One of the toughest parts of a relationship is loving your partner in exactly the way they need. Often, you think people experience love the way you do. You crave good morning texts, so they must too. You like talking about work, so they must too. But people are different. We come with different needs, baggage, and wants, and we all love differently. Accepting this is the first step toward giving your partner what they need. And when you can love them the way they need, it’ll strengthen the bond you share.
So how do you know what they need?
A good place to start is Dr. Gary Chapman’s popular concept of the five love languages, which explores distinct styles through which people express and prefer to receive love.
If your partner loves to hear, “you mean a lot to me,” “thank you for doing that,” or those three big words, “I love you,” then their love language is words of affirmation.
Does your partner love receiving tokens of your affection? Then their love language is gift giving.
If your partner loves when you make coffee for them or take care of them when they’re sick, then their love language is acts of service.
If your partner values regular Friday date nights or phone-free time after work, your partner’s love language is quality time.
If the most important thing to your partner is a hand through their hair, holding hands at the grocery store, or regular sex, then their love language is physical touch.
However, loving someone in the way they need can be tough. Typically, we tend to love others in the way we want to be loved and many of us aren’t aware there are different styles of love. So when your partner asks us to verbalize our gratitude for them, it might make you a little uncomfortable. It takes practice to feel comfortable with loving differently.
To love someone purely, wholly, and unconditionally, takes work. It takes risk, vulnerability, and selflessness. When you choose to step outside of your comfort zone to love someone in the way they need, you’re choosing to love them unconditionally. You’re saying, “I will do whatever it takes for you to feel loved.”
Unconditional love doesn’t barter, punish, or judge. It’s the only love that has the power to heal wounds, transform connections, and create the strongest relationships imaginable.
Loving your partner unconditionally begins with opening up a dialogue. Ask your partner what you can do to improve the relationship, what you could do to make them feel more loved. Then do it. This rethinking of your relationship is a blend of generosity and consciousness. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it’ll pay off. You’ll both feel more fulfilled.
Love is all about getting up in the morning and putting the coffee on the pot for them. It’s all about the simple good morning texts. It’s all about doing the things that make your partner happy, even though you don’t know why it should. It won’t always make sense to you, but be happy to do it. That’s what it’s all about.