How important is communication in relationships today? We are more connected to each other than ever before. Smartphones have taken over society like capitalism did in the ’60s. Everyone who’s anyone is into technology, and a lot of it. It seems no matter where you look, someone has their head buried in an app, a website or a text message.
But we’ve never been more disconnected and unable to cope with interpersonal relationships in real life than the present day.
Us men, in particular, aren’t great at communicating at the best of times. Many of us would agree that we seem to find a way of fucking things up by saying the wrong thing to our girlfriend, de facto or wife. How many times have you heard (and been the recipient of) “You just don’t listen!” at the tale end of an argument?
And you know you didn’t.
While browsing through a bookstore in Paddington – an inner-city suburb of Sydney – I came across the work of Dr Gary Chapman, a 30-year marriage counsellor, who developed five personal profiles outlining how we love in relationships. They are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch – making up “The 5 Love Languages“.
Below is a short rundown of what each of the five love languages mean:
Words of Affirmation
Actions don’t always speak louder than words. If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important – hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there – with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby – makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service
Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
This language isn’t all about the bedroom. A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face – they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
Take the online test to find out your love language.
You may still be skeptical. However, have you ever been in a relationship where you felt a lack of intimacy was a serious issue? Maybe your love language is Physical Touch and hers is Acts of Service. When you want lots of tactile stimulation, she may find love in you putting together the new Ikea furniture, or offering to cook dinner (not just on her birthday).
Is she a hopeless romantic? Would a hand-written card with Words of Affirmation, like a poem, make her day yet you seem to always go for a lavish present (Receiving Gifts), which she accepts, but really just wants to hear that you cherish her existence?
Does she want to snuggle on the couch and watch a DVD but you are itching to go to the local bar and socialise with a group of friends? Quality Time.
Love may or may not have a formula, but Dr Chapman is certainly onto something. He could just save your relationship.