Have you ever wondered why miscommunications occur so frequently in your relationships? Do you ever feel as if you are not on the same page or speaking the same language with a loved one? Well, join the club! This is a very common phenomenon particularly in new relationships when navigating each other’s personalities, strengths, weaknesses, and habits is most necessary. As the dictionary defines the word, a “relationship” is essentially a connection between two objects or individuals. In order for connection to occur, though, two people need to speak the same love languages.
In all the relationships of my life, I have had to learned to speak many different languages depending on the roles I play in the connection. With my parents, I speak the language of “daughter.” With my brothers, I speak the language of “younger sister.” With my friends, the role of support network, comedian, and staunch advocate come to mind. But, the most interesting and challenging relationship I have had to navigate is that with my fiancé. We are two very different individuals with different strengths and weaknesses, who also share some similarities. It is our differences that produce the most meaning in our relationship. Some have described us with the colloquial phrase “opposites attract.” Why do you think that saying exists? It’s because the magnetic force that connects two dissimilar individuals is often love. Love of the unknown. Love of a challenge. Love of learning something new.
The love languages:
With my partner, it took us awhile to get to the point where our “ying yang” dynamic functioned well. I argue that the reason we survived is because we started to learn each other’s language of love. Gary Chapman suggests that 5 love languages exist as certain ways individuals show and receive love from a partner. Chapman poses that the 5 love languages are: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch (5lovelanguages.com). These languages are powerful and dictate how relationships unfold. They can explain why individuals respond certain ways to gestures of affection, and how they can be used as a tool to cultivate greater intimacy.
For me, my strongest love languages are physical touch and quality time. For my partner, they are words of affirmation and receiving gifts. The dissimilar love languages are what made the early stages the most challenging, but also what we needed to learn in order for our relationship to be functional. I remember early on in our relationship, I was feeling very upset and unproductive. My fiancé responded by trying to give me words of affirmation, which made sense to him because that was his love language. While I appreciated the gesture, it was not what I needed or wanted in that moment. At the time I became very annoyed and pushed him away, causing a relational disconnect. It was not until he said “what do you need from me?” that I was able to communicate that all I wanted was a hug. His effort at discovering what I needed was his way of learning my love language.
I would encourage you to take the quiz posed by Gary Chapman on 5lovelanguages.com. It enlightened me on personal relationship qualities that I subconsciously knew, but struggled to put into practice. Ultimately, having dissimilar love languages does not mean two individuals are not right for each other. It does not mean that a relationship is doomed. But it will likely require extra attention and care when nurturing early relationship stages and cultivating later ones. Knowing one’s love languages will help in all relationships in life, romantic or otherwise. “Learning” the language of love is the conduit for connecting one emotional self to another.