Now that we’re all studied up on Dr. Gary Chapman’s five languages of love, we are learning how to apply them to our current situations, or seek out new, ahem, situations. As we learn more about ourselves, it’s natural to wonder if we should be looking for a specific person to fulfill our love-language needs, or if we are overthinking it. The answer to both those questions is yes. And also no.
Autumn Morris, CEO and founder of Speaking of Autumn, gives us a bit more clarity. Instead of spending too much energy sleuthing out what someone’s love language is before even deciding if they are worth your love and time, start being communicative and flexible.
“The best love language match is with someone who is able to receive love the way you give it and vice versa. This sounds really simple; however, you can know what your love language is all day, but it does you no good if your partner can’t catch the love signals.” Make it easy and clear for your partner or potential partner, and start communicating.
“For instance,” Morris starts, “if you give love by buying gifts, but your partner doesn’t receive love that way, you’re pouring your love (and money) into a void. How emotionally exhausting!” If showing your love by giving gifts is incredibly important to you but is disturbing to someone else, that could be a key indicator that it’s not going to be a blissful match for long. “The best match is someone who is willing to learn how to love you productively based on what you know about yourself.”
“Now that you know you have the tools to identify how you best receive love, what’s next? What we seem to miss when discussing love languages is that how we give love and how we receive love can (and usually are) different,” Morris says. We may love to be constantly reminded that our partner loves us or finds us attractive, but compliments to our lovers don’t come as genuinely from ourselves, or vice versa.
Morris’s personal example is that she shows love the most via gifts and acts of service, but feels love clearly through quality time and physical touch. “This means my partner may love me to the moon and back, but if they can’t love me by cuddling with me or spending time with me, I won’t catch the love signals, and my partner may get emotionally exhausted and confused.”
For some, it may come as a relief that there isn’t a precise love language that matches our own. That leaves the dating pool open for more opportunities. But for others, it feels too vague and daunting—sometimes we just want to be told what to do. But Morris explicitly shares that we don’t find a partner who speaks our love language. We teach it to our lovers. She’s done us the honor of outlining what that looks like:
“Identify the love language you receive love with.
Identify the love language you give love with.
Identify how your partner gives and receives love.
Adjust how you give love based on your partner’s needs, and encourage your partner to do the same.”
In short, Morris says, “Your partner doesn’t need to have the same love language as you for you to have a successful partnership. Look for someone who is willing to learn how to love you productively based on what you’ve now identified in yourself as a lover.” Sigh of relief. Now get to loving.