Speaking Your Partner’s “Love Language” Might Give Your Sex Life a Boost
February 15, 2023 by Emily Mendelson
The five “love languages”—words of affirmation, acts of service, gift giving, quality time, and physical touch—are meant to help individuals identify how they prefer to both give and receive love. The basic idea behind this concept is that, if you are receiving love in your preferred “language,” you are likely to be more content in your relationship.
The concept of the five love languages was originally developed in the 1990s by Gary Chapman, who actually did so without any scientific evidence to back up what he was saying. However, in the years since, relationship scientists have found some support for his ideas. For example, research finds that the five love languages do appear to be reflective of the behaviors individuals use to try and sustain healthy relationships . Additionally, when someone perceives their partner as “speaking” their preferred love language, this is linked to increased feelings of love in a relationship .
Interestingly, when people have their love language spoken by a partner, this is also related to higher levels of sexual satisfaction . So our “love language” also seems to reflect our “sex language” on some level. This suggests the possibility that putting a sexy twist on how you speak your partner’s love language just might give you an even bigger boost in the bedroom. We’d need some research to know for sure, but it’s worth a try!
Since it’s Valentine’s season, here are some ideas you might consider for each of the five languages if you want to make your partner feel both loved and sexually desired:
Words of (Sexual) Affirmation
Words of affirmation involve providing positive encouragement and expressions of appreciation to your partner, verbally or nonverbally. For example, a person whose preferred love language is words of affirmation will likely enjoy compliments, being told they are loved, receiving clear communication, and having meaningful messages left for them.
You can put a sexy twist on this by giving your partner affirmation of their sexual skills and how attractive you find them to be. You might do this by leaving a note on their nightstand, or perhaps sending some sexts. You can also try speaking up more in the bedroom. We know that practicing and utilizing “dirty talk” in general can potentially enhance sex and orgasm; however, this may be especially true if words of affirmation really get your partner going. So you might try utilizing more compliments and praising your partner with phrases such as “I love it when you do that,” “your body looks/feels so amazing,” and “please don’t stop.” And if you find verbalizing during sex to be difficult, moaning and groaning in pleasure can convey similar sentiments.
Acts of (Kinky) Service
For people who prefer acts of service, love is felt through careful and thoughtful actions that make their life easier and take away some pressure or responsibilities. Making a meal or cleaning up the house often goes a long way for these individuals.
One way to explore acts of service during sex might be to experiment with BDSM or a kink that you and your partner have never tried before, but might be interested in. For example, dominant and submissive dynamics might be highly arousing for individuals who prefer acts of service. You don’t necessarily have to go super kinky if that’s not your thing, but sexy acts of service could involve replacing the sheets and cleaning up the bedroom before your partner gets home, making sure that any toys are cleaned and ready to go, and/or serving them some wine and chocolates in bed. If you’re still not sure where to start, this podcast episode is a great place to listen and learn before experimenting.
(Sexy) Gift Giving
Gift giving is a somewhat complicated love language from the standpoint that some people prefer to give gifts and some prefer to receive them. If your partner prefers to give gifts, let them! However, if your partner prefers to receive gifts, make sure you pick out presents with intention and care.
There are a many options for gifts you can give to boost desire and arousal. For example, consider buying lingerie or sexy underwear, a sex toy that you can enjoy together (such as a couple’s vibrator), or even a fun toy for them to use when you’re not home. You might also think about purchasing candles or other accessories to enhance the ambiance (mood-setting is one of the keys to keeping passion alive!), or maybe getting a set of sexy matching or complimentary pajamas (nice ones!) for when you’re lounging or cuddling later. Check out our gift guide from this past holiday season for even more ideas.
(Sensual) Quality Time
Quality time lovers want to do just that: spend quality time with you! Ways to spend quality time with your partner range from elaborate date nights to simply watching a TV show on the couch together. While wanting to spend quality time with your partner might seem obvious (we hope!), it’s still important to be intentional about making time to spend together.
This love language is a little tricky when it comes to sex, but there are many ideas to consider! As a starting point, schedule some “date nights” or set aside dedicated time to be intimate without distractions (i.e., no phones!) when you can really focus on each other and be in the moment. Taking some time to be present before you get intimate can help ensure no one’s mind is wandering during sex.
Quality time can also occur after sex through aftercare. Aftercare should be thought of as part of a sexual experience, but is often overlooked. Practicing aftercare means checking-in with your partner after sex and taking care of their physical, emotional, and mental needs.
(Intimate) Physical Touch
The final love language is physical touch. If you’ve ever been described as “touchy,” you might prefer physical connection more than others and use it to express love and affection. Individuals whose love language is physical touch oftentimes appreciate small moments of touch throughout the day, such as hugs, sitting close to one another, and holding hands.
Physical touch may seem obvious when it comes to sex, but there are always ways to make touch “sexier” with your partner. One suggestion is to learn how to properly give a massage, or take turns giving each other massages as a part of sex (or as a prelude to sex). Make sure you’re using proper technique, though, so that someone doesn’t get injured (or annoyed!)—you can read more about learning how to give a great massage here if you need a place to start.
You can also just explore non-genital touch in the bedroom. Explore your partner’s body and give them a variety of sensations with your hands, lips, toys, etc. on different parts of their body. You might very well discover new erogenous zones!
Perceiving that our partner “speaks” our love language seems to be an important part of maintaining satisfying relationships–but it might also be one of the keys to a healthy and active sex life. If you’re looking for new ideas for keeping passion alive, you might try leveraging your partner’s love language because it just might be their sex language, too.
Keep in mind that many of us have more than one love language and that certain activities speak to multiple love languages at once, such as giving a massage. In this case, it certainly offers physical touch, but massages could also be considered an act of service, quality time, or even a gift. And that’s one of the reasons why it’s hard to go wrong with a good massage!
That said, what’s most important is that you first take the time to communicate with your partner(s) about what they want and enjoy, and what gets them going.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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Dr. Justin LehmillerFounder & Owner of Sex and Psychology
Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.Read full bio >