When You & Your Partner Have Different Love Languages: 6 Ways To Cope

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You Your Partner Different Love Languages

How do you show love? How do you want to be loved? Communication can become a huge problem in relationships if you and your partner speak different love languages. Here’s how you can nurture your relationship even if you express love differently.

What are love languages?

American author Gary Chapman developed The Five Love Languages which refers to the various ways couples communicate and express their love for each other to their partners. The 5 Love Languages, according to Chapman, include –

1. Words of Affirmation

Using pleasing words or written notes to express love, like “I’m so lucky to have you,”  “I love you,” etc.

2. Acts of Service

Doing things that your partner will like and appreciate, like helping with household chores, cooking dinner etc.

3. Receiving Gifts

Small and thoughtful tokens of affection and love that shows your partner how well you know and appreciate them. These don’t have to be expensive. The effort and intention matters most.

4. Quality Time 

Spending more time with your partner and paying them your undivided attention shows them that you value them more than anything else.

5. Physical Touch 

Hugging, holding hands, kissing, massaging and cuddling are an intimate way of expressing love. Physical contact, sexual or non-sexual, can convey a lot of uncorrupted emotions effectively.

Read also: The 5 Love Languages: How To Love and Be Loved

Understanding your and your partner’s love languages helps you realize how you want to receive love and how you should express love to strengthen your bonding. It helps to build a more intimate emotional connection in romantic relationships.

What happens when you speak different love languages

What if your love language is physical touch while your partner feels loved through words of affirmation? What happens when both of you express love in dramatically different ways? Although opposite may attract, speaking different love languages can often lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding in romantic relationships. But there is no reason to worry if you and your partner express love differently. Not all of us speak the same language of affection. We are all unique and express love and want to receive love in our own unique way.

According to an article in The Atlantic, “If you sit down and read Chapman’s book, it’s clear that the love language you’re meant to think about isn’t your own, but your partner’s.” And that is exactly where the problem lies. Most of us express love the way we want to be shown love. So, if your love language is quality time, then you will expect your partner to spend more time with you and show your love by giving them your valuable time. However, if your partner’s love language is receiving gifts, then it can lead to some degree of confusion. “So what do you do when you and your partner are speaking different love languages? Communication is the key.” writes Mary E. Pritchard, PhD, HHC, Psychology professor at Boise State University. The truth is, you can still have a healthy, loving relationship even if you speak different love languages. All you need to do is put in the right amount of effort to identify each other’s preferred love language and understand your partner’s needs from the relationship. 

Read also: Love Languages Redefined: Decoding The “Sixth” Language Of Love

Ask your partner how they tend to feel most loved,” explains relationship expert Gal Szekely, MA, MFT. When you know what your partner needs and how they want to be loved, you can give them exactly that. Licensed psychologist Jennifer B. Rhodes saysShift the perception of why the person is not showing you the ‘right’ love to becoming curious about how to learn to better communicate your needs.” So as long as you and your partner are honest with each other about your needs from the relationship, it wouldn’t matter if you speak the same love language or not. By asking your partner what they need and expect from you, you will encourage them to ask you about your needs and expectations. This way, both of you will understand each other better and meet one another’s needs. 

Coping with different love languages

If you and your partner do not speak the same love language and if it is leading to some misunderstanding in your relationships, then here are a few steps that can help you rekindle the spark and express & receive love in a better way:

1. Realize that it’s okay to express love differently

Our love language is often based on our personality, attachment style and past experiences. If you were raised in a family where love was not expressed in an open and physical way, then you might be uncomfortable showing love to your partner through physical contact, even if it is their love language. You may express love through words of affirmation or acts of service as they don’t require any physical touch. And that is perfectly fine as long as you communicate that with your partner.

2. Identify your love language

As Chapman has described Five Love Languages, it is important that you find out what your preferred language is when it comes to love. Do you love receiving gifts or do you prefer spending time with your partner? Or do you prefer old fashioned handwritten love letters? Understand your own love language and find out how you express love.

Read also: What Is Your Love Language? Take This 6 Question Quiz To Find Out

3. Know your partner’s love language 

It is actually easier than you think. All you need to do is pay attention to what your partner does and says. Notice what makes them feel better. What do they appreciate about you? How do they show love to you? What makes them feel upset and when do they complain? Or you can choose to take Chapman’s online quiz to avoid any misunderstandings.

Once you have figured it out and if you and your partner have different love languages, then take an effort to speak it. Show love to them the way they want you to. Express your love the way your partner understands it best. It might be difficult initially as you are learning a new language, but in the end it will be more than worth it.

Read also: 6 Easy Steps To Understand Your Partner’s Love Language

4. Compromise

When you’re in a relationship, it is important that you learn to compromise. Relationships are complicated and it is crucial that sometimes we give up a few things to make sure the relationship works. Nobody likes to compromise, but we can’t really avoid it in a relationship. Sometimes you win, sometimes you let your partner win. You need to start spending more time with your partner despite your busy schedule, if quality time is their love language. Similarly, your partner needs to communicate their love through appreciative and loving words, if words of affirmation is your language. Chapman explainsIf you don’t learn to speak your partner’s language, they won’t feel loved and nurtured – and vice versa.” If you want to have a happy relationship, compromise. 

5. Communicate your needs

It’s normal to have different languages, but the key is to be clear with your partner about what you are needing versus assuming that since they know, they ‘should’ be delivering on it,says clinical sexologist and psychotherapist Dr. Kristie Overstreet. Presuming that your partner is unable to read your mind, you need to communicate your expectations and needs from them. However, it is also important that you have realistic expectations from the relationship. Unless they know what you want from them, they will be unable to make the same amount of compromises for you that you are making for them. And this can lead to bitterness and resentment. This is how relationships become complicated. Speaking different love languages is not the problem, not communicating openly is.

Read also: The Love Tank Theory – How To Make Love Last

6. Focus on growth

When you are in a happy and healthy relationship, you learn and grow together as individuals and as a couple despite your differences. Even toxic relationships can teach us a lot about ourselves and about life. Understanding different love languages and speaking your partner’s language can add to your growth and strengthen your relationship. This is why it is important that you focus on the opportunities for growth in your relationship, instead of the differences. The more you learn about each other, the better your bond will become.

Read also: Work-Life Balance: How To Not Let Your Career Kill Your Love Life

Love and be loved, the right way

Your relationship can thrive even if you speak different love languages. Love language is just one of the aspects of a relationship that makes it meaningful and valuable. As long as you are willing to compromise, have realistic expectations and communicate your needs, both you and your partner will find new ways to strengthen your emotional connection. Although you may speak different languages of love, you will still be sharing your love with each other.

Hence, it is crucial that you appreciate their effort to show you love, even if it is not in your preferred language for the time being. You also need to remember that you should never force your partner to change their love language or compel them to learn yours. This is why compromise is so important. Let this be a natural and mutual process of communication, expression, learning and growth. 

Love is beautiful in every language as long as you express it from your heart. So make sure that you are patient, open and supportive. That’s how relationships work.

Read also: How Unconditional Love Can Transform Your Relationship

Here is an interesting video that you may find helpful:


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