by Langa Mohlala
In simple terms, a love language is defined as the way in which a person gives and receives love. The five love languages are: words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service, giving/receiving gifts and quality time. If you are in a relationship and are unsure of what your love language is, you can complete this quiz. If you are single and do not know your love language, complete this quiz.
According to Dr Gary Chapman, author of the Five Love Languages series, being able to speak a love language will help you strengthen your relationships. It will also help you “to understand yourself and others better, grow closer to loved ones, gain courage to express your emotions and affection, and so much more”. Conversely, not being able to understand or speak one partner’s love language could result in feeling misunderstood and unloved, which could lead to conflict.
Incorporating love languages into one’s relationship seems daunting – especially in the case of couples who do not speak the same love language – but it is neither difficult nor impossible. Here’s what you should do and avoid when speaking each love language:
1. Words of affirmation.
DO: Use your words! Encourage your partner and tell them you love them. Tell them why you appreciate them, and write them notes/send them texts to show how much you care (the more detailed, the better). This may seem tedious on your part, but people with this love language value verbal appreciation. This could be as a result of them not being appreciated enough in the past, so the constant reminder will make them feel valued and seen.
AVOID: Saying harsh words in a fit of rage, even if you “don’t mean them”. Your loved one will definitely take them to heart and will use these words to question or cancel out the good you have said and done. Avoid having a lack of communication, as they will feel unwanted.
2. Acts of Service
DO: Consider the saying “actions speak louder than words”. Think about how you can make their lives easier or less stressful. Consider ways in which you can show your love through your actions. Offer to help them if you see they are struggling – ask, “what can I do to help you?”.
AVOID: Going back on promises and neglecting your duties. Do not expect anything in return, and do not hold the things you’ve done for them over their head. This is manipulative, and will make them feel like they can’t rely on you.
3. Giving/Receiving Gifts
DO: Surprise them with meaningful gifts – big or small (it’s the thought that counts). Ensure that the gifts are sentimental. Give gifts that represent the things they love & value or are important to your relationship (e.g. charm bracelets or a printed and framed photo of you with a cheesy message on it). Reward them for their achievements/successes and gift them something that will comfort them in times of sadness.
AVOID: Not giving them something on special occasions (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.). Remember that gifts don’t always have to be extravagant – they will be appreciated as long as they are meaningful. Don’t make your loved one feel undeserving of gifts.
4. Quality Time
DO: Always make time for and spend time with them – whether it’s by calling/texting/video chatting every day or my making plans to regularly meet up. Give them your full attention – this will make them feel valued.
AVOID: Giving excuses and flaking out on them last minute. Also avoid making them feeling like you could be doing something more important when you are with them.
5. Physical Touch
DO: Remember that physical touch is not just about sexual physical contact. Remember to give them gentle touches whenever you talk to them, and allow them to lean on you for comfort. Make time for cuddles and do not shy away from PDA – this will especially help to calm their nerves or ease their anxiety.
AVOID: Touching them inappropriately – especially without their consent. Do not emphasize or point out their physical flaws when you touch them. Don’t make them think that these flaws are keeping you from loving them, as this will make them feel incredibly insecure.
It is important to understand and love someone else in their love language, but it is also important to give that love to yourself. Be sure to:
• Encourage yourself. Write love letters to yourself and read them when you are feeling down.
• Do your best to make life easier for yourself – don’t bite off more than you can chew when completing tasks.
• Treat yourself every once in a while. Buy yourself a chocolate or prepare your favourite meal/dessert as a reward.
• Take lots of breaks. Relax and unwind.
• Give yourself a hug. It sounds silly, but you will feel better.
RuPaul said it best: If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else?