Putting Love into Action – It’s a Language

Relationship Rules
20 Aug 2023
12 min read
Acts of Service - A Love Language of Deeds

Who wants to hear the phrase “Actions speak louder than words” just one more time? Probably no one. We have grown up on this phrase and its multiple variations. One of the most recent variations on social media is, “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you say.” But if you wholeheartedly agree with the importance of actions over words, congratulations! You “speak” acts of service love language.

But what are the signs of this love language? Follow up to see how acts of service manifest themselves and what to do if your love languages are different.

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What’s a Love Language?

“Expressing love in the right language. We tend to speak our own love language, to express love to others in a language that would make us feel loved. But if it is not his/her primary love language, it will not mean to them what it would mean to us.”

Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages for Singles

Love languages were first popularized in the 90s after Pastor Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Love Languages, hit the shelves. In it, he described the five languages of love and suggested that each of us has a primary love language – how we give and want to receive love.

5 Basic Love Languages by Gary Chapman:

  1. Quality time: With this love language, people place the highest value on spending time with their partner. This can be just cooking a meal together, watching a movie, a date night, or even going out where other people are around. The key concept here is that the couple does things together.
  2. Physical touch: This is just what it says. When a person has this primary love language, they rely on physical touch as a display of love and affection – handholding, cuddling, hugging, slow dancing close, and of course sex (including foreplay and afterglow too).
  3. Gift-giving: While this sounds a bit materialistic, it’s not. Gifts can include a sweet card, a favorite candy bar, etc. Or they can include more extravagant things too, of course. The person whose primary love language is gift-giving sees receiving gifts as the major way a partner communicates love to them.
  4. Words of affirmation: This is the only one of the five love languages that involves verbal expression – either by speech or in writing. For people whose most important of the five love languages is words, actions are less important. They need to hear words of love, affection, praise, support and encouragement to feel loved. And they will use words to express their love to others.
  5. Acts of service: Of the five love languages, the acts of service love language can be the easiest or the trickiest. Doing service acts for others, including your partner, will require paying attention to the needs and struggles of your partner and doing large or small acts to make their life easier.

Even though all love languages are equally valuable, the focus of this article is on the acts of service love language. You may very well see yourself or your partner as you read this. If you’re not sure what your love language is, take this quiz to identify yours.

Acts of service love language 101

6 Ways to Manifest Acts of Service Love Language as a Giver

If your love language is acts of service, you feel loved when your partner performs those acts for you.

How can you be of service to a loved one, and how can that loved one be of service to you? Check out these 6 ways to express acts of service as a love language and what to do if you are its receiver.

1. Identify Your Strengths and Your Partner’s Challenges

If you are a giver of acts of service love language, above all, it’s important to honor how your partner feels and expresses love. Based on that, you can offer your service and make them feel better.

We all have things we do well and others not so much:

  • If your partner is not the best writer and must create reports for work, offer to proofread these for them.
  • If your partner doesn’t budget well but you do, offer to help them set up and explain how to follow it.
  • If your partner is not as tech-savvy as you, offer to help them with computer problems.

2. Help with Things Your Partner Hates to Do

If you know what your partner’s least favorite chore is, you can pick up the slack. Maybe it’s blowing the grass of paved areas after a lawn mow; maybe it’s unloading the dishwasher; maybe it’s putting their folded clothes away, cleaning the ashes out of the fireplace, running errands, or other household chores. Whatever these things are, choose a few and take them over. It’s one less thing for them to have to do.

There’s a recent Pew Research study that concludes that when partners share household chores, that partnership tends to be happier – at least the majority of couples say so.

3. Stay Aware of Your Partner’s Bad Days

If you and your partner have a good relationship, you will know when they are or have had a bad day. Make plans to perform acts of service at the end of their day.

This can be anything, from picking up their dry cleaning, having a nice dinner ready (cooked or takeout), their favorite cocktail or wine, a shoulder massage, and a bubble bath after this terrible long day. Again, you need to know what they prefer to de-stress so that you can serve up those acts.

Related reading: How to Be a Good Girlfriend: Master the Skill
A Guide on How to Be a Better Boyfriend

4. Deliver What You Promise

Consistency is the key. Whether you are promising little tasks or a home improvement project, don’t promise what you can’t deliver. When a partner has unmet expectations, they can wonder how much you really care. So be careful what you promise to do.

5. Make Plans to Be of Service Based on Your Schedule

You love them so much, but remember you don’t have superhero powers.

You are committed to showing love to your partner but you have your own responsibilities too. Based on how much time you have, make sure that you can deliver those acts of service when you say you will.

6. Communicate with Your Partner

If you know that your partner’s love language is acts of service too, it’s a good idea to have some communication on a regular basis. This way, you will know which act will make them extremely happy:

  • If they have a bad day, ask them what would help them de-stress the most once they get home.
  • If you plan a quiet evening at home, ask them what favorite snack you can bring.
  • If you’re planning a romantic date night, ask them what their ideal evening would be.

Being a Receiver of Acts of Service: Know the Limits

If your love language is acts of service, you find joy in doing things not just for your partner but for friends and family members too. That’s why when you receive love in this form, you are eager to give it as lots of acts of service.

But it’s important to be aware that some people will take advantage of your kind nature, so be aware. That’s just human nature. Your acts of service can and should involve self-care too. If you want to give love, remember to do nice things for yourself if you are single and between relationships.

When Your Partner Has a Different Love Language

Even if you have the same love language, your partner cannot possibly meet all of the needs and desires of your love language. After all, they have school or work obligations and have a right to some independence (e.g., time with friends). Be mindful of this.

If your love language is physical touch and your partner’s love language is acts of service, is your relationship doomed? Of course not. When a couple has different love languages, partners need to understand the other’s love languages and accommodate them, just as they want their needs to be accommodated.

If you are in bed, ready for sex, but your partner is still puttering around in the kitchen to make you an amazing lunch for your day tomorrow, don’t feel frustrated. Remember to be grateful that your lover cares that much about you. They are doing tangible things to make your life better. And you are wonderfully receiving love.

When someone’s love language is physical touch, they will naturally want sex far more than one whose love language is gift-giving or acts of service. If you face this problem but still fail to feel grateful, a sex therapist may be helpful in “translating” the reality of your relationship into each other’s love language – like seeing that sex can be a gift to a partner, for example. And if the issue is deeper than that, the therapist can help them work through this too.

When other’s love languages are creating issues in a relationship, it’s probably time for a date with a therapist who can help the couple to work through their differences in approach to love.

The most important method of keeping a relationship healthy when two different love languages are involved is communication. After all, every partnership is built on negotiation and compromise. If you want quality time, and your lover just wants to cook your favorite meal all by themselves, work it out. The quality time can be you enjoying that amazing meal together and you showing plenty of appreciation for their efforts.

Acts of service as tangible things on long distance

How Do Acts of Service Work in Long-Distance Relationships?

Manifesting acts of service love language from a long distance is indeed the trickiest among all the other love languages. However, it should not be an obstacle to giving and receiving love.

In the case of a long-distance relationship, an act of service may bleed over into gift-giving. Here are some examples of how you can be of service to a partner when there are miles between you:

  • Surprise them by having takeout from their favorite restaurant delivered
  • If they are away for work and have kids, set up a video chat every night before they go to bed
  • If they have to get up super early for something, call them to make sure they are up and getting ready
  • If grocery shopping is something they don’t like to do, get their grocery list and schedule a delivery
  • If they are going through a stressful time, send them a gift card for a massage
  • Give them some quality time by video chats or by virtually watching one of their favorite movies together.
  • If they have a dog or cat that they love dearly, send them videos of their pet in action

You’ll have to get a bit creative, but the concept is the same. Focus on what your partner likes and what they do not like to do. How can you accommodate this and make their life a bit easier from far away? Even a little act of service will get their appreciation.

Related reading: Does Distance Really Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

What to Avoid with Acts of Service

When you deal with acts of service, you need to understand what you should and should not do to care for their needs and desires. In most cases, you can achieve this through healthy communication skills and active attention to things that irritate your partner.

When relationships are strong, partners can have open conversations about everything. For this practice, the talk should include what annoys or irritates you both and make them appreciate and feel appreciated by their partner.

When your partner’s love language is acts of service, here are some “no-no’s” for them:

  • Never do anything out of a sense of obligation and when you don’t feel like doing it. Your partner will catch on pretty quickly
  • Do not perform major acts of service when you don’t have the time to make them special or to do them right. Tell your partner you will get to what you promised as soon as possible and focus on the small acts instead.
  • Don’t avoid big talk with your partner. You will want to know what acts of service they prefer and what will be most meaningful to them at the moment. This doesn’t mean that you don’t surprise them from time to time.
Establish meaningful communication on Hily!
Download Hily app and connect with singles online! Use fun icebreakers and pass our Compatibility Quiz to find exactly what you want.
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When Your Love Language Is Acts of Service: Things to Avoid

If acts of service is your love language, you will also have things you would prefer your partner do for you and things not so much. You should not be afraid to “speak louder” if they are not “getting it.” Here are some examples of what you should avoid:

  • Even if your partner’s acts of service are not your top priorities, zip your lip. They are giving acts of service because they love you, and you must acknowledge them and show your partner love for them. Pick another time to speak to other things you would love them to do.
  • Never ignore your partner’s love language to focus on your own acts of service needs and wants. If they are taking the time and trouble to serve yours, they deserve the same from you. If not, you are just being selfish. If your partner’s language is quality, then take the initiative and plan some fun activities for just the two of you. Any act of yours that honors them is a boost to your relationship.
  • Try to avoid creating a “to-do” list for your partner. This puts pressure on them, and it’s really not fair. If they ask for one, that’s fine. But let them initiate it, not you.
  • Don’t forget to perform acts of service for friends, family, and yourself. You don’t have to depend on others for acts of service. Order a nice meal for yourself if you are spending an evening alone; engage in some retail therapy; make plans to celebrate a special occasion with friends. Expressing love for yourself through these acts is always a good thing.

Related reading: How To Maintain Your Individuality While In a Relationship

In Sum: Follow Your Instincts and Listen to the Experts

Lots of relationship experts speak to this acts of service love language. Whether it’s your or your partner’s language, it would be a good thing to study it a bit. In the end, honoring one another’s love languages involves communication, an unselfish attitude, and a commitment to each other.

Love&Sex Expert
Cherie Hamilton
I’ve always been inspired by women who are outgoing, very sure of themselves, and not afraid to be who they were, including their sex lives. Under their tutelage, I gradually shed my old self, hung out and socialized with them, and, over time, became the empowered, self-confident, and sexual woman I am today. Happy to share my insights with other women today!

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