Let’s be honest, life is just that little bit tougher when we don’t feel loved, so it makes sense to prioritise what makes us feel most loved, right? Have you ever experienced a moment of confusion or disbelief when your friend, partner, or family member expressed that they just don’t feel loved by you, or that you don’t show your love when you know you’ve been doing everything you possibly could to make them feel loved?
How could they not feel my love? Are they just ungrateful? What do they want? I don’t understand. I’m sure these feelings sound familiar to most of us. In this article, I’m going to discuss love languages in the context of how we love in our romantic relationships, but they apply to our relationships with friends, family, and colleagues as well.
Deciphering love, in a nutshell, comes down to understanding the way we give and receive love. Five years ago, I went on a date with a girl who introduced me to a book called The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, and it blew my mind. I had no idea that the expression of love could be categorised so simply! That book went on to change and shape my life – both in my relationships and my career as a life coach. The book is an effortless read, with real-life anecdotes to back up every point, so if you haven’t yet read it, I highly recommend it.
This book transformed my life because I was now equipped with a set of questions that would remove the pressure of trying to read the minds of the women in my life. I had five incredibly clear reference points to ensure that I was now able to express love in a way that would be best received by my partner and, at the same time, I knew how my own love tank could be filled.
Understanding your own love languages can help you feel seen, understood and, in doing so, create better harmony with your loved ones. Remember that if you need something, but are choosing not to express it, no one is going to give it to you. It’s crucial that you learn and understand the way love speaks to you and communicate it to those who care about you. This will empower you and strengthen the depth of your connections. It also removes doubt, and limits the time wasted on wondering whether a person loves you or feels loved by you.
The key to expressing love, in my opinion, is learning how to elevate joy and increase the feeling of happiness in the other person. Often, especially as men, we celebrate when our partner is ‘low-maintenance’, but what I’ve learnt is that apathy does not equal happiness. We could all do more to understand our loved ones so that we are able to connect with them more deeply and express love in a way that is truly felt.
How Can You Understand Your Love Languages?
You can start to easily identify your love language with two questions:
Question 1: What brings you the most joy when you receive it?
Question 2: What causes you the most pain when you don’t receive it?
Take a moment to ponder over them before taking the love languages quiz. What did the quiz reveal? Do the results feel right to you? Take some time to think about what exactly you would love to receive within these languages. For example, if you love quality time, what kind of quality time makes you feel most loved? Is it a deep conversation with attentiveness and lots of eye contact? Or is it a cute date night in a nice restaurant? Understanding these preferences will allow you to express more clearly how you feel most loved by your partner.
Top Tips to Navigating Love
- Tip 1: Understand your love languages first (if you haven’t already, take the love language quiz).
- Tip 2: Notice if the way you give love resembles the way you prefer to receive it.
- Tip 3: Take time to really understand your partner’s love languages.
- Tip 4: Create safety when expressing your love language, and ensure it comes from a place of “I enjoy” rather than “you don’t do enough of”.
I once had a girlfriend that would say, “Tell me something nice please”, and I would freak out. My ego would kick in and I would become silent. As you can imagine, this only made her feel less loved. I’ve learnt that there are more effective ways of communicating, for example, by saying, “I really love it when you compliment me, it makes me feel…” or “What is a quality you love most about me?”
- Tip 5: Be sincere in your expression of love. Seek depth and authenticity rather than merely ticking a box.
- Tip 6: Grand gestures are not always necessary. Sometimes, something as simple as allowing your partner to rest or asking them how their day was is all they need to feel loved.
- Tip 7: Be mindful that not everyone will be able to grasp the concept of love languages or take a love test quickly, so exercise patience.
- Tip 8: Consider that there may be other languages that are important to you and your partner in addition to the five outlined in the quiz.
- Tip 9: Remember that being able to fill your own cup is also a beautiful way to ensure you’re not solely relying on your partner to feel loved.
Other Love languages
For me personally, safety and communication are huge love languages. The ability for my partner to be able to communicate how they feel and allow me to communicate how I feel without fear of judgement is incredibly important. Understandably, there are many factors that govern whether someone can embody this quality, but I wholeheartedly believe that it can be learned.
Think of other ways that you feel loved. How can your partner learn to speak your language? Also consider appreciating the love that your partner is trying to express – even if it isn’t quite the way you’d prefer it to be. It’s not always easy to learn to express yourself in a new way and perhaps this could even be an additional love language, so I’ll leave you with this final question: can you take a moment to appreciate all the areas in your life where love flows?