When I think about showing love on Valentine’s Day, my mind falls back on images that have been fed to me by big Hollywood romcoms, writes Re: News journalist Liam van Eeden.

A boombox outside a window, making out in the rain and using cue cards as a tool to declare your love to an already-married woman (go home, Mark)

But what does love look like when you’re not shouting it from the rooftops?

The concept of the five “love languages” was invented by American author and Baptist minister Gary Chapman in the 1990s. They are: 

  • Words of affirmation: using words to uplift your partner
  • Acts of service: taking a small task off your partner’s plate
  • Gift giving: buying or making your partner small gifts to show you care about them
  • Quality time: taking the time to bond with your partner
  • Physical touch: expressing love through physical affection

They’ve been criticised for resembling something closer to a quirky Girlfriend magazine quiz as opposed to a credible psychological theory. Not to mention people saying the author’s religious background gives the love languages Christian propaganda vibes.

Despite this, they can be a fun, silly tool to help identify the ways you say ‘I love you’, without saying ‘I love you’.

I spoke to some loved up couples about the love languages they identify with and the little ways they show love to each other.

Krishna and Aaron she/her and he/him

💗 Acts of service

Krishna Narayanan and Aaron Taupaki (Ngāti Hako) have been together for three years and are currently engaged. 

Krishna: We are quite a unique couple as I’m bisexual, neurodiverse, Kiwi Indian and younger, and Aaron is straight, neurotypical, Māori and older. But aroha is aroha.


Aaron (left) and Krishna (right). Photo: Re: News

The two of them met when they briefly worked at The Warehouse at the same time during the first Covid lockdown. 

Krishna shows her love to Aaron by doing acts of service. 

When Krishna and Aaron first started dating, Krishna was working day shifts and Aaron was working night shifts – so they found it hard to find the time to see each other. 

Krishna: I know that communication and transparency is important in relationships, but I feel like sometimes you want to surprise someone to show that you really care about them. So what I did was, I made Aaron a SEEK account. I opened a Word document, put his name, experience and made him a CV. I uploaded it onto SEEK and started applying for jobs. Aaron had been working night shifts so I wanted to apply for day shift jobs. One of the people came back really quickly. I showed Aaron the email. He was surprised, but he ended up giving the manager a call and got the job.


Krishna working on Aaron’s CV. Photo: Re: News

Aaron: I had been working the night shift for 15 years and getting off it was the best thing I’ve ever done. And it was because Krishna guided me in the right direction. Krishna and I are polar opposites when it comes to personality. She’s very bubbly, outgoing and sociable. And I’m the opposite. I’m a very chill, mellow guy. So if it weren’t for Krishna, I probably would have stayed on night shifts until I dropped. Now, we finally get to spend quality time together. I come home in the evening and she’s there. 


Krishna and Aaron. Photo: Re: News

Krishna is 25 and Aaron is 52.

Krishna: I know that age gap relationships get a bad rap. And I know that Aaron and I aren’t your typical couple, we're so different. Yet, we bond. We can show that love can happen whether you have an age difference, whether you're interracial, or whether you're disabled, not disabled, queer, non queer. 

Aaron: She has taken care of me more than anyone else outside of my family.

Krishna: And he does the same to me.


“Aroha is aroha,” says Krishna Narayanan. Photo: Re: News

Morgan and Mpho both she/her

💗 Gift giving

Morgan Williams and Mpho Mugabe met through Hinge four months ago. 

Morgan: I almost didn’t swipe on her because it said she liked hiking. And then I kept scrolling and I saw her ass and I thought ‘Yeah, nice’. 

Mpho: Hahah, Morgan!


Mpho (left) and Morgan (right). Photo: Re: News

When it comes to their love language, Morgan identifies with gift giving. 

Mpho: Morgan loves the giving of the gifts. She’s always looking for ways to spend her money on me.

Morgan: If Mpho says she needs something, I mentally clock it in my mind. I actually have a note in my Notes app for it now. 

Mpho: Oh, do you? That’s so funny. That’s cute. 

Morgan: I’m always thinking of her reaction to knowing I’m thinking of her. 

Mpho: I told her once that no one has ever given me flowers before. 

Morgan: And I was surprised, because I’ve had friends give me flowers before, but that’s never happened to Mpho. So then I bought her flowers, but she didn’t have anything to hold them in. So then I bought her a vase and showed up to her house with flowers in a vase. Now, I keep the vase replenished with fresh flowers. 

Mpho: I was so surprised, it was the cutest thing ever!


The vase Morgan gifted Mpho with fresh flowers. Photo: Re: News

Morgan: I also like the challenge of making gifts instead of buying them. I crochet, so I’ve crocheted Mpho a bunch of things. I recently crocheted her a beanie.

Mpho: She did! It’s so cute. Now we have matching beanies. 


Mpho modelling the beanie Morgan crocheted for her. Photo: Re: News

Morgan: Last night, I actually gifted Mpho some hiking boots. Upon opening the package she knew instantly they weren’t for her, they were for me. It was my way of telling her I am willing to put my hatred of hikes aside for her. I’ve never seen her more excited.


Cuties! Photo: Re: News

Heini and Anke he/him and she/her

💗 Quality time

Heini and Anke Duensing are both in their 80s and have been together for 62 years. 

Anke: At nighttime, because we’re in our eighties, we’ve stopped saying ‘Goodnight’ and we say ‘I love you’ instead, because we never know if we will wake up in the morning. What else can you do?


Heini (left) and Anke (right). Photo: Re: News

Heini: Moments of Anke and I together that I think fondly of are when we would go bushwalking in the Waitākere Ranges. That’s the thing I miss the most now. 

Anke: It’s a shame. We can walk around the village where it’s flat, but not in the bush. We still go on a lot of walks together. In fact, we received the highest points for walking in the [retirement] village. Sometimes when you walk down a narrow path, you have to go one behind the other, but otherwise, we’ll always be holding hands. 


Photo: Re: News

Heini: We try to get out and walk together every day. It takes about a good hour, hour and a half to walk around the neighbourhood.


Photo: Re: News

Heini and Anke met at a mutual friend’s house in Germany in 1960. Three months after meeting, Heini got a job in camera manufacturing in New Zealand and moved to Auckland. A year after that, Anke followed him. They now live in an Oceania Healthcare retirement village in Tāmaki Makaurau. 

Anke: After 62 years, we just know we love each other. And if one is off colour, or upset, the other one notices. One thing I’ve learnt is that if you're married for a long time, it’s important to have your own interests. We are lucky that we’ve been together for so long, but in some cases, when one partner goes, if you do everything together for 24 hours, then you are lost. So we make sure we have our own personal interests. 

Heini: Yes! Anke has her crafts and I have my photography. 

Anke: I think the main thing is that you trust each other, and you keep your sense of humour. And I mean, we are two different people, so we can't agree all the time, but you can't argue with Heini, because he doesn't answer back. 

Heini: Ha ha!


🫶 Photo: Re: News

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