If you’re experienced enough with dating and relationships, you likely have an idea of how you prefer to give and receive love. Whether it’s through acts of service, physical affection, words of affirmation, quality time, or gifts, we all have approaches to love that make us feel happy and fulfilled. But when you’re with someone long-term, chances are you won’t always be the same person you were when you met. So, can your lovely language change? And if so, is that a good or a bad thing for your relationship? We spoke to psychologists to find out.
Can your love language change in a relationship?
The general consensus is that yes, your love language can change throughout life. While you may think you are who you are and you’ll never be different, that’s not exactly true. Many or even most of your personality traits may remain constant, but the whole point of life is to grow and evolve. With that evolution comes changes in the way we approach everything in life, including our interpersonal relationships. Because of that, your love language may shift over the years.
“Everybody has a unique way in which they express love, and even though that way can stay with them for their whole life, love languages can also vary from partner to partner and, most importantly, can change according to the relationship’s needs,” Berlin-based sex educator and speaker Nina Nguyen tells Bolde.
“For example, gift-giving can be your love language or your partner’s love language, but in a situation where you need comfort, support, or even help, a bouquet of roses is hardly what you need from your loved one. Instead, a couple of encouraging words or actual help can be a better way to express love in that scenario.”
We don’t usually choose to change our love language
Nguyen adds that most people don’t make a conscious effort to change their language. Instead, this is something that happens naturally and without notice, as a couple gets to know one another and matures and evolves as a pair.
“Relationships evolve and with that, the way in which both people express love to each other. It isn’t necessarily wrong if you don’t leave cute messages all around the house for your partner to find when you are now expressing your love by cooking a warm meal for them or spending quality time together,” she said. “It could be very beneficial if both people are still providing affection towards each other even if it is in a different way, so it shouldn’t really affect a relationship unless their preferences are totally opposite.
Can a changing love language improve a relationship or ruin it?
A change of your love language isn’t necessarily good or bad for your relationship. This is partly because many couples aren’t even conscious of the change. It’s also because the change often comes as part of a natural adaptation made to better meet a partner’s needs.
That being said, if the changes aren’t complementary, the relationship could face some choppy waters, according to registered psychotherapist Ellie Borden, BA, RP, PCC.
“Some possible negative effects include poorer communication, a change in relationship dynamics, and expectations or your wants and needs no longer being met. However, these issues can be fixed with open discussions and accepting the growth that comes with relationships.”
Adopting a different love language can be a very positive sign
“Couples who experience such a shift may be experiencing the relationship evolving into something deeper and thus becoming stronger. As the nature of your relationship changes from the love bird phase (where physical touch may be prominent) to a more long-term and committed relationship, you may find that love languages cycle out to fit the couple.”
In general, changing your love language is a great way to get to know yourself better as well as to connect on a deeper level with your partner.
“When a specific routine or dynamic is well established, a shift in love language can be seen as refreshing and renewing an aspect of the relationship that may have been lacking previously,” Borden says. “Experimenting with different love languages can be great for a relationship, but being genuine about how you choose to express love will benefit the relationship more than any effects that changes in expression may bring.”
While your love language can be illuminating when it comes to revealing your approach to relationships, it’s not the full picture. Most people don’t stick to a single love language throughout life. In fact, it’s often determined by the person you’re with or the stage you’re at in your own personal development. Try not to put too much pressure on things or overthink them. So long as you and your partner practice good communication, you’ll be just fine.