By now, you’ve probably at least heard the term “love languages” in reference to dating. Because when it comes to relationships, the phrase, which originated from the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate written by Gary Chapman, PhD, is pretty essential to building lasting bonds with friends, family, and significant others.
Very simply, “love languages are ways people communicate with the people they care for,” explains licensed clinical social worker and author of Writing with Love, Ashley Starwood. “They can teach you how to best love your partner and are an outline of ways to show your partner love and affection in a way they can receive it.”
Think about it: Some people seem to text with their partners nonstop, some are all about the PDA or frequent sex, and some people don’t miss the opportunity to spoil their S.O. with gifts. That’s because, according to Dr. Chapman, people tend to gravitate toward one of five love languages when showing affection: quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, physical touch, or gifts. These love languages reveal how you show your love and likely how you want to receive love as well.
The first step, of course, is to actually learn what your and your partner’s love languages are. (Here’s a free love language test you can take to figure it out.)
The second step is learning more about your specific love language. And if post-quiz you’ve discovered quality time ranks high for you or someone you love, you’re in the right place.
From what the quality time love language means to dating tips, ideas, and expert advice, here’s everything you need to know about this love language.
What does it mean if your love language is quality time?
As the name suggests, this love language means you crave spending “fruitful and attentive time” with the people closest to you, explains Starwood. The key here is that you’re not just sitting side-by-side staring at your phones, but you’re actually actively engaging with one another.
“Quality time is giving your undivided attention to your partner,” says Valerie Poppel, PhD, a clinical sexologist and co-founder of The Swann Center, an organization that offers inclusive sexual education and training. “In today’s world, we’re plugged into everything but perhaps our partners.”
More specific examples, ideas, and advice below, but in short, Dr. Poppel says folks with this love language highly value being in the same space—physically, emotionally, and mentally—with the people they love.
If you’re thinking this sounds a lil clingy or negative, all the pros agree: Quality time is absolutely not a bad love language to have—in fact, none of them are.
“None of the love languages insinuate that you’re needy,” explains licensed marriage and family therapist and owner of Modern Love Counseling, Alysha Jeney. “All of us desire some way to feel special and loved. Quality time means you appreciate the simplicity of human interaction. You desire feeling seen and understood.”
What are some signs your love language is quality time?
Quality time as a love language can sometimes feel tricky to pinpoint since most people crave time together to some degree. The main factor here is you find quality time to be the *biggest* source of validation in your connections, says Jeney.
“You feel most loved when you and your loved one(s) spend uninterrupted time together,” she explains. “You may enjoy quality engagement, eye contact, and reciprocal communication. You appreciate any time the two of you can have a shared experience.”
Again, the hard part is that lots of us enjoy spending quality time with our people to some degree. However, people with this love language usually go out of their way to make it happen.
“Quality time people will often make a point of setting plans together to prioritize the time spent with their partner,” says Damona Hoffman, OkCupid’s official dating coach and the host of the Dates & Mates podcast.
A few other signs to look out for: Feeling especially hurt if your loved ones seem distracted when you’re talking to them, feeling lonely if you don’t get enough time with your partner, or feeling especially upset if your activities or time together is canceled or postponed.
What are some examples of quality time?
When it comes to love languages, quality time might seem self-explanatory, but it might actually take you a lil bit of practice to master, especially since what’s considered quality time depends on the person. Hoffman, whose love language is quality time, says for some people, it might mean scheduled one-on-one time. For others, it could mean just being in each others’ presence.
Here are some expert-suggested quality time ideas to consider when trying to make your person feel loved:
- Actively watching a show or movie together without your phones
- Starting a new TV series together
- Reading a book aloud
- Cooking together
- Going to the dog park together
- Going for a walk around the block
- Eating out without your phones
- Getting coffee together
- Going grocery shopping
- Volunteering together
- Actively listening and responding to their stories
- Putting your devices down when they’re talking to you
- Having a stimulating conversation
- Doing a home project together
- Planning a vacation or staycation
- Going on a vacation or staycation
- Exercising or hiking together
- Picking up a new hobby as a couple
- Discussing and planning your goals together
- Scheduling weekly date nights
- Relaxing together—like in the tub or on the beach
- Seasonal activities such as pumpkin carving, ice skating, or tree decorating
As you can see, there are tons of different ways to spend quality time with someone. But because preferences can vary, Dr. Poppel advises asking your partner to share 10 things they really want to do, and then doing it all with them.
Whatever the activities are, the goal here is to be actively engaged. “Simply giving your partner undivided attention, eye contact, and using active listening are also great ways to spend quality time together,” explains Starwood.
What happens if quality time is your love language but you’re in a long-distance relationship?
Before you start panicking about how to spend quality time together if you’re in an LDR, sexual health educator and founder of wellness blog It’s Just a Coochie Jasmine Akins says there are plenty of ways to be together while apart.
Think virtual lunch dates, video check-ins, a morning ritual via Skype. Lean into everyone you learned during lockdown and apply it to those long-distance quality time-craving relationships. Because while it is absolutely possible, it also requires some work.
What are some relationship tips if you or your partner’s love language is quality time?
“One of the strongest communicators of love is time,” says Dr. Poppel, so figuring out how to use your time in a way that makes your partner feel ooey gooey is essential. She advises practicing active listening without interrupting them or offering unsolicited advice, putting your phone away, and working on giving them your undivided attention to start.
And honestly, no matter your love language, this will help in every relationship you have. Here’s what to keep in mind in general though.
If your partner’s love language is quality time:
First and foremost, if quality time isn’t your primary love language, it might feel somewhat strange to go out of your way to plan something as simple as hanging out together. But considering how plugged-in we all are, Dr. Poppel says it’s something many couples are majorly lacking. “We may be sitting right next to [our partners] for hours but are not really with them,” she says.
In order to make it happen, Akins says you have to prioritize it. A shared calendar and weekly/monthly date nights centered around planning future activities are good ways to stay on top of things and ensure you don’t skimp out on quality time. And when the quality time is happening, put your phone away and use your body language to show you’re present.
If quality time is your love language:
You need to let your partner know ASAP. Since couples often have different love languages, if your partner doesn’t know how highly you value quality time, they might not make as much of an effort in regards to planning out date nights.
And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting the attention of your partner, Starwood says it’s important to have awareness surrounding when it is and isn’t appropriate to ask for it. “Setting time aside for each other can help in taking the pressure off to make every activity quality time,” she advises.
As with most things relationship-wise, it’s all about balance, communication, and respect.
What should you get someone whose love language is quality time?
Since quality time folks are more about experiences than wrapped up presents, you might be at a bit of a loss. But “any way that you can spend time with your loved one will count as a great gift,” says Starwood.
Before you think that means you can turn on Netflix and let that count as their birthday present, erotic educator and founder of Organic Loven Taylor Sparks suggests you think more along the lines of concert or movie tickets, a planned date night at a swanky restaurant, a couples massage, or a vacation/getaway.
You also don’t have to spend a ton or even plan to leave the house for a quality time gift, especially if you want something they can unwrap and enjoy right then and there. DIY a date night with a massage book and intimate oils, order a Modern Love Box, or set up a cute dinner at home with their fave treats and mood lighting.
Basically, quality time people love gifts of future quality time, says Hoffman, so lean into that idea when shopping for holidays, birthdays, and special occasions.
What if you don’t have the same love language as your partner?
The interesting thing about love languages is you don’t have to have the same one as your partner for things to work. It all just comes down to communication and understanding how you prefer to give and receive love. Since most people give love how they like to receive it as a default, knowing your partner’s love language is quality time can help you realize that when they plan a special date or work to sync your schedules, that’s them showing you their love.
Jeney also suggests equally investing in practicing each other’s love languages as regularly as possible—even if it’s not natural at first. And all the pros agree communicating about your wants, needs, and boundaries can help you find a balance and compromise that works for you both.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you naturally speak each other’s love languages, says Sparks. “Love is a decision. You’ve chosen to love them, so seek to love them in the manner that they wish to be loved.” Do that and a lifetime of couples massages, quality time, and happily ever after is definitely in your future.
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