Love Languages; What NOT to Do
Most of us are familiar with the five basic love languages, physical touch, acts of service, quality time, gifts and words of affirmation. You can read all about how to speak these languages here.
While it’s important to become “fluent” in speaking your partner’s language, it’s equally important to be aware of the types of actions that actively take away from our partner feeling loved and valued. There are certain words or actions that actually speak unlovingly for each of the five love languages.
Relationship researchers have found that it takes between 5-13 positive interactions to make up for one negative interaction. Interestingly, if there’s zero negative interactions and never any disagreement this also predicts a poor relational outcome.
It’s useful to know your partners top two love languages. In order to make someone feel loved we need to practice all five languages but it’s much more impactful to focus on your partner’s top two love languages. It’s extremely helpful to avoid taking away from their top two love languages inadvertently as well. What are the triggering actions for each love language that are likely to cause strife? Read on to find out.
What NOT to do for the five love languages
Physical touch people need loving caresses and/or kisses and hugs very regularly in order to feel valued and happy. Regular sex doesn’t hurt either. But what makes them feel particularly hurt or unfulfilled?
When you don’t initiate physical affection or touch those that speak this language feel unloved. Regular cuddles and physical warmth/intimacy is necessary for these individuals to feel happy and connected in their relationship.
This is a serious one and not acceptable for anyone but ostensibly would make someone with this love language feel particularly unloved.
When you hastily reject or don’t reciprocate their bids for physical affection. This triggers most people to some extent. Obviously not reciprocating in the moment is necessary sometimes based on circumstance, but the reasons simply need to be effectively communicated otherwise they may take it very personally.
Acts of Service
My personal favorite! These people truly believe that actions speak louder than words. That’s the good news, and the bad news. Words don’t necessarily have the same impact with these people until they see the actions to back it up. Very often they could also have trouble asking for help, thusly they developed this love language. What makes these folks particularly unhappy in a relationship?
Following through on what you say is the most important part to someone with this love language. Don’t make promises you can’t keep; don’t try to please them with hallow words. Doing something when you say you will shows respect and trustworthiness. Not doing so is a disappointment and discouragement. Be honest about your limitations upfront. It will be better in the long run.
An Unwillingness to Help
Those with this love language don’t want your advice, they want your help. If they have the flu, do something physically tangible that is helpful. You could send them medicine, make them a doctors appointment, cook them soup, take care of a small task… anything practical to make their life easier will show your love. Not doing anything – or even worse, being absent – will negatively impact how they view you. These individuals want to know through actions that you’re reliable and trustworthy. It simply looks like asking, “do you need anything?”
Never Going Out of Your Way
We all lead busy lives but if you want a fulfilling relationship with someone who’s top language is acts of service, sometimes you need to go out of your way. They’ll remember that trip to the airport or that time you travelled to see them even though your place is nicer. It goes a long way if they speak this language, even if they don’t say anything. Words may be sweet but practical actions will win their heart.
Acting Resentful for Helping
This is probably the worst thing you could do with someone who speaks this language. If you’re helping them out nothing will go over as well as you acting happy about doing so! Think about it, if you spoke “physical touch” would you like it if the person cuddling with you acted like they didn’t want to be there with you? Or would that hurt your feelings? It’s the same with acts of service. If you decide to help out, never act resentful for helping because it’s a lose-lose scenario. Some of the best words these folks could hear is “my pleasure”.
This is the most common language to speak for both men and women. Frequent calls, date nights and uninterrupted quality time together fulfill those who speak this language. But what particularly feels unloving for those who speak “quality time”?
Being Distracted While Talking
These folks want your undivided attention in order to feel loved. If you’re distracted doing the dishes or working while they’re trying to tell you something this will make them feel unimportant. Try to focus on them completely while they’re talking, even if you have to ask for a few minutes to finish up before you can truly focus.
Postponed or Canceled Dates
This can be triggering for anyone, but if you neglect spending one-on-one time with an individual who speaks this love language, they will very quickly feel unloved. It’s best for anyone to set a raincheck date right away to avoid hurt feelings if a postponement cannot be avoided altogether. This becomes a huge problem when it’s a repeated situation; you need to find solutions on how to spend quality time together.
Not Enough Time
In my experience, “quality time” also means “quantity time”. While we all have needs for quality time with loved ones it seems that those who speak this language actual need “quantity quality time”. Definitely these are not people who do well in long distance relationships or with those who have very demanding careers. For example, my grandmother always felt a little bit neglected by my grandfather due to his full career, although he spent every weekend with his family and came home for dinner every night. Perhaps she speaks this language.
Those who speak this language want to connect without distractions. The worst thing you can do is schedule time together only to be scrolling on your phone. Let’s be honest, it’s simply bad manners. Another tip is to avoid doing activities together that are distracting. These folks really appreciate direct connection.
Words of Affirmation
Individuals who speak “words of affirmation” as their top language truly appreciate a kind word. You can make their whole day just be being encouraging and giving them sincere compliments. It’s so easy! But what in particular makes these individuals feel unloved?
Be mindful not only of your message but also how you deliver it. “Words of affirmation” people are extra sensitive to sarcasm, raised voices and tone. It cuts deep!
These folks are especially sensitive to criticism. Be very cautious about how you deliver even constructive feedback lest it be taken as a harsh criticism. Moreover, direct insults won’t soon be forgotten by someone who speaks this language.
In order to feel loved and appreciated, those who speak “words of affirmation” as their top language need copious praise and admiration. Don’t lie, but it’s also hard to overdo it. Be sure to express your appreciation, approval and gratitude verbally and frequently.
Talking Down to Them
This is a pretty horrendous habit in general, but will be particularly hurtful for these individuals. Respect your differences and remember to honor your partner in the way you speak to them. Another good note – never put down or make fun of your partner in front of others.
This is my second best language. It’s one of the rarer ones for people (to admit) they have. These are the individuals who hold on to ticket stubs and matchboxes and dead flowers for 5+ years due to their sentimental value. It’s truly the thought that counts, but it’s also the effort you showed at all stages of the gifting process. What makes these individuals feel particularly unloved and unimportant?
Missing Special Occasions
Holidays and birthdays tend to be important for those who speak this language. It cuts deep when someone close forgets their birthday or anniversary.
Giving gifts are a nonverbal way to show how well you know someone. It’s necessary to pay attention and care about your partner’s preferences in order to be a successful gift-giver. If this isn’t your natural strength, keep notes on your phone about your partner’s favorite foods, drinks, colors and music, etc. A random object won’t necessarily communicate this love language.
Never Giving Small Gifts
Most people understand that it’s good to give a present for Christmas, a birthday or an anniversary, but for those who speak this language it’s also important to get small gifts just because! It shows thoughtfulness through a tangible item. Picking up their favorite coffee on your way to see them or a small trinket when you’re traveling is a great way to make these folks feel cherished. It’s also a great way to celebrate and commemorate your partner’s accomplishments.
Not Using your Gifts
Those who speak “gifts” as their top language often very much enjoy giving small gifts as well. It will make them happy if you like and use your gifts too!
Complaining about Prices
It should go without saying that you shouldn’t buy something for someone and then complain about the expense. Not only is it bad manners, it undermines the gift.
It can be easy to overlook loving actions that aren’t naturally important for us to receive, therefore we should develop the habit of using our partner’s love language on a regular basis. These are the major triggers for the five love languages! Which do you speak? Which negative actions affect you the most?
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