Do you love your boyfriend the way you want to be loved, or as he wants to be loved? It’s easy to make the mistake of loving others the way you want to be loved. These practical examples of the five love languages are based on Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. We start with words of affirmation (my preferred love language) and end with physical touch (my husband’s love language).
“Encouragement requires empathy and seeing the world from your spouse’s perspective,” writes Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. “We must first learn what is important to our spouse. Only then can we give encouragement. With verbal encouragement, we are trying to communicate, “I know. I care. I am with you. How can I help?” We are trying to show that we believe in him and in his abilities. We are giving credit and praise.”
The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
The most important thing to remember about the love languages is this: what works for you may not work for your husband or boyfriend. If you don’t know your partner’s love language, you can’t love him truly, madly or deeply! Ask him to read the book with you, so you can take your love to a deeper level.
10 Examples of the Love Languages
These love language examples and tips are from writers – some have been married for decades, others are single. Some are parents, others don’t have kids. I’ve included a little bit of love from everyone, to give you different types of examples of the love languages.
1. Words of Affirmation
When was the last time you told your partner how wonderful he is, how much he means to you, and why you love him? Words of affirmation are encouraging, kind, and supportive. What does your partner do well? What do you love about him? Tell him. This is a simple, effective way to express your love without spending money or even having a “reason.”
“The object of love is not getting something you want but doing something for the well-being of the one you love,” writes Chapman in The 5 Love Languages. “It is a fact, however, that when we receive affirming words we are far more likely to be motivated to reciprocate.”
Here’s an example of this love language from the author himself: “Allison always wanted to be a writer, but after receiving her first rejection slip from the publisher, she gave up. One evening her husband Keith came into the den and said, “I just finished reading your article. Allison, you are an excellent writer. This stuff ought to be published! Your words paint pictures that I can visualize. You have to submit this stuff to some magazines.” Ten years later, Allison has had several articles published and has her first book contract. She credits her success to Keith’s words of encouragement. Perhaps your spouse has untapped potential in one or more areas of life. That potential may be awaiting your encouraging words.”
2. Gifts (the most common love language on anniversaries and birthdays)
Sometimes gifts are an easy way to show your love – unless you’re married to someone like me, who doesn’t want more stuff! But many people see gifts as a tangible object that says, “I was thinking about you. I love you.”
Here’s a creative example of expressing love with the five love languages: “I purchased a meteorite that was carved into a heart for a pendant,” says Kurtis. “Then I wrote a poem about how love is like the meteorite that comes from ‘heaven’ and must survive the intense heat and challenges.” Comparing your love to something as eternal and finite as the galaxy is a creative way to express love.
One of my most popular blog posts is gift-related! Read 40th Birthday Gift Ideas That Will Surprise and Delight Her.
3. Acts of Service
This is my favorite way to receive love: practical acts of service. I love that my husband does the dishes every night and takes care of all the household repairs (even changing the lightbulbs!). Sandra Williams agrees, saying, “My language of love is acts of service. Washing the dishes, doing the laundry, or scrubbing the floor is romantic. Adding chocolate to any of these would be a bonus.”
But wait, there’s more: “Get that first cup of coffee in the morning and place it by his bedside,” says Elizabeth. “Take the time to find gifts that have meaning. Say you’re sorry – and mean it. Bite your tongue. If you can’t bite your tongue, say it without malice. Do things you don’t want to do but you know will make him happy. Let him be when he wants to be left alone.”
4. Quality Time
Quality time is about the experiences – not the amount of time – you share with your boyfriend or husband. How do you spend your time together? What do you do? Quality time isn’t watching tv together over dinner, or sitting side-by-side while you work on your laptops. Sometimes quality time is about sacrifice, which may be a different way to express your love.
“Sacrifice often spells love for me,” says Katrena. “When I see someone going to a nursing home every day to feed lunch to a spouse who has Alzheimer’s and doesn’t remember who he/she is any more, that’s true love in my book. It’s often about the things that few people ever know about that can make a deep impression. Love doesn’t have to have an audience or a standing ovation…it’s just simply living it.”
Another example of quality time, from writer June Smith: “My late husband and I owned a business for 31 years and I feel that our kids got the short end of our time. They may not agree, but nevertheless, now I can be there for the grandkids. Their sick days home from school, an overnight now and then when mom and dad need a night out. They know they can call on me.”
Are these examples of love languages making you feel unloved? Read What to Do When You Feel Like No One Loves You.
5. Physical Touch
Here’s an obvious example of expressing love with the five love languages: “Numerous research projects in the area of child development have come to the same conclusion: babies who are held, hugged, and touched tenderly develop a healthier emotional life than those who are left for long periods of time without physical contact,” writes Chapman in The 5 Love Languages. “Almost instinctively in a time of crisis we hug one another. Why? Because physical touch is a powerful communicator of love.”
I’m not as into hugs and wrestling as my husband is; I have to remind myself to reach out physically. That’s the tricky part of the five love languages: expressing love in ways that are different to you, but how your partner receives love.
“One of my favorite ways to express love is to massage his tired back or hugging him for no reason, writing a poem, telling him I love him just out of the blue, or surprising him with gift or his favorite dish.” ~ Linette Rabsatt.
A final thought on the different ways to express your love with the five love languages…
“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct,” writes Gary Chapman in The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. “I need to be loved by someone who chooses to love me, who sees in me something worth loving. That kind of love requires effort and discipline. It is the choice to expend energy in an effort to benefit the other person, knowing that if his or her life is enriched by your effort, you too will find a sense of satisfaction
Are you and your boyfriend or husband expressing love differently than you used to? Read How Love Changes Over Time: The 3 Phases of Romance.