Love languages
20-something miseries, how-to

Unique Ways to Express Love (Romantic and Platonic) in Each of the 5 Love Languages

If you don’t know your love language yet, I highly encourage you to take the quiz and find out. But first, what is a “love language”?

So, it turns out that everyone expresses and receives love in their own unique ways. If you’re thinking “…huh, is that why I never really felt loved by that person who swore they loved me?” you aren’t alone. A lot of emotional energy is spent in our 20s sorting through unmet needs in past relationships, but you can ensure that your needs are met in the future by having a stronger understanding of your love language.

Communication is vital for every relationship, be it platonic, romantic, familial, or otherwise, even if that communication isn’t necessarily verbal. If two people have very different love languages and aren’t aware of it, both parties may find the relationship vaguely unfulfilling or frustrating, even though they love that person very much.

Does that mean you should only have relationships with people who speak the same love language as you? Not at all! It’s totally possible to have meaningful relationships with people who have totally different love languages from you, it’s just important to be aware of these differences, and ensure that both parties make an effort to express love in the other person’s love language.

But that can be difficult if you don’t have a strong understanding of the love languages outside your own, which is where this article can help. Below, you will find unique examples of how to express love (both romantic and platonic) in each of the five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Acts of Service. Check it out and surprise your friend/mom/partner with a thoughtful show of affection that matches their love language.

*** Obviously some of the suggestions below are not recommended
right now, when we’re supposed to be social distancing,
but when things eventually calm down again (and they will, I promise)
a lot of opportunities to express love will open up again. ***

Words of Affirmation

If your primary love language is Words of Affirmation, you likely thrive on praise, start to feel lonely if your friends don’t call or text very often, and you loooove love letters. This is my number one love language, so I know a thing or two about how to express love in a way that will feel meaningful to your friends/partner.

Words of affirmation

How to Express Platonic Love:

  1. Use their name every now and again. You might be shocked at how rarely we actually say people’s names. It can have a nice, warm, glowy effect on people whose love language is Words of Affirmation.
  2. Send them aggressively loving memes/Tik Toks/etc. We love knowing that our friends are thinking of us as they scroll through their day, and nothing makes us feel more loved than knowing that you saw an aggressively loving meme and thought to send it to us.
  3. If you find yourself thinking something nice about them, say it!!! They might act awkward, but as someone whose primary love language is Words of Affirmation, I promise we will remember that nice thing until the day we die. Seriously.
  4. Ask them about their day. Many people who feel most loved through kind words also find that they feel loved when given the opportunity to share their own words and feel heard.

How to Express Romantic Love

All of the above also apply to romantic relationships, but additionally…

  1. Write love letters. Seriously, your partner will not find them cheesy if Words of Affirmation is their love language. We love hearing all the things you love about us. (But be prepared, you will likely get 18 love letters in return.)
  2. Say “I love you” easily and often. These people receive love through words, so even if you think your actions clearly say “I love you,” sometimes they need to hear the actual words too.
  3. Leave cute notes around the house. This is especially nice if you work out of the home and they work at home. It’s a way to continue to communicate throughout the day while you both get work done, and it shows that you care enough to take the time to put them in place the night before.
  4. Text, call, do whatever you can to stay in touch if you’re in a long-distance relationship. I did long-distance with my now-husband for 7 years, and as someone whose love language is Words of Affirmation, I can assure you that communication is key. Find a form of communication that works for both of you and then do it as often as possible.

Physical Touch

Okay, confession time: this is my last love language, so I can’t speak to how I personally would like to receive love in this form. But it is my husband’s primary love language, and in the last 8 years, I’ve learned quite a lot about how to incorporate physical touch even if you aren’t necessarily a super touchy-feely person. And yes, physical touch is hugely important for friendships, so there are tips on expressing platonic love through physical touch below as well!

Physical touch

How to Express Platonic Love

  1. Hug when you say goodbye or hello. If they aren’t in a romantic relationship, those hugs may be the only physical love they are shown all day.
  2. If you need to get their attention, do so by gently tapping them on their arm, shoulder, or back. This might seem really little, but even small forms of physical touch can be soothing to people who speak this love language.
  3. Hold hands or interlock arms while walking somewhere. To be honest, this feels really awkward for me, but my sisters do this with everyone and I can see how happy it makes many people.
  4. If you are Netflix binging together, make sure you are casually touching. Maybe your legs are resting on top of theirs, or if you’re comfortable, you can even rest your head on their shoulder. Platonic cuddling is wonderful!

How to Express Romantic Love

  1. Back rubs. All the back rubs.
  2. Casually reach out and touch their arm, back, leg, etc. throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be sexual at all, just make an effort to make physical contact throughout the day. Even if this requires a concentrated effort at first, it will start to come more naturally as time goes on, and it will make your partner feel so loved.
  3. If it’s possible to hold hands, hold their hand. At a movie, at dinner, at home watching TV, any time, anywhere. If it feels like you’re holding hands way too much, you can always ask your partner if it feels excessive to them. But odds are, they will be thrilled.
  4. Initiate sexual intimacy. The Physical Touch love language isn’t all about sex, not by a long shot, but sex can definitely be a powerful way to express love in this language.

Receiving Gifts

This love language might seem weird at first, almost selfish, but it really isn’t. People who receive love through receiving gifts simply feel most loved when people make it clear that they really understand who they are. Think about it: what makes the perfect gift so perfect? It’s something that suits the person’s interests, aesthetic, and overall personality. To give someone a truly great gift, you have to know them very well and care about them very much. It’s not about the money spent, or even the time spent searching for the perfect gift, it’s about the emotional investment in who they are as a person.

Receiving gifts

How to Express Platonic Love

  1. Put their birthday in your calendar with a reminder notification and be sure to get them something small but meaningful every year. Most people who experience love through Receiving Gifts are super big into their birthday, and can be very hurt if their friends forget.
  2. Unless it’s to a specific, quirky store you know they love, avoid giving gift cards. They might be practical, but gifts are a sign of emotional investment for these people, so “practical” isn’t usually the vibe they’re looking for when they get a gift.
  3. If you can afford it, always go ahead and buy them that thing “that just made you think of them.” These types of gifts are incredibly wonderful for people who speak this love language. It shows that you’re thinking of them all the time, not just around their birthday or Christmas.
  4. If you have plans to hang out, show up at their house with their favorite coffee drink or snack. It might seem like a tiny “gift,” but it shows that you know them well, and that will make their heart sing.

How to Express Romantic Love

  1. For Christmas, don’t rely solely on the list they give you. Always give them at least one thing they didn’t ask for, but perfectly suits them.
  2. Surprise them with gifts whenever you can. Arrange for their favorite flowers to arrive at their work on a random Tuesday, or leave a new dress on the bed for them with instructions for them to meet you at their favorite restaurant. Surprise gifts mean a lot, because it shows you’re thinking of them.
  3. Not everyone who experiences love through Receiving Gifts is super into gift-giving holidays, but if they are, be careful not to miss one.
  4. If money is tight, find ways to make them inexpensive but thoughtful gifts. Remember, it isn’t about the money for these people, it’s about the emotional investment and how well you know them.

Quality Time

People who speak this love language feel most loved when their friends, family, or partner shows a deep desire to spend time with them. They don’t need gifts, hugs, or even words to feel loved. They just need to know that you enjoy being around them. Depending on the person, they may be content with both of your doing your own things in the same room, but other people who speak this language want to actively spend time together, like making dinner together or playing a sport or game together. Get to know your person and their quality time needs.

Quality time

How to Express Platonic Love

  1. Make plans with this person once a week if you can. Consistency is key. They just want to know that you enjoy spending time with them on a regular basis.
  2. Be careful how many times you turn them down for hangouts. Because they love quality time, they may ask to see you a lot, and it’s perfectly okay to respect your own boundaries and refuse when you need time alone or with others. But be careful not to turn them down too many times in a row. It might be a matter of practicality for you, but for them, it may feel like rejection.
  3. Come up with fun new ways to hang out. If you usually do Netflix marathons together, maybe switch things up and go to a craft fair. If you usually go out for coffee, maybe try out a new recipe together at your house. Variety can help the friendship grow.
  4. If you have a friend who lives far away, but nonetheless speaks this love language, you can do activities with them via Skype. Even if you’re both being quiet, doing your own things, that sense of togetherness is important to them.

How to Express Romantic Love

  1. Occasionally, turn down plans with your friends to spend time with your partner, even if you’re just hanging out doing nothing. These people need to know they are a priority in your life, and one of the best ways you can demonstrate it is by showing a genuine desire to just…be with them.
  2. Ask them on surprise dates. If you live together or are married, sometimes date night can feel a bit scheduled and forced, and the worst thing in the world for these people is the idea that you’re only spending time with them because you “have” to. Surprise dates show that you genuinely enjoy spending time with them.
  3. If you are working in one room and they’re in another, simply get up and work in the same room as them. Your presence will likely warm their heart.
  4. If you can afford it, plan a getaway with just the two of you. It can be a week or just a weekend, but any time away from real life and secluded with their lover is a great time for these people.

Acts of Service

This is another language that can seem a bit selfish at first glance, but really, it’s more about emotional investment than anything else. People whose primary love language is Acts of Service feel most loved when their friends/family/partner go out of their way to make their life easier in some way. Not because they’re lazy, but because those little things show that their loved ones care about even the smallest, most mundane aspects of their life. If you aren’t used to expressing love this way, Acts of Service can feel like nothing more than social niceties, but trust me when I say that for people who speak this language, it is so much more than that.

Acts of service

How to Express Platonic Love

  1. If this friend is feeling down, offer to help them with a specific chore or task that might be difficult for them right now. Don’t just say “How can I help??” because odds are they will feel guilty asking for anything. It’s better to offer a specific act of service because it feels like it’s your idea, and they just have to accept.
  2. Run errands with them. This is really Acts of Service combined with Quality Time, but everyone knows errands are more fun with a buddy to sing along with in the car and buy one or two totally unnecessary but adorable items. The service here is taking a chore and turning it into something fun.
  3. Come over and help them cook dinner every now and again. Cooking is the worst (in my opinion) but it’s a little less terrible with a friend.
  4. If you have a friend who doesn’t have a dishwasher and you come over and there is an enormous stack of dishes on the counter, just start doing them. They will help you dry, and will be eternally grateful (this one comes from experience).

How to Express Romantic Love

  1. Clean something ahead of schedule without their asking you to. Seriously, they will feel so happy.
  2. Make them a romantic dinner. Not only will they not have to cook that night, but you’ll get to spend some quality time together as you eat.
  3. For gift-giving holidays, give them practical gifts that make their life easier in some way. A subscription to Hello Fresh, a Roomba to help keep the house clean, or a gift card for a massage are all great options.
  4. Give them an unexpected day off. Take care of their duties around the house, with the kids, etc. and tell them to take the day to do something they’ve been wanting to do. The unexpected free time is a huge gift to them.

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