You know what your partner likes to do with free time, what kind of music they like to listen to, and what kind of food they like, even how they like their eggs cooked and what dressing they like on their salad. You know them well and you're attracted to each other and that should be all it takes for you to make them happy and have a good long term relationship with them right? I say it's not right. Certainly knowing those kinds of things about your partner is very good and very helpful, but I think you're missing important information if you don't also know their love languages.
What's a love language?
According to a 1992 book by Gary Chapman, love languages are the types of things that make a person feel loved. There are five love languages and different people have different ones. Knowing your partner's love languages can be very helpful in making them feel loved and keeping them feeling happy in your relationship.
What are the love languages?
No, this isn't about saying the word "love" in different spoken languages like shown in the image above. It's about communicating the feeling of love with your partner. The five love languages as described by Gary Chapman (with my interpretation of what they mean) are:
Acts of Service – This means doing tasks or chores for your partner to ease their burden and make their life easier. This could be doing the laundry (if they normally do it), cooking dinner or bringing home something for dinner (if they normally cook), or anything that's a task your partner usually does but doesn't particularly enjoy.
Physical Touch – This means affectionate physical contact with your partner. It could be cuddling, hand holding, a hug or a kiss, or any way that you make physical contact that shows affection.
Quality Time – This means doing things together with your partner. Doing fun things together is probably best, but I think that even doing mundane things like chores together still counts as quality time. Basically it's just being together in a positive or neutral environment. (Yelling at each other doesn't count because it's not positive or neutral!)
Receiving Gifts – This one is fairly obvious. Some people feel loved when their partner makes the effort to buy them a thoughtful gift. It doesn't necessarily have to be expensive, but just something that shows you're thinking about them and know what they like.
Words of Affirmation – This is essentially praise or expressing your appreciation for things your partner does. Telling them they did a great job on something or that you really appreciate something they did or the way they did it is words of affirmation.
How does knowing my partner's love languages help?
Basically it's just so you know what things you should do and what things you probably don't need to bother with. Doing for your partner what you would like them to do for you might seem like a good idea but it might not be the best approach if they like different things. I've seen questions on this site like why doesn't the partner seem to appreciate gifts that the asker bought them, why doesn't the partner want to spend as much time together as the asker does (or the opposite side of that is why is the partner so “clingy”) or why does the partner rarely cuddle with the asker even though they think they have a really good relationship. I think that understanding your partner's love languages provides the answer to all of these questions and other similar questions.
If Receiving Gifts is not something that your partner really cares about then buying a lot of gifts probably won't have a big effect on how much they think you love them. If Quality Time is not one of their love languages then spending a lot of time with them might not help them feel loved (and in fact might make them feel suffocated!). On the other hand, if Quality Time is one of their love languages then they might need a lot of time together in order to feel loved. That doesn't mean they're “clingy” but just that time together is really important to them.
If your partner's top love language is Quality Time and Receiving Gifts is at the bottom of their list, then if you want to make them happy and let them know you love them spending time doing something fun with them is probably going to accomplish a lot better than giving them a gift.
If their top love language is Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation is at the bottom of their list, then you're likely much better off doing some task for them than telling them what a good job they did when they did the task.
How do I find out my and my partner's love languages?
Fortunately there's a quick quiz available at www.5lovelanguages.com to find your love languages. It asks 30 questions about whether you'd rather have your partner do one thing or another thing and then gives you scores from 0 to 12 on each of the love languages. The languages with higher scores are more important to you and the ones with lower scores are less important.
If both people in a relationship take the quiz and share their results with each other and both people remember the things that are important to their partner and make sure they do those on a regular basis, then I think that will improve the chances of the relationship being better and longer - and isn't that something we all want?