A Guide to the Five Love Languages in a Long-Distance Relationship

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The five love languages take on a unique significance in a long-distance relationship.

One reason is that the honeymoon stage of a relationship often ends earlier for long-distance couples. It takes extra effort to understand and love another person deeply from a distance. It’s not easy.

The absence of some love languages is also more apparent in a long-distance relationship. If you feel loved primarily through physical touch, living in different parts of the world is going to be a challenge.

All of this means that while the five love languages aren’t perfect, the concept is a helpful tool for understanding your long-distance boyfriend and his family.

The Five Love Languages in a Long-Distance Relationship

If you don’t know already, The Five Love Languages is a book by Gary Chapman and a framework for understanding relationships.

The core concept is that people communicate and receive love in different ways, and most people have a primary “love language” among the main five. The five love languages are physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and receiving gifts.

If you already know your boyfriend’s love languages, choose from this list of articles to learn specific tips for loving him from a distance.

  1. Physical Touch: 7 Ways to Love Your Long-Distance Boyfriend With Physical Touch
  2. Words of Affirmation: How to Speak Words of Affirmation in a Long-Distance Relationship
  3. Acts of Service: 5 Acts of Service That Speak a Long-Distance Boyfriend’s Love Language
  4. Receiving Gifts: 8 Tips for Caring for a Long-Distance Boyfriend with a Gifts Love Language
  5. Quality Time: 5 Tips for the Quality Time Love Language in a Long-Distance Relationship

You can read those articles for a detailed discussion of each love language and tips for long-distance relationships.

But what if you don’t know your boyfriend’s love languages?

Determining Your Long-Distance Boyfriend’s Love Language

The easiest way to find out your boyfriend’s love language is by asking him to take the Five Love Languages quiz. Once he finds out his results, he can share his top languages with you.

You can also observe how he reacts to different actions. Did you do something recently that made him smile especially big? That might be an indication of his love language. Did you do something that you thought he’d like, but he didn’t seem to care? That might not be his love language.

Personally, though, I’ve found that one of the best ways to learn your boyfriend’s love language is to pay attention to the ways he loves you.

We tend to naturally speak the languages we like to receive love in. It’s not usually conscious. We just assume that since we like words of affirmation or physical touch, other people will appreciate those things, too.

Your boyfriend may never have heard of the five love languages, but it’s possible he’s speaking more than one of them fluently.

Putting the Love Languages into Practice

Once you’re fairly certain of your love languages, you can put them into practice. Here are a few suggestions as you begin language learning from a distance.

  1. Be patient and gracious. Learning to speak another love language takes time and effort. Both of you will need to extend grace as you learn to love each other.
  2. Don’t demand or expect to be loved in your language. Love is still the other person’s choice – not yours. You can provide tips for speaking your language, but you can’t force someone to love you in a specific way.
  3. Remember to receive love in other languages. You’ll miss out on a lot if you only allow yourself to feel loved in your top languages. Learn to appreciate when your boyfriend loves you using his top love language.
  4. Ask him how you’re doing. Check in with your boyfriend to see how well you’re speaking his language. Ask him, “What can I do to love you better?”
  5. Be willing to let go of the concept. The five love languages framework doesn’t work for everyone. If talking about it causes conflict in your relationship, let it go. You can value the insight while refraining from mentioning it.

Loving Your Long-Distance Boyfriend’s Family

Another helpful use of the five love languages is learning how to love your boyfriend’s family.

If you live far away, you may not get to spend much time with his parents and siblings. So, as much as possible, you’ll want to make the most of every opportunity to love them well.

How can you know their love languages, though? It’d be a little weird to ask them to take a quiz. The good news is that you have an insider source: your boyfriend.

If your boyfriend is familiar with the concept of the love languages, he might be able to identify the love languages of his siblings and parents. That information is pure gold for you.

Does his mom value acts of service? Offer to clean up the dishes when you visit. Does his sister like quality time? See if you can spend an afternoon getting to know her.

Loving someone you barely know may seem difficult, and maybe even fake. But C.S. Lewis lets us in on the great secret of learning to love people:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

Important Limitations of Love Languages

As helpful as love languages are, they won’t solve all of your long-distance relationship problems.

I’d recommend reading about the strengths and weaknesses of the five love languages. Love languages are a beneficial tool for understanding others, but they can also be harmful if used wrongly.

When You Don’t Want to Speak His Language

The greatest limitation, though, is that knowing your boyfriend’s love language doesn’t mean you’ll speak it well — or want to. Anyone who has loved someone knows that you will inevitably get frustrated and fed up with the other person.

That’s the trouble with what Gary Chapman calls the “love tank.” The amount of love you’re able to give depends on the amount of love you’re receiving. If your own love tank is running on empty, it’s hard to express love to someone else.

Inevitably, you’ll feel like you are putting more effort into loving your boyfriend than he is. If this happens all the time, your relationship might be unhealthy. But it’s also important to realize that this happens from time to time in every relationship.

Building a lasting relationship — one that survives the ups and downs of long-distance — requires learning how to love in the times when you don’t feel loved.

It requires your tank to filled with love from an outside source.

The Love Tank Solution

Tim Keller writes in the book, The Meaning of Marriage,

“The gospel, brought home to your heart by the Spirit, can make you happy enough to be humble, giving you an internal fullness that frees you to be generous with the other even when you are not getting the satisfaction you want out of the relationship.”

There will be many times in your relationship when your boyfriend doesn’t deserve your love or appreciation. You won’t want to speak his love language.

But if you are filled with the love of Christ, you will have the ability to show him love when he doesn’t deserve it. Grace is the foundation of the gospel, or the good news of Christ:

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

The truth is that you and I don’t deserve God’s love. We certainly haven’t loved him well. Instead of speaking words of affirmation, we’ve complained and cursed him. Instead of valuing quality time with him, we spend all of our time trying to live without him.

The Son of God sacrificially loved and died for you when you least deserved it. Doesn’t that sound like the kind of love you’d want to help you love your boyfriend?

When you confess that Jesus is the Son of God who died for your sins, 1 John 4:15 says that God will abide in you. He’ll come to fill your love tank permanently.

The more you know and love Christ, the more you’ll overflow with love toward people who don’t deserve it. This is the missing piece, the Google Translate power for all the love languages.

Complete List of Resources on Love Languages

I’ve already mentioned most of these, but just in case you missed some, here is a complete list of Dating at a Distance resources on The Five Love Languages.

And if you’d like to purchase the book itself, you can find The Five Love Languages on Amazon.

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