When it comes to having a satisfying relationship, how we express our love may be just as important as who we love. According to George Moufarrej, author of the book Sexual Euphoria, everyone has their own love language and the success of a relationship depends on how well it meshes with your partner’s. However, what exactly is “love language” and why is it so important?
Nicole McCance is a Harvard-educated psychotherapist and best-selling author. As she explains, “A love language is how we express love to our partner and how we prefer to be loved.” There are 5 main love languages: Acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, and gifts. “We may enjoy it when our partner does any number of these but we also tend to have a primary love language. Compliments from your partner may make you happy, but you feel most cherished and special when he takes the time to cuddle or hold your hand.” says McCance.
My primary love language includes acts of service and gifts. I adore grand gestures and love to go the extra mile to show someone I care - whether that’s cooking their favourite meal or seeking out that rare copy of Rolling Stone with Mick Jagger on the cover that they’ve always wanted. However, just like that time I surprised the guy I was dating with a home cooked meal and an autographed copy of his favourite Brett Easton Ellis book (both of which were met with a blank stare and half-hearted “Thanks”), sometimes my efforts miss the mark.
McCance emphasizes the importance of love languages. “In my private practice, I often see couples who speak different love languages which can lead to both parties feeling unfulfilled. We tend to love our partner the way we want to be loved. If you love cuddling and physical expressions you may expect that your partner also does. However, they may instead feel the most loved when you make them dinner and clean the house (acts of service), she says.
Although Moufarrej claims that love languages must mesh, McCance takes a different stance. “When love languages mesh, the relationship flows easier but it doesn’t mean that two people can’t learn each other’s language. If you are up for learning your partner’s language, even though it may not come as second nature to you, you can have a successful relationship. Start by asking your mate what they need more from you, this will give you a hint of what love language they speak.”
Can we change our love language and should we? As McCance explains, “Love languages are usually learned in childhood from the way our parents loved us and tend to be stable over time. For example, if you like chocolate ice cream and not vanilla, it is likely that you will continue to like this flavour. The same goes for love.”