Love Languages


Maybe. . . .

I think that perhaps when we’re very young or when we’re just beginners in love, or perhaps if we were raised in a household where love was given in a very idiosyncratic and inconsistent way and polluted with neglect, abuse, anger (was it even really “love” then that we we’re given??), then maybe this saying might fly for awhile.

But ultimately this saying shouldn’t fly for very long.

Because I think it too easily serves as a rationalization—as a way of rationalizing another person’s less than loving treatment of either us or someone else.

When two people really care about and love each other, it means that two people are committed to trying to learn each day how to better speak each other’s “love languages,” as well as learning how to better receive and accept love in the native way that their partner is speaking it or trying to communicate it to them.

That’s a fairly good working definition of what real Love looks and acts like when it comes to intimate relationships.

But one of the problems in intimate relationships is that people literally love others in the way that they want to be loved. In other words, most people tend to love “narcissistically”—in a way that is more about themselves than it is about the other person, meaning instead of trying to love the other in the other person’s native dialect—in a way that is meaningful to the other person.

For example, if my primary “love languages” (what makes me feel loved or what connotes to me that I am loved by you) are quality time and receiving gifts, but my partner’s primary love languages are words of affirmation and physical touch, then my partner will likely try to communicate love to me through words of affirmation and little touches throughout the day, while I will be trying to communicate to my partner my love for her by trying to spend quality time with her and by bringing her gifts.

But when we really love another person, part of that means that we want to communicate our love and care for the other person in a way that is meaningful to the other person.

Why?

Because the other person is actually a real person to us, as real as we are to ourselves, and so the other person deserves to be treated like a real person, and not as an extension of ourselves.

When we love another only in our own love languages and not in the other person’s love language, and when we couple that with expecting (demanding) that the other love us as we want to be loved and not as he or she is natively trying to love us, then the other person is not real to us (and we may not be real to the other person either); the other person is seen as an extension of ourselves, of our ego. And hence we are loving the other person “narcissistically.”

Thus, if I truly love my partner, then I need to get over myself or get outside of myself and express my love to my partner in a way that is meaningful to her and healthy for her. Using the example above, that would mean that I would need to love her through words of affirmation and little light physical touches and such when we are together.

It also would mean that I need to get over myself and accept that when my partner is saying nice things to me or complimenting me or giving me hugs and holding my hand, then I need to appreciate that she is trying to love me as best as she can. As best as she can for now.

Because if we are to both truly to grow in love with each other and for each other, then we will need to each broaden how we give and receive love.

If I am willing to extend myself in this and broaden how I give and receive love, and my partner is willing to as well, how can that not be a good thing?

In my opinion this is really what intimate relationships are about—two people who are mutually committed to this process—the process of expanding the vocabulary, their fluency in the various love languages and dialects. This is part of the proof of love—that we are willing to do this.

The other part of the proof of love is that both people are willing to see each other as real people, and not just as extensions of themselves.

And when and where two people are willing to really try and do both of these things, how can it not be a good thing for each of them as well as the other?

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About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in "The Five Love Languages", Immature Love, Intimate Relationships, Love is a Choice, Mature Love, Real Love, Self-Extension, Spiritual Growth, Waking Up, What is Love? and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Love Languages

  1. Stu says:

    A lovely and enlightening post. I would only add ‘communication’. If you are unsure what your lover’s ‘love language’ is – then ask. If you were learning another spoken language it would be second nature to ask: ‘What does that mean?’ ‘Can you tell me what this means?’ If we do that in our relationship our learning will accelerate and so will our connection and fulfillment. Nice one. Stu 🙂

    • John says:

      Exactly. Love means learning–learning how to actually love and care deeply for another person and how to express and communicate those things to our partner. And when learning anything, a person should be active and invested in their own education–asking questions, putting forth the effort, doing the work (and the homework)–all of those things show/make evident how much we care. It’s part of love in action.

      And asking our partner a question like “how can I show you better how much I care about you and love you?” or a question like the questions you suggested would be a great way to deepen the intimacy. Nothing like honest and direct heartfelt communication to deepen a relationship . . . . But not everyone wants or desires the same amount of depth or the same types depth in a relationship . . .so there’s the rub! . . . So direct communication may be one person’s love language and not another.

      Bottom line is that when we really Love another, we make the stretch and try to create a middle ground that is a win for each person.

      Thanks for reading and taking the time to respond and thank you for the excellentsuggestion, Stu!

      Kindest regards,

      John

  2. I am giving you the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. If you wish to accept it, visit this link for details:
    http://celestealluvial.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/very-inspiring-blogger-award/
    Congratulations
    Celeste

    • John says:

      Hello Celeste – a very heartfelt and belated thank you for this award and the other two you have graced me with! I appreciate each of them. And thank you also for the info on how to display the awards once I fulfill the conditions of each.

      But in the meantime, I wanted to thank you and let you know that your kindness has been very touching to me. Thank you! 🙂

      Warmest regards,

      John

  3. bipolarmuse says:

    I find this post very interesting. I have read the Five Love Languages and I am still at a loss for what my “love type” is. I know the current man I am with NEEDS affection, touches, hugs, kisses, that is how he shows his love for me, but it is actually HIS need…and it drives me nuts! Sounds horrible, but I want to be able to be in the same room and feel like an individual, not smothered. I do not know how to say these things to him without hurting him. In honesty, I don’t know what makes me feel “loved”, I only know what doesn’t. And I can be affectionate… but I tend to be more of a “harasser” or sarcastic love type of person. I don’t know how to break that pattern. I must say though, with my children… I love VERY differently. It is loving, no sarcasm, allot of attention and affection. Lots of hugs and little kisses. Allot of cuddling. I want my children to have what I did not as growing up. ♥
    Any suggestions about my current love style. I fear this is one reason it is so easy for me to leave relationships, a small factor maybe, but it is a factor nonetheless.

    • Stu says:

      Hi Bipolarmuse, Tony Robbins describes the 6 Human Drivers that we all have to varying degrees. They are: 1. Certainty 2. Uncertainty (or variety) 3. Significance 4. Love/Connection 5. Growth (emotionally, spiritually etc.) 6. Contribution (how you matter to the wider world). Without knowing you I suggest you start there. Ask yourself on a scale of 1 -10 how fulifilled are you in each of these areas (1 being hardly at all, 10 being totally fulfilled). This will reveal what you are lacking in your life. Once identified you may be able to ask your partner if they can help you raise the levels of the ones you need, higher and even up to 10. By understanding your partner’s 6 Human needs you may be able to help him achieve more fulfillment too. This may well bring you closer even though how you express your love may remain different. Let me know if this helps, I hope it does. Stu 🙂

      • bipolarmuse says:

        Thank you! I am going to write this down and start immediately. ♥

      • John says:

        More excellent advice, Stu!

        And, B, thank you for the very honest and thoughtful comments, (by the way, what do you prefer to go by or be called online, B? Have you thought about a pseudonym?), and I will respond later with a better answer than the following.

        What I can tell you is that I read your response to my fiancee, and asked her what her advice would be. And she said tell her to tell him that basically you’re a human being and your own person and not an extension of him, and that he should grow up.

        I don’t exactly agree with this advice–focusing on the other person without also equally focusing on ourselves and scrutinizing ourselves. But more on that later.

        My fiancee made a delicious chili last night and one of her love languages is that I clean up the dishes!

        Off to keep the domestic harmony! 🙂 More later…..

        Warmest regards,

        John

    • John says:

      Hello BPmuse,

      Apologies for the long overdue response. I hope all is well with you. And I’m glad to hear you are feeling better.

      First off, thank you again for the comment. And I have many questions in response . . .

      First, is this the way you first showed up to the relationship—sarcastic, not too affectionate, not too warm? How were you “loving” him in the beginning?

      And is this the way he first showed up to the relationship—wanting a lot of physical closeness and affection? Is this how he loved you in the beginning?

      And did or has his all of his affection, touches, hugs, kisses, every helped you to feel “loved” by him? Did it speak to you at one time, but now it doesn’t speak to you anymore?

      And did you do this for him at one time—did you show up to the relationship as affectionate, generous with hugs and touches and kisses?

      To me, answering these types of questions requires a lot of self-awareness and honesty. And this type of honest self-awareness is the heart of real mindfulness or “unbiased attentiveness.”

      And something else you wrote really stood out to me—and did so for a couple of reasons.

      You wrote, “I tend to be more of a “harasser” or sarcastic love type of person. I don’t know how to break that pattern.” And then you wrote, “with my children… I love VERY differently. It is loving, no sarcasm, allot of attention and affection. Lots of hugs and little kisses. Allot of cuddling. I want my children to have what I did not as growing up.”

      Several things strike me about this. The first is that on the one hand you (seem to) want cast your way of loving as being something other than a choice. Meaning, you don’t refer to how you love your partner as a choice, but as a “type,” a “pattern,” meaning it’s something you are not choosing to do—or choosing how to do—but something that you just “have” to do, as if it’s beyond your control.

      I would question that. And advise you to do the same. When we use words like “type” or “pattern” we are handing over (some of? a lot of?) our power, because we are downplaying our capacity to choose our own behaviors, to create new patterns and break old ones right now by making different choices right now in the here and now.

      In the next sentence of what you wrote, you show that you clearly could love your partner in a different way—you show clearly that physically you are capable of loving in an affectionate and non-sarcastic way—you show that you have this actual ability.

      So then it becomes a question of desire, intention, willpower, resolve, dedication.

      If you are not loving your current partner in an affectionate way, then perhaps it’s because you don’t want to or because you never thoroughly intended to; it’s because you have made the choice not to love. (Peck will say essentially the same thing in his book “The Road Less Traveled.”)

      Most “love” relationships aren’t really about “Loving.” They’re about getting stuff for ourselves and doing so at the least cost to ourselves. We’re looking for a bargain, to get our “needs” and wants—sex, security, companionship, validation—filled at the least cost to ourselves. People want to be told how cute or worthwhile or awesome or unique or sexy they are, people want to be told that they are loved. And in order to get this, most people are willing to give away some of this in order to try and get more of it back in return.

      In this world it’s very easy to find someone to say to us, “I love you”; it’s harder to find someone who actually means it. (I touched on some of this also in my post about “Why Real Love is so Difficult & Rare” – https://realtruelove.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/why-real-love-is-so-difficult-rare/ )

      But when we truly love another person—or want or intend to—then we want to mean it—we don’t just want to say it, we want to demonstrate it. We want to be good to that person—we want to respect, appreciate, care, nurture, invest in that person, show warmth and goodness to that person, overcome what’s worst and weakest in ourselves, et cetera.

      Anything less than this shows that our intention is not to really love the other person, but likely to get something for ourselves from the other person and to do so at the least cost or expense to ourselves (meaning the least amount of output from ourselves).

      Thus real Love—if it is to really be love—requires choice, willpower, self-control. It requires that we intend to be/behave a certain way—patient, kind, affectionate, giving, attentive, warm, open—to a person. And “intending” means that we are determined to make the choice again and again to show up and act a certain way.

      And part of that means that when we are truly a loving person—or when we intend to be—we make the stretch beyond loving another simply in the way we innately want to show our love and would prefer to love, and we love the other person in a way that the other person wants to be loved and that is meaningful to the other person.

      That’s the heart of the book “The Five Love Languages.” The assumption of that book is that there are 5 primary Love Languages, and we have one or perhaps two of those that we tend to be fluent in, but in order to truly love our partner, we may need to learn how to speak one or two more languages that are currently foreign to us.

      And if we are willing to do this—learn how to speak a couple of new love languages proficiently, then we really are intending to love the other person.

      If we are not willing to do this, then it shows that perhaps we really don’t love the other person and never really intended to.

      When we truly care about and love another and intend to be good to another, we likely will be willing to make the stretch, extend ourselves, learn new ways of showing our love. It’s like traveling to and living in a new country. We have to learn the local customs and language. If we are interested in truly loving another, we have to learn the local customs and dialect and make the attempt to speak it.

      But if we’re not really interested in loving another person, then we’re likely not going to be willing to make the stretch and learn new and perhaps healthier ways of communicating our love and affection.

      When we want to love, we don’t stay as we are; we grow. We grow in love. We grow because we love. Love means growth in a very specific direction—the direction of coming to terms with what’s worst in us and overcoming it and simultaneously also focusing on developing what’s best in us—our possible strengths.

      And when we really love another—or intend to—we try win-win or “some of both” and not either/or ways of showing love. We love the other person sometimes in ways that are natural and meaningful to us (in our native land), but we also make the stretch on purpose (deliberately, we make a choice, and we make that choice again and again) to love the other person in a way that we know is meaningful to the other person (in ways that are meaningful in this other person’s “country”)

      —And when we love we don’t get caught up in win-lose / victim terms like “sacrifice,” or “being true to myself” or even “acceptance.” These are often “victim mentality” words that get us stuck. People tend to use these words as leverage—as ways of trying to control another person or make him or her feel guilty for being “too demanding” or expecting the best from us. when we love, if we use the word sacrifice, it doesn’t have any martyr-like connotations to it. We’re not sacrificing, we’re growing, we’re extending ourselves, we’re learning new ways of showing love, we’re expanding ourselves, learning a new language, et cetera.

      And whenever anyone does this—whenever a person makes the choice to grow, to extend oneself, whenever a person makes the choice to face themselves and deal with themselves—that person is making the choice not just to be true to oneself, but to be true to what’s best in them. Whether we’re living out loud and actualizing ourselves, or whether we’re living beneath ourselves and hiding our light beneath a bushel basket, we can’t escape being true to ourselves—because at every and any given moment we’re always being true to ourselves. The real question is what are we being true to—what’s best in us or what’s less than best in us?

      Okay, this has gotten long. I hope some of this helps or at least sparks some interesting questions and or suggests some interesting possibilities to you. I’m of the belief that when it comes to love and learning how to love better, it’s a case of “you can do anything you set your mind to!”

      Kindest regards,

      John

      • bipolarmuse says:

        Wow… your response is not only interesting but an eye opener and I think I already know the answer. P.S. I LOVE your fiancee’s remark and I think I may actually tell him that I am not an extension of him. As soon as you said that maybe I never intended to love him in the first place, I knew that was the case. He has always been affectionate from the get go and I was too… until I got him right where I wanted him I guess. I can clearly see now how I used him from the get go to get something I wanted…and I have put as little effort into things as I possibly could once I knew that he loved me the way he does. However, I do believe some of his love works on the same principle as I am the sole caregiver to his children which I am resentful for that because I do not get to be such for my own children (they live with their dad). I have begged him to put his youngest child into daycare so that it was less strenuous on me but he has yet to do it and I have been asking him to since August. I am at my wits end and feel like I am better off alone at this point in my life because I feel as though I do not even know how to love myself and I feel like I am only causing more damage at this point. I never intended to love him. I can so clearly see that now…and i can see that I don’t want to put the effort into trying to change that. Whether it is sooner or later, this relationship will crumble. Now I just have to act on this knowledge. Thank you so very much… your wisdom is very appreciated.

  4. Another thought-provoking post, thank you very much John. Sorry I haven’t been online or commenting much, but I do read all of your posts, and ponder over them, and reflect on myself and my relationship with my husband. Learning is such an endless, and endlessly satisfying, process!

    • John says:

      Hello Laurel, and it’s great to hear from you! And that’s so awesome that you are finding some of the things I write about and post to be thought-worthy and thought-provoking. That’s what every writer/thinker loves to hear! 🙂

      And I agree–learning is an endless and endlessly satisfying process!

      Thanks again for reading and taking the time to comment and think about what I share!

      Namaste,

      John

  5. granbee says:

    I believe you captured the essence of this post when you said “get over myself or get outside of myself and express my love to my partner in a way that is meaningful to her and healthy for her(or him, as the case may be)”. We must give the love that can be processed by the other party, not necessarily the love we ourselves can process. YES! Great post!

    • John says:

      Thank you for the compliment and the comment! And I agree–I think that’s the heart of loving another person . . . if we really Love another, then we have to Love that person in a way that both speaks to the other (i.e. is meaningful to the other) and is healthy for him or her! That’s the jist of loving another person. If we’re not willing to do this for another person, then we’re not actually loving the other person; whatever we’re doing is self-centered and narcissistic. It’s that simple! (And yet difficult!)

      Warmest regards!

      John

  6. Julie says:

    I really like the quote, John. It makes me think in two directions. I have loved people with all I had and not been believed. Likewise, there are others who have loved me whom I did not believe. I think it comes from filtered thinking. In my insecurity, I incessantly looked for evidence that I wasn’t loved, despite much evidence to the contrary. Likewise, those unbelievers whom I have loved with my soul, despite overwhelming evidence, chose not to believe. Perhaps the disbelief of another’s love comes from a sense of a lack of love for oneself — and expectations that far surpass the other’s capacity.

  7. Lilly Sue says:

    This was very well said…I think love is all about learning to love someone in their love language. At the same time I think it is difficult to change the way you love someone if that is all you have ever known. The way we are brought up is very influential on how we perceive love. My family has never had a lot of money but my mom has shown her love for me in so many other ways.

    Great post! 🙂

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