How to Fulfill Your Love Language Needs Without a Partner
By now, most people are familiar with the five love languages coined by Gary Chapman, which he posits are the five ways in which most people give and receive love:
- Words of affirmation
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
For couples, learning how to show and express love, using each other's love language is often an important aspect of communication.
"Having one's love languages fulfilled is a gift," said Paul Hokemeyer, Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and author of "Fragile Power." "Human beings are hardwired to exist in relationships that fill us up, that makes us feel whole and give meaning and depth to our lives."
He added that "by actively seeking to find your love language and the love languages of the people you love, then working even harder to relate through those love languages, you will add enormous value to your life and the lives of those you love."
But what if you don't have a partner? Can you still get these needs satisfied from your family and friends?
The experts we spoke to agree this is possible and explained that getting your loved ones to understand your love language is similar to how you would express these needs to your romantic partner.
Here's how you can actively take steps to fulfill your love language needs from your loved ones.
1. Be aware of your needs and convey these requests to your loved ones
It's important to understand your own specific needs and convey these requests to your loved ones, said Jane Greer, Ph.D., a New York–based licensed marriage and family therapist and author of "What About Me? Stop Selfishness From Ruining Your Relationship."
"If you look for love in the way of physical affection, you can give and ask for a hug or a pat on the back from family members and friends," Greer explained. "If acts of service make you feel loved, looking to your friends and family to help you out on a concrete basis by doing supportive things for you will make you feel cared for and valued. If quality time is what matters, you can make sure to plan and schedule a time to be with them either in person, on the phone, etc."
Also, it is important to convey these needs clearly and directly.
"Direct requests are the most effective," Hokemeyer said. "If a family member or friend is genuinely interested in your emotional and physical well-being, they will be willing to hear and take action on what you need in your relationship with them. So if you need to hear more affirming words and less criticism, questioning and comments from them, ask them directly."
2. Find out your different love languages with different people
We can also have more than one love language, and our love language needs might be different with different people.
"Pay attention to what is most meaningful to you so you can put that in place with your significant others," Greer said. "If [physical] affection is important to you romantically, you can look for that from your partner, whereas words of affirmation may matter more from your friends or parents complimenting you or acknowledging your positive qualities."
So, how do you disclose your love languages and learn about others'?
Hokemeyer recommends being "investigative reporters" in your relationships.
"Pay hyper-close attention to how the significant relationships in your life make you feel," he said. "Designate a specific notebook or make a spreadsheet of their relationships and jot down qualities in the relationships that make you feel fulfilled or drained. Once you have a tangible record of this, then you can go back and figure out how the five love languages fit into the relationships."
Doing so might require some practice, but it can give you a better understanding of your own needs with respect to others and allow you to reflect on why certain love languages from specific people are important to you.
3. Reciprocate and help your loved ones satisfy their needs too
Fulfilling your love language needs isn't just about yourself—remember to reciprocate what your loved ones have done for you and help them to discover and satisfy their needs too.
That way, you can develop deeper and more fulfilling relationships with your loved ones.
"The benefits of having your love language needs to be fulfilled are straight to the heart," Greer said. "You will feel loved, special, important, valued, cared about, supported, considered and that you really matter to your loved ones. It can give you a feeling of contentment and happiness."