How to Use Acts of Service in Your Relationship

How to Use Acts of Service in Your Relationship

How to Use Acts of Service in Your Relationship

Everyone wants to feel loved and cared for in their relationship, but we all have different ways of showing love, as well as preferred ways of receiving love.

One way of showing love is through acts of service, which may be the preferred love language for some people.

If your partner prefers the acts of service love language, it can be helpful to know what this means. Also, get to know some excellent acts of service ideas you can use to show your love.

Love languages defined

‘The acts of service’ love language comes from Dr. Gary Chapman’s “5 Love Languages.” This bestselling author determined five primary love languages, which are the different ways people with different personalities give and receive love.

Oftentimes, two people in a relationship, despite their best intentions, could be misunderstanding each other’s preferred love language. After all, the ways of showing love are different for everyone.

For instance, one person may prefer the acts of service love language, but their partner may be attempting to show love differently. 

When couples understand each other’s love languages, they can be more intentional about showing love in a way that works for each member of the relationship.

Here is a brief overview of the five love languages:

People with the love language ‘words of affirmation,’ enjoy verbal praise and affirmation and find insults incredibly upsetting.

Someone with this love language needs romantic gestures hugs, kisses, hand-holding, back rubs, and yes, sex in order to feel loved.

Partners whose preferred love language is quality time enjoy spending time together doing mutually enjoyable activities. They will feel hurt if their partner seems distracted when spending time together.

Having a preferred love language that involves gifts means your partner will appreciate the gift of having you attend an important event with them, as well as tangible gifts flowers.

So, if you are loving the idea of someone showering you with lots of gifts, with or without any occasion, you know what your love language is!

This love language is seen in people who feel most loved when their partner does something helpful for them, such as a household chore. A lack of support can be particularly disastrous for a person with this love language.

these five love language types, to determine your preferred loved language, think about how you choose to give love. Do you enjoy doing nice things for your partner, or would you rather give a thoughtful gift?

On the other hand, also think about when you feel most loved. If, for instance, you feel cared for when your partner gives a genuine compliment, words of affirmation may ly be your preferred love language.

Getting in touch with your own love language and asking your partner about theirs can help you better understand each other and express love in ways that work best for each of you.

Related Raping: All About The 5 Love Languages in a Marriage

How to identify the Acts of Service love language

Now that you have an understanding of the five love languages, it is time to dive a little deeper into the love language called acts of service.

As experts explain, if your partner’s preferred language is acts of service, they will feel your love through the things you do, not the words you say. When you do something that seems to go above and beyond, they will feel cared for and respected in the relationship.

That being said, the acts of service love language is more than just doing your part in the relationship. A partner with this love language doesn’t want you to simply uphold your duties in the relationship; they want you to go that extra mile to do something that makes their life easier.

It should be something unexpected that your partner doesn’t always have to ask you to do. For example, you may surprise them by getting the kids up and ready for school and letting them have a little extra time to sleep in.

The acts of service love language comes down to this fact- for some people, actions truly are louder than words.

If your partner prefers to receive love through acts of service, you have probably heard them talk about the fact that actions speak louder, and at the end of the day, they will appreciate any acts you do that make their life easier.

A simple way to determine how you can be most loving and helpful toward your partner is to ask, “Would it help if I do _____ for you?” This allows you to determine what acts of service are most meaningful to them.

Another important truth to understand about the acts of service love language is that while a partner with this love language appreciates having nice things done for them, they do not enjoy asking for help.

This can be rather paradoxical; your partner wants you to help, but they want you to do so without them making any demands, as they do not want to burden you with their requests. If your partner seems to have the acts of service love language, you may want to make a habit asking them what you can do to help.

It is also beneficial if you can pay close attention to their daily needs, habits, and preferences so you can determine easy ways to jump in and help without being asked.

In summary, here are four signs that your partner prefers the acts of service love language:

  1. They appear especially appreciative when you surprise them by doing something nice for them.
  2. They comment that actions speak louder than words.
  3. They seem relieved when you take a burden off of their shoulders, whether it is taking out the trash or running an errand for them on the way home from work.
  4. They may never ask for your help, but they tend to complain that you never jump in to make things easier for them.

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What to do if your partner’s love language is Acts of Service

If your partner prefers the Acts of Service love language, there are some acts of service ideas you can put into place to make life easier for them and to communicate your love.

Some of the acts of service love language ideas for her are as follows:

  • Take the kids the house for a few hours to give her some time to herself.
  • If she is always the one to get up early with the kids on a Saturday morning, let her sleep in while you make pancakes and entertain the kids with cartoons. 
  • While she is working late or running the kids to their activities, go ahead and fold that load of laundry she started earlier in the day.
  • Ask her if there is anything you can stop and pick up at the store for her on the way home from work.

Acts of service love language ideas for him could include

  • Organizing the garage, so he has one less thing to do this weekend.
  • Taking his car through the car wash when you are out running errands.
  • Putting the trash out at the curb before he wakes up in the morning.
  • If he is usually the one to walk the dog every evening, take over this task when he is having a particularly busy day. 

Receiving Acts of Service

While it is important to know what to do if your partner prefers acts of service love language, there is also advice for those whose own love language is acts of service.

Perhaps you delight in acts of service love language, but you and your partner are having a hard time understanding each other. Maybe your partner isn’t giving you what you need, or the two of you might be frustrated over miscommunications in the relationship.

If this is the case, it can be helpful to be more clear with your partner about what you need. You cannot expect your partner to read your mind.

As experts explain, you should not feel guilty about asking for what you need. If you prefer acts of service and your partner isn’t giving you what you need, it is time to ask!

Specify what would be most helpful to you, whether it is asking your partner to run the kids to soccer practice this week or requesting that they share in more household chores.

If you haven’t had a conversation about it already, you may have to simply explain to your partner that your preferred love language is acts of service and that this is particularly important to you.

If you feel that you are not receiving acts of service from your partner, it could simply be that your expectations are too high.

For instance, you may expect that your partner should just inherently know how to give acts of service to you, but if you are not asking them or communicating what you need, this expectation can lead to problems.

You cannot assume that your partner knows what you need, so it is important to communicate, so your partner is prepared to give the acts of service you would most to receive.

Finally, once your partner does demonstrate an act of service, be sure to express gratitude for what they have done for you.

20 Acts of Service love language ideas

It is pretty clear that whether you prefer to receive acts of service or your partner shows the acts of service love language, and actions speak louder than words with this type of love language.

Anything that makes life more comfortable or takes a burden off of their shoulders will be appreciated by a partner who receives love through acts of service.

Having said that, it is still helpful to understand that acts of service look a little different for everyone, and these acts are not always about household chores.

Ultimately, you may have to ask your partner what is most helpful for them, but the following twenty acts of service examples can go a long way toward making your partner happy:

  1. Make a cup of coffee for your partner in the morning.
  2. Take a turn unloading the dishwasher.
  3. Offer to pick up dinner on the way home from work if your partner usually does the cooking.
  4. Fill up your partner’s gas tank while you are out running errands.
  5. Take the dogs for a walk while your partner snuggles in on the couch.
  6. Have breakfast ready on the table when your partner gets home from the gym in the morning, so he has more time to get ready for work.
  7. Take care of mowing the lawn if this is one of your partner’s usual jobs.
  8. Pack your partner’s lunch for the day.
  9. Go through the kids’ backpacks and sort through forms and permission slips that need to be signed and returned to the teacher.
  10. Clean the trash your significant other’s car.
  11. Offer to take the weekly grocery list and make a trip to the store.
  12. Clean the bathroom.
  13. If running the vacuum is usually your spouse’s job, surprise them by taking on this chore for the week.
  14. Shovel the driveway for him when he has to go into work earlier than you do.
  15. Get the kids ready for bed, from giving baths to tucking them in with bedtime stories.
  16. Take care of the stack of bills on the counter.
  17. Instead of letting your spouse cook dinner and clean up the mess afterward, turn on her favorite show after dinner and take care of the dishes for a night. 
  18. Wash the sheets on the bed without being asked.
  19. Call and schedule the kids’ annual checkups at the doctor’s office.
  20. Take care of a project that needs to be done around the house, such as cleaning out the refrigerator or organizing the hall closet.

Ultimately, what all of these acts of service have in common is that they communicate to your partner that you have their back, and you’ll be there to lighten their load. 

For someone with acts of service love language, the message you send by being supportive through your actions is invaluable. 


If your spouse or significant other has acts of service love language, they will feel most loved and cared for when you do nice things for them to make their life easier.

These acts of service ideas do not always have to be grand gestures but could be as simple as making their morning cup of coffee or getting something for them at the store.

Remember that a partner whose love language is acts of service may not always ask for your help, so you may have to get good at knowing what they or simply asking how you can be most helpful to them.

At the same time, if you prefer to receive love through acts of service, do not be afraid to ask your partner for what you need, and be sure to express your appreciation when they give it to you.


What it means if your love language is acts of service

How to Use Acts of Service in Your Relationship

While some people feel the most loved when they hear the words “I love you,” for folks with the acts of service love language, it’s more meaningful when you actually do something to show them your love. In other words, actions speak louder than words.

Backing up for a sec in case you’re not familiar with the five love languages. They were introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The 5 Love Languages. “Love languages are specific ways that each individual is wired and/or conditioned to receive and value love,” says Kendra A.

O'Hora, PhD, LCMFT, and owner and therapist at HarCo Marriage and Family Therapy and Wellness Center. “Dr. Chapman suggests that when your gas tank is running low, you need more and more love to sustain healthy levels of functioning.

If you're running on empty in your relationship, then being kind, generous, supportive, loving, considerate, selfless, etc. becomes desperately difficult.”

While the other four love languages are pretty self-explanatory (physical touch, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time), acts of service is one that can be a little tricky to understand. (If you’re not sure what your love language is, you can take an online quiz).

Dr. O’Hora says some tangible examples of acts of service include running an errand for your partner, filling up their car with gas, or doing household chores laundry and dishes.

The acts of service love language can encompass so many things, though, where do you even start? How do you know if you’re doing it right? It doesn’t have to be as complicated as it may seem. Here, Dr.

O'Hora shares her top strategies on how to master this love language.

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1. Tell your partner that you have an acts of service love language

First and foremost, the key in any relationship is communication—and that includes sharing each other’s love languages. “I find that many couples do not operate well with the abstract or rather, the mind-reading of relationships,” Dr. O’Hora says. “We cannot expect our partner to know how to love us well. Knowing yourself is difficult enough.”

If you’re not sure how to go about communicating this with your partner, she suggests writing a heartfelt letter explaining what it means to you to have an acts of service love language so you can gather your thoughts and articulate them clearly. And then read that letter out loud to your partner.

many things in life, what constitutes an act of service is subjective. Meaning, an act of service that is meaningful for one person might not be for another.

So it’s important to not just tell your significant other that your love language is acts of service but to actually tell them what specific things will make you feel most loved. It could be making you your morning cup of coffee or taking care of the kids so you can enjoy some me-time.

To make it crystal clear, Dr. O’Hora suggests writing a list of 30 acts of service that are the most important for you and ask your partner to check one off every day.

Many people can feel uncomfortable, or maybe even a bother, when they ask for things. But, as Dr. O’Hora says, there is nothing wrong with asking for love.

So if your love language is acts of service, her advice is to first get comfortable with asking your partner to do the acts of service that make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Be your own advocate.

Don’t expect your partner to always know what you need and when you need it.

Ask in a nice, loving way, of course. Dr. O’Hora suggests something : “Hi honey! I hope you had a good day at work. Can you please tackle dinner tonight? It would mean a lot to me. Thank you!”

4. Share how you would the act of service done

“For the person with an acts of service love language, completing the task well is just as important as the task itself,” Dr. O’Hora says.

That’s why she recommends offering to show your partner how you’d the task done because if you have to redo the task yourself it kind of defeats the entire purpose (, um, if they load the dishwasher incorrectly).

It goes without saying, but be sure to share this in a loving tone and not with a micromanaging vibe.

When your partner does do an act of service for you, it’s important to acknowledge them and thank them for the love they have offered you.

“This reminds your partner that you value that they are actually filling your tank,” Dr. O’Hora says. “This is not a pat on the back for taking on their share of household responsibilities.

This is an acknowledgment that your partner is loving you well. Remind them how full your tank is and how happy you are.”

All in all, by simply advocating for yourself and your love language and acknowledging your partner when they make you feel loved, it’s a win-win for the relationship. “Both partners will feel heard, valued, seen, and appreciated,” Dr. O’Hora says. “You’ll then want to pour out the love even more and that's the groove that helps keep your relationship strong.”

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This post was originally published on December 28, 2019; updated on October 2, 2020. 

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What It Really Means To Have

How to Use Acts of Service in Your Relationship

Knowing your partner's love language can serve as a window into how they give and receive love. For people who love with acts of service, love is not felt as much with abstract words and intention as it is with visible action and follow-through. Here's everything you need to know about the pragmatic love language.

What are acts of service?

An act of service is the physical expression of a thoughtful gesture. It's one of the five love languages, which are specific styles of showing love.

At its core, an act of service is about someone going their way to meaningfully help and support the other person.

When people take initiative to ease some of their responsibilities and burdens, it helps them feel taken care of, safe, and loved in return.

Holistic therapist Medina Colaku, M.A., LAc, tells mbg, «An act of service is about dedicated time and effort, usually in a nonverbal way. It is quite literally showing up in ways that are tangible, meaning actions speak louder than words.» 

Examples of acts of service.

Below are examples of what different acts of services can look . Apply imagination and your own understanding of the person's distinctive preferences to ensure the act will be recognized and appreciated. 

While going through the list, remember that an act of service is about more than doing household chores, delivering on some high-octane grand gesture, or how much one can accommodate their every desire to please them.

It's really about going after a much more emotionally subtle feeling where they feel they can trust you to have their back, for the small and the big things.

To strike the right balance in giving and avoid burnout, pay attention to their daily activities and notice where you can check things off their to-do list. Then, fold that into your schedule naturally. 

  1. Pick up their favorite snack when shopping for groceries
  2. Open the door for them
  3. Fix breakfast to serve in bed before they wake up
  4. Help take off their shoes 
  5. Randomly take them out to their favorite restaurant after a long day 
  6. Put away their suitcase when they're tired after a work trip
  7. Book a massage during vacation so they can relax
  8. Take care of the family and give them the day off 
  9. Do their preferred date activity, even if it's not your first choice
  10. Make the bed with clean sheets
  11. Complete a project they haven't had the time to do yet, organizing the drawers or cleaning out the fridge 
  12. Preemptively buy toiletries or household items before supplies go low 
  13. Nurse them when they're sick
  14. Play their favorite music in the house 
  15. Put the toilet seat down
  16. Do one of their chores, even when it's their turn 
  17. Give them a massage when they're feeling stressed
  18. Pack their lunch if they have a busy day
  19. Offer to carry heavy things for them
  20. Help out with a home improvement project
  21. Pick up a guilty pleasure snack as a surprise 
  22. Put away the dishes without them asking
  23. Do the grocery shopping 
  24. Help figure out the logistics for a vacation
  25. Make a cup of coffee in the morning
  26. Clean the cat's litter
  27. Learn their favorite recipe for a surprise date 
  28. Make sure they bring a jacket if it's cold outside so they stay warm
  29. Tidy up their personal space and put everything back exactly where they it 
  30. Clean up the house while they make time for R&R
  31. Take out the trash
  32. Cook an old family recipe when they're feeling homesick
  33. Draw a bath for them
  34. Wait to watch the show on Netflix so you can binge it together 
  35. Encourage them to do something for them, seeing their friends or doing an activity they but don't do often 
  36. Create a self-care or workout playlist for them to listen to when they take time to relax 
  37. Schedule a video call with their loved ones to catch up
  38. Take care of an appointment for the house
  39. Take the dog out for a walk
  40. Show interest in their hobby by attending an event they care about 
  41. Run their errands for them 
  1. Do their least favorite chore the blue, once in a while
  2. Save and share some food that they would  
  3. Watch their favorite movie with them again, even if they've seen it a hundred times
  4. Let them choose the family activity for the day
  5. Fill their gas tank
  6. Start the load for them and do their laundry
  7. Save them the last bit of that one ingredient in the fridge/pantry instead of using it all 
  8. Call them if they're feeling sad and ask how they're doing 
  9. Give them the last slice of dessert 
  10. Tune up their bike
  11. Bring snacks for a long car trip 
  12. Take time to help them with a project
  13. Offer to tutor them with any homework assignments
  14. Cook a comforting meal when they're sick 
  15. Get something they need while you're out 
  16. Fix something they broke 
  17. Help them clean up after they make dinner
  18. Play a podcast in the car they to listen to
  19. Iron their clothes
  20. Help each other stay healthy and safe 
  21. Wear a mask if you're feeling sick
  22. Help them move
  23. Give them a ride when they need it
  24. Plan out fun activities for the family vacation
  25. Wash the car 
  26. Break down boxes and put them away in the recycling
  27. Fold and put away the clothes
  28. Get their groceries 
  29. Do small handyman projects around the house 
  30. Pick them up at the airport 
  31. Plug in their phone charger for them when it's dead 
  32. Pet-sit for them 
  33. Take care of their house when they're on vacation
  34. Run errands together 
  35. Go with them to an event they've been wanting to go to
  36. Pay off one of their bills that they haven't gotten to yet 
  37. Take the time to visit them, especially if they don't live close to you 
  38. Take out the trash
  39. Build their furniture
  40. Remind them about something they need
  1. Finish shared projects on time
  2. Speak up for them at a meeting if they need help
  3. Let them know when there's free food in the office 
  4. Save them an extra seat at lunch
  5. Ask if they need help with a work-related project
  6. Make an extra beverage for them in the morning
  7. Treat them to snacks
  8. Pick up their mail
  9. Untangle their cords at work
  10. Tell them when they have food in their teeth or if they have a stain on their shirt
  11. Help out with their workload when they're on vacation or OOO
  12. Stay late with them to finish a project
  13. Offer advice and feedback on work
  14. Help them out with technical issues, e.g., printer jams, computer problems  
  15. Sit through their practice presentation and give notes 
  16. Read over their email or deliverables for spelling errors
  17. Act as a sounding board when they are venting or stressed 
  18. Water their plants if they forget to
  19. Install needed software on their work computer
  20. Help gather information and do some research for their project

Acts of service as a love language.

Gary Chapman combined his lessons from his marriage counseling and linguistics background to develop his book The 5 Love Languages. The theory describes the five ways he believes we best interpret, give, and communicate love: acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, and physical touch.

For those whose primary love language is acts of service, they will appreciate the tactile, palpable steps you are taking to enhance or simplify their life by making it a little bit easier. When they don't have to worry about the little but big things that give them stress, it allows them to fully show up as a partner and reciprocate love from a place of abundance. 

Colaku typically incorporates the love languages quiz into her clinical work to help facilitate understanding and conversations between individuals and couples.

She finds it can be useful for people to examine how upbringing, attachment style, and experiences with early caregivers may have shaped their love language so they can see where the other person is coming from.

«Discussing the love languages is an opportunity to be vulnerable with each other, as it allows us to go beyond simply discussing how we want things to be executed in the relationship but also how we came to translate that act of service equals being loved,» she says. 

How to give an act of service.

«When thinking about acts of service, think about how you can improve their quality of life by planning ahead or freeing up their time to spend on other things,» advises psychotherapist Kira Yakubov, LMFT.

It shows that there's been consideration for their needs and that you're doing things to put a smile on their face.

«This can range from small acts such as making a coffee to go for them in the morning to save a few minutes to putting jumper cables and a backup battery in their car.» 

Colaku says it is highly beneficial to explore and inquire into what they're specifically looking for. «Be mindful and recognize what your partner states that they appreciate, what they don't enjoy doing, as well as observing how they live their daily life in action.» 

Dating someone whose love language is acts of service.

Yakubov recommends a few tips for fostering intimacy with this type of love language:  

1. Creatively anticipate their needs.

«Look out for the small things that would brighten their day by meeting a future needs of theirs such as packing them an umbrella when it might rain or bringing snacks to a long event,» Yakubov suggests.

Broaden what you can do for them by filtering it through what they would appreciate.

By focusing too much on fulfilling stereotypical domestic responsibilities, we run the risk of missing out on what they really need.

2. Be hypervigilant and listen to their complaints.

People tend to criticize their spouse the loudest in the area where they have an emotional need. If that's the case, what do you notice they complain about the most? How can you bring support to those areas? 

It could be helpful to have them write out a weekly list. Better yet, Yakubov says, «Ask them what tasks or activities they struggle with, or where they get frustrated, to see the areas where you can provide help.» If you're specialized or naturally equipped with skills that your partner is lacking to fulfill some practical obligations, that's a great place to step in.

4. Show gratitude for their acts of service for you.

«Express your appreciation for their acts of service toward you. Even if their love language is not words of affirmation, showing their actions are noticed and appreciation goes a long way,» she says. It's always good to practice showing our partner love in a multitude of ways.

5. Follow through on your commitments.

Since they're hyperfocused on acts of service, they want to know they can rely on their partner to see the commitment through. If it doesn't happen, they can become resentful or disappointed. If they ask you to help with something and you agree, make sure you deliver on the promise. 

What to do if your love language is acts of service.

Acts of service is not as straightforward as the other love languages since it largely depends on your subjective experience and the priorities you have in your life.

Observation can only go so far, and since you can't read each other's minds, it's important that there are conversations about met and unmet expectations and what both parties are hoping for.

This can defuse underlying tension and conflict later on. 

«This is not a one-time conversation but rather an ever-evolving conversation where the partners can check in with one another weekly, biweekly, or monthly to touch base on how their needs are being met by each other and if they are satisfied,» Colaku explains. Frequent communication is essential so couples aren't practicing the love languages theory robotically to gain affection but rather using it for what it's intended to be: a jumping-off point to develop a deeper curiosity with each other.

By paying attention to each other's love language and supplying your partner with plenty of acts of service, these mundane obligations and pesky household chores can be transformed into a powerful demonstration of love.


What It Means If Your Love Language Is Acts of Service

How to Use Acts of Service in Your Relationship

If you want to know why you do the things you do, you might look to your zodiac sign. For intel about your social tendencies, maybe your Myers-Briggs personality. But for understanding what makes you feel special in a relationship? Well, that's one for love languages.

If you've read up on anything related to relationships and romance, , ever, there's a good chance you've come across Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages at some point in your research (or, okay, at girls night).

A quick rundown: If compliments make you melt, your love language is probably Words of Affirmation. If you thrive on the thoughtfulness behind a present, Receiving Gifts is yours. Look forward to dinners for two all weeklong? That's Quality Time. And if you're all about holding hands or you feel most connected during sex, you speak the language of Physical Touch.

The language that tends to get a bad rap (aside from Receiving Gifts, which isn't about materialism, btw), however, is Acts of Service. It describes people whose hearts swell at the thought of coming home to dinner on the table with the promise of an empty sink or a foot rub for dessert. If this sounds you, you feel most loved when people do things for you, not just with you or to you.

But here's the thing: The Acts of Service language doesn't make you a high-maintenance or lazy nag. All it means is that, for you, actions truly speak louder than words.

Okay, tell me more—what does 'Acts of Service' say about me?

At its core, this language is about demonstrations of love.

Since saying «I love you» doesn't actually guarantee that the speaker means it, some people respond better to seeing someone show their feelings, says Beverly Palmer, PhD, clinical psychologist, professor emeritus at California State University, Dominguez Hills, and author of Love Demystified.

That's not to say you have trust issues (though it's possible), or that you're overly dependent (or codependent) on other people. In fact, you're most ly super self-sufficient and ambitious.

That's exactly what makes you respond to this language: If someone can recognize all that you do on your own and wants to step in to help make your life a little easier, that, to you, is real love.

Their actions are actually less about the deed itself and more about showing you that they are on your team.

If your partner goes their way to pick your sister up from the airport, or call the realtor so you don't have to, you hear «I care about you enough to sacrifice my own time for your benefit.» And that's not something you find every day.

Is Acts of Service ever a bad thing?

Okay, brace yourself: Acts of Service can be a little problematic if you're not super self-aware.

While every relationship should be about balance, where both partners get their needs equally met, having this particular love language could make you more susceptible to letting expectations get in the way of an otherwise happy and healthy situation. In other words, if you think your partner should be doing X or Y for you, rather than letting them choose how to show their support, you could self-sabotage your bond.

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«Unbalanced relationships where one person expects too much and thinks their partner must meet those expectations to prove that they love them» is when things get tricky, Palmer says. No one wants a relationship that comes with a list of chores.

Think about it: At work, you'd be put off by a new employee who feels they're entitled to certain things before they've even shown their commitment to the company. Similarly, your partner should feel their demonstrations of love are reciprocated and their choice, at their will—not your demand.

Want a stronger relationship? Steal this couple's secrets:

Gotcha. So if this is my love language, how do I make a relationship work?

Communication, communication, oh, and um, some more communication.

When acts of service are involved, there’s no room for assumptions, says Palmer. Assuming your S.O. knows which acts of service you value most and expecting them to perform them at all is a surefire way to make your partner feel taken advantage of.

So here's how to be straightforward without demanding anything in return:


  • Clearly tell your partner which acts of service you value. This way they can prioritize those actions, Palmer says. Frame it in a way that explains why their help means something to you, : «I haven't been getting much sleep lately—would you mind walking the dog in the morning so I can sleep in a little longer?»

    If you have a hard time expressing your needs, talking to a therapist can help you feel more comfortable. Either way, if you prefer to be more subtle, try telling your partner about a time a friend or family member did something for you that meant a lot to you, suggests Palmer.

  • Acknowledge what your partner's doing—say thank you. It sounds duh, but especially in if you've been together for a while, you may not notice some of the things they're doing to show you you're their #1. So to ensure they never feel taken for granted, after you talk through which acts of service are major for you, keep an eye out for when they actually do them (or something similar). Say: «Hey, I noticed you picked up the dry-cleaning today while I was stuck at work. I'm going to need those pants this week, so thank you so much for doing that.»
  • Learn the ways your partner feels most loved. There's a chance they «speak» a different love language than you do (they might need touch or feel extra special when you tell them how impressed you are by their brain), so do what you can to suss out their love language. Straight-up talk about it (Palmer promises the convo won't be awkward as long as you keep things positive), or tune in to what makes them light up day to day. Once you figure it out, keep that intel top of mind and create opportunities to speak their language (surprise them with a massage, bring home their favorite cookie…you get the idea). Otherwise, you’ll find these acts of service you crave become less and less frequent when your S.O. isn't feeling the love from you.


  • Expect your partner to read your mind. While, yeah, it’s the thought that counts, if certain actions will make you feel especially warm and fuzzy inside, speak up.
  • Scoff at no. Remember, acts of service really lose their meaning if they're not at your partner's will. So be okay with hearing «Sorry, I can't right now,» and trust that if they could, they would. If you feel they're always turning down your needs, it may be a good opp to visit a couples counselor. Communication is everything, after all.
  • Fully rely on your partner to pick up your slack. Even if your partner has your back, keep up with your own responsibilities so they can live their life, too. Dumping your daily tasks on them, Palmer says, is a one-way ticket to Splitsville.

Bottom line: The Acts of Service love language is just as legit as all the others. Don't let anyone (including yourself) shame you for it.

As long as you're offering your partner the biggest service of all—speaking their love language in return—go on and enjoy that empty dishwasher, guilt-free.

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