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Is your male partner emotionally distant, closed off, or often crabby? As men, we are often raised to ignore our emotional needs, and this frequently leads to relationship problems. What you both can benefit from is being in touch with the 5 love languages to keep on par with each other's emotional state.
If your partner isn’t giving you the emotional support you need, it’s likely he either doesn’t know how, or he’s not getting what he needs.
Because so many men struggle with affection and intimacy, it’s often up to the woman to take the first step.
Your partner’s emotions are like a bank — if there’s no money in the vaults, they can’t pay out when you need it.
If their vaults are overflowing, they’re more likely to multiply your returns or generate “passive income.”
Men have trouble with this without even knowing it. Often, we don’t realize we need affection, or what type of affection we need.
However, once we begin to realize there’s different forms of “currency,” we can start to recognize we have more to give than we thought.
It’s hard to run on deficits, and maybe that’s where you’re both at.
Set the example. Sometimes, you must spend money to make money.
Some men have bigger banks than others, but all can pay out in “emotional currency” once we learn how to.
After a while, this exchange of affection can become mutual and self-generating.
What Are The 5 Love Languages?
The 5 Love Languages were first conceived of by Gary Chapman in his 1995 book of the same name (link to Amazon here).
Since then, they have “gone viral” and are one of the most popular suggestions given by marriage counselors to save marriages.
The idea is that each person needs to be loved and feel affection in order to have a happy relationship.
Each person speaks a different type of language through which they give and receive this affection.
If you’re speaking a different language than you’re partner, something may be getting lost in translation.
If you learn to speak in all five languages, you can express love to just about anyone.
Traditionally, each person gives and receives love in the one primary way, but sometimes people give and receive in a different way.
While one or two languages may be primary for you, you can learn to speak all of them.
It’s important to know your partner’s love languages so you can give him love in the way he needs.
You can also then learn to recognize when they’re giving you love in a language you don’t speak.
You and your partner can take the 5 love languages test here.
1. Physical Touch
Most men automatically assume that they speak the language of physical touch because they really like sex.
But physical touch is much more than sex and isn’t really correlated with it at all.
Showing love through physical touch includes things like cuddling, hand holding, hugging, and affectionate kissing.
It’s one of the rarer languages, so try to disconnect it from sex in your mind.
Signs Of Physical Touch
You or your partner may speak the physical touch language if the following applies to you:
1. You’d much rather hug your partner or give a quick kiss than say, “I love you.”
2. Don’t care what activity you’re doing together as long as you’re cuddling or touching in some way.
3. Crave “skin to skin” contact.
4. Feel lonely, rejected, or unloved if you haven’t had physical contact with your partner in a while.
5. Don’t mind, or even really appreciate, physical displays of affection.
6. Can engage in intimate touch (spooning, massages, etc.) without necessarily needing it to lead to sex.
How To Flirt With Physical Touch
Flirting is just one part of intimacy, but it can be important for keeping the spark alive in a long-term, committed relationship.
This is where the 5 love languages gets fun. Physical touch is one of the easiest ways to flirt.
When I talk about flirting here, I mean ways to signal attraction and sexual desire that focus on foreplay.
Every man will have different tastes, but here’s a few, almost universal ways to communicate sexual desire and attraction through touch.
- Light Soft Strokes: Gently brushing your fingers or briefly touching a shoulder, leg, or cheek can crank up the sexual intimacy while not being too forward. Sometimes it’s nice to let that tension build for a while.
- Passionate Kisses: Going in for a long lip kiss can (leave the tongue and biting out for now) can be a huge turn on and communicate attraction while building up the sexual foreplay if you can’t “get it on” right this second.
- Bed Cuddles: This doesn’t necessarily have to be spooning, but that is a classic tactic. Running your foot up his leg, or just holding each other while you sleep can be both intimate and flirtatious.
How To Build Intimacy With Physical Touch
Intimacy is a bit different from flirting. It’s not necessarily meant in a sexual way and is more about communicating enduring love and commitment than it is about attraction.
Relationships need both flirtatious/sexy “talk” and intimate “talk.”
- Skin Touch: For many people with this as their love language, skin-to-skin touch is something they crave, and they can even have a “skin starvation” if they go too long without that sort of affection. Touching bare feet, holding hands, or allowing them to put a hand on your tummy, knee, or shoulder can go along way to communicating intimacy, commitment, and security to a person who values physical touch.
- Public Displays of Affection: Public displays of affection can actually cross over into “words of affirmation” but it’s a good way to show your partner that you love them enough to tell other people. Obviously, making out in public is not appropriate, but an arm around the shoulder, a hand on the knee, or a quick peck on the cheek or lips in public can really bolster a man’s confidence.
- Massages: Massages can be intimate without being at all sexual. It comes back to that skin-to-skin touch as well as offering your partner some relaxation. Shoulders, neck, feet — all of these can carry tension and helping your partner relax is not only physically intimate, but it shows support.
- Small Kisses: Daily small pecks on the cheek or lips can be the equivalent of saying “I love you.” I recommend doing this at least three times a day: when you wake up, when you sleep, and when you leave or arrive home from work. It takes very little effort and can be a consistent reminder that you love each other.
Tips To Speak Physical Touch
This can be a really hard language to speak if it doesn’t come naturally. To some people, it can even be repulsive.
If you really care about your partner though, and want to invest in their emotional bank through the 5 love languages, here’s a few tips to help you learn this particular language without being overwhelming for you:
- Not Sexual. Remember that the language of physical touch is not necessarily sexual. If you’re not feeling sexual, but want to still show your partner physical affection, that’s OK! Use some of the “Intimacy” suggestions from above.
- Start Small. If it’s overwhelming for you, start small. Maybe commit to just a few small kisses a day and move on from there. The important part is that you try and speak the language your partner needs. If that has to occur slowly, that’s fine!
- Watch Your Partner. Try to notice how your partner expresses physical love to you. Does he like to hold your hand a lot. Does he give you shoulder rubs without you having to ask? If you’re unsure where to start, hopefully your partner can give you some hints without even realizing it.
2. Words Of Affirmation
Words of Affirmations is one of the most common love languages and can be one of the easiest to learn even if you don’t speak it.
It focuses primarily on complimenting the other person, recognizing their strengths, reminding them of their value in your life, and verbally saying “I love you.”
Signs Of Words Of Affirmation
You or your partner may speak the Words of Affirmation language if the following applies to you:
1. Say “I love you” or verbally express affection on a daily or frequent basis.
2. Love recognition and being told thank you.
3. Feel rejected when people don’t appreciate your accomplishments or your efforts.
4. Frequently compliment other people without them asking.
5. Say “thank you” because you know other people appreciate it.
6. Want to make other people feel good by what you say.
7. You’re a little sensitive about what people say about you. You may not take criticism well and dwell on it for a while when people don’t speak well of you or insult you.
How To Flirt With Words Of Affirmation
It’s hard to flirt with Words of Affirmation while staying just shy of “talking dirty.” Sometimes, the 5 love languages aren't for the faint-of-heart.
While there’s a place for the overtness of it, that’s not really the point.
Here’s a few ways you can “slow burn” the flirting with someone who speaks this language:
- Compliment on Looks: Saying things like “You look so sexy in that shirt” or “I love the way your scruffy beard makes you so masculine” is a compliment with a flirtatious twist. Not only will it make your partner feel extremely confident and sexy, it can ramp up some sexual tension.
- Compliment on Arousal: If you tell your partner “you drive me crazy when you kiss me like that” or “I cannot wait to get you alone tonight,” it can make your partner feel amazingly well about themselves and they’ll likely return the compliment.
- Bring Up Good Memories: Talking about past experiences that made you both swoon can trigger the “feel good” emotions that will make you both feel euphoric. “Remember that time we snuck away at your company’s Christmas party?” can give you both positive regard and help you share a moment no matter where you are.
How To Build Intimacy With Words of Affirmation
Here’s a few ways you can foster greater intimacy with your affirmation-focused partner:
- I Love You: Saying something as simple as “I love you” can go a long way towards filling your partner’s emotional bank. Sometimes we subconsciously doubt the love our partner has for us, and doing a daily reminder can yield huge payouts in a relationship.
- Thank You For: People who crave affirmation are very responsive to gratitude. They need to feel appreciated and saying “thank you” for even small things can show them that appreciation and will help them want to do those positive actions more.
- You Make Me Feel: Telling your partner they evoke positive emotions in you will help them feel extremely appreciated, loved, and they’ll naturally want to make you feel more of that. This love language is one of the quickest to pay back investments.
- I Am Proud of You: Who doesn’t want to be told a person they love is proud of them? But often we don’t’ even think to say this. When you notice your partner achieving something, working hard, or even getting back “up” after a set back, tell them you’re proud of them. They will be loyal and loving to you through anything.
Tips To Speak Words Of Affirmation
This may be a hard language to speak if you’re not used to it. However, I still think it’s one of the easiest to learn. It’s just about establishing a habit. Here’s a few tips for you to get started:
- Daily “I Love You’s”: The easiest way to develop a habit of saying “I love you” is to pick a specific time (when you wake up is usually good) to say it. You’ll find that the more you say this, the more you both will act like it.
- Remember Manners: We teach kids to have manners as a matter of respect, but we often forget them as adults. Remembering to say “please”, and especially “thank you,” can go along way to foster daily appreciation, affection, and intimacy. It’s like depositing $.10 into the bank every day… it adds up eventually!
- Notice Actions: If you’re having trouble knowing what to compliment your partner on, try to be more observant of their actions. When they do something, get into the habit of recognizing when it makes you happy. Then express that to them. It may take a bit of hard work and awareness, but it will work!
- Express Feelings: Get in the habit of expressing your feelings, especially positive ones that come about from something your partner did. His appreciation will be palpable. Again, it might take some time to learn how to do this, but it’s a concrete step you can take.
3. Giving Gifts
While on the surface it might appear that people who like to give and receive gifts are just in it for the “stuff,” that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Fundamentally, giving and receiving gifts is about the knowing a person understands you.
This is the most symbolic of the 5 love languages. The gift doesn’t have to cost anything or even be high quality.
A love letter, a picture drawn by a child, or a photograph of a memorable experience can all be considered intimate gifts.
It’s about communicating that you know who a person is and what they like so they feel understood.
This is one of the most difficult languages for men to speak, so it’s likely this is low on your partner’s rankings.
But even so, it’s a good one to be aware of.
Signs Of Gift Giving
You or your partner may speak the language of Gift Giving if any of the following apply to you:
1. Even if the gift is nice or expensive, it doesn’t mean anything if there is no thought or effort behind it.
2. A missed birthday or anniversary is one of the worst things you can think of in a relationship.
3. You love little gifts that remind you of fun times you’ve had, or which were created with special thought by someone you love.
4. If someone goes out of their way to get you something they know you like, it means more than the actual gift itself.
5. You like to put in a lot of thought, care, and effort into the gifts you give other people. They are specific to each individual person you give them to.
How To Flirt With Gift Giving
This is another one where flirting can be hard, and if you’re not careful, can get expensive.
Remember, it’s the thought that counts. Here’s a few ways to flirt with gifts:
- Sexy Picture: Give a picture of yourself showing off the part of your body your guy loves the best. Note: this could be your smile.
- Clothing: Give something that accentuates a part of his body that you love—sexy pants, a v-neck t-shirt, a nice blazer—and include a note with it saying “I love how sexy you’ll look in this.”
- Flirty Note: Write them a loving note laced with sexual innuendo.
- Redeemable For: Give them a “coupon” for “that thing you like me to do in bed.”
How To Build Intimacy With Gift Giving
Here are some ways you can give gifts that are meaningful to your partner and will yield huge dividends in your guy’s emotional payout:
- Surprise!: Learn your partner’s favorite candy bar or other guilty pleasure and leave it somewhere they’ll find it.
- Romantic Dinner: Treat him to a romantic dinner at his favorite restaurant.
- Wish List: Keep track of things your man says he wants but that maybe he doesn’t want to splurge on for himself.
- A Note: Write him a note saying how much he means to you and everything you love about him. This doubles as words of affirmation, so you get two deposits for one.
Tips To Speak Gift Giving
Genuine Gift Giving can be hard to learn. It involves putting yourself in someone else’s head and figuring out what is important to them.
Most women are naturally pretty good at it, but if it’s hard for you, try these tips:
- What Does He Love: What does your partner talk about the most? Does he have any hobbies, business endeavors, or interests that he spends a lot of time on? Giving him a gift concerning that can show you support what he loves.
- Shared Memories: What are some memories you have together? Give something that reminds him of those times or that enable you both to experience them again.
- Nostalgia: What are some fond memories he had as a childhood? Drawing on that nostalgia and letting him experience those again can show him you’re listening and that you care.
- Splurge: What would he buy for himself if money wasn’t an issue? Either find some way to save a little extra cash and buy it for him or get something similar that shows you’re listening. Maybe you can’t afford it now, but you acknowledge that it’s a goal for you both to work towards.
4. Acts Of Service
Acts of Service are doing things for another person, usually without them asking. This is my personal favorite of the 5 love languages and the one I speak best with my wife.
It lets them know that you’re paying attention to their needs, supporting them, and trying to relieve some of the mental burden that can come with having a “to do” list.
Signs Of Acts Of Service
This might be you or your man’s love language if any of the following apply to you:
1. You’re happy when your partner does little chores around the house, even if they didn’t necessarily need to be done.
2. Enjoy seeing people’s reaction when you do things for them.
3. Like to wait on people, or enjoy being waited on.
4. Love to host parties.
5. You’re a hands-on person, view yourself as a provider for your family, or place a heavy emphasis on the saying “actions speak louder than words.”
How To Flirt With Acts Of Service
How do you do acts of service that might signal to your partner you’re in the mood for a romance filled night?
As women, you probably do the majority of the housework, so what can you do out of the ordinary? Try these suggestions:
- Shave: Whether it’s your legs or… other areas, I know it’s a pain in the butt to shave. It’s probably something you’ve let go if you’re in a long-term relationship. This is an act of service that shows you’re thinking of what your partner enjoys.
- Favorite Meal: This shows a certain amount of consideration, especially if it’s something that requires more work (my personal favorite is Risotto). Pair this with mood lighting and romantic music and your signal will be loud and clear.
- Banish the Kids: Finding a babysitter, or bartering favors for one, can be a lot of work or cost some money. Giving both of you a night away from the kids opens up the night for passion. It's a nice recognition that sometimes even he needs a break.
How To Build Intimacy With Acts of Service
What are some small ways to invest some money into his emotional bank using acts of service? Try these suggestions:
- Drinks to Order: something as simple as bringing him a cup of coffee can be seen as a very considerate act of service.
- Work Visit: Visit him at work. You don’t even have to bring him anything (though lunch might be appreciated). Taking time out of your busy day to just be with him can be a huge deposit into his emotional bank.
- Check Off List: Do something from his “to do” list. He’ll appreciate you saving him time and the consideration of going above and beyond.
- Guy’s Night Out: if you have kids, taking them for the night and letting him hang out with the buddies is a huge act of service. Even if you don’t have kids, some guys might feel guilty about going out. Do this for him and watch him jump at the chance to do it for you!
Tips To Speak Acts Of Service
Most women are naturally good at acts of service because traditional gender roles fall along those lines.
But if you’re looking at ways to specifically serve him, try these suggestions:
- Chores He Hates: If there’s something he hates to do, but does anyway, he will feel amazingly well loved if you do it instead. It will be a huge gift to him.
- Chores You Hate: If there’s something he does because you hate to do it, taking that chore on once will show him you’re really considering him. He’ll likely want to reciprocate and try to take a burden off your list.
- Kill Procrastination: What’s the chore that both of you have been procrastinating on? It may be something small, but taking the initiative can show him you’re thinking of his needs.
- Little Things: Look for little ways to serve him every day — bringing him a drink, making him a small snack, packing a lunch for him. Even just once a day can communicate a lot of intimacy to him and he’ll look to serve you back.
5. Quality Time
Quality time is more than just “being” with each other. It typically doesn’t mean watching movies or doing your own thing in the same room.
It means having a conversation and doing things together. At its core, quality time is about shared experience.
Signs Of Quality Time
You or your partner might speak quality time if any of the following apply to you:
1. Enjoy spending time with people and get upset when you feel people don’t make time for you.
2. You're a good listener.
3. When you have company or guests, you plan things to do together.
4. You’re always looking for new things to experience.
5. You enjoy talking with people for extended periods of time.
How To Flirt With Quality Time
Here’s a few tips for turning up the passion using quality time:
- Sexy Conversation: Sit and have a conversation with him about your sexual experiences, what you’ve enjoyed, and what you’d like to try in the future.
- Shopping: Visit an adult-focused store an pick out a few toys together.
- Reading: Read a chapter from a sexy book together every night. Maybe it’s a cheesy, juicy romance novel, a section of the Kama Sutra, or a non-fiction book about sexual pleasure.
- Learn: Attend a steamy retreat or workshop together.
How To Build Intimacy With Quality Time
These tips, some big, some small, can help you use quality time to build intimacy between you and your partner:
- Catch Up: Sit down and have at least a 15 minute conversation every day. Talk about your day (or your expectations for it) and how the person is feeling. A good time to do this is either right when you wake up, or when you go to bed.
- Get Away: Take a vacation and spend time actively doing things together, even if it’s talking by the beach with drinks in hand. If money is tight, try going to a neighboring town for a day trip and experience something new there.
- Bucket List: Make a bucket list with your partner and spend time talking about why they want to do each one. Try to check a couple of the things off every year.
Tips To Speak Quality Time
Quality time can be pretty easy once you learn how to do it. As you can see, it takes a good amount of effort and awareness to communicate with the 5 love languages effectively, but your ROI will be very high.
If you need some tips to get started, try these:
- Do It Daily: Make it a point to talk every day. Setting aside a specific time to catch up with your guy can establish the habit pretty easily.
- Text: Send him a text every day just asking how he’s doing. It doesn’t have to be a long conversation, but just knowing that you’re taking time to check in with him can count as long-distance quality time.
- Active Listening: Engage in “active listening.” Don’t be distracted, don’t try to talk over him, but make sure you’re contributing to the conversation as well. If he feels like you’re distracted, the quality time doesn’t really count.
- Date Night: Have a weekly, or even monthly, date night where you can go out just the two of you. A restaurant, a comedy show, or even just a walk in the park can all count as long as you’re able to connect with each other.
The Power Of “Love”
I don’t want to be cheesy, but the power of the 5 love languages has the power to fix broken marriages or prevent them from having huge problems in the first place.
They can be hard at times and can take a lot of work but it’s worth it.
Many men are emotionally bankrupt, and don’t know why they’re having problems in their marriage.
They don’t have any “emotional currency” to spend.
Starting to make a few small deposits can be scary, but you have to get over the fear of rejection.
Take the first step and watch the results yourself. If the man wants to love you, you will get back much more than you put in.
This is an investment into the emotional well being of your partner, and you should want the best for them.
Learn the 5 love languages and try to speak them regularly.
Eventually, you won’t have to take the first step, and you will each be investing in each other without having to ask.