Can Your Love Language Change In A Relationship?

Love languages have been a hot topic over the past few years, but the term was actually coined in 1992 by marriage counselor Gary Chapman, Ph.D., who found that we don't all experience love the same way. He penned the book "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts," and in his exploration, he determined that there are five primary ways we communicate our love: physical touch, acts of service, gift giving, quality time, and words of affirmation.

When it comes to relationships, understanding your partner's love language is key for a healthy, lasting bond. And the trick is to remember that what makes you feel loved might not be what makes your partner feel loved. "We are projecting our own wants and needs onto them. This creates distance and disconnection," Avigail Lev, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and certified mediator at Bay Area CBT Center in Oakland and San Francisco, California, told Forbes. "It doesn't create the space for our partner to feel truly seen, understood and loved in a way that is meaningful to them." 

So, making an effort to show affection through our partner's love language is going to go a long way, but can love languages change over time in long relationships? Let's take a closer look.

Aging and major life events can change love languages

It seems only natural that as we evolve and expand, our needs and desires in romantic relationships may shift and deepen. Becoming parents, entering a high-pressure career, or experiencing illness all have the potential to change how we want to be loved. "As we experience life, different components of our personalities may change or come into focus, which is likely also true regarding our love language," Avigail Lev, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist and certified mediator at Bay Area CBT Center in Oakland and San Francisco, California, told Forbes.

If your primary love language has always been physical touch and you're all about PDA, but after welcoming your first baby into the world, you don't want to cuddle as often, try not to panic. It doesn't necessarily mean something is wrong in your relationship but could indicate that your needs have shifted. Spending quality time with your partner, for example, could now feel much more meaningful than before. "Becoming a parent is a big life stage change that can influence our love language," Rachel Thomasian, a therapist at Playa Vista Counseling and the author of "BreakUp & BreakOut," told The Zoe Report. "Suddenly, words of affirmation may mean less than acts of service as you focus on what is scarce or more needed."

How to adjust to shifting love languages in a relationship

As always when it comes to relationships, communication and understanding are the pillars we lean on most. If you notice that you'd rather your partner take over the grocery shopping for you than receive a surprise gift as you once did, be sure to let them know. And reversely, ask your partner what makes them feel most loved in this stage of life. Be willing to work together to enter the new terrain and meet one another's needs with fresh eyes and hearts. If there's resistance to these changes, try to examine where that is coming from together.

"I don't think changes in love language are deal breakers, I think they happen in most relationships over time," Rachel Thomasian told The Zoe Report. "What would be a deal breaker is your partner not wanting to be flexible and understand you in order to grow with you." If you've undergone a big life change or even a trauma and you're just not sure what your love language actually is, set up a time with your partner to experiment with the five forms. It may feel silly, but it could unveil your needs in a clearer light than merely guessing.