As a professional matchmaker at an elite dating agency, I am always keeping abreast of the latest psychological research into romantic relationships. Recently, I read Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages. What really strikes me about this book is how, in just a few pages – and in concise yet incisive points – Chapman explains the most common relationship problems, before pointing the reader straight to the solutions. We are all different: we all come from different backgrounds and cultures and have different life experiences, so it only follows that we all communicate in different ways, too. Chapman believes each of us has an ‘emotional tank’ within us, waiting to be filled with love. As we each perceive and feel love in different ways, the key to a great relationship is to learn to speak the ‘language’ of the other person.
Language #1: words of affirmation
People who speak this language need to hear “I love you”, “I’m proud of you”, “Great job” etc. to feel loved and appreciated. If you are dating someone who speaks this language, remember that words can be of profound value to them. Positive verbal communication, whether compliments, words of encouragement and appreciation or little notes or text messages will all contribute to making them feel truly cherished. On the other hand, any negative or harsh comments and unconstructive criticism will have the direct opposite impact – and won’t be easily forgotten.
Language #2: quality time
People who speak this language need someone’s undivided attention to feel truly connected. My husband and I are a good example. We both feel affection by spending quality time together. We realise how important it is to schedule in ‘us’ time amidst our work commitments, school runs and family obligations, to ensure we keep our ‘love tanks’ topped up. It could be a trip away or a date night; it could be going for a walk or setting aside time to catch up after a busy day. It could be an evening spent cooking and laughing together. And all of these, of course, must be without the distraction of phones or laptops.
Language #3: receiving gifts
These are people to whom it is especially important to ‘see’ love. For them, receiving a gift is a demonstration of love; it is a token to behold, and to perceive as confirmation of their partner’s love for them. The gravity of these gifts is often not grounded in their monetary worth, as a friend of mine, who herself identifies with this language, explained. For her, it could be a shell found on a beach whilst on holiday; tickets to see her favourite band; or picking up her favourite sweets whilst doing the weekly grocery shopping. If you are in a relationship with someone who speaks this language, try not to forget their birthday or that important anniversary. Be an enthusiastic giver; go out of your way to come up with not the most expensive, but the most thoughtful, gift.
Language #4: acts of service
People to whom actions speak louder than words. If you are in a relationship with someone who expresses love by doing things for you, going out of your way to make their life easier and helping them, even with just everyday, seemingly trivial, tasks shows them that you truly care. Cooking a meal; loading the dishwasher; running errands; simply saying “let me do that for you” – all are perfect ways to demonstrate just how much you love them.
Language #5: physical touch
Physical contact is an obvious way of demonstrating love. People who identify this as being their primary language often take it a step further, though – because physical proximity is crucial for them to keep the feeling of intimacy alive. This doesn’t mean that they require awkward public displays of affection, and it also doesn’t relate only to matters of the bedroom. Holding hands, lots of hugs and a kiss goodbye before going to work – even just sitting close to each other whilst you watch your favourite show – all of these acts satiate your partner’s need for physical touch and serve to reassure them.
It is so important to be in tune with not only the language that you speak, but that which your partner speaks. The key to any successful relationship is understanding what turns your partner on, what satisfies them emotionally, what kind of affection and reassurance they need and crave – and adapting your own actions accordingly. This leads to a partnership that is strong and built on empathy, compassion, mutual comprehension – and a solid foundation of profound love.
If you feel like you want to talk through your own ‘love language’, whether you are in a relationship or not, why not book in for a session with Vida’s in-house relationship coach? Madeleine Mason Roantree has over fifteen years’ experience in helping all manner of individuals with their dating and relationship woes. Feel free to get in touch to discuss further.