pajamas can be a fun way to think of each other when you’re together or apart. The feeling of the pajamas when they fall asleep will remind them of you. Include embroidery of your special pet names for each other.
On a lazy morning, you both can wear your PJs while watching TV, and you can surprise him by making an easy brunch or his favorite flavor of coffee.
Golden hour is a great time to take a walk. Offer to be in charge of the leash, if Spot is coming with, so that your partner can focus on you. With winter on the way, think about gifting him a scarf or a pair of gloves.
Talk about your day, and make a point to mention anything that made you think of him. Walking together can be good for your health and good for your relationship.
Date night is important for any relationship, and date jars are a thoughtful gift. Fill the jar with activities that both of you enjoy, and you and your partner can alternate picking a weekend activity. Try writing the date idea on one side, and an aspect of your relationship that you love on the other.
The great thing about this gift is that it takes the guesswork out of finding the perfect date. You can have dates where you make gifts for one another, do a physical activity together, or guarantee private time together.
Love languages where activities can overlap tend to be the most compatible. These tend to be physical touch and quality time, words of affirmation and quality time, and receiving gifts and acts of service.
Talk to each other about how you experience love. When you can work together to find actions and activities that meet both of your needs, you can make sure that you are both expressing love in a way that connects.
Receiving gifts is the least common of the primary love languages, among both men and women in the United States. That doesn’t mean your partner won’t appreciate the occasional gift, but consider combining it with another love language.
Absolutely! It’s common for one partner to receive love differently than the other. In a healthy relationship, those incompatibilities can be addressed with intentional compromise.
While many people expect physical touch to be the top love language for men, in reality, it’s quality time. Find ways to spend time with him, whether that is joining him in an activity or simply making time at the end of your day to talk.
When your love languages are incompatible with your partner’s, it can take a little extra work to make sure you are connecting with each other. But you can meet any love language need by being creative.
If you have date ideas that make your partner feel loved, share them in the comments!