Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What's Your "Love Language"?

Have you heard of Gary Chapman's 1992 book The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate? It's based on research showing that discovering which of 5 behaviors make your partner feel most loved and doing that for him/her is the key to relationship success. Sounds simple.

Unfortunately, many of us fail to ask those we're dating (or our spouses or partners) about their "love language" and then assume, often incorrectly, that theirs is the same as ours. So, instead of doing what makes them feel loved, we're doing what makes US feel loved. This, of course, has mixed results unless their love language is identical to ours.

For example, your partner might feel most loved when you give gifts and say endearing things, but you don't know those are the things he values. Instead, you give him what you'd like to get from him--acts of service and affectionate touch. As a result, there's a disconnect and lack of closeness (maybe even feelings of abandonment or resentment), and neither of you can explain why.

This book really opened my eyes as to why some of my past dating relationships hadn't worked out...AND helped me more carefully choose compatible people to date, including the wonderful man I'm with today. The success formula is simple--ask the other person which of these makes him/her feel most loved and then provide that on a regular basis:

1. Quality time together
2. Affectionate touch
3. Terms of endearment
4. Acts of service
5. Gifts

Luckily, my current partner's top 2 love languages are exactly the same as mine. We both highly value carving out special time for each other as well as showing affection through touching on a regular basis. And we each show these behaviors to the other, so we both feel equally loved.

It's amazing how easily things flow for us because of our shared loved languages...and how much closer I feel to him than I've felt with other men I've had long-term relationships with, including my 2 husbands. Knowing that he prioritizes and appreciates togetherness and affectionate touch as much as I do makes me feel understood, seen, and heard, which naturally fosters emotional and physical intimacy. It feels like he really "gets" me.

So...what are your top 2 love languages? Take a minute to write those down.

Next, consider how this list could help you in the dating world. Once you know which behaviors make you feel most cared about, you can share that information with people you date and then watch to see if they do those things for you. If so, they truly care about you. And, of course, once you find out what makes the other person feel loved, you can make a point of providing those things to show you really care too.

Ultimately, as you continue to date and grow closer, by making a point of loving your partner in the "language" he or she prefers (and then getting what you want and need in return), you'll create a deep bond that sustains and nurtures your relationship for years to come. Enjoy the journey!

P.S. There's an updated version of Chapman's book that came out this year: The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts (Check it out on Amazon:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

A Lasting Loving Relationship Has to Include Friendship

When you think back on your romantic relationships, can you honestly say the two of you were friends as well as lovers? Would you have chosen that person as a friend even if you weren't attracted to him/her as a sexual partner...just because you so enjoyed his/her company and got along so well that it was a joy hanging out together?

Research shows that it's not a lack of love that makes relationships unhappy--it's a lack of friendship. The two people don't have the strong foundation of friendship necessary to create a happy partnership that lasts.

Haven't you experienced a breakup with at least one person you still loved? Yet, could you say you still had a friendship with that person? To answer that, let's look at the definition of friendship. 

Webster's says it is being in a state in which you show "kindly interest, goodwill, cheerfulness, and comfort" toward another person. A friend is someone to whom you are "attached by affection and esteem"--an amicable, peaceful connection free of antagonism. Does that describe how you felt about the last person you broke up with? If not, you weren't "still friends" -- or perhaps you never really were friends at all.

The cliches about friends being "birds of a feather" who are there for each other "through thick and thin" captures some of the meaning of friendship: a friend is someone with whom you feel a kinship and comfort level, someone you care about enough to support during challenging times. 

In my opinion, a true friend is someone who is sincerely interested in your happiness and success and supportive of your dreams--someone who sees, admires, and brings out the best in you but also sees and acknowledges your weaknesses...but then sticks with you in spite of or even because of those things.   

Often in a marriage or committed partnership, however, friendly feelings are overshadowed or even lost in the midst of the souring romance because both people are focusing instead on their incompatibilities and the needs and desires that aren't being met.

The truth is: if you really felt friendship for the other person, you'd be concerned about his/her needs and desires too. You'd want to show him/her the kindness, goodwill, cheerfulness, and comfort mentioned above because you felt affectionate and amicable toward him/her. Couples who do have such friendly feelings can navigate breakups and divorce with much more ease and lots less drama--agreeing to disagree and then mutually deciding to part ways peacefully, without anger.

Singles who come to me for dating advice and support (especially the women) often tell me they're looking to be "friends first" with any new partner. This is generally a wise strategy, since a foundation of trust, admiration, affection, and friendship is good to have before you get physically and romantically entwined. However, it's difficult to remain platonic for very long with someone you're attracted to...and many can't wait the 2-3 months it takes to build that foundation before they jump into bed.

I can personally vouch for the wisdom of waiting, though. It's so much more fulfilling to "make love" with a man who's connected to me as both a friend and a lover than it is to "have sex" with someone I'm not very connected to and who doesn't love and cherish me. Plus...the friendship we established in those early months only gets stronger as we become more intimate both emotionally and physically.

Friendship is the bond that will keep you connected for years and decades to come, even when you aren't as sexually agile as before. They say it's best to marry a person you can really talk to because that's the glue that will hold you together into old age. I agree. After all, there's never a lack of conversation when you're with a real friend, right?

If you need moral support as you seek out and/or develop a romantic relationship anchored by friendship, get in touch. I'd be happy to help!