TL;DRWe all like to give and receive affection in different ways. So, knowing this, you may wonder how to tell your boyfriend you love him in your own preferred love language. Or perhaps what to do if your boyfriend doesn’t show love in the same way as you. Every relationship is unique so learning to navigate your own personal love story through the five love languages is a useful place to begin.
I love him, how do I tell him? It can be really difficult to comfortably show your affections with a lover, especially in the early stages of a relationship. Some people may have a hard time saying the crucial three words of “I love you”, but may feel far more at ease expressing themselves in various other ways. So, read on if you want to know the various ways we can show love and affection in our relationships.
What Are Love Languages?
The concept that there are five different ‘love languages’ originates from the work of author and intimacy expert, Gary Chapman. These five languages are seen as a handy tool for expressing affection and strengthening our relationships as a whole. Through his books, Chapman explains that people typically favor one of the five love languages more than the rest, preferring to both show and receive love through these means. Love languages are also fantastic at highlighting the complexity of human relationships, showing we don’t all experience love in the exact same way; some of us gain far more satisfaction from being physically close to our partners, whereas others prefer to see a lover’s actions do the talking. In short, love and relationships should not be treated as a one-size-fits-all formula, and Chapman’s theory makes this very evident.
It ought to be mentioned though, that our preferred love language is just that - a preference. We can still give and receive love through a variety of different ways, but we are likely to resort to our go-to love language more often.
How Do I Know What My Love Language is?
Other than taking an online love language quiz, the best way to figure out your love language is by thinking about what makes you tick in a relationship. Think of all the times your partner has made you feel extra special and consider what exactly they had done to make you feel this way. Was it showering you with gifts, remembering an off-the-cuff comment you had made months ago or was it as simple as a big bear hug after a particularly straining day. The ‘intensity’ of these gestures vary wildly, but it’s the gestures that have the greatest impact on you that reveal which love language we prefer to speak. Outlined below are the five love languages identified by Chapman and how they may look in a relationship.
Words of Affirmation
Words of affirmation is believed to be the most common love language of them all, narrowly beating acts of service and quality time. In fact, this particular love language is the only one that solely centers around verbal communication; it describes primarily showing affection through words, expressing love, respect and admiration for a partner. Words mean everything to these individuals and they place immense value on the things you have to say. Actions certainly don’t speak louder than words in this instance. However, it’s important to note that these words are not just limited to speech - a meaningful phone call or a heartfelt handwritten letter similarly fall under the umbrella of verbal affirmation. If this is your partner’s love language, it is likely that they are fairly astute to the sincerity of the words being spoken to them. You are going to have to really mean what you say for it to have a meaningful impact. Not only this, but those who speak this love language are great at remembering the ‘little things’; they remember the conversation you had months ago and want to know how you are doing currently. They remember the vacation plans you have made weeks from now and will make sure to ask how much you are looking forward to them. In short, verbal communication is their strength and they have a way with words that makes their partner feel extra special.
Acts of Service
Do you ever think, “I love him but I can’t tell him?” Well, in this case, your love language may be acts of service. In almost complete opposition to words of affirmation, the acts of service love language is the optime of “actions speak louder than words”. Those who show their love in this manner absolutely adore going above and beyond to help out a partner. They may love to plan and orchestrate weekends away, complete useful DIY projects around the house and generally make their partner’s life just that little bit easier. That said, acts of service rarely have to be elaborate displays - simple things like taking out the trash or bringing soup when you are sick can make a partner feel just as appreciated. However, there is an important thing to note when it comes to this love language; acts of service will fail to show a partner they are loved if they aren’t well intentioned. It is pointless to drive a partner to the airport or spend time tidying the whole house if you are doing this for reciprocity. Of course, both partners need to show equal appreciation in a healthy relationship, but the key thing about this love language is that the acts are spontaneous and are purely out of love. As such, maintaining open lines of communication and understanding each others’ expectations are crucial in having this love language work in a relationship.
Giving and Receiving Gifts
One of the *slightly* more controversial love languages is that of gifting giving (and receiving). A common misconception with this love language is that gift-givers want to shower their partner in large, expensive presents - love bombing them through financial means. This couldn’t be further from the truth, however. People who speak this love language gain great satisfaction from choosing, buying and presenting their partner with a meaningful gift. Now, “meaningful” is the all-important word here - for the gifts to speak love, they need to be personal and thoughtful. It is the intention behind the gift that makes all the difference; gifts that highlight an inside joke or symbolize a shared memory are far more significant than the latest designer handbag. In short, the price tag is meaningless, as even collecting a few beautiful shells from the beach or picking a bunch of wildflowers can speak volumes. Even simple gestures such as these show that a partner has put their time and energy into choosing something they think you will love. Similarly, those that love to be on the receiving end of this love language also get a lot of satisfaction from giving gifts to others. As they know just how much a thoughtful gift can mean to a person, they are pros at choosing gifts for those they love too.
Kind words, physical affection and material gifts don’t quite cut it for those who speak the love language of quality time. Of course, these niceties don’t go unappreciated, but these people far prefer spending the more meaningful moments together. They want to feel that they are prioritized and adored, and they feel this most when in the presence of their partner. In fact, those that speak this love language understand better than most that time is fleeting. It’s all too easy looking back and wishing we had done more of this or that, and these lovers are hyper aware of this. That said, quality-timers truly understand that simply being in the same place as your partner does not equate to spending actual quality time with them. The time spent together needs to be significant, meaningful and intentional in some way - perhaps watching a movie that you both love, or partaking in a partner’s hobby to show you want to engage with their interests. So, in short, quality time is just that - it’s about quality. Sitting in the same room and endlessly scrolling through Instagram doesn't quite cut it in this case. Not only this, but also the amount of time spent together is irrelevant when it comes to quality time; those in long distance relationships may spend far less time in each others’ presence than most, but as long as they make the effort to keep each facetime or in-person meeting special, then they are mastering the true art of quality time.
The love language of physical touch is fairly self-explanatory. It refers to the physical expression of intimacy in a relationship, showing a partner that you are close to them in both the mind and body. Holding hands, hugs and sex are all forms of physical touch, but the potential to display your affection through this language is virtually limitless. One thing to note, however, is that physical touch does not need to be romantic to be meaningful. Your partner may really appreciate an arm around them while watching a movie or even simply having their legs touching yours when falling asleep. Put simply, however you can please a partner through the connection of your body to theirs is the true essence of meaningful physical touch in a relationship. In fact, for many, physical touch can be even more important than saying “I love you”. However, as we will come to shortly, partners definitely do not have to speak the same love language to have a successful and fulfilling relationship. However, with physical touch, discussing expectations and boundaries is especially crucial. A partner who speaks this love language will need to communicate with their partner about how and when showing their love in this form is appreciated.
What if We Have Different Love Languages?
It’s very common to have a different preferred love language to that of a partner. However, when this is the case, it is pretty typical to encounter unnecessary upset or strife in the relationship. For instance, if one partner prioritizes quality time, but the other much prefers physical touch, it's only natural for one (or both) lovers to feel underappreciated at times. So, in order to counteract this, partners need to do three things;
1. Explain Your Love Language
Although we may wish for our partners to be mind readers, I think we can all agree that this is a slightly unrealistic expectation. As such, in the moments where you may feel undervalued, it is important to speak up. Tell your partner about the ways in which you most appreciate your time together and ask that they take this into account. More importantly, when they do show you love in a way you like, make sure to let them know how much this means to you.
2. Speak Your Language Loud and Proud
With the above point in mind, one of the best ways to communicate your love language is by actually demonstrating it. Providing boundaries and expectations have already been discussed, feel free to shower your partner in the style of love that you gain most satisfaction from. Let them know that you are speaking this love language to show just how much you truly adore them. They are sure to reciprocate the same energy, regardless of the love language they personally favor.
3. Try to Speak Your Partner's Love Language >
That being said, there is nothing nicer than seeing your partner trying to speak your love language. Perhaps words of affirmation do not come as naturally to you as, say, quality time - but you know just how much your partner appreciates this form of affection. As such, there is nothing wrong with putting in a little extra effort to communicate your love in a way that you know your partner understands best.
It can be really hard to tell your boyfriend how much you love him through words alone. While this can work for some, often we need to demonstrate our affections through other means, such as touch, gift-giving or spending quality time together. Similarly, it can be hard to tell if he’s into you, so by understanding Chapman’s five love languages, we can see the way in which your boyfriend prefers shows that he cares.
Do you still want to know more about the five love languages? There are many resources at Mysticsense that can guide you with your learning and provide insight for any other questions you may have. Get started learning more about the five love languages at Mysticsense today!
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