When Love Languages Don’t Align

05 Nov

Do you find yourself tripping up in the effort to express love? As a professional psychologist, I delve into how to move forward in a relationship when your love languages do not align.

Love languages: my take. A friend of mine complained to me once that her partner gave her flowers!… What was she going to do with something that was going to die anyway? Besides, anyone could buy flowers. Married and three children later, her husband has rebuilt their home, made a treehouse for the kids, repaired the car when it went down. She’s happy! Her love language was clearly not gifts, but acts of service.

The 5 Love languages, made popular by Gary Chapman’s book in 1995, talk’s about how we differ in our style of showing and receiving affection. If you haven’t already heard about them, quite briefly they are ‘words of affection’, ‘physical touch’, ‘acts of services’, ‘quality time’ and ‘gifts’.

What that means is, in theory, there are five different ways of expressing (and receiving) love for our partners and, according to Chapman, we have one or two preferences of the five listed above.

For example, someone might feel loved when their partner does ‘acts of services’ such as washing the car, emptying the bin, helping with the laundry or kids etc. Or they might feel loved when showered with words of affection, poems, whispers of sweet nothings or when they receive gifts, such as flowers, wine, chocolates, cufflinks etc. Whatever their love language, it will be how they want you to be with them in order to feel that you really love them – and vice versa.

So if your love language is say quality time, where the two of you are together doing stuff, whether an activity or ‘just hanging out’, your partner would be required to hang out with you in order for you to feel special.

The logic is there and it makes sense. If one is to speak the ‘same language’ a better synergy would form. From a dating point of view, you would then ideally want to date someone with a similar love language to yours.

But do they have to match? What if you are dating someone who has a different love language to you? The differences normally crop up as a relationship progresses and complaints around not being loved surface. “You don’t love me!” one partner might complain, upon which a reply might sound “but I tell you I love you all the time!”

Such arguments might indicate a difference in Love language rather than parties not actually loving each other. It begs the questions… Can one have a relationship where the love languages differs from your partners? My answer to that is, of course!

There is a relatively straightforward solution, although it might take some additional effort on both parties behalf. Firstly, you both need to identify your love language, or put another way, you both need to identify the behaviours or actions that you would like your partner to do which makes you feel loved, respected and appreciated. Then you need to have a conversation about what each of you can consciously do to make those things happen. The next step, and probably the most difficult is for you and your partner to put these into practice.

If for example, giving gifts seem obnoxious to you, as my friend thought, but your partners heart melts with happiness when you do. Try and focus on the effect, (making your partner feel good) rather than the action. If you struggle to say ‘I love you’, but your partner lights up when you do. Your job is to practice saying ‘I love you’ until it feel less weird and uncomfortable to you. With time initiating love languages that seem foreign to you, will become more natural and you may get the added effect of adding another source of feeling loved and appreciated to your sense of well-being!

 

At The Vida Consultancy, we know that the take-home message from any relationship counselling remains ever the same: communication is key. With our coaching service, we understand how much hurt can be caused by feeling underappreciated or even unloved.

We’re all about helping couples find success in love and life time partnerships and provide high-quality advice and coaching to both singles and couples. We’ve had the privilege and opportunity to work with many couples who have obstacles not unlike those mentioned in this article. I am here and available to support you in all these points mentioned above so do get in touch for a complimentary consultation with me.

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by Madeleine Mason

Psychologist

Madeleine has over 15 years of experience in psychology, where she is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Applied Positive Psychology. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Counselling Psychology, and is member of the British Psychological Society, the International Positive Psychology Association & Dating Industry Professionals Network.More by this author