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Understanding your partner’s love language

Understanding your partner’s love language

What is love? From the lens of a therapist, it is a mixture of three basic components: intimacy, passion, and commitment. As per American psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, there are some basic fundamental things that we need in life to survive. Apart from the run-of-the-mill food, water, and shelter, we need belongingness, and we need to be able to love and be loved. As human beings, we survive on love and crave it from others and ourselves too. Love is an important potion required to survive, grow, nourish, adapt, and live. There are five love languages which are innate ways of expressing love. Everyone receives and expresses fondness and attachment differently in a relationship. These five ways are quality time, physical touch, acts of service, words of affirmation, and gifting. Knowing your partner’s preferred love language is important to understand how to care and show love to them.

Let’s understand the different love languages in depth:

1. Quality Time

Someone who has this love language would ideally want undivided attention. This means you will have to put down your phone, actively listen to your partner and make proper eye contact while you’re with them. Quality time can be spent while sharing a meal with your partner or learning a new skill together like pottery, painting, dancing, or even going for a vacation together.

If your partner’s love language is quality time, you should:

Have conversations:
Your partner will enjoy talking about different things, scenarios, and experiences. Make room for conversations about movies, tv shows, and different things you notice in daily life, among other topics of interest.

This is a critical factor for those who give importance to quality time. Acknowledge them by maintaining eye contact, nodding your head in approval, and actively listening to your partner without unnecessarily interrupting.

Give undivided attention:
Whenever you’re with your counterpart, it is important to make them feel important, this could be achieved by staying off your phone, emails, etc. and talking as less about work as possible. To separate your work life from your relationship is extremely crucial

2. Physical Touch

People with physical touch as a preferred form of expression, feel loved with direct physical contact with their partner. Different people function on different forms of physical affection and touch. This does not indicate only sex, contrary to popular belief, it simply means an affectionate touch — a pat on the back, holding hands, cuddling while being on the couch etc. It could also mean no physical contact but just the mere presence of your partner around you. It is more to do with proximity here and not purely about physical touch.

If your partner’s love language is physical touch, you should:

Non-sexual gestures:
It is important to understand that physical touch is much more than just body touching, it has to do with affection in proximity that is separate from sexual intercourse. Simple gestures such as holding hands, resting your hand on them, or just sitting closely, all such gestures induce romantic security.

It is important to reassure your partner that you are there for them. Physical presence makes them feel at ease, and gestures like giving lots of hugs and kisses, physical affirmations through holding hands, patting on the back, running your hands through their hair, massaging when your partner is tired, caressing their body etc. can also be helpful.

3. Words of Affirmation

Affirmations are positive expressions reinforcing affection through spoken words, praise, and appreciation. If your partner’s primary love language is words of affirmation, they require kind words that are uplifting, love notes, mushy text messages, sharing photos of each other, etc. You can brighten up your partner’s day simply by complimenting them and being grateful for the things that they do for you.

If your partner’s love language is words of affirmation, you should:

Say “I love you”:
It is important to make use of such phrases when exchanging affection. People who prefer such expression thrive on being told how their partner feels or thinks of them rather than actions that reflect the same. Using words and phrases like “I love you”, “I appreciate you”, “I am grateful for you”, and “I love having you around”, etc are the key to loving a partner with this love language. ‘

Keep it simple:
If your partner requires this kind of language to feel adored, it is best to just simply say what you feel instead of overdoing other things. Don’t be concerned if you’re repeating yourself because these words of affirmation play the role of validating positive beliefs and affectionate feelings for the partner, making them happier.

4.     Acts of Service

This language requires the partner to do nice things for your partner that make them feel heard, understood, appreciated, and most importantly loved. Doing things like running errands, washing the dishes, cooking a meal for them, ordering food, etc. Always think of acts of service as actions that can be physically done in order to make a significant other feel cared for.

If your partner’s love language is acts of service, you should:

Practice chivalry:
Opening the door, helping with heavy lifting, walking on the outside of a sidewalk, giving genuine compliments, etc. can make your partner feel treasured and appreciated.

Make the little things count:
It is the little things that make the big wins, and in the case of the love languages, it makes us win love. Don’t let the little things go unheard or unnoticed. Making a cup of tea for your partner, dropping off the kids to school on your way to the office, helping in laying the table, or helping with their chores, can be small acts of service that make your partner feel good and admired.

5.     Gifting

Giving gifts is an indication of devotion and affection for this particular language. This does not mean that they are materialistic because the gift does not always have to be material here, it could be a flower, a beautiful leaf found on the pavement, or an old book from grandmother’s library. The main treasure is not the gift, but the intention behind it, the hard work, the efforts, the memories, and the value behind it.

When picking a gift for your partner, it is important to understand what the gift represents, and what is the thought that went behind making, ordering, or choosing that particular gift. What essence does it hold — is it related to a memory, a funny joke, or an anecdote? It could be buying fresh flowers early in the morning, or that much-awaited trip that you had been planning for long.

Little things:
Getting your partner little things at different intervals can help make them feel appreciated and treasured. It may or may not be important to express love through big gestures such as expensive buys but small gifts every now and then will always keep your partner feeling admired and valued.

In the end, what really matters is the thought that goes behind the gift — it is important for your partner to understand the significance of the item or gift and what you must have thought while arranging it.

For many individuals, it is important to present the gift in a way that sounds exciting and feels like a gift. Getting something for your partner versus getting a gift for your partner are two different things. Presentation is essential for many people and it can make your partner feel respected because you took that amount of effort to make it seem special.

Is there just one love language?

Now that we understand what the five love languages are, it is integral to understand the reality of how this functions. A person does not only have one of these languages, it is more complicated than it seems. The same person can use different ways of expressions at different points in time. In essence, there can be various primary and secondary love languages for the same person.

Similarly, it is also possible that both partners have completely different ways to express their feeling. This can induce curiosity into the relationship and people often end up trying to interpret what’s on the other person’s mind.

As an example, you might love physical touch but your partner places importance on words of affirmation. You might be constantly showing your affection through touching or kissing. Despite showing your feelings in the best way you can, your partner may be left wondering how much you value them and how deep is your love. This can cause a major disconnect and mushroom resentment towards your partner. The only efficient way to work out these differences is by having mature conversations with your partner regarding how you both operate, what you both expect, and try to find a middle ground to
ultimately work on.

Here are a few ways you can respond to your partner’s love language:

Words of Affirmation:

  • Leaving a loving note when they make you a meal
  • Remind them how amazing they are when they second-guess themselves
  • Compliment their outfit, makeup, hair, and anything related to their appearance
  • Send them a text just to say how much you miss them, think about them, and cherish their presence in your life
  • Thank them for the small things they do for you in a day

Quality Time:

  • Have at least one meal together, every day
  • Plan date nights or mini vacations once every few months
  • Always maintain eye contact while having an important conversation
  • Spend time together, without touching your phone
  • Go for a drive or take a walk together

Acts of Service:

  • Cook a warm meal for them after a long day at work.
  • Do their laundry once a week
  • Run errands
  • Take care of their needs when they are sick or just otherwise
  • Plan a date or outing


  • Surprise them with a book from their favourite author or the jewellery piece they saw at the store a while back
  • Order their favourite snack or flower
  • Leave them a handwritten note
  • Make something from scratch or DIY something — a scrapbook or a photo album
  • Give gifts that hold sentimental value like heirloom jewellery or a luxury handbag, etc.
  • Give them a gift to celebrate the small moments such as a promotion at work, news of pregnancy, first salary, etc.

Physical Touch:

  • Kiss while greeting hellos and goodbyes or even for no reason just to admire them
  • Hold hands while walking
  • Put your hand around their waist or arm during a clubbing event or a concert
  • Cuddle while in bed watching a movie or reading books together
  • Massages or back rubs

These are a few ways to understand how to respond to your partner’s love language. However, the ideal way to go about it is to understand the importance of communicating your feelings, needs, and also your love languages. It is also important for you to embrace how your partner expresses their feelings, needs, and love languages.

Have heartfelt conversations around how you both express and receive love. By doing so, you will start acknowledging each other’s ways of exhibiting affection. Thus, paving the way to a more understanding and peaceful relationship. Try these steps and see if they help strengthen your bond.

Astha Anand

Astha Anand

Astha is a therapist and the founder of theperspectiveco. Best described as a learner learning to unlearn and relearn. She is on a mission to normalise therapy and create awareness.