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Know your partner’s love language to understand how to respond to their emotional needs

South China Morning Post logo South China Morning Post 19/3/2022 Luisa Tam
  • We use love language to give and receive love through a mix of words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch
  • You and your partner don't need to share the same love language to have a loving relationship, but both need to know what makes the other feel loved

Taiwanese actress Barbie Hsu, affectionately known as Big S to her fans, recently remarried. This may not sound like big news, but it was to an old flame she dated 20 years ago.

They broke up because Koo Jun-yup, a South Korean disc jockey, chose his career over love, as his country's entertainment industry was very strict about dating back then.

So if you decide to rekindle love with an old flame, is having a mutual love language even more critical? And if so, how can you cultivate this love language to reinforce your bond?

Before we address that question, let's look at the concept of love languages, developed by American author Gary Chapman. In short, Chapman believes there are five different ways of expressing and receiving love: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service and physical touch.

Barbie Hsu (right) recently married her old flame, South Korean DJ Koo Jun-yup. Photo: Weibo © Provided by South China Morning Post Barbie Hsu (right) recently married her old flame, South Korean DJ Koo Jun-yup. Photo: Weibo

The odds are that you and your partner don't have the same love language, so it is vital to discuss how you both show and receive love.

Everyone communicates love differently, and likewise, we all have preferences in the way we receive love. Knowing your partner's love language will allow you to become fully in tune with their emotional needs and vice versa.

Valentina Tudose, relationship expert and certified hypnotherapist, further elaborates why love languages are so important in a relationship.

She says in the beginning of a relationship, we are very good at communicating our appreciation to our partner. But as time goes by, we stop showing our affection because we assume it is a known fact. The reality is, we need to consistently feel appreciated and validated by our partners.

"We tend to believe our loved ones should treat us the same way we treat them, but it's not always the case. Our own ways of giving love may be learned behaviour, while the ways in which we want to receive love are more related to how we feel about ourselves, but the latter may not be easily noticed by our partner."

Valentina Tudose, dating coach and relationship expert, says people with different love languages can still communicate. © Provided by South China Morning Post Valentina Tudose, dating coach and relationship expert, says people with different love languages can still communicate.

Can two people who speak different love languages be happy together? "Definitely; just like people who speak Chinese and English can have a very productive conversation, so can two people with different love languages. All we require is an awareness and desire to communicate," she points out.

"For example, if one partner's love language is 'acts of service', then things like shopping for groceries to free up their time to do other things will be well received. But if the other person thinks these are just normal tasks that one should do in a partnership, this will not make the receiver feel loved," she warns.

Tudose says we can learn to better understand our partner's love language. So if one person's love language is physical touch, that means they are comfortable with public displays of affection, even in front of large groups. It also means they will feel distressed if there is an absence of physical touch.

In a more sensual sense, it means they love massages, cuddling, kissing and so on, Tudose says.

But if you are not a touchy-feely person, "words of affirmation" are a popular love language, so shower your partner with more compliments. Other ways to utilise "words of affirmation" include encouragement, love notes, or a custom-made playlist of songs.

You can also be vocal in bed to express pleasure during intimate moments to let your partner know how good they make you feel.

If your partner loves buying things, their love language is most likely gifts. Photo: Shutterstock © Provided by South China Morning Post If your partner loves buying things, their love language is most likely gifts. Photo: Shutterstock

If your partner loves buying things for others, there's a good chance their love language is gifts, Tudose says.

In the case of Big S and Koo's reunion, Tudose says when couples reconnect after a long separation, it is an opportunity to restart the relationship with a completely different approach.

"They can create a new foundation by making explicit agreements about what their standards and needs are, and communicating what each partner needs to feel loved.

"A basic understanding of a partner's primary and secondary love language can give couples a very clear direction for specific requests they can make to their partner - especially when they already have good examples of how they may not have felt particularly appreciated the first time around."

As cliched as it may sound, we all have different life experiences and hence expectations, so learning to communicate openly is key to a strong, healthy, and loving relationship.

Holding hands is a way to show love. Photo: Shutterstock © Provided by South China Morning Post Holding hands is a way to show love. Photo: Shutterstock

Simple ways to show love

  • Hold hands as often as possible

  • Give each other hugs before leaving and when returning home

  • If your partner is sad, hold them closely to increase their oxytocin level

  • Offer massages on a regular basis

  • Play with their hair

  • Cuddle in bed before falling asleep

  • Touch your partner on the arm or hold their hand while they're talking

  • Dance together

Luisa Tam is a Post correspondent who also hosts video tutorials on Cantonese language that are now part of Cathay Pacific's in-flight entertainment programme.

This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.

Copyright (c) 2022. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

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