Expressing love or a feeling of closeness is not always easy. Some people are naturally reserved and struggle to show affection to their loved ones. Other people believe that they are being affectionate toward their friends and family, but they are not doing so in a way that their loved ones understand. According to marriage counselor and author Dr. Gary Chapman, there are five ways to show affection, and if your system is different from that of your loved ones, they may not understand your affectionate gestures as the loving expressions you mean them to be.
Determine which of the five love languages - verbal statements, spending time, giving gifts, helpful acts and touch - is your own way of expressing love. Consider whether you prefer to tell people you care for them and give them compliments, devote time and attention to your relationships with them, give them thoughtful presents, offer to help them with errands or duties, or frequently embrace them or hold their hands. Each individual primarily uses one of these methods to show affection.
Identify your loved ones' ways of expressing affection. People like to receive affection the same way they like to give it. If your significant other shows her love for you by giving you small, hand-made presents for no particular occasion, she expresses affection by gift-giving, and she will feel loved in return if you also give her small presents.
Use your loved one's love language, rather than your own, to show him affection. If you like to give and receive love by offering to help with housework, but your significant other shows his love for you with kisses and hugs, you can show him affection best by being physically loving with him in return.
Make small, frequent gestures of affection toward your loved one in her love language. You don't need to make grand, sweeping gestures to show her that you are thinking of her. For example, if she shows affection by giving compliments and saying "I love you," you don't need to write her epic love poetry; simply telling her on a daily basis that she brightens your life or looks beautiful is more effective.
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- If your loved one shows affection through gifts, this does not mean that he is materialistic or mercenary -- he appreciates the thought and attention of the gift, rather than the gift itself.
- Discuss the love languages with your friends and family, so they can show you affection the way you need it, too.
Stephanie Mitchell is a professional writer who has authored websites and articles for real estate agents, self-help coaches and casting directors. Mitchell also regularly edits websites, business correspondence, resumes and full-length manuscripts. She graduated from Syracuse University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in musical theater.