My relationship with Joe is pretty easy.
(80% of the time, at least – the other 20% I want to poke him in the eyeball).
The reason for this - at least in part - is because we happen to share the same love languages.
Which means that whatever shit we might be going through, the one thing I don’t do is doubt our love for one another.
(I cannot tell you what a blessed relief that is, having spent so many of my previous relationships obsessing over the validity of either mine or my partner’s true feelings).
The concept of ‘love languages’ is explored in depth in a bestselling book written in the mid-nineties by Gary Chapman called:
‘The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.’
Over the last five years, it’s been one of my most called-upon resources in helping me navigate my romantic relationships.
In it, Chapman outlines five ways to express and experience love.
According to his theory, each person has one primary and one secondary love language.
- Receiving gifts (they don’t have to be expensive! Little tokens to show your partner is thinking of you is enough)
- Quality time (giving your partner undivided attention and doing activities etc you enjoy together)
- Words of affirmation (compliments, verbally expressing depth of feelings etc)
- Acts of service (doing things you know your partner would appreciate – loading the dishwasher, driving you to your meeting, cooking a meal etc)
- Physical touch (pretty self-explanatory!)
Chapman argues that to discover another person's love language, you must look at how they’re naturally drawn to expressing love to others.
Also, listen to what they ask their partner for most often – and what they complain about.
Chapman believes that people tend to naturally give love in the way that they prefer to receive it.
And the key to better communication can be achieved when you prioritise demonstrating love to your partner in the love language that they understand.
Both Joe and I are naturally drawn to give and receive love via physical touch and quality time.
The first two weeks of our courtship were mainly spent hanging out in forests and snuggling (like a pair of horny fifteen year-olds).
I didn’t need him to ‘affirm’ how much he liked me (although he told me anyway).
I didn’t care if he drove me about in his car, or took me out for fancy dinners (although he did anyway).
And I wasn’t bothered about being bought gifts (although he did get me lots of cute stuff from his six week travel stint in Bali – which he went on two weeks after we met).
Here’s the thing:
When you first start dating someone you’re really in to, you’ll/ they’ll probably jump between all of the love languages.
Because it feels so bloody good to express and receive love at the start of a romance.
However, if you want the romance to thrive beyond the honeymoon phase, you’ve got to get clear on the two love languages each partner is most drawn to.
Because trust me when I say that soon enough, you’ll not feel anywhere near as compelled to make such an effort in expressing your love for your partner as you did in those early days of the courtship.
Life will get in the way.
Their annoying habits will be unveiled.
And so will yours.
I know that my relationship with Joe is thriving when we prioritise sitting down together every day to play the guitar and sing.
This isn’t just quality time for us, it’s quality creative time – meaning that not only does it connect us emotionally and romantically, it connects us spiritually.
And because we both favour the physical touch love language too, snuggling on the sofa after a jam session bonds us to an even deeper level (no fancy dinner required to tempt either of us in to the sack!)
However, I’ve had other relationships where we inhabited totally different love languages.
And looking back, I can see that my lack of effort to consistently prioritise expressing love in a way that my boyfriend could understand was actually a very significant factor in why we didn’t work out.
So, whether you’re single or in a relationship, my suggestion is that you spend a little time discovering what your own two main love languages might be.
And then - when you’re in a position to - get curious about what your partner’s are, also.
If they happen to be the same as yours (like mine and Joe’s are), then you probably won’t have a hard time feeling loved by one another - although you’ll have plenty of other problems to contend with at some point.
And if they aren’t the same, then you’ll have the perfect opportunity to learn how to love in a manner that may not come naturally to you at first, but will evolve you in to higher levels of compassion, generosity and creativity.
Either way, you can’t lose.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
What do you think your love language might be?
How about your partner’s/ ex-partners?
How could knowing this have a positive impact on your (future) relationship – what would you do differently?