Are love languages even real? Are they enough to base our relationships on them? Does love language compatibility even exist? Are there incompatible love languages? That’s what psychology and science have been arguing for decades.
And the battle is still ongoing…
We’ve asked couple-counseling and affaire recovery expert Terri DiMatteo about her thoughts, her answer might surprise you, but before that let’s uncover more about what are the 5 love languages, their origin, and have a look at the love language compatibility chart.
Pastor Gary Chapman had his eureka moment that led to his discovery of the five love languages. But did you know that his marriage was on the verge of divorce?
Yes even the creator of the five love languages himself struggled in his relationship… just like you. So don’t give up hope.
What Are the Five Love Languages Anyway?
Five different ways we express and feel love – hence love languages. According to Chapman, we use all five languages but we each have a primary love language and a secondary love language that resonates most. Let’s uncover the love languages list:
- Words of affirmation – we feel loved by being encouraged and appreciated
- Quality time – we feel loved by spending time connecting and receiving undivided attention (phones off!)
- Physical touch – we feel loved by physical intimacy (not necessarily sex) such as hugs, kisses, and holding hands
- Receiving gifts – we feel loved by receiving thoughtful gifts
- Acts of service – we feel loved by avoiding doing ‘chores’
Sometimes when couples don’t have the same love languages it can cause some frustration because we tend to give love the way we feel it. Let’s take an example:
If your love language is words of affirmation and your partner never or rarely encourages you, instead they shower you with thoughtful gifts (because it’s their primary love language), how would you feel?
Frustrated? Maybe misunderstood even?
Intellectually you feel all the love she is pouring on you, but you simply can’t feel it in your heart. You feel disconnected.
With that in mind, let’s look at the compatibilities:
Love Language Compatibility Chart
Let’s discover what are compatible love languages and which love languages are incompatible:
|Love Languages||Most Compatible|
|Words of Affirmation and Quality Time||Spending time together talking about you and connecting deeply and hearing how amazing you both are. Can it get any better?|
|Receiving Gifts and Acts of Service||“The baby needs a diaper, honey.” “No problem, I’ll happily go to the grocery store to bring it.” The service is being provided and the gift is received.|
|Physical Touch and Quality Time||One word: Netflix. You’re watching a movie cuddling together, and spending time together. What’s not to like? The same can be said about sex or walking by the beach.|
|Love Languages||Least Compatible|
|Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch||Words of Affirmation can feel overwhelmed by the constant touch (they are more intellectual than physical after all) and vice versa for Physical touch requires a more touchy-feely partner. The main issue here is space.|
|Words of Affirmation and Receiving Gifts||Words of Affirmation are all about sincerity and simplicity while Receiving Gifts can have a materialistic connotation (it’s not necessarily true, someone with a Receiving Gifts love language might enjoy a small pebble you collected). The main issue here is sincerity vs material.|
|Quality Time and Acts of Service||Quality time wants to spend time together, and Acts of service ask for things that might lead to time apart. The main issue here is time.|
Wouldn’t it be nice if both you and your partner had the same love languages? Or perhaps love language compatibility? Certainly, it would save both of you a lot of trouble, frustration, lack of understanding, and more.
Having the same love languages is a sign of a relationship’s compatibility. Unfortunately, couples often don’t share the same love languages.
Is it when my partner:
- Tells me she loves me, tells me how amazing I am, tells me how much she appreciates all the little things I do for her, or perhaps, listens to me? In that case, your primary love language is words of affirmation. You prefer genuine and regular encouragement with words.
- Spends uninterrupted and quality time with me watching a movie, playing a game, walking, or even having a deep conversation? Quality time is your preferred love language. You enjoy spending time with your partner and creating special moments.
- Hugs me and holds my hand? Maybe even initiates sex? You enjoy physical touch and whether it’s sexual or not, any kind of touch fits the mold. Physical intimacy is your go-to way to feel loved.
- Showers me with gifts? Creates thoughtful gifts? Receiving gifts is definitely your love language. You feel loved when your partner thinks of you and brings you a gift just because it reminded her of you.
- Takes care of the kids so that I can sleep more? Takes care of the groceries? Sweeeet!! Acts of service love language is your cup of tea when it comes to love. You feel loved when your partner takes care of the daily stuff.
Why do we have different love languages?
Simply put: we still have some unfinished business with our parents or caretakers.
Doesn’t sound romantic right? But it’s the truth.
We learned from our parents how to love and be loved by modeling how they loved us (and each other). We took our parents’ love languages and made them our own (or we crave what we didn’t receive and now love the way we wanted to be loved).
So we keep on attracting partners that have similar or opposing energies as our parents or caretakers had when we were children. We attract them (unconsciously of course) to simply heal the relationship we had.
Sometimes this unfinished business can last a lifetime, and sometimes we recognize the patterns, heal them, and in the process transform ourselves and our lives.
The more ‘turbulent’ our relationship with our caregivers, or the unmet needs we felt such as not feeling heard or validated, the more we seek a partner to complete that.
We attract incompatible love languages to heal. And once we heal, we can love and feel the love with all five love languages equally.
How do you know you have love languages that are not compatible?
- If you are frustrated most of the time (especially with your partner)
- If your partner doesn’t really make you feel special anymore
- If you feel misunderstood most of the time (especially by your partner)
What your partner should avoid at all costs when you have a love language conflict
If your love language is:
- Words of Affirmation, she should steer clear of criticism (the opposite of your love language)
- Quality Time, she should spend more time with you than with her friends, and of course the less time apart the better
- Physical Touch, she should not avoid physical intimacy. An example would be upholding sex to punish you or barely being affectionate
- Receiving Gifts, she should not forget special days and anniversaries (even the small ones)
- Acts of Service, she shouldn’t ignore your requests to help others (over commitment)
What it means to have conflicting love languages
So you’re in love and you seem to be at an impasse. You just discovered that your partner has a different love language…
Is it the end of the world? I mean the end of your relationship?
Unless you have major and unreconcilable differences, this is just a hiccup that might even be a blessing in disguise.
Yes, you see, there’s a misconception in our world that relationships are ‘meant to be’ just like the movies.
What we don’t know is that romantic movies have misled us. Think of a movie, any movie, and you will see that most of them ‘end’ when the relationship starts.
What does it mean? Simply that movies show us the initial courting and dating phase and end when the relationship really starts.
Our subconscious mind then fills the gap and so we believe that this is actually how relationships are supposed to be.
What’s my point? Just like you go to work every day to earn money, and take care of your physical needs every day to feel healthy, it is vital that you take care of your relationship needs every day for love.
“But George, I don’t want to work for my relationship! At the end of the day, I’m tired and just want to go home and watch tv. That’s my way of decompressing and relaxing.”
Just like you are tired and want to unwind by watching tv, your partner is also tired, and she unwinds by connecting with you. At least when you are in your masculine essence, and she is in her feminine essence.
And understanding your and your partner’s love language is one of the steps you can do to help you reconnect with each other.
“But George, relationships are either meant to be or they are not. I don’t want to work for it.”
Let us take a deep breath here.
“Meant to be” is a fixed mindset and while it’s great in fairytales, it rarely unfolds in real life. With a fixed mindset in a relationship, there is no room for growth (which is one of the purposes of relationships).
And when we talk about growth, we talk about struggles.
Having different love languages will be a journey of struggles while you are learning each other’s love languages and learning to express them the way you each feel love.
But in the end, after you’ve gone through the painful process and have mastered them, you and your partner will be glad you did. All the struggles and hardships will only strengthen your bond, make you feel proud, and release more dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin.
Now the good news is that you already have pretty decent dating skills, to say the least, or else you wouldn’t be with your partner. So it’s now time for you to work on your relationship skills.
What if Our Love Languages Don’t Match?
The first step if you have incompatible love languages is to develop a growth mindset and be open to working on your relationship. Once that is done, here are the 4 steps to bridge the gap and reconnect with your partner.
- Get intimate with the love languages with your partner. Both of you know each other’s primary love language inside out (as if it’s your own love language). After all, some people are fluent in more than one language, so why not be fluent in love?
- Tell your partner what makes you feel loved (and ask them what makes them feel loved). Give precise examples of what works specifically for you (and ask them to do the same)
- Ask for feedback and correct course.
- Have fun, experiment, create a game around it, and challenge yourselves (for example: for the next 30 days show love to your partner with only their primary love language. You can go even further by scheduling a specific time each day – it can be as little as 5min). This creates opportunities for you and your partner to practice each other’s love languages in a fun way.
An important mention here is to be aware of which stage of validation (kindly link to the previous article I wrote: 3 words to make a woman want you) your partner is at to speak their language.
Some Practical Examples of Expressing Love Languages
3 Great Ways to Connect with Words of Affirmation love language
- Express them often
- Write on papers
- Use the words your partner prefers
6 Great Ways to Connect with Quality Time love language
- Don’t look at your phone and focus on them most of the time
- Ask deep questions and have deep conversations
- Try different ways to connect
- Schedule time in your day for example start and end your day together
- Eye contact (this is one of the most powerful ways to connect)
- Create daily rituals together
3 Great Ways to Connect with Physical Touch (Physical touch love language ideas)
- Give your partner a massage
- Give your partner a big long hug (studies have shown that after 20 seconds our body starts releasing Oxytocin – so the more the happier your partner feels)
- Of course sex, and if your partner is spiritual, you can go even further with tantric sex.
3 Great Ways to Connect with Receiving Gifts love language
- Thoughtful gifts are the best way to make your partner feel seen and acknowledged
- Understand how your partner perceives the value of the gift
- When you are choosing a gift, focus on what your partner would want to receive not what you would want her to receive
3 Great Ways to Connect with Acts of Service love language
- Do the grocery shopping
- Fix their pipe
- Help them move
There are many other ways to connect, the best way is for you to experiment and see what works best for you and your partner.
To make you smile and give you hope (if you have incompatible love languages)
Even if you have a love language conflict, your relationship is not doomed. Just start working on your communication.
And remember that a relationship doesn’t stop with it. There are many different facets to explore to have and keep a great relationship.
In fact, Terri Di Matteo couple counseling and affaire recovery expert had to say this about the five love languages:
“Couples don’t need a love language, they need to deepen their emotional engagement and explore one another sexually. This is more challenging and difficult, but one which delivers the best results.”
Terri is a strong proponent of the attachment theory and believes that a relationship’s foundation is based on a bond of emotional and sexual intimacy which requires vulnerability.
“The book provides a simple framework. As romantic bonding occurs in the emotional and sexual arenas, only a few of the ‘languages’ listed serve that end. For example, if someone states they feel most loved via ‘Acts of Service, it has zero bonding effect. A spouse could do dishes, do laundry, mow the grass, mop the floor, run errands, and clean the house, and they would not increase their intimacy. Intimacy requires emotional and sexual engagement. Mopping the floor doesn’t engage either their emotions or their bodies.”
Over the years there have been many studies on the subject, some for it and some against the five love languages. A recent study (2023) with college students validated the five languages (even adding a 6th love language! Some called it humor, others called it space, and yet others called it tolerance.). Another study by Dr. Zoe Hazelwood from the Queensland University of Technology showed that in fact, relationship satisfaction depends on both partners’ self-regulation and that women’s self-regulation is more important when two partners have different love languages. One thing for sure is that not enough studies have been done to irrefutably choose whether the five love languages are valid or not.
Remember to follow the 4 steps to bridge the gap and reconnect with your partner. Reconnect intellectually, emotionally, physically, and even spiritually.
Frequently Asked Questions about Incompatible Love Languages
Let’s look into some of the most FAQs when it comes to incompatible love languages:
Why would a woman tell her boyfriend/husband that she loves him but never shows any affection towards him at all, even though he is always there for her no matter what happens in life (e.g., illness)?
In this scenario, the woman has words of affirmation as her primary love language while the man has physical touch as his primary love language. The woman is expressing love to her partner the way she feels most loved (words of affirmation) but that’s not her husband’s channel for love. So while he intellectually might understand she loves him, he doesn’t feel it.
What do you do when your boyfriend's love language is different from yours? He says he loves me but never proves it with actions or physical touch, and I’m yearning for physical affection from him. Somebody, please help!
Her love language is physical touch, and his love language seems to be words of affirmation.
In the 5 love languages, is it better if both people in a relationship have at least one or two of their top love languages in common?
Studies have shown that couples with common love languages have more sexual bliss.
What do you do if your partner refuses to speak your love language?
They probably have a fixed mindset when it comes to relationships.
How important are love languages in relationships?
They certainly have their space but a relationship is not limited to it.
Is it important in a relationship that you have to kiss and get all touchy with your boyfriend? What if you don't like it but you still love him a lot? Why does my boyfriend always gets annoyed when I say no to kissing and getting touchy?
Kissing is super powerful. It can make or break relationships. Having said that, maybe you don’t enjoy a public display of affection,
How do I get better at love languages?
Should I end a relationship because we have different love languages?
If this is the only difference, no.
How do I come to terms with the fact that my boyfriend never wants to touch me? My love language is touch and he just doesn’t understand it. I also find that he barely says I love you first or kisses me it’s always me initiating it
Communicate. Maybe he’s more feminine, or he is not interested.
I like to hug, kiss, and cuddle with my boyfriend all the time, like every 10 minutes when I am with him, and he gets annoyed when I do that. Is something wrong with me and him?
There is nothing wrong with you or him. You certainly have different love languages. if you are overdoing it perhaps, he feels suffocated.
I don’t feel loved by my girlfriend. She doesn't try to put effort into my love language, which is physical touch when I put an effort into hers. I feel drained. What does this mean?
It seems you are in a one-sided relationship at the moment, and she doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. If it’s just a phase, have an honest conversation. If not, it might be time for you to explore other options.
My girlfriend keeps asking me to tell her "I love you", even though I keep buying her gifts and nurturing her in different ways. Why does she need me to verbally admit it?
It’s her love language, the way she feels loved.
My partner keeps saying “you don’t love me”, what do I do?
Try to love her using different love languages. Experiment and find out what’s her love language. Once you know, express your love through her love language.
My love language is physical touch. How do I ask for it without seeming clingy and needy?
Communicate with your partner. Communicate with your body by initiating more hugs, holding hands, etc., and having an honest conversation.
What do you do if your partner doesn’t understand your love language? Meaning I am suffering emotionally, with no connection. What should I do?
Talk to your partner. Read the book together and discuss it. Treat it like a fun experiment.
In a relationship, can your love language change?
Absolutely! Let’s say your primary love language is words of affirmation. You have this because you feel a lack and need external validation. Now if you find the strength to transform yourself, you won’t need your partner to ‘validate’ you, so your love language would move to another. Different circumstances can also change your love language.
How do I love others and inspire kindness even if I don't feel loved?
The first step is to start loving yourself. You cannot give what you don’t have. After that, like the saying “do unto others what you want others to do unto you”, be kind to others.
What is the most popular love language