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What's your Love Lingo?

Communication is key in every relationship. Here's how to decipher your partner's love language.

By April Zara Chua

A successful relationship lies in understanding your partner's thoughts to build a deeper emotional connection. Everyone expresses themselves differently, and much like how you would have different personality quirks, it's likely that you and your partner also have different ways to express your love and care.

According to Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, there are five ways couples express and experience love: through words of affirmation, quality time, gift giving, acts of service, and physical touch.

To know your partner's love language, observe him or her and pay close attention. What does he or she value the most? Does your partner like to give and receive cuddles and hugs? If so, physical touch is an important love language to your loved one. It's much easier to work on improving your relationship once you know your partner's preferred love language (and yours!)

Understand the five love languages

If your partner feels appreciated through...

  1. Words of affirmation
    Spoken words of praise or acknowledgement

    Keep the flame burning: Say "I love you", "You look beautiful" or "You did a great job" to show your partner you appreciate them.
    Avoid: Negative or insulting comments that could potentially hurt your partner's feelings such as "You look fat", "You're always nagging", or "I don't have time for you right now."
  2. Quality time
    Undivided attention and meaningful moments together.

    Keep the flame burning: Set aside date nights or chill nights when you can do activities together such as watching TV, exercising together or having long, deep conversations.
    Avoid: Postponing dates, or distractions like playing with your phone, not paying attention when having a conversation or being caught up with your own schedule and not prioritising time with your partner.
  3. Gift giving
    Gifting as a symbol of affection and appreciation.

    Keep the flame burning: Give your partner gifts that are meaningful to show you are thinking of them. The cost of the gift is not important, it's the thought behind it. Simple things like bringing home a slice of cake for dessert or getting them a souvenir from your overseas work trip can show you care.
    Avoid: Calling them materialistic. If your partner gives you a gift in return, do not devalue the gesture by calling him or her a spendthrift or showing your displeasure by saying things like, "You are spending too much, we don't need this" - it can hurt your partner's feelings.

  4. Acts of service
    Show your partner you care by occasionally lending a hand.

    Keep the flame burning: Actions speak louder than words. This means expressing love by cooking a meal, washing the dishes or running errands.
    Avoid: Inconsiderate behaviour such as refusing to help with chores, and putting off tasks till your partner takes over out of exasperation. Avoid approaching tasks with a negative attitude like saying "It's too much work, I can't finish it today" or "No matter how much you clean, it will still look the same."
  5. Physical touch
    This love language is one of emotional intimacy through holding hands, kissing, cuddling or embracing.

    Keep the flame burning: Small gestures such as giving your partner a hug and a kiss before you leave the house and when you get home can make them feel loved.
    Avoid: Depriving your partner of physical contact.

Preventing conflicts

Conflicts often arise when your love languages don't match, so it's important to consciously put yourself in your partner's shoes and evaluate the situation from their point of view.

We've listed some common situations that couples fight over and how to approach them without ending in an argument.

The scenario What to do before you lose your cool:
Taking too long to get ready Try to appreciate the fact that your partner wants to look good for you. Set a time limit on how long it would take them to get ready to manage both of your expectations. Follow up with some words of affirmation to show that their efforts to look good are appreciated.
Not helping out around the house Different people have different ideas of what "clean" should be, but while compromises can be made on level of cleanliness, what's important is setting a clear and fair division of chores and tasks, and sticking to it. Show you value your partner's efforts by putting in effort yourself.
Constantly asking about your whereabouts Knowing where you are assures your partner that you're safe and well. Be proactive and share with them your plans for the day or drop a short message before you head home. Give them a hug or a kiss when you return home to show them you value their concern.
Splurging on date nights Perhaps your partner expresses his or her love through gift giving. When they splurge on date nights, they do it to make you happy. If you are worried about overspending, assure them that simple dates are just as satisfying.
Too much public display of affection If your partner's love language is physical touch and yours isn't, find a common ground and set boundaries to what you're comfortable with. Chances are, they are very comfortable with physical connection and may not realise it when they go overboard. Start small with holding hands or being close and build up from there.