Recognizing Emotional Nuance: Having Feelings For Someone

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated August 2, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Aaron Horn, LMFT

Using the Love Languages to Your Advantage

The idea of "love languages" was popularized by the author Gary Chapman. Chapman asserts that each person has his or her way of showing others love as well as ways that he or she needs to feel loved. Two people in a relationship can often feel less-loved if their love languages are not matching, and there is no understanding of what the other one needs.

"Love Languages" are a way of outlining how we express and experience love. Understanding how we express love and want to receive love is not something that comes with an instruction manual or even something someone can easily identify or put into words. To discover a person's so-called love language, you have to pay attention to your partner's behaviors and reactions and have open communication about what they need and how you feel too. Keep an eye out for how they express love to others, noting things like what they tend to complain about or what things tend to brighten their day most. Most people generally give love in the way that they prefer to receive it, except for those that are particularly in tune with the love languages of others.

Tuning In to A Loved One's Needs

We all have different ways in which we best love and are loved. For most of us, we need a personalized combination of various forms of affection. Spending time and enjoying each other's company is one of the common ways of how people show their love to those in their life. Physical touch can involve the obvious like hugging, cuddling, being sexually intimate, and also delves into other areas such as casual touch or public displays of affection.

Some people like or dislike public displays of affection. It is important to note as well that some people may prefer only certain aspects of a certain love language, like they may enjoy being touched, but not when it is done in public or when others can see.

Giving and receiving gifts is another way in which humans show their love. These displays of affection do not have to be large- just a token showing that you were thinking about another. Even primates exhibit gift-giving behavior in the form of food or tools. We all like to get presents from time to time, but some individuals find energy and validation when someone spends money or time on a gift, often it truly is the thought that counts for a person that appreciates gifts.

Spending quality time together is another "love language," and the person who has this love language craves being in their loved one's company. Again, this does not mean having to plan every moment together so that it is memorable and special; it could be simply sitting next to each other reading, or playing a game of Scrabble. When you show up for this person, they feel loved.

Speaking Their Language

Acts of service describe completing small (or sometimes big) actions like cleaning, cooking, driving, essentially, "doing for another," which are meant to serve as a display of love without directly saying so.

Words of affirmation are also important; these verbal cues that express affection and love can come in the form of compliments or reassurances. These words are deeply meaningful to someone who needs their partner to say out loud how much they are appreciated.

When you want to let, someone knows that you care about them, asking questions about what they find important can convey that you are interested in them as a person. Try to ask them about things that they are passionate about - delving into the why and how more than what and when can help them feel more comfortable to open up and expand their relationship with you. Try to give undivided attention to your loved one for at least a bit of time every day. For example, if you ask them how work was, do not ask while you are also looking at your phone or doing the dishes. Look into their eyes to show that you are interested.

Picking up the Vibe

Many times, the things that attract us to another person are hard to pinpoint because attractions are often yet felt. Perhaps it is that we are drawn to their passion, to their confidence, to their personality or their interests. The feelings that these qualities elicit in us can be hard to put the finger on. Attraction is a complicated construct, with minute hints towards our underlying motivation strewn in our behavior and body language.

The attraction between two people, however, is much less complicated than what it takes for long-term compatibility with one another. Most often, the attraction part of a relationship is the easy part, with the more challenging work to be done in maintaining a good relationship. This has a lot to do with these differences in love languages and where we can tend to go wrong, either failing to tune in to what the other one needs or not knowing how to express love in the way another needs to hear it. It is very common for a counselor working with a couple to hear that one member of the couple feels like they are showing love the best way they know how, but that it seems to fall short with the other person. It is important to understand that sometimes we need to change how we communicate love to another in a way that resonates with them. Changing this does not mean that what you were doing before was wrong, just that the other person has a harder time recognizing love in the same way that you do.

In many relationships, the people in them care for one another very deeply, but there are still problems because of the signals that are getting crossed. If you feel like you and your partner are having difficulty understanding and giving each other what you need as individuals, you may want to consider talking to a licensed mental health professional such as those available through This helps you figure out how you could be loving one another "better." Love is a feeling, but loving someone is more about participation. If you keep your feelings to yourself, that person does not have a way of understanding you or what they mean to you. Loving someone requires you doing something about the way you feel in a way that the other person can see, feel, and understand. It is better to seek some relationship help before things get to a point in your relationship where it feels like things may not be able to be repaired.

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