Have you ever thought, “I work so hard at showing my partner love only to feel unappreciated?” That might be because you are trying too hard to love them the wrong way. The golden rule “Love your neighbor as yourself” may have foundationally great value, however it does not always work in all aspects of a relationship.
For instance, Laura is the type of person who really likes receiving gifts. Gifts are a way for her to feel loved and appreciated as a person. So when she wants to show her partner love, she buys a gift. Laura is pumped about giving this gift and she spends a lot of time and energy in picking it out, only to receive an underwhelming “thanks.” This scenario happens often: Laura is loving her partner in the way that she herself feels loved the most.
However, the way her partner feels the fullness of love is seen in a different way. Author Gary Chapman calls these different expressions of love “love languages.” In his book, “The Five Love Languages,” Chapman has each person take a quiz that ranks the individual’s most valuable and effective way they feel loved. Not only can these be done with a partner, but these can be helpful insights for friendships and interactions with kids as well. The five categories are:
Words of affirmation: These are written or verbal acknowledgements that build the other person up. It can vary from complimenting on something they did or even recognizing how the person is dressed that day. Some ideas would be hiding notes in the person’s workbag, sending an email or even verbal statements after a long day.
Quality time: Spending quality time pertains to that individualized attention spent investing into the life of another. It is important to make sure there are as few distractions as possible. Some different ways to make use of quality time are: going on road trips, participating in a sport together or even something as simple as having a great conversation at dinnertime.
Gifts: In most countries giving gifts is a way to show love. The person who fits into this category finds love in receiving gifts. This individual typically is not of the materialistic type, but appreciates the time, energy and thought behind the gift. Gift giving ideas could range from sending flowers to getting something he or she has been talking about. For example: You partner has been talking about how stressed and tense work has been. Getting him/her a massage could be an appropriate gift. The gift not only shows that you care but that you were listening.
Acts of service: The person I think about here is the working or stay at home mom who is running around to different sporting events, kid activities and doesn’t have anytime for herself. Her partner coming home and cleaning the house might be just what she needs to feel loved. Acts of services are doing things like mowing, doing the dishes, or even taking the kids to their activities. It is centered on taking some of the load off the other person.
Physical touch: What do you think this is about? If you guessed sex, you are somewhat right. Someone whose love language is physical touch likes to be touched in general. Do you know this person? Are you this person? The one who likes to express themselves through touching? This person expresses love and feels love through the act of touch. Showing this person you love them could be displayed by hugs, snuggling, back rubs, and yes, even acts of sex.
Although impulsively we tend to do for others what we would like done for us, sometimes we need to stop and think about what that other person would actually benefit from. Maybe Laura’s partner’s love language is quality time. A better act of love would be something such as a date night, where they can focus on each other. On the other hand, when Laura’s partner wants to show her love, sending flowers to her office might just do the trick. Understanding, your partner’s love language(s) is a great way for a couple to stay even more intimately connected.
A person might respond to multiple love languages, but usually one of the five is stronger than the others. Just as we move, flow and grow through life, so do our personality and interests. Similarly a persons love languages can change over time. The best way to stay up-to-date on this is to continue to check in with your partner about what they like and do not like. Have fun with the love languages and hopefully this brings you closer and helps you connect more intimately. Click here to take a love language assessment here.
These suggestions are to help guide you in your journey to living a more fulfilling sexual life. If you are experiencing any sexual difficulties, I encourage you to seek help. If you have any questions or comments about what you read, feel free to e-mail me at Emma@Emma-Schmidt.com