What To Do If You And Your Partner Have Different Love Languages

Worried that your partner seems distant or unengaged in your relationship? It could be a sign that the end is near. Or, maybe you're just (mis)communicating with different love languages.

Renowned relationship therapist Gary Chapman first coined the idea of love languages in his appropriately-titled 1992 book, "The Five Love Languages." Essentially, the idea is that each person has their own way of communicating affection, and these can be broken down into five categories: words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, quality time, and physical touch.


Words of affirmation are verbal compliments, like "you look gorgeous" or "you did a great job." Acts of service mean performing a nice gesture, like making someone dinner or folding their laundry. Gifts is simply exchanging thoughtful presents, like a favorite snack or significant keepsake. Quality time means dedicating attention to activities together, like going on dates or having a movie night. And finally, physical touch is about sharing physical affection, like cuddling in bed or giving your partner a back rub. 

You can, of course, utilize multiple love languages, but you'll probably have one or two that are most important to you. These can be a key point of harmony or disconnect with your partner, depending on how in sync you are. For successful romantic relationships, it's often helpful for both partners to be "fluent" in the language that the other wishes to receive (via SheKnows).


With this in mind, how can you work toward a stronger, more fulfilling relationship — even if you and your partner have different love languages?

Clearly communicate your needs

The first step to bridging a love language gap is communication. Silently hoping that a partner will spontaneously guess your desires is a recipe for disappointment. You can't expect them to be psychic. Instead, if you feel like your romantic needs aren't being fulfilled, gently help them understand what else you're looking for.


As a bonus, clearly communicating the way you give and receive love can help your partner recognize romantic gestures they may not have noticed before. "They need to become aware of your love languages, so they understand you better. It's important they understand you and your gestures," couples counselor Lissy Abrahams tells MamaMia. "For example, many people like to cook a meal for their partner. This takes thought, effort, and time. It's easy to overlook this gesture of love. Maybe they are not aware of yours."

Finally, it's important to acknowledge and reward a partner's efforts to speak your love language. Let them know you notice and appreciate each gesture. Even a simple "thank you, that meant a lot to me" can help your partner know that they're moving in the right direction.


But what if you don't understand why you're feeling overlooked by a partner in the first place? This could indicate that you don't have a good handle on your own love languages. In this case, consider taking an online love language quiz. This can also be a good tool for your partner, especially if they're new to the concept.

Learn your partner's love language

Love should be a two-way street. So if you're asking a partner to make an effort to meet your needs, extend the same courtesy. Namely, learn their love language and spoil them accordingly.

Typically, people tend to show love in the same way they like to get it (via Insider). So, if your love language is words of affirmation, you may spend a lot of time showering your partner with compliments. But if their love language is quality time, those compliments may not be fulfilling their needs, and you'll need to find other ways to show your partner love. Ultimately, the give and take of love languages is about both people learning to express adoration in the way most meaningful to their partner, so everyone feels appreciated and fulfilled.


"Getting out of your comfort zone ... may feel awkward for you, but please don't let that stop you from meeting your partner's love language," marriage and family therapist Anita Chlipala tells Elite Daily. While certain gestures may seem strange or embarrassing at first, you'll be gratified when they make your partner happy.

Of course, sometimes, your love languages may end up truly incompatible, and that's okay. Not every relationship is destined to last forever. But often, just making a conscious effort to understand and cherish each other will help you build a strong foundation for your romance — no matter what love language you're speaking.