It can feel almost impossible to speak the 5 love languages in long distance relationships. Because being apart makes it feel more complicated to express and receive love.
- It is particularly tough if physical touch is one of your preferred love languages.
- Quality time and acts of service don’t lend themselves to distance, either.
- Even gifts lose significance if they always ordered online and delivered via post.
So, do they have anything to offer as long distance love languages?
You just have to…
Let’s deep-dive into the popular 5 love languages framework and how you can use it in your long distance relationship.
The 5 Love Languages long distance couples can incorporate
Let’s back up a bit and go over what the 5 love languages actually are.
The term “love language” was coined by renowned marriage counselor Dr. Gary Chapman. He defines a love language as the way we naturally express and understand/feel love.
He also suggests that while all 5 love languages are important to everyone to some degree, people tend to have one or two primary love languages.
So what are they and what do they look like in action?
1. Words of affirmation
Actions, Chapman claims, don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, compliments and other words of love, respect, and affirmation mean a great deal to you.
Hearing “I love you” is important to you. Hearing why you are loved is also very important. Harsh words and insults can wound you deeply and you do not forget them easily.
2. Quality time
If you highly value quality time, nothing says, “I love you” like other people spending time with you and giving you their complete attention.
It’s very important to you that other people are there for you. It’s even better if they can put other tasks on hold and really focus on you. When others are distracted, postpone dates, or don’t listen well to you, you can feel especially hurt.
If this is one of your primary love languages you thrive on receiving gifts and other physical tokens of love. When others give you gifts or surprise you with thoughtful gestures, those things help you feel understood and cherished.
To you, those gifts or gestures are tangible expressions of effort and care. When people miss your birthday and other important anniversaries (or when they give you thoughtless or inconsiderate gifts) it can hurt you deeply.
4. Acts of service
If you speak this language you feel most loved when others do practical things to help or serve you – to ease the burden of your responsibilities.
Taking out the trash, doing the grocery shopping, watching the kids, making dinner, paying bills… there are many, many ways to show love to someone who values acts of service.
When others appear lazy, don’t follow through on their commitments, or make more work for you, you feel disregarded and unloved.
5. Physical touch
If this is one of your primary love languages you are probably a “touchy” person. You love to give and receive hugs, pats on the back, massages, and other types of thoughtful and appropriate touches.
These touches speak to you of connection, concern, understanding, and caring. When those you love don’t connect with you in this way, you can feel distant, disconnected, and unloved.
Speaking the 5 love languages in a long distance relationship
Understanding your partner’s primary love language(s) won’t erase the miles between you but it will help you understand some of what frustrates them most about distance. It will also help you figure out how to connect with your partner more meaningfully while apart.
Here are some ideas to make each love language work for long distance relationships.
If physical touch is very important to your partner, you can’t be there every day to hug or kiss them. But you can:
- Incorporate connected touch bracelets to stay connected while apart.
- Tell them that you’d love to give them a hug, kiss, or massage right now.
- Use the hug and kiss emoticons in messaging programs.
- Print out and send special photos of the two of you together to remind your partner of warm, happy moments.
- Scent a letter or gift (maybe an piece of your clothing) with your perfume or cologne.
- Give them special stuffed animals to cuddle.
Sure, none of these substitutes are as good as the real thing, but they’re something.
Words of affirmation
If words of affirmation are important to your partner (and, let’s face it, genuine and thoughtful words of affirmation, encouragement, and love are pretty much important to everyone at some level) don’t forget to tell your partner that you love them.
When we’re in a long distance relationship we can sometimes stop saying thing like “I miss you” or “I thought of you today when ___” or “when ____ happened I really wished you could have been here.”
Don’t stop saying things like this because you feel as if you’ve said them 1000 times before. Unless you’ve formed the annoying and needy habit of saying things like this a dozen times a conversation, your partner will love hearing them.
Acts of service
If acts of service are important to your partner you may not be around to clean the bathroom or surprise them by washing their car, but you can still do things to help them.
For example, if their finances are tight, you could pay for a ticket for them to visit you. If they’re squeezed for time or low on energy, you could volunteer to travel to see them even if it’s not your turn to hop on a plane.
You can surprise them with unexpected and thoughtful gifts. Any time spent selecting and sending gifts, notes, and other tokens of love, appreciation, and encouragement is an act of service.
In addition, don’t forget that spending time talking to your partner can be an act of service in and of itself. If you are prioritizing communication with your partner – spending time listening to their joys and frustrations, and (when invited) trying to help them brainstorm ways to manage their problems and worries – you are serving them.
When you’re far apart, the quality time you want in the moment might be more of the “snuggling on the couch variety” than the “Virtual date” variety.
However, any time spent listening and sharing with each other is quality time even if you have to do it via phone or video. What’s more, it’s the sort of quality time that will yield big dividends in the future.
Learning to talk to your partner at length and in depth, ask good questions, and listen to them well all helps build a solid foundation for a great relationship. Use your long distance time to really get to know each other inside out – it will pay off in the future when your relationship is long term, but no longer long distance.
Want some ideas where to start with this sort of quality time? Check out this post on fun and creative activities for couples in long distance relationships.
It’s time to figure out your primary long distance love language
After reading the list above, you may already be able to identify your primary long distance love language (or more).
Sometimes, however, a quiz can be helpful to confirm your instincts or suggest an option you hadn’t considered. Even if you think you already know, try this:
- Go to 5lovelanguages.com
- When it asks whether you are married or single, click single.
- Fill out the 30-item questionnaire.
Why take the quiz for singles? To be honest, I don’t think either options are fabulous. But, I think their quiz for singles is better-designed and worded than their quiz for those who are married.
Now, think about the following questions. Even better, discuss them with your partner or close friends:
- What is your primary love language?
- Do you have a strong love-language preference (i.e., is it clear that you have one preferred love language, or do you score almost equally across two or more love languages)?
- If you took the love languages questionnaire, do you agree with the results?
- When are some times when you have felt well-loved by your partner or others (in person and at a distance)?
- What is your partner’s primary love language(s)?
- If you and your partner have different love languages, what sorts of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or conflict might arise from these different preferences?
- List five ways you could show your partner you care for them by speaking a love language that’s important to them.
- When you’re in a long distance relationship, what are some ways you try to express love across the miles?
Love languages are more art than science. But learning to speak your partner’s love language(s) better while apart, will make it easier. It will help your partner feel more loved and secure and help you both avoid some misunderstandings, hurt feelings, or conflict.
Want to know how other couples incorporated love languages into their long distance relationship? Join our free LDR Support Group where you can ask questions and get advice from others that have been in the same position you are now.