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Know Your Love Language: Learn to Speak “Acts of Service”

If your significant other values actions above all else, here’s what you need to know about communicating in their love language.
by Michael Benninger | Jan 5 2024

Love is commonly referred to as the universal language, yet, in fact, it’s anything but. In his bestselling book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, author Gary Chapman explains how the heart communicates in a quintet of “love languages,” which vary from one person to the next. You can get a more in-depth look at all these love languages on the Blinkist app, where you can read or listen to the key insights to Gary Chapman’s classic in just about 15 minutes. According to Chapman, the languages include: receiving gifts, physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, and quality time. And among these, “acts of service” may be the most misunderstood.

Many people assume the “acts of service” love language solely revolves around household chores and menial tasks, however, this isn’t actually the case. So to help demystify the truth behind this form of emotional expression, here’s an overview of “acts of service.”

What Is the Acts of Service Love Language?

It’s a common misconception that those who speak the “acts of service” love language are merely looking for someone to whom they can delegate tasks. In reality, though, people who perceive love through this language primarily want partners willing to share everyday life’s responsibilities.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who values acts of service, pleasing your partner is less about your individual actions and more about letting your loved one know you are on their team. Above all else, they want to hear you say, “Let me do that for you,” and they sincerely appreciate anything you do to make their existence easier or more enjoyable.

It’s important to note that some people are reluctant to perform acts of service because they’re concerned about falling into expected gender roles. Yet communicating in this love language isn’t about satisfying stereotypes; it’s about expressing affection through actions. Neither partner should ever feel like the other’s servant.

How to Identify the Acts of Service Love Language

If you’re wondering whether your (or your partner’s) love language is an act of service, here are some telltale signs associated with this method of communication.

  • It’s important that your significant other walks the walk rather than talks the talk.
  • You frequently desire help but refrain from asking for it out of fear of seeming needy.
  • You always appreciate what others do for you and never forget to say “thank you.”
  • You depend on yourself above others, but you also value the support a partner can offer.
  • You would like to be able to rely on your partner to take care of day-to-day duties.


What to Do If Your Partner’s Love Language Is Acts of Service

If you believe your partner perceives love in terms of acts of service, you might not be sure how to meet their needs most effectively. Here are 11 tips for catering to this love language to aid you in your efforts.

  1. Show, don’t tell. Words of affirmation and other spoken sentiments are great, but for people who prefer this love language, actions speak far louder than words ever will.
  2. Give each effort 100%. Don’t just mindlessly go through the motions when performing an act of service. Show your partner you love them by focusing on your actions.
  3. Realize that no act is irrelevant. Small tasks such as vacuuming, doing laundry, or taking out the trash can mean everything to your loved one, even if they mean little to you.
  4. Keep an open mind. When determining which acts of service you’ll perform, forget about gender-based stereotypes and adopt a broader perspective of your responsibilities.
  5. Don’t drop the ball. No matter what, always follow through with whatever tasks you say you’ll do, and never hesitate to lend a helping hand if you see your partner struggling.
  6. Identify their favorite acts. Acts that mean a lot to you might not resonate with your partner. Ask them which acts they value most and prioritize those projects.
  7. Embrace spontaneity. The most meaningful acts of service are done without any planning. Use the element of surprise to your advantage, and go above and beyond your partner’s expectations.
  8. Don’t go overboard. Rather than doing every little thing for your partner, find out which tasks are most important in a given moment by asking, “Would it be helpful if I ___?” This approach allows you to engage in acts your partner will appreciate quickly.
  9. Make sure your heart is in it. Only perform acts of service when you truly want to, not because it’s what your partner expects. Your gestures should always come from a place of love — not one of anger or guilt.
  10. Remember that “service” doesn’t equate to servitude. Being in a relationship with a partner who speaks this love language doesn’t mean you must cater to their every whim. Instead, it’s about demonstrating an equal effort to sustain the relationship.
  11. Don’t be afraid to say “No.” If your significant other asks you to do something that opposes your values or causes you to feel uncomfortable, don’t hesitate to turn down the task, especially if it might lead you to resent them.

Many of the obstacles modern couples face arise from expressing love in different ways. The good news is it’s never too late to tune into your partner’s love language and start fulfilling their needs. And when partners take the time to identify and understand each other’s love language, their relationship is far more likely to last.

Doing useful things for your partner is an excellent way to demonstrate your love, but acts of service are only one way the heart communicates. If you’re interested in learning how to speak all five love languages, dive into the full set of blinks in Gary Chapman’s book now. And if you’re curious about other ways to increase romance in your life, explore Blinkist’s extensive library, which includes takeaways from hundreds of other titles about love, romance, and relationships.
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