Joy Nordenstrom, love coach and matchmaker, speaks to couples and singles about the importance of understanding love languages. For Valentines Day, you can make use of this information in how you honor your sweetie (or potential love interest) in a way that will resonate the most.
Are you single? In a relationship? Or are you currently falling into the category “it’s complicated?” Whatever your relationship status the following tips will help you make the largest impact on those you care the most about. You will start by learning their love language and then incorporate their learning style to become effective and efficient in your loving actions and words.
If you are in a relationship…
…would you like to make this Valentine’s Day a day your partner won’t be able to stop talking about weeks, if not years to come. With a little bit of creativity, energy and by speaking their language, you will increase your chances of creating a memory to last a lifetime. Plus, taking this extra effort and time to explore what makes your partner feel most loved will have lasting effects on the health and longevity of your relationship.
If you are single…
…the next time you meet someone special you would like to make a lasting impression on these skills will definitely come in handy. Your ability to pinpoint what makes this person comfortable and happy by utilizing their languages will be key in growing your acquaintance into a relationship.
Core to my work as both a matchmaker and as a relationship coach is the work of Dr. Gary Chapman who wrote “The Five Love Languages.” Although knowing someone’s love language will help you communicate better with them, I have found that in the initial stages of love it doesn’t matter quite as much what your love language is because at that stage we are chemically addicted to our partners and tend to utilize all of the love languages. The attraction phase can last a few months up to several years depending on the circumstances surrounding the relationship. It’s when individuals move from the attraction phase to the attachment or comfort zone of love that the working knowledge of your partner’s love language becomes critical. In the comfort zone of love, we drop back into giving and receiving love the way we learned how to give and receive love from our parents or caregivers. That being said if you can from square one find someone with whom you share your primary or secondary love language then your relationship will have a higher chance of survival in the long run. Thus, it’s critical to ask the right questions in the beginning in order for there to be less need for serious relationship work in the future. By having love languages in sync, the work will be turned into fun relationship maintenance because you won’t have to think in a language you don’t speak.
Answer the following question for a quick love language assessment and discover which resonates most with you. Then, if you are in a relationship, select the one you feel sounds most like your partner. It may be a little more challenging to determine how your partner would answer but think about the following from past conversations. What do they most often complain about in relation to others? What do they request from others? And, observe how they most often express their love to those they care about and are close to them.
If you are single and attempting to determine the love language of another single someone whom you have just met, you need to first make them feel comfortable and then when the time is right and as soon as possible engage in a dialogue about what matters most to them. People do like it when other’s are interested in them so don’t be shy to ask personal questions as long as you aren’t getting any negative body language from them. The number one objective of flirting is being able to put someone at ease and to connect with them on their level. (I teach classes on this and coach people regularly, so if you feel you could use some lessons on this initial step, feel free to contact me.) As you are getting to know them, be ready to ask questions similar in nature to the one below, just more open-ended, like “What makes you feel truly loved and appreciated?” or “What was the biggest thing that was lacking in your last significant relationship?”
The love language question:
I feel most loved and appreciated by someone when…
a) … they give me thoughtful gifts.
b) … they express their feelings for me with an act of physical closeness, such as holding my hand, kissing or hugging me.
c) … they take time and energy to do a chore I would normally do around the house as a gesture of their love for me.
d) … they verbally tell me why they are grateful I am in their life.
e) … they spend uninterrupted one-on-one time with me.
There is a possibility that you and/or your partner are bilingual. So if two answers equally rise to the top, choose one as your primary and the other as your secondary love language. In a loving relationship, it is normal to give gestures of love using all five languages, especially in the beginning of a relationship, but one or two usually stand out.
Based on your answer to the question above your love language(s) is (are):
b) Physical Touch
c) Acts of Service
d) Words of Affirmation
e) Quality Time
This is just the tip of the iceberg on love languages. If you would like to take an extended quiz or learn more about this in conjunction with your current or future relationship you can email me and/or read Dr. Chapman’s book.
Now that you see how easy it is to decipher someone’s love language. If you want to make your partner or new acquaintance feel like you understand them even more deeply learn how to pick up on and mirror their style of communication. Listen and observe your love’s words and behavior closely to determine if they appear to operate in the world based on a visual, audio or kinesthetic way of relating to others. These learning styles were originally popularized by Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Model and are currently based on the principals of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Utilizing the VAK styles when connecting with others will help your interactions progress more smoothly. In order to gauge their style, listen to the phrases they use:
Visual people use: “see you”, “watch it”, “I notice” and “it appears”
Auditory people use: “listen”, “that sounds like”, “I hear”, and “good talking to you”
Kinesthetic people use: “I feel like”, “I can handle”, “hold on” and “get in touch”
If their behavior, look for cues to their style. For example, does someone connect by reaching out and touching you on the hand or shoulder or if they are your partner do they greet you with a hug or a kiss? If they do then they may be kinesthetic. Or do they prefer to talk in-person or on the phone over texting or emailing? Then they are probably auditory. Or do you see them using a lot of visual references like graphical references and pictures to show the story they are telling? Then they would be visual. Only about 20% of the population is kinesthetic and the rest are divided fifty/fifty between visual and auditory people. Taking the time to better understand your romantic partner, or any one you are interested in knowing better, by learning both the way they feel appreciated and the way they relate to others is key to your effective and efficient communication and interactions with them.
Coming back to the Valentine’s Day holiday, your best course of action is to take some of the creative suggestions based on the five love languages below. Take an extra step to make sure you are incorporating several elements that relate not only to your partner’s love language but also their style of communication. For example, if they are auditory then make use you are using your voice, music and possibly recorded sound bits to round out the gift or adventure. If they are visual, make sure you document your activities with photographs, give them printed copies soon thereafter and maybe incorporate going to see something special. If they are leaning toward kinesthetic then make sure you are involving a lot of tactile sensations—massage, holding hands, kissing and feeling good textures.
Acts of Service:
- Make a gift like a scrapbook or a shadow box of your first several months (years) together: include letters to and from each other, matchbooks from restaurants or take out menus, movie or concert ticket stubs, corks from bottles of champagne and wine consumed together and of course photographs.
- Create a gift certificate that details your gift of a weekend of gardening, laundry and cleaning while your partner takes it easy, just sitting back and enjoying themselves while you make sure they have their favorite drink in hand, books or magazines, and/or movies on the television.
- Create a book of coupons to use over the next few months specifically designed around you doing your significant other’s most disliked chores.
- This requires a bit of forward thinking and creativity. Go for a walk together and happen upon a picnic set up overlooking the ocean just waiting for you to sit down and enjoy.
- Create an adventure throughout the day designed to locate several fun accouterments for a romantic evening together at home: spend the day with your partner as they decipher the clues to go to find their favorite chocolate shops, wine shops for champagne (maybe do a champagne tasting to discover some new favorites), maybe create a playlist together of your favorite songs while having a cup of hot chocolate at a quaint cafe, go on a walk along the beach at sunset and return home with some take-out to continue the quality time in front of the fireplace together.
- Pack her bags without her knowing and surprise her by going on a short road trip together. Stay at a bed and breakfast and linger in the morning enjoying your time together.
- The gift(s) doesn’t (don’t) have to be expensive, just make sure there was a good deal of thought put into thinking what would make your love happy. Ideas for a less expensive gift include researching the meanings of various flowers, buy one of each individual flower and tell a story as you present your love with each one, perhaps ending with a red rose signifying your love; another idea would be similar to the one above in Acts of Service, gather many photos, letters and ticket stubs of times spent together and put them into a scrapbook.
- Create a treasure hunt personally designed as her Valentine’s Day gift. It could include: finding the best chocolate shops in the city, wine tasting and choosing your favorite bottle for later in the evening, and when you get home surprise her with a trail of small boxes leading to a big box (or the other way around if you are ending with a piece of jewelry); things she wouldn’t normally buy for herself but that you would know she would have fun exploring with you.
Words of Affirmation:
- Take the time to write a special letter to your partner. Maybe have the letter written in calligraphy on special paper for them.
- Memorize one of your love’s favorite poems and recite it to them over dessert or at sunset.
- Online you can customize a book based on you and your partner, special locations you have already been or would like to travel to and adventures you would love to have together.
- Create a day of sensual pleasure where your love is either the queen or king for the day.
- Key ingredients for an evening of pampering can include the following: a trail of rose petals from the front door to the bathroom where a hot bubble bath is waiting, assist them in undressing and distressing from the workday by helping them into the bath and washing them down. At the end of the bath time, wrap them in a comfy robe and escort them to the blanket in front of the fireplace. Give them a massage, either foot or full body with their choice of favorite essential oils. Have a tray of light foods that you can feed them and a glass of their favorite drink you can serve them. The rest of the evening I’m sure will progress in a way that will delight any “physical touch” person.
If you didn’t know this already, you need to know that your largest sex organ is your brain. When it is stimulated you will start producing endorphins, norepinephrine and dopamine, with a decrease in serotonin. Why is this a good internal chemical cocktail? Because it will heighten all five of your senses, emblazon the memory of what you are doing into your long-tern storage and give you a heighten sense of energy and focus. I hope you have learned how important it is to make time to explore all of your love’s senses and put some creativity into designing your Valentine’s Day together. I guarantee the more attention you put into understanding what makes them happy and loved, the greater chances your Valentine’s Day gift and love for them will leave a lasting memory and create a story that will be told time and again.