If you’re anything like me, you’ve read nearly every book out there on dating and relationships. When you’ve been single this long, you can’t help but think it’s you, so you take yourself on as a project and try to read and learn as much as you can in the hopes of not fucking up your next relationship so that maybe, just maybe you won’t be single for the rest of your life.
If there is only one book you read on the subject, please read The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman (Chicago: Northfield Publishing, 2010). It will completely transform your thinking on love and relationships.
Chapman defines the 5 love language as:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
Obviously most people enjoy all of these things from their partner. But Chapman argues that we usually have one or two dominant love languages. For me, it’s words of affirmation and physical affection.
Chapman’s basic argument is that we need to understand our partner’s love languages and our own in order to ensure we’re giving them what they need and we’re getting what we need to feel loved in return. The way people give and receive love is different. You may think you’re giving your partner tons of love, but because it’s not in their love language, they don’t interpret it as love.
For example, if you’re a words of affirmation person, you like to hear that you look great in that dress, that the dinner you cooked was delicious and be asked how your day was. But your partner may be a quality time person, so they just want to watch the sunset together that evening. They think they’re being a loving, supportive partner because you’re spending quality time together watching the sunset, but you feel empty because you just want them to tell you that you’re beautiful.
Another example could be that you’re a physical affection person. You like all the kisses and cuddles and love pats and hands on the knee and holding hands you can get. But your partner is an acts of service person. They’ll change your oil or wash your car for you, but you don’t register that as love. Sure, it’s a nice gesture, of course, but all you really want is a hug and a kiss and a cuddle.
As you can imagine, there are a million different scenarios of two people who give and receive love differently. Once you understand what your love language is and what you need to feel loved, you can communicate that to your partner. Then you can get an understanding of their love languages and what they need to feel loved.
More often than not, you’ll both need to adapt how you give love to ensure the other feels loved. It’s such a simple concept, but when you both have an understanding of the love languages and actively work to give the other what they need, it will make a profound difference in your relationship.
Trust me, read the book. It is a quick read and will legitimately transform the way you think about dating and your relationships forever.