You think you’ve found the one.
This time, it is going to work.
Then, something happens and things fall apart. You don’t feel seen or heard by the other person. You start to wonder if they even really love you.
Try as you might, you can’t seem to make them happy either. Are you just incompatible, or is there something else going on?
“You think you're giving everything to this person,” said Jay Shetty in a recent episode of his podcast On Purpose with Jay Shetty. “You think you've gone above and beyond, but actually they're looking at you like you don't love them.”
Relationships take hard work and good communication. Shetty explained that one of the foundational exercises for achieving relational success is summed up really well in the book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman.
In the book, Chapman explains what he believes to be the five love languages people use to relate with and show love to each other.(1) While all manner of love should be appreciated, Jay Shetty believes Chapman’s love language theory has a lot of merit and used it as an inspiration for this podcast episode. Here, Shetty lists and and explains the love languages described in Chapman’s book. He encourages listeners to examine the love languages Chapman details, and think through what their own may be in order to more effectively love and feel love from their partner.
“Real love is figuring out how someone wants to be loved and loving them in that way,” Jay Shetty said.
Love Language #1: Words of Affirmation
Chapman states that any form of words will do – written or spoken – to fill the “love tank”(2) of someone whose love language is words of affirmation. Words of encouragement, love, and affirmation speak deeply to a person with this love language. (3)
“Being really conscious and being active in our words of praise and recognition is really, really important to some of us,” said Jay Shetty.
Love Language #2: Physical Touch
Hugging, closeness, sitting together, holding hands, even a high five make a person whose love language is physical touch feel loved. (4)
“Many of us actually feel the most loved when we're hugged, when we're embraced, and when we're cared for physically,” said Jay Shetty.
Love Language #3: Receiving Gifts
People with this love language love meaningful gifts, regardless of size or price. (5)
“A gift can mean many different things,” Shetty explained. “Understanding what a gift means to your partner is really, really important.”
Love Language #4: Quality Time
Quality time is focused, intentional time spent giving your partner attention. This includes active listening, quality eye contact, and conscious effort on appreciating and prioritizing the other person. (6)
Jay Shetty added that a great way to nurture quality time is to, “Create a space where you can truly connect, free of anything that's taking away your focus.”
Love Language #5: Acts of Service
Some people feel most loved when they’re being served. Chores, odd jobs, bringing someone dinner, or watching the kids means a lot to people whose primary love language is Acts of Service.(7)
Knowing and understanding what your partner’s (and your own) love language can have huge benefits for relationships.
“Learning to love in the way someone wants to be loved is far more the definition of love than just loving in any way,” said Jay Shetty.
Operating out of these love languages will deepen and enrich the relationship and strengthen each person. As an added benefit, loving someone based on their love language will save time, money, and frustration. Why spend unnecessary money on gifts for a loved one who will not fully appreciate them? Why waste time and effort on acts of service they won’t value? (8)
Jay Shetty’s 6 Steps To Understanding Love Languages
Using some of the tips given in The Five Love Languages, Jay Shetty went on to share six steps you can take to effectively discover your partner’s love language and express your own.
Step #1: Know Your Love Language First
Start by learning what your own love language is. To do that, Shetty used the advice given in Chapman’s book when he urged listeners to ask themselves the following questions:
- Which love language makes me feel the most joy to receive?
- What lack of love language hurts the most?
Pinpointing this for yourself will help you understand what your love language is so you can express that to your partner.(9)
Step #2: Know Your Partner’s Love Language
After getting a good grasp on how you are best loved, turn the attention to the one you are loving. Encourage them to ask themselves the two questions above and rank their love languages. Take the time to talk about their list and evaluate how they are loved most effectively as you think though how you show them love.(10)
Shetty cautions that not getting to know how the other person receives love best generally leaves us loving them by default. Most often, that looks like us loving them how we want to be loved, but that doesn’t fill their bucket.
An illustration Chapman uses in his book says to imagine walking up to someone who doesn’t speak English and trying to communicate with them. They wouldn’t understand.(11)
“That's how it feels to not receive love in your love language,” explained Jay Shetty. “It's confusing. It lacks clarity. It's underwhelming. It's uninspiring, quite frankly, and you don't know how to engage with it. That's why so many couples today are disengaged in their relationships. They're being spoken to in the wrong language.”
Shetty and his wife, Radhi, didn’t get each other’s love languages right at first. Jay Shetty says his main love language is receiving gifts. His wife, on the other hand, feels most loved when he spends quality time with her.
Until he learned the concept of love languages, Jay Shetty couldn’t figure out why his wife didn’t seem to find joy in the gifts he bought her. Conversely, he struggled to be appreciative of the quality time and gourmet meals she lovingly prepared.
Discovering their love languages and practicing Chapman’s method helped the couple learn to love each other well.
Step #3: Know Your Parents
“So many of our love languages are based on how our parents loved us or didn't love us,” said Jay Shetty. “What our parents gave us either has become our priority or what they didn't give us has become our priority.”
What we did or didn’t get from our parents often ends up being what we expect from our partners. (12)
“We're trying to use our partners to fill a void or to continue an experience that our parents created,” Shetty said. Shetty encourages people to look at what they expect or demand from partners through the lens of how their parents did or did not show them love.
Step #4: Go Deeper
Just ticking love language boxes doesn’t always cut it. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut doing the easiest form of your partner’s love language. A quick peck on the cheek or thoughtless trinket don’t mean much when loving intention is missing.
“When it becomes like that, where it becomes a technique, it loses the essence,” said Jay Shetty. Instead, Shetty urgest listeners to go deeper and find ways to give meaning.
“Gifts don't just mean physical objects,” Shetty elaborated. “Touch doesn't just mean a handshake or walking and holding hands. Words of affirmations doesn't just mean throwing around words, right? It's so much more than that.”
Gifts are Jay’s primary love language, but over the years, he has noticed a change. His wife has gone deeper and tapped into the heart of what he really values; giving him gifts that have a lot of meaning.
“It's really important that each and every one of us take this step to go deeper on each of these affirmations,” Jay Shetty said. “It's so easy to just try and practice them superficially, but even that will not create the bond that we all truly want in our relationships.”
Here are some helpful reminders when it comes to going deeper:
Step #5: Okay Isn’t Enough
Sometimes people worry that the way they show love isn’t good enough. All efforts to show love should be met with gratitude … but why settle for just okay when there is potential to love people in deeply meaningful ways? Jay Shetty urges people to love well and learn how to love people in the ways they want and need to be loved.
They might seem willing to settle for okay. Maybe they have never experienced being loved well, so they don’t know. Perhaps they have been hurt in the past. Despite that, doing the work to love them via their love languages is powerful.
“If you want an okay, fine, average, neutral, mediocre relationship, then you can continue to do nothing about what I'm saying,” said Jay Shetty. It’s easy to assume that someone who never expresses their needs doesn’t need anything. Jay Shetty disagrees.
“When you live that way, you're confusing their apathy for simplicity.” Loving people in a more than okay way is the most loving thing you can do.
Step #6: Money Can’t Buy Love
“Things don't replace love languages,” Jay Shetty said. “Gifts, money, showing off, random travel – none of this can be a substitute for deeply understanding the love language of your partner.”
Jay urges people to not use money or the things it can buy as a cover up for issues or not doing the work of learning to love the other person well.
“Often we can waste time, money, and energy thinking that we can patch things up because of this incredible lifestyle we live or incredible things that we do. It doesn't work like that,” he cautions.
Replacing connections with things will not grow a deep relationship. Putting in the work is always worth it.
“Don't take these lightly,” Jay Shetty encouraged. “Don't underestimate the power of these love languages, and don't underestimate the power of these six steps that I've shared today.”
Learning about yourself and your partner is the first step to having an even deeper and more loving relationship.
The sky's the limit on what can be accomplished when a person is loved well. Help them soar.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “6 Steps to Understanding Love Languages & Improve Your Communication Instantly” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out his website at jayshetty.me. In addition, much of the inspiration for the material in this podcast and post comes from The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. If you would like to know more about the five love languages, you can purchase Chapman’s book online or in any bookstore.
Source: Chapman, Gary. The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. Chicago, Northfield Publishing, 1992.
- 1.Gary Chapman. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1992): 15-16.
- 2.Chapman, 19.
- 3.Chapman, 37-51.
- 4.Chapman, 107-117
- 5.Chapman, 75-89.
- 6.Chapman, 55-72.
- 7.Chapman, 91-104.
- 8.Gary Chapman. The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 1992).
- 9.Chapman, 119, 124-125.
- 10.Chapman, 119, 125-128.
- 11.Chapman, 15.
- 12.Chapman, 20-22.