Love languages and your relationship with yourself

A few months ago, myself and a friend were talking about relationships and miscommunication. With our partners out of reach due to the various lockdowns and travel restrictions, we found it difficult to maintain our communicative relationships when we weren't regularly seeing each other, as I'm sure was the same for many relationships. 

'Things are fine,' she said 'I just feel like we don't always 'click' the same over a video call as we do in person.'

This got me thinking, because this woman and her boyfriend are extremely communicative people. Their relationship is honest and calm and an open channel of communication always exists between them. They've never had a 'fight', just 'communicate their issues and perspectives' to the other person. I swear, it's like sitting in on the world's most well-adjusted marriage counselling session. 

So if even this couple were struggling, I knew other couples had to be struggling just as much. 'Have you taken the love language test?' I asked.

Her eyes lit up.

Yes, reader. Yes, we had.

a woman rests her head on another person's shoulder

Taking this test is like getting new toy, or doing a Buzzfeed quiz that told us which Disney Princess we were (Belle every time, lol). But it was fascinating, these actions and manifestations of love that we showed to those around us.

It was like figuring out some deep unlocked part of you and suddenly, a lot of your actions within your relationships, past and present will be seen in a new light and you suddenly understand where each one fell apart. Once you realise how you show love and how your partner shows love, it’s far easier for us to understand and appreciate the gestures. Just because you show it one way does not necessarily mean that they will show it the same way. But once you know how the other person shows it, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to make them feel loved.

two person holding papercut heart

For anyone not familiar with the love language test, it is a quiz that you take to figure out how you think love and affection should be shown, given and received. If there’s an immediate answer that comes to mind for you, like ‘It’s obviously saying I love you’, or ‘By doing little things for them’, you’ll be surprised to know that not everyone gives and receives love in the same way.

There are six categories of love languages and most people are often a blend of two. They are;

Quality time:

  • Create special moments together
  • plan thoughtful dates
  • do chores together
  • have focused conversations
  • setting goals and achieving them together

Acts of service:

  • Assist with projects
  • make their favourite meal
  • random acts of kindness
  • help with workload
  • thoughtful personal care

Physical Touch:

  • Hug your partner
  • take a walk holding hands
  • make intimacy a priority
  • kiss your partner
  • sit close to each other

Receiving gifts:

  • Giving thoughtful gifts big and small
  • show excitement when receiving
  • make genuine gestures
  • give small tokens of appreciation
  • celebrate special occasions

Words of Affirmation:

  • Use encouraging words
  • give genuine compliments
  • appreciate the little things
  • empathise when hurt
  • listen without distractions.

Which ones of these sound like you and your partner? Is there a few, or just one?

woman on bike reaching for man's hand behind her also on bike

So for example, my friend’s love language test revealed that her language was acts of service, whereas her partner’s was words of affirmation. So she was showing her affection by doing things for him, taking care of little stresses or annoyances, coming up with thoughtful ideas, and taking care of his personal life, sending takeaways to his house after a long day of work.

Meanwhile, he was showing affection with compliments, appreciation, listening and comforting through the phone. So she was showing and he was telling and often, there was miscommunication in the relationship, until they realised that affection was being shown by each side, just that they were showing it in different ways.

woman holding roses

But ANYWAY. That wasn’t the point that occurred to me when I started talking to my friend about love languages. What struck me, was that we immediately started to talk about how we show love to our partner and our partners to us and to the people around us. It never even occurred to us how we might reverse the process inwards, to show affection to ourselves.

Understanding how we take time for self-love and self-care is just as important as how we show love to not only our partners but the other friends and family in our lives. I realised, I love planning parties, and nice meals and thoughtful gifts for people because I’m a total receiving gifts/acts of service person. But how does that look once it’s turned back towards myself? How do any of them look, when we practice self-care in our own love language?

woman wearing grey racerback top

Now more than ever it's so important to take time for us. Here are a few ideas of things you can do for your love language type to show yourself a little love.

Quality time:

  • Watch a sunset
  • watch a meaningful movie you enjoy
  • paint a picture
  • start a garden
  • go on a nature hike
  • read a good book
  • meditate to centre yourself
  • plan a trip

woman holding a cup of coffee at right hand and reading book on her lap while holding it open with her left hand in a well-lit room

Acts of service:

  • Set monthly goals
  • de-clutter and tidy your space
  • keep a habit tracker, donate to charity
  • meal prep
  • organise for the week ahead
  • bake something for you
  • hire out an errand that’s been bugging you

white Apple mouse beside keyboard

Physical touch:

  • Work on your skincare routine
  • enjoy a cup of tea
  • do some stretches
  • take a bubble bath
  • eat fruit and veggies
  • have a long hot shower
  • cuddle your pets
  • exercise, dance
  • give yourself a foot massage

woman in yellow blue and red tank top

Receiving gifts:

  • Invest in your hobbies
  • make yourself a calming self-care kit
  • start a DIY project
  • treat yourself
  • enrol in a fun class
  • do your make up
  • browse some online shops
  • buy yourself flowers

Selective Focus Photography of Pink Peony Flowers

Work of affirmation:

  • Keep a gratitude jar
  • recite some positive affirmations
  • watch a TED talk
  • write positive notes
  • compliment yourself
  • journal some of your negative thoughts out onto a page
  • write yourself a love letter

Enjoy the Little Things Notebook

So show yourself a little love during these tough times and let us know which ones you'll be trying in the comments!

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.



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