Why Your Partner Doesn’t Feel Loved: Using Love Languages Right.

I had a friend — let’s call her Sab —  who had been in a relationship for two years. She loved her boyfriend, but she was frustrated and unhappy in her relationship. Her boyfriend was also a friend, so I knew that he did love her just as she did him, but he also felt unappreciated and misunderstood. It was a curious situation, and since both of them were my friends, and I spent time with them as a couple, I could see that they loved each other, but he didn’t feel she loved him, and she felt the same about him.

One day, Kevin came to me, bitter and frustrated, telling me that he couldn’t continue that way and that he didn’t think he and Sab would ever work out. The irony was that I had just received a similar call from Sab, complaining about the exact same thing. The problem with being good friends with both members of a couple is that in certain circumstances, you become their sounding board and unintentional relationship counsellor. 

While I listened to him, something he was saying caught my attention. He was lamenting about doing everything to show Sab that he loved her, going the extra mile and performing grand gestures to show her that she was the only woman for him, but she didn’t appreciate it. I remembered Sab complaining bitterly that he was all about himself and what made him look good to everyone. However, from what he was saying, it sounded like he had genuinely been trying to make her happy. It was then that it clicked for me what the problem in their relationship was.

To confirm my theory, I asked him, “Kevin, what did you do for Sab on her last birthday?”

Remembering the trouble he had gone through, he had exclaimed bitterly, “I organised a surprise party for her! You remember, don’t you? How I went to all that trouble to bring her family and friends to give her that big surprise instead of the dinner for two she had expected.”

“I remember,” I told him. “But do you remember what Sab asked for her birthday?”

He scoffed. “She said she just wanted me to take her to dinner — like she did for my last birthday — but I did better than that for her. I always go the extra mile for her, but she only does the bare minimum.”

With that statement, I confirmed the problem with Kevin and Sab’s relationship. They were speaking different love languages, and not one their partner understood or particularly desired.

Welcome to the world of love languages, where understanding how your partner gives and receives love is the key to relationship bliss. Just like we have different tastes in food, music, and fashion, we also have unique ways of feeling loved. Dr. Gary Chapman, the maestro of relationships, identified these five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Each one represents how we express and interpret love, and when you know your partner’s love language, it is like having the secret code to their heart.

Let me break it down with some examples. If your lover thrives on compliments and heartfelt words, Words of Affirmation is their love language. For someone whose love language is Words of Affirmation, they need you to constantly affirm your love and appreciation of them. The “I love you”s, “You’re beautiful,” and “I appreciate you”s are very important to them. You can do everything else, but if you are not intentional about affirming your feelings and your appreciation of them, they won’t feel loved.

People whose love language is Acts of Service feel the love most when their partner constantly does specific activities for them that support them or reduce their burden in some way. This means doing things that make life easier and more enjoyable for them. It includes things like cooking them breakfast in bed, taking out the trash without being asked, taking care of them when they’re sick, opening the door, and helping to take off their shoes. Basically, Acts of Service lovers enjoy the soft life, so helping them achieve that sends a message to their hearts that says, “Awwwww they looove mee.”

Now, to the next love language. We all love to receive gifts, right? But for those whose love language is Receiving Gifts, they cherish thoughtful surprises and feel most loved when their partners give them gifts – whether tangible or intangible. To them, buying them something while you’re apart is a clear sign that says, “Hey, I was thinking of you.” It is not really about the gift itself but the gesture.

Quality Time lovers crave undivided attention, and spending time with them without distractions is how they feel loved. If someone’s love language is quality time, it’s not just about spending time together but spending time doing activities that can help them and their partner grow as a couple and get to know each other better. Quality Time is not limited to snuggling on the couch. It includes doing DIY projects together, cooking together, playing board games, and active listening. Activities that make your partner feel like a priority, where you stay in the moment with them without the distractions of technology, are the way to go.

People who have Physical Touch as their love language, find comfort and connection through, well, physical touch. Small physical gestures such as their partner putting their arm around them in public, pulling them close or snuggling them on the couch, holding their hand, and always touching them in one way or the other are how to make them feel loved, appreciated, and cherished. Other forms of physical touch include kissing, hugging, and sex. 

Now, back to our lovebirds. Kevin’s love language was Receiving Gifts, so as a way of expressing his love, he would send her gifts at work, organise surprise parties for her, etc, because that was the kind of thing that when done for him, would make him feel loved. So he did those things for her.

On the other hand, Sab’s love language was Quality Time, so she would organise dinner dates for two, plan trips, and try to spend as much time as she could spare with Kevin. However, neither of them felt loved, even though to them, they were making their best efforts, because they were doing what they loved instead of what their partners enjoyed.

To make another analogy, suppose your favourite ice cream flavour is vanilla, and mine is chocolate (because chocolate rules), and because I believe chocolate is the best, I keep buying you chocolate ice cream instead of vanilla, which is your favourite. How would you feel? You don’t hate chocolate ice cream. But it’s not your favourite. So even though you might appreciate and eat it, you wouldn’t feel the same rush of happiness as you would if I had bought you vanilla instead. Do you follow?

Now, let’s bring that analogy into relationships and love languages, using Sab and Kevin’s situation as an example. Your love language is not just what you expect from someone you’re in a relationship with, it is what makes you feel the most loved. You. And your partner’s love language is what makes them feel the most loved. If you keep doing what makes you happy as a sign of love for your partner instead of what makes them happy, do you understand the confusion and why they would feel you don’t care for them even though you absolutely, very much do? It doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate or need all the other forms of love language, but their primary love language is what they desire the most.

Once I explained the problem to both Kevin and Sab, they realised what they had been doing wrong, which led to a better and happier relationship between them. (Allow me to pat myself on the back.?)

Figuring out your partner’s love language is like solving a tantalising relationship riddle. Pay attention to what they request for, what makes their eyes light up, and what ticks off their happiness metre. Engage in open conversations about what makes you both feel loved and appreciated. Once you’ve cracked the code, it’s time to put your newfound knowledge into action. If you’re not certain what your love language is, you can test yourself here.

Your love language is supposed to be how you’d want to be loved, and not projected in how you show your love to another. Well, it works if you’re practising self-love, or if you and your partner share the same love language. Otherwise, you will be doing all these great things that will go unappreciated and you will see your partner as ungrateful and difficult to please. It’s important to express your affection in ways that truly resonate with your partner. Like Kevin and Sab, once you both start conversing in each other’s love languages, you’re on your way to creating a beautiful symphony of love and understanding in your relationship. 

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