The concept of love languages (originally developed by Gary Chapman, Ph.D) is built around the idea that there are five basic ways that people want to receive love. This could be the love we feel in a romantic relationship, but it could also be the love of a platonic friendship or a relationship with a family member.
Chapman identifies the five love languages as:
- Acts of service: doing something for your partner that you know they would like
- Physical touch: both intimate and non-intimate touching
- Receiving gifts: giving your partner tangible items that you know they want or would appreciate
- Quality time: showing love and affection by spending dedicated time together
- Words of affirmation: speaking or writing words that empathize with or uplift your partner
Words of affirmation is the most common love language. Almost a quarter of people report it as their top way of receiving or feeling loved. They prefer their partners to use verbal language to express their love and affection. If your partner is a person who responds to praise, declarations of love, affectionate texts, or love letters, you should learn all about words of affirmation and use them regularly!
Here are some tips for expressing words of affirmation:
Make A List
If your partner responds to words of affirmation, you may find yourself drawing a blank on what to say beyond “I love you” (though don’t skimp on the “I love yous”, they definitely need to be said!).
Take some time to think about what you love and appreciate about your partner, big and small—from them taking out the trash, to driving through rush hour traffic to pick you up at the airport. Making a physical list of all the things that you appreciate about your partner means you have a bank to pull from to tell them how much you value them.
Words, Words, Words
Words of affirmation is probably the most direct of all the five love languages. The simplest way to practice it is to just say how you feel! Speaking words of affirmation means telling your partner that they are loved and appreciated, so it’s important to remember to stop and remind them. Why not set a reminder? You can use your phone to prompt you to tell your partner something loving.
Send A Text
Sending a text when you are apart is a great way to let your partner know you are thinking about them. A bonus? Studies show that dopamine is released in the brain when we get a text alert. You can capitalize on that happy hormone and make your partner feel even more loved by sending them an affirming and affectionate (or even sexy) text during the day.
Leaving sticky notes for your partner is the analog way to text. Get creative: leave notes on the bathroom mirror, stuck to their favorite coffee cup, or in the refrigerator on the orange juice pitcher. Tell them you love them or recognize something they have done or make a declaration of their greatness. Like a text, they give your partner a private reminder that you are thinking about them and value them constantly.
Writing a love letter takes time and effort and is a great way to express words of affirmation. Whether you jot down a sweet note on a piece of notebook paper or buy some flowery stationary and seal the letter in an envelope with a kiss, taking the time to write a thoughtful letter will really show your partner how loved they are.
Check In With Your Partner
There are so many different ways to express words of affirmation. After you have tried some of these suggestions, check in with your partner and ask them which ways of communicating your love make them feel the most affirmed. Be sure to do more of the ones they like best!
Studies show that couples who know each other’s love languages (and practice expressing them) have greater relationship satisfaction and report higher levels of intimacy. If your partner prefers words of affirmation, make sure you are bringing empathy and authenticity to your expressions. If this is not your personal love language it can feel awkward at first, but remember—it’s all about making your partner feel loved and seen. Being intentional about this practice is an act of love in and of itself, and your efforts should pay off with greater satisfaction and intimacy!