5 Ways You Are (and Are Not) Expressing Your Love

And why it matters.

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What Is a "Love Language"?

Sounds cheesy, right? That's probably because it comes from a book published in 1992 titled The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts that's—well—pretty cheesy.

But don't judge this book by its cover! The author, Gary Chapman, has decades of experience as a relationship counselor, and his insights into the ways we communicate our love and affection are spot-on.

We all speak a different love language.

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The theory goes that we all speak a different love language, or maybe a combination of love languages. To have a successful relationship, we need to understand each other's language.

Why You Need to Learn the Languages

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Knowing which languages you and your partner speak can help you better understand each other and strengthen your relationship. Not knowing them (what most of us are doing all the time) means you might miss a gesture of love or affection from your partner, and you might not express your affection in a way that will be noticed or understood.

Your partner might not speak your love language—and vice versa.

Ever wonder why your partner doesn't give you little gifts or tell you how much they appreciate you? It's not because they don't love you! They might just not speak the "gifting" or "words of affirmation" love languages. Are you not into holding hands but instead crave more time with your S.O.? You may be a native speaker of the "quality time" love language, but less interested in "physical touch" language.

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What's Your Love Language?

A good way to figure out your language is to think about the things you do for your partner, the things your partner does for you that make your day, as well as the things that you feel you need more of in a relationship (these three may all be the same!). These are likely your relationship priorities—and your love languages.

Take a look at the five love languages, below, and see which one (or ones) you speak!

Love Language No. 1: Words of Affirmation

This love language is all about expressing affection verbally. You tell your partner how much you care about them, how good they are at something, how special they are. If your gf or bf encourages you or gives you a compliment, you feel loved and supported. If you don't hear these things from them, you may feel like their affection isn't there. Hearing "I love you" is important to you if you speak this love language.

Love Language No. 2: Acts of Service

You express love with your actions. You're not one to say "I'm so lucky to be with you, you amazing Adonis," but you'll pick up something at the store that your bf or gf needs, or you'll pitch in with that project they're working on. Your partner doing the dishes when you're exhausted means everything to you: it tells you that they care. On the other hand, if they leave their dishes for you to do, or promise to help with something and then don't do it, you'll feel slighted.

Love Language No. 3: Receiving Gifts

First off, don't feel weird if this is your love language! It doesn't mean you're materialistic. For you, a gift signals that you're thinking of your partner. It's a symbol of affection, and you might feel like something's missing if you don't receive any. This doesn't necessarily mean flowers, chocolates, or other grand gestures (although you're good with those, too)—a little tchotchke or a bottle of your favorite iced tea will say "I love you" loud and clear.

Love Language No. 4: Quality Time

Speakers of this language need time together, above all. It doesn't matter if you're just hanging out or walking around the neighborhood; the important thing is that you're paying attention to each other (that's the "quality" part—no multitasking!). And being listened to is included in this one, so "quality time" speakers need to be able to talk without being interrupted. Long-distance relationships and overly busy schedules will be hard for you.

Love Language No. 5: Physical Touch

If you're a "physical touch" speaker, you'll feel affection and love through physical contact. This includes sex, but it's more about a hand on your shoulder when things are tough or a long hug when you and your S.O. haven't seen each other in a while. If you speak this love language, you're probably "touchy," interspersing conversations with lots of physical connection, and a massage or a kiss communicates more to you than any words or actions.

OK, I Know My Languages. Now What?

Keep these in mind when you're with your bf or gf. If you speak the same love languages, you're one (big) step ahead of the game—congrats! Most of us, though, will need to adapt our behaviors and expectations to meld with our partner's love language.

Say your language is "physical touch" and you've never been into giving compliments or saying sweet things, but you're in a relationship with someone whose language is "words of affirmation." It may not come naturally, but give those sweet nothings a try! Let your partner know about your love language, too (screenshot it!), and see if they'll make an effort to be more touchy. Even if you're both awkward speaking the other's love language, the effort will mean a lot, and if all goes well, you'll be better able to—literally—feel the love.

For more information and to take the full love languages quiz, visit 5lovelanguages.com.

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