“Love doesn’t erase the past, but It makes the future different.” ~Gary Chapman
Have you ever thought that the person you’re with is “The One?”
Depending on several factors such as your attachment style, your personality type and dating history, you may think every person you’ve dated is “The One”, or you may be labeling them more along the lines of “Not Even Close.”
And that’s fine.
Some of us take longer to find the One Person in this world who accepts us completely.
I get it.
We’ve all gone through phases and relationships where we may have wanted someone who completes us instead of wanting someone who accepts us completely.
They’re not the same thing.
The only way to understand the difference between the two boils down to understanding ourselves and our partner.
And, most importantly, in understanding our partner’s and our personal takes on giving and receiving love.
Sure, we’ve all experienced those amazing feel-good moments where the energy between our partner and us just flows naturally. Jung may consider these moments as synchronicity between our partner and us where everything in the relationship fits perfectly like two pieces in a puzzle.
Other times, we may be in a relationship with someone who is exciting or charming but somehow the energy feels off, or you may feel like you’re having to try harder to feel heard or understood. These relationships may be OK, but you find that some of your needs feel like they’re being swept under the carpet or that you’re confused as to why your partner doesn’t seem to appreciate your kind words or warm gestures.
In today’s world, we get bombarded scrolling through social media with tips on how to find our soulmate (or whether there’s even such a thing), how to know if who we’re dating is “The One” and how to improve the quality of our relationships with our friends, family and significant other.
So, how can we gauge what works? Or what doesn’t?
There’s no secret that relationships — the authentic and legit ones — take effort. They take compassion, understanding and a commitment to each other. Perhaps understanding each other is the secret to lasting relationships.
Gary Chapman coined Five Languages of Love which helps us understand ourselves and our partner’s way of giving and receiving love.
The 5 Languages of Love
Words of Affirmation. Are you the type of person who loves hearing compliments? Does getting that Post-It Note on the bathroom mirror with a heart and a cute drawing make you happy? Or does receiving a morning text while being told, “Good morning, handsome” make your day?
People who score high in Words of Affirmation often need a lot of verbal praise and reassurance that they are loved, considered, included and wanted. By hearing or receiving positive phrases or words of encouragement, it helps them feel safe and secure in the relationship and helps remind them of their value, which is a pretty big deal.
Physical Touch. These people are very tactile oriented. They love cuddling, holding hands, grabbing their significant other for some impromptu P.D.A., stroking their partner’s hair, giving a massage, or brushing up against them while leaning on their shoulder.
Their feelings of belonging are found in physical interactions which isn’t always about sex. Some find that they connect more closely to their partners through physical proximity and closeness with our partner.
Receiving Gifts. This type of partner finds affection through material gifts, but they don’t have to be expensive. One misnomer about this type of love language is that it’s shallow and superficial. While some people are superficial and into status or money, if they’re genuinely in love with you, you’ll know.
Simple gifts like plucking a flower for them on a nature hike, or picking up their favorite coffee on a run to the store makes a big impact on someone who values this type of love language. These partners value physical things in their life as reminders of your love and your dedication to them.
Quality Time. This one is my personal favorite. If quality time is your preferred language of love, then you know it’s not about going places as much as it is about spending time with your partner. Turning off our cell phones, sharing an intimate massage, or spending a quiet evening indoors connecting are ways this type of love language bonds.
Shared activities are important which can include things like long road trips and chatting it up in the car, impromptu drives, cooking together, going for a swim, shared conversation or digging deeper with emotional connections. For someone with this type of love language, it’s not as important where you are, or what you’re doing, as long as it’s together.
Acts of Service. Have you ever felt happiness when your partner had dinner ready for you when you got home from work? Or if they cleaned the bathroom without having to ask? Did it put a smile on your partner’s face when you washed or ironed their work shirts? These are acts of service that are common with this type of love language so if you or your partner finds pleasure and happiness with these things, this may your type of love language.
This type finds pleasure and connection with their partner through doing — whether it’s shared chores, daily tasks or even by making their coffee in the morning. They find their deepest connection to their partner by doing things for their partner, and having their partner do things for them. This type of reciprocity is what they value as commitment and investment in a relationship.
Equally important to how we share our love with our partner, and how we understand and relate to each other, is understanding things like boundaries regarding our preferred love language.
There is no right or wrong language of love, and there is no perfect language of love. How you interpret and respond to love may not be how your partner does and that is OK. That is what makes our humanness, well…human.
However, understanding each other and respecting the boundaries connected with each language is important for a healthy relationship.
Keeping Boundaries with Our Chosen Love Language
It’s important to recognize boundaries, both ours and our partner’s to make sure that our needs are getting met, and so are theirs and that our chosen language is being used in a healthy way.
For example, if yours or your partner’s love language is based on Words of Affirmation, the biggest boundary here is making sure that yours (and your partner’s) words are not hurtful. Words can either build or they can destroy, so choose your words responsibly.
With Physical Touch, boundaries boil down to making sure you (or your partner) aren’t overstepping physical boundaries. If one of you had a rough day, space may be needed instead of too much touching. Some people shut down when they’re hurting or angry and need time to cool off or to redirect their energy, so respecting what they need physically is a healthy way to use physical touch.
With Receiving Gifts, boundaries need to be checked to make sure that one partner isn’t paying for everything while the other partner is getting off Scot-free. Imbalances of power here can be used to shame or humiliate a partner or used to withhold love.
With Quality Time, boundaries boil down to ensuring that quality time isn’t being used to control or manipulate the partner who requires quality bonding time, as well as making sure their partner’s needs are met. If one partner values time alone, both partners need to be OK with balancing time together and time apart.
With Acts of Service, boundaries are about making sure the partner who values doing things for the other partner isn’t being taken advantage of. Since this person’s love language is about doing (chores, helping, caring for, etc.) balance needs to be in check that their partner is also pulling their weight and respecting their partner’s needs.