The Complex Languages of Relationships and Falling in (and out of) Love

Love languages have become of great interest in the recent past, especially after worldwide release of the book “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” in 1982 by Dr. Gary Chapman. Despite all these benefits that come with love languages in terms of communication and intimacy within relationships, it is time to rethink how one appraises their relationships, and by that, it might be better to consider not limiting our views about our partners in five categories of love expressions.

While the Philippines anticipates the passage of the divorce law, I cannot definitively state whether I am for or against it. However, one thing is obvious – that marriages and even long-term commitment to someone do not determine the kind and measure of love one feels for the other. Nor can their relationship be measured by any love language that some individuals consider as their benchmark of compatibility or the reason for the degradation or continuation of their relationship.

The Five Love Languages, according to Dr Chapman
• Words of affirmation.
• Quality time.
• Physical touch.
• Acts of service.
• Receiving gifts.

Breaking “language barriers” in building relationship

The concept of “love languages” is debunked by the experts from the University of Toronto Mississauga in the recent study. While, they do not deny the concept of love languages but they say that healthy relationships cannot be reduced to satisfying the love language of your partner but rather taking care of your partner’s needs holistically.

Although the idea of love languages was widely supported in the general community, the researchers could not identify significant research backup. Instead, they come up with a new image for love comparing it to a nourishing meal and advocate that there are many nutrients that may be helpful in maintaining a healthy relationship.

Their work published in Current Directions in Psychological Science to bring to light what they consider a myth – the existence of a set of guidelines of how to produce or attain lasting relationships.

Simply put, so-called love languages are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to forging a relationship…

Complexity of Relationships: Love languages help in the understanding of how people can express love and how they like to be loved, however relationships are never going to be simplistic. Other aspects, which include compatibility, values, communication method, and attachment also contribute to relationship functioning.

Individual Differences: Relationships are not one size fits all, and how individuals like to give and receive affection may also differ. Despite that, one may love to be treated by acts of service or quality time more than physical touch or words of affirmation. This means that unlike what has been prescribed in love languages it is important to embrace differences rather than strictly follow that which has been prescribed.

Evolution of Relationships: It is important to note that people in relationships are different and the ways they show affection and appreciate it may be different at different stages of a relationship. Not every form of love may be important in the beginning of a relationship but may change as the couple grows older or has respective changes in their lifestyles.

Communication and Understanding: Although love languages serve as a useful tool that fosters communication and mutual comprehension, they cannot replace the principle of healthy and sincere interaction in a partnership. Thus, communication is defined as involving listening, and the ability to care for and appreciate the attitudes and desires of others.

Overemphasis on Compatibility: Nevertheless, dependency on love languages may be a limiting factor since compatibility may entail other factors like values, goals, interests, and an emotional bond. A healthy and satisfying relationship entails compatibility, respect, trust, and affection.

Love languages may be helpful regarding how people give and receive love; however, they should be used as one of the tools to understand relationships. So it is important to go into all relationships with a blank slate, with understanding, and the willingness to be honest with your partner. All in all, a healthy and happy relationship is based on the principles of respect, trust, and intimacy.

The 7 love styles

The results of the 7 Love Styles test, developed by Truity based on recent studies, depict the various requirements and expectations that modern couples in partnerships have. Contrary to the five love languages that are commonly known, this test determines seven ways that people can give and receive love. These are – Activity, Appreciation, Emotional, Financial, Intellectual, Physical, and Practical love styles.

Related: Loving unconditionally: Silence as a love language

Activity: These people need quality time in their relationship, with their partners being interested in what they do and how they spend their time, apart from just spending time together.

Appreciation: This is a love style that is characterized by being valued by words of encouragement, appreciations and accolades for personal attributes and accomplishments.

Emotional: This love style entails expressions of commitment, it is important to feel loved by your partner during hard moments.

Financial: This love style entails the sharing of the finances with the partner in a bid to make them happy; other aspects of financial intimacy are also included.

Intellectual: People desire companionship, and they feel wanted when their partners acknowledge their opinions, listen to their reasoning, and care about their intelligence.

Physical: This love style focuses on the sensual and sexual aspect of the relationship and comprises of touching, hugging, kissing, and other experiences.

Practical: This love style makes the partners feel valued when their partner undertakes more than mere chores to help but contributes in ways that are meaningful to the needs of the other.

Understanding and appreciating each other’s love style is essential for resolving conflicts and maintaining relationships. This highlights the diverse and enriching nature of love in modern relationships.

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