Here’s What To Do If You & Your Partner Have Different Love Languages
Knowing how to show love to one another is super important.
In relationships, people live by the notion that opposites attract. And while that may be true, when it comes to love languages, it's helpful to be on the same page. This doesn’t necessarily mean that two partners should have the same love language, per se, but rather, knowing which one your partner speaks and making sure they know yours can be incredibly beneficial in a relationship.
“Recognizing your partner's love language is a skill that you can learn,” Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love, tells Elite Daily. “It's both of your responsibilities to work on meeting your partner's love language.”
If you and your partner have different love languages, don't worry. Everyone has their own way of how they like to show and be shown love, and you and your partner don't have to speak the same love language in order to have a happy and healthy relationship. What it really boils down to is communication and having both partners feel that their emotional needs are being met. To help understand how having different love languages might impact a relationship, Elite Daily spoke with some experts to break it down.
How To Tell If You Have Different Love Languages
In order to even know whether or not you and your partner have different love languages, you first need to know what your love languages actually are. You can take a love languages quiz to find out yours, and perhaps ask your partner to do the same. The basis of the love language quiz is all about how "people value different ways of showing love," licensed clinical psychologist and relationship coach Jennifer B. Rhodes tells Elite Daily.
There are five love languages, and you can often be a combination of more than one: words of affirmation, meaning you enjoy being told you're loved; acts of service, which means that you appreciate when your partner does something like clean the apartment; receiving gifts, meaning you like getting a little something every now and then, even if it's just a single flower; physical touch, which could be a massage or something more intimate; and last but certainly not least is quality time, which indicates that you like to hang out with your partner, just the two of you.
For the most part, people’s love languages will manifest themselves over time. “I do think that taking the quiz is great, but I think just really paying attention is the most important thing,” says Chlipala. “What are the things that your partner consistently does?” And if you pay attention to your partner over time, you’ll likely be able to figure out what type of attention means the most to them.
What Does It Mean To Have Different Love Languages?
Having a different love language than your partner is usually NBD, but if you and your SO don't know that you receive love in different ways, it might become an issue over time, Rhodes says. "Lots of relationship conflicts start off with people believing that their significant other is trying to hurt them on purpose by not giving them what they need to be happy," she explains.
Not understanding and acknowledging a partner’s love language because it’s not the same as your own can cause someone to feel like they are not having their emotional needs met, which will likely cause problems in the long run for any relationship, according to Chlipala. “You might not feel as satisfied or you might not feel as connected,” she says. “You might not feel cared for and doubt that your partner cares and loves you as much as you love them.”
On the flip side, having a different love language from your SO can also be a positive thing, explains Chlipala. “This is an opportunity for growth and opportunity to expand the repertoire in your relationship to show love in multiple ways.” Whereas you might be used to certain kinds of expressions of love, meeting your partner’s emotional needs and speaking their love language, and vice versa, can introduce new and exciting forms of expressing your devotion to and appreciation of one another.
How To Work Through It Together
If you do find, though, that having different love languages might be causing some problems in your relationship, the good thing that is the solution is really quite simple: honest communication. “Your partner’s not a mind reader,” says Chlipala.
Though it might be tough to tell your partner you don’t feel loved or supported enough or ask whether they feel like they are getting enough love, the benefits of starting that conversation outweigh the negatives. "When conflict arises, it is time to ask the question, 'How do you feel most loved?' and be prepared to listen," says Rhodes.
If your love language is words of affirmation, but your partner's is giving gifts, then simply tell them that it's important for you that they speak encouraging words to you. "Relationships are here for us to learn and to grow," Rhodes explains. Simply talking about how you like to be shown that you're loved and appreciated should help you both understand each other better, and can allow you to work on supporting each other.
"We all need to grow, and the people in our lives help us do that," she says. "Shift 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." You and your partner don't have to have the same love language, but you do need to be honest about what you need from each other.
It’s also important, Chlipala notes, that making these kinds of adjustments in a relationship isn’t going to happen overnight, so you and your SO have to invest time into it as a process you’re taking together. “If a partner doesn't speak your love language, it is going to take time for them to develop the mindset and the habits to consistently meet that love language,” says Chlipala. “Just start from scratch and be very specific about what you both can do for the other person, and then be realistic about taking time to develop the mindset.”
And if you or your partner are having a difficult time opening up to a new form of love expression, be patient and honest about it. “When problems involve any kind of emotional intimacy, I just recommend that people work through their initial discomfort,” says Chlipala. “Getting out of your comfort zone — because maybe you were raised in an environment where emotional or physical affection was not readily expressed — may feel awkward for you, but please don't let that stop you from meeting your partner's love language.”
Still, if you aren't feeling taken care of by your partner after you've expressed that you need quality time or words of affirmation, then Rhodes also suggests that it might be time to end things or dive deeper. "If after several attempts to communicate your needs, your partner is still not getting it, then you can think about whether this is the right relationship for both of you," she says.
Overall, the five love languages are all just different expressions of the same thing. As long as you and your partner are committed to each other and enjoy each other’s company, the love will be there. You just need to make sure that each of you knows and feels it.
Anita Chlipala, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple's Guide to Lasting Love
Jennifer B. Rhodes, licensed clinical psychologist and relationship coach
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