Acts of Service: What Is This Love Language?

By Jon Jaehnig|Updated April 7, 2022

"Acts of service" and "love languages" are some terms that you may have heard recently. They come from a book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

If you have heard these terms in casual conversation, this article will give you a little background. If you heard these terms from your significant other and they seemed strange to you, you might want to read this article closely and consider exploring some of the links. Then talk to your partner about what you learned and what you thought about it.

Here, we'll explain the idea of "love languages,” introduce all of the love languages briefly, and then focus in particular on the love language called acts of service. We'll wrap up with information on how you can learn even more about love languages and communicate more effectively with your partner.

What Are "Love Languages?"

The idea of love languages is being pioneered by Dr. Gary Chapman. It may sound strange at first, but the premise is quite simple: people experience love and show their love to others in different ways. Love languages can be spoken between any two people who love each other. That may mean romantic partners.It may also be between siblings, between friends, or between parents and children.

Has there ever been a time when you did something for your partner or family member and they didn't react as enthusiastically as you might have hoped? Has a partner or family member ever done anything for you and been hurt or even angry at how you responded? It doesn't mean that anything is wrong, it just means that you might be speaking different love languages.

Dr. Chapman has identified five love languages: words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch. According to Chapman, we all feel some response when others express their love to us. We all can show our love to others through any of the five love languages. However, many have one love language that means the most to them. For example, you and your partner may tell each other that you love each other all the time, or you may feel that it goes without saying. You may give each other little gifts very frequently or just at events like anniversaries. It all has to do with the love languages that each of you speak.

According to Chapman, the important thing about love languages isn't that both people exclusively use one language but that both people understand how the other person likes to be shown love. If your love language is receiving gifts, you may assume that that is simply how love is experienced.But your partner or family member may prefer words of affirmation.

Knowing your own love language and that of your partner can help you both communicate your love for one another more effectively. In the example above, if your partner or family member knows that your love language is receiving gifts, they will know that you feel love when receiving a gift and show love when giving gifts.

Acts Of Service As A Love Language

Acts of service is one of the five love languages that Dr. Chapman identifies. People who speak this language might show love to others by doing things for them. They will feel love when other people do things for them.

Love languages aren't like actual languages: the people speak them not because they were born in a region where that love language is spoken—though that may be part of it. They gravitate to that love language because it speaks to them in a very specific way. So, why would someone speak the acts of service love language? The reasons can vary as drastically as the individual.
Some people speak the acts of service love language because they feel it shows dedication. Doing something for someone takes time, and it takes thought. As a result, it can feel more intimate than some of the other love languages, like gifts.
Other people speak the acts of service love language because there can be an element of sacrifice. When other people give up their time and energy for them, it lets them know that they are really cared for.

What Kinds Of Things Count As Acts Of Service?

Anything that you do for another person can be an act of service. It may mean doing favors for your loved one when they are short on time. It may mean doing chores for them that you know they don't want to do. It may mean doing something with them because you know that they like to do it, even if you might not.

For some people, the important thing isn't even the act of service so much as the attitude behind it. If you ask your loved one whether there is anything that they would like to do, that may be enough. On the other hand, if you perform an act of service for a loved one without having asked them or without having been told, it might mean even more.

Is Your Love Language Acts Of Service?

Your attitude towards acts of service, especially between loved ones, can help you to determine whether this is your love language.

If you perform acts of service for others specifically to show your love, it may be your love language. If you feel loved when someone else performs acts of service for you, it may be your love language. Would rather your partner say "I love you" every morning? Or would you prefer they take your car in to get washed and serviced? If you chose the former, it is more likely that your love language is words of affirmation, not acts of service.

If you show others your love by buying gifts, planning activities to do together, and expressing how much you appreciate them, acts of service may not be your love language. If you see acts of service as something that people who love each other should be expected to do, acts of service may not be your love language.

What If Acts Of Service Isn't Your Love Language?

If acts of service isn't your love language, but it is the love language of someone close to you, that's fine. You don't need to show your love that way all the time. You don't need to try to make it the love language through which you best experience love from others. However, if your loved one's main love language is acts of service, you may find that your relationship becomes stronger if you show them love in that way from time to time. It might also help you to value the acts of service that they perform for you in a more significant way.

Another thing that you might try is to combine acts of service with your native love language. If their love language is receiving gifts, you might try making something for your loved one instead of buying something. If their love language is quality time, consider looking for things that you and your loved one can do together instead of just things that you can do for them.

If acts of service isn't your love language and you don't know what is, consider doing some serious introspection. After all, language is about two-way communication. Knowing your love language can help you receive love just like knowing someone else's love language can help you show your love to them. There are many free quizzes online that will help you discover your love language. All you have to do is search "love language quiz.”

What If You Don't Speak the Same Love Language?

If you and your loved one don't get much out of acts of service, it could be that both of you speak different love languages. Consider sitting down with your partner and having a discussion about how both of you best give and receive love. Make a promise to one another that you will try to communicate in the other's preferred love language more often. If you can have this discussion un-aided, that is an option. If you need a little help, go to the link at the top of this article. It has more information and resources about the different love languages and how to speak them, including a free quiz. It only takes a minute or so to fill out the quiz but it may a positive difference to your relationship.

If you and your loved one have talked about love languages and still don't seem to be connecting as well as you would like to be, it may be time to consider pursuing professional help. It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your relationship. If you want to commit to each other, relationship counseling can help you pave the way for a fruitful long-term relationship. While treatments like relationship counseling receive various reputations from their portrayal in the media, the science on this field is clear. Interventions like online therapy for relationship counseling have high rates of success and satisfaction.

Relationship counselors at online platforms like BetterHelp are available to discuss the finer points of love languages with you and your partner. With online counseling, you can improve the communication in your relationship from the comfort of your own home. Read what other couples have to say about their time with online therapy from BetterHelp below.

“Libby has been wonderful in guiding me and my partner through our difficulties and listening and providing feedback or asking questions that allow us to move forward and work through our differences. We really appreciate her and her work and for taking the time to help us.”

“Having Krysten as an active sounding board has improved my relationships with my partner and friends. The messaging is also a very helpful way for communicating. It is like having a journal that answers back with new ways to look at things. The messaging also allows the sessions to be more impactful, because we have already moved the dial before going into them.”

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