If a past relationship has caused you confusion when it comes to not knowing why you and your ex seemed to clash, or feeling like there was a deeper level of understanding that just wasn’t being reached, what I’m going to share today should really help.
There’s a fantastic and well-loved book called The Five Love Languages, written by Gary D. Chapman, which is based on five universal ways that people express and interpret love. Oftentimes even though you might be in a relationship that’s great in many ways, if you don’t know your own love language or your partner’s it can cause blocks, arguments, misunderstandings and even cause the relationship to break down.
So by being able to identify your own love language as well as your partner’s - or being aware of how to read a future partner’s, this will help to create more understanding, compassion, balance and harmony in a relationship.
Chapman believes that each person has one primary and one secondary love language (you can take a free quiz on his website to find out what your personal love languages are), and he talks about how people tend to give love in the way they prefer to receive love.
Let's look at what the love languages are.
1) Words of Affirmation
Some people feel most loved when they receive words of affirmation from their loved ones. It may be being told “I love you”, being complimented, appreciated, supported, or encouraged.
2) Quality Time
For some people, it’s someone’s time and them being fully present that means the most, regardless of how often their partner tells them they love them or uses words of affirmation. This can be someone listening to you, doing things with you, sharing experiences with you and so on. Really being there in the moment is important - it’s not the same as being with someone whilst watching TV.
3) Receiving Gifts
Some people love to receive actual gifts and tokens of love. These can be big or small. Any gesture that is a gift will make you feel loved.
4) Acts of Service
This one is where people show you how much they care by their actions and things that they do for you that they know will mean something. So for example, cleaning the house, the laundry and helping with important tasks.
5) Physical Touch
Physical touch may be your primary love language if you need physical affection to feel loved. It could be being tactile, holding hands, kissing, hugging or sex.
From that list, is there one that immediately stands out to you?
Another really helpful concept that Chapman also introduces is the "love tank" - that when your “love tank” is empty, that’s when a relationship will suffer. So if you’re not receiving love in your love language, you can feel depleted and might even start to withdraw from your partner. And of course, if your partner is experiencing this too, they might do the same. That can lead to tons of confusion because in your eyes, you probably feel you’re doing everything you can to show love for your partner and it isn’t being noticed. And vice versa.
Having more insight has the power to transform relationships, but it can also be helpful if you're single right now. If you’re single and you know your love language, you can fill your own "love tank" by showing love for yourself in that way too.
Ultimately, this book reminds us that relationships aren’t as transactional as we can sometimes make them. A big part of a harmonious and healthy relationship is understanding, which leads to both people doing what they can to meet their partner’s needs. To focus on giving and not getting. And of course, it also applies to friendships and family relationships too.