Everyone gives and receives love in their own unique way.
Do you ever wonder why your partner isn’t more excited after you have spent a lot of time and effort planning and executing a thoughtful candlelit dinner for date night?
One of the things that we want most is to feel connected to another human being, and especially in a relationship. To give love, to be in love, and to feel and know that we are loved.
We all have different ways of expressing affection, fondness, desire, and, love.
We also have different ways of receiving and perceiving them. Some of us love to be loved in quite specific ways.
Dr. Gary Chapman calls these different ways of loving another human being, “Love Languages,” which are:
- Words of affirmation
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
- Quality time
Most of us probably learned how love was expressed or received as a child. Perhaps love was expressed as a hug (physical touch) or a ride to basketball practice on Saturday mornings (acts of service), or perhaps when being rewarded with your favorite ice cream after a big test (receiving gifts).
Whatever way love was expressed in your home, it can often mirror what you as an adult prefer, and you may have adopted those love languages as your own.
Years later, as you find yourself in a relationship or even married, eventually the messages you are trying to express to your partner are not being received or acknowledged as an expression of love, even if that is your intent. It may even feel like signals are being crossed or actions and messages misinterpreted.
Understanding your partner’s unmet needs
A possible reason for the disconnection could be linked to this concept of “Love Languages” and not hitting the target on what your partner perceives as “meeting their needs” or “filling up their cup.”
This deficit might lead someone to question the depth or strength of their love or may lead a couple to feel tension, insecurity, or stress. This type of disconnection can be paramount in sinking a relationship fast. Never fear, there is always a solution and way to problem solve.
If you feel like this is happening in your relationship, you can take a step back and first identify what you partner is doing to show their love.
Perhaps, your partner is forgoing watching football in order to go on an outing to that pumpkin patch you’ve been dying to visit this fall (quality time). Or perhaps your partner is telling you that you “look beautiful” or saying “I love you” without prompting (words of affirmation).
Love languages can be expressed in a multitude of ways and sometimes it takes a mindful minute to reflect on the things that are happening versus the things that are not happening.
If you have just realized and identified a few things that are occurring in your relationship, and even if you still can’t, that’s ok. In either case, it is important to have a calm, in-depth discussion about the ways in which you both express and receive love. Using open-ended questions about what kinds of words, actions, or experiences indicate love for your partner, and how they like to express their love for you is a big step in a new direction.
Things to explore with your partner about love languages include:
- Why they prefer that love language?
- Where that might come from?
- What it means to them?
Being loved in a way that you prefer and appreciate is important to a thriving relationship, so it is in both of your best interests to learn how to “speak” each other’s love languages. Doing so has the potential to bring you closer and help you as a unit overcome stress and disconnection while building a more secure and solid foundation.
Hopefully, with some practice and a few conversations about each other’s love languages—to fully understand each person’s love needs, you’ll learn how to express love to each other in ways that are more impactful and meaningful for both because in the end, feeling loved and secure in your relationship is worth the effort.
Would you like to know what your love languages is? Take this quiz.
About the Author
Nathalie Olsen-Studeler is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor (APCC) at Well Clinic in San Francisco. In her words:
“Seeking support can be difficult, but often is the key to reclaiming more of your wholeness in order to peel back the layers and understand what is motivating your behavior and choices.”