Acts of Service: What This Love Language Means and Examples of How to Show It
By now, you probably know a thing or two about love languages. The phrase comes from the book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate that Gary Chapman, PhD, wrote in 1992.
In Chapman’s book, he claimed that people speak one of five love languages: acts of service, quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, and gifts. Basically, these love languages reveal how you likely give love and how you want to receive love. (And if you don’t know yours, you can take this free test here.)
For today’s article, we’re dissecting everything there is to know about the “acts of service” love language—from what it means, examples of acts of service, and some extra dating tips and tricks if this is your love language. Let’s get into it, shall we?
What does it mean if your love language is acts of service?
Just like the name suggests, you probably either like doing acts of service for your partner to show them you care, or, when your partner does acts of service for you, it makes you feel most loved.
“It means that you either feel loved by or enjoy caring for your loved ones by doing practical actions that will help them in some way or that you believe that they will appreciate or enjoy,” says Samantha Kingma, a licensed marriage and family therapist at Rest + Renew Therapy.
Importantly: “These helpful actions may be done with or without the other person having specifically asked for the help.”
Now we get into specific examples of what this could look like below, but when we say “practical actions,” we mean doing things like switching their laundry, making their bed in the morning, cooking dinner, etc.
For me personally, my love language is acts of service, and I feel most appreciated and loved by my partner when he does things for me. Like, if he sees I’m overwhelmed with work or familial situations, and he takes over making dinner that specific night just so I don’t have to worry about it, it’s so hot.
And when he does things for me like running errands or going out to pick up breakfast—without me even having to ask him—I want to melt.
What are some signs that your love language is acts of service?
There are a few dead giveaways that acts of service is your or your partner’s love language. For one, you could just take the test to see yourself. But if not, generally, “if you feel loved when others notice things they can do to help you out, and you tend to feel overlooked when people don’t pitch in to help you complete tasks, you may experience love primarily through acts of service,” says Kingma.
This means if you find yourself making food for others, lightening up their workload by taking on some tasks yourself, or making their bed in the morning so it’s one less thing they have to do to get ready for the day, this may be yours, says Kingma.
Important note, though: Acts of service should not be confused with “serving” someone. There’s a fine line between wanting to help and completely serving another person who refuses to take on their own responsibilities. If at any point, you’re not enjoying yourself by taking on these tasks or you don’t feel appreciated for doing them, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship.
What are acts of service examples?
Remember, it doesn’t have to be anything big. Some easy things you can do for your partner whose love language is acts of service are:
- doing the dishes
- checking in on them during a stressful day at work
- making them a cup of coffee in the morning
- taking out the trash
- picking them up from the airport
- planning a vacation
- taking care of them when they’ve come down with a cold or had dental surgery
Trust me, as someone whose love language is acts of service, it really doesn’t matter what you do, they just want to feel appreciated and helped.
However, you have to remember that if your love language is acts of service and your partner’s isn’t, you might need to open the channels of communication to discuss your needs and expectations (without really blaming them for not having the same language as you). This is an important step so you can ensure you’re receiving love the way you want to be receiving love, and not just how by their personal love language.
Here are some relationship tips for if you or your partner’s love language is acts of service
Like in any relationship, no matter the love language, communication is key. If you don’t communicate efficiently with your partner, it can create unnecessary issues and unmet expectations.
So first and foremost, “understand that your partner’s love language can be different than yours, and it is important to show your love speaking in their specific love language,” says Katherin Winnick, sex coach at Let’s Talk Sex.
Like I said, communicating your love language to your partner and telling them about what makes you feel most loved should help.
If your partner’s love language is acts of service:
They want someone who is going to understand when they are overwhelmed and do tangible things to make their life easier—without them necessarily having to ask. For them, this could look like taking on the daily chores when they’re busy, picking up their dry-cleaning when they’ve had a long day at work already, and/or throwing their towel in the dryer so it’s warm for when they get out of the shower.
They would love to hear you say, “let me help you and do this for you.” Realize that nothing you do for them is too small because little tasks can mean the world to your loved one, even if they mean little to you.
Additionally, licensed psychologist Marcuetta Sims says: “Pay attention. One of the best ways to really engage in acts of service is being able to predict the pattern of behaviors and intervene without being asked.”
If acts of service is your love language:
Dr. Sims explains that you should communicate that to your partner. “A lot of people just engage in their acts of service to show their partner what it means, but that doesn’t work if your partner has a different love language. It’s more beneficial to just tell them and teach them the ways that you want to be cared for.”
However, one thing that could create issues in the relationship is doing something you think is an act of service when the other person doesn’t see it as helpful, says Kingma. Because depending on what it is, “this may be perceived as crossing a boundary or overstepping,” she explained.
“To make sure that you are able to truly express love effectively with acts of service, remember to check in with your partner to make sure the action you are taking will be a true help to them, and that they are willing to allow you to help in this way, Kingma adds. This means you should probs ask your partner if they’re comfortable with you, say, doing their laundry.
“If your partner does not want help with something, be mindful that this is not a rejection, and that there are likely many other ways your partner would feel comfortable with you helping and showing love.”
What are some compatible love languages with acts of service?
Love languages are really not like the zodiac where select signs are compatible with each other. “Love languages are more about figuring out how to communicate to one another despite there being differences,” says Dr. Sims.
“It’s about humbling yourself enough to know that you will need to learn a different language, even if that’s not your natural tendency. It also means that you might have to put in some extra work. There’s a lot of effort in the beginning if you don’t speak the same language.”
However, even if you speak the same love language, it could mean different things for each partner. It’s always useful to check in with their boundaries and communicate your wants and needs.
What if you don’t have the same love language? Is the relationship doomed?
No, not necessarily. But you both will need to put in the work to make the relationship last by first telling each other your love languages, your expectations, and wants. This can save you plenty of arguments, trust me.
But that said, you will also need to understand their love language. Because despite you wanting acts of service, their love language might be constant physical touch or spending quality time with you, and you should try to give love to them that way—even if it’s not as important to you.
So yes, people with different love languages can make it work as much as people with the same ones. A relationship, no matter the love language, is about taking care of the other person and helping them grow. Learning each other’s love languages is a great way to start.
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Published at Thu, 28 Oct 2021 22:06:00 +0000