By now, you've likely heard all about the various "love languages," which come from the now-famous book, "The 5 Love Languages," by Dr. Gary Chapman. If you haven't read it, it may be worth a look, especially since problems can occur when your love language doesn't match up with your partner's.
In the book, Chapman describes the five ways people prefer to give and receive love, AKA your "languages." These include: touch, offering words of affirmation, spending quality time together, receiving gifts, and acts of service. So, if your love language is physical touch, you'll likely want to be hugged, kissed, and held; that's how you'll give love and feel loved. If your partner's love language revolves around gifts, they may not be as physical, but they'll be super into getting you cool things for your birthday.
If two partners aren't on the same page, however, of if they don't understand each other's love language, it can lead to hurt feelings and misunderstandings. "It's important to understand your partner's love language because that is how he/she likes to be treated," author and coach Angie Nuttle tells Bustle. "You don't necessarily have to have the same love language; you simply need to recognize each other's language and honor it to be in partnership with one another." Below, some signs you two need to figure each other out, ASAP.
1. You Often Feel Misunderstood
When you're not "getting" each other, both you and your SO will likely feel ignored, since neither of your needs are being met. When that happens, "the best thing a couple can do is discuss what they need, and how they express love," psychologist Dr. Nikki Martinez tells Bustle. "Being able to identify how they want their partner to show love and affection can make a huge difference in the way it is received, and the way their partner feels."
2. Your Birthday Is Always A Huge Disappointment
If you've yet to receive a gift that truly feels like "you," it could be a sign your partner isn't paying attention. But it might also mean they just don't understand your love language. They might, for example, always go for the gift, when all you really wanted was an evening together. Until this is addressed, Nuttle tells me every birthday and holiday will be a new opportunity for hurt feelings — on both sides of the relationship.
3. You're Disappointed When Your Partner Can't Guess What You Need
When you're not on the same wavelength, you might feel the need to drop strong hints around your partner, in order to get what you want. And yet, it still feels like they aren't listening. "This is a big source of fighting and arguing amongst couples," Nuttle says. "I've learned that my spouse didn't intuitively know what I wanted or needed. I had to tell him plainly. From time to time, I still have to remind him that I don't want a box of doughnuts to make me feel better, I want a hug."
4. You Both Feel Frustrated
Are you two always on the verge of a fight? "The biggest sign that I see in couples that their love languages do not match up is they are both very confused and frustrated," says counselor Monte Drenner. "They are confused because they know they love each other, but they do not feel loved by their mate." This can even lead to some unnecessary breakups, if it's not addressed.
5. You Often Feel Ignored
Your partner may be showing you the love, but if you don't share their love language, it may go right over your head. "For example, my love language is acts of service. However, as I’m doing all these acts of service, I was not spending quality time with my wife, which is her love language," Drenner says. "Both of us were very frustrated because we knew we loved each other, but were not connecting emotionally."
6. You Feel Like You're Always Getting The Cold Shoulder
Are you always begging for hugs, or feeling completely rejected when your partner only wants to cuddle for a few minutes? "These are big clues that physical touch is important to ... you and not a love language of the other person," relationship expert Rhonda Milrad tells Bustle. "Unless the partner learns how to respond in a physical way, [you] can end up feeling undesired and unimportant."
7. It Feels Like Your Partner Doesn't Know You
If you're a gift giver and receiver, and your partner isn't, it may feel like they don't know you at all when it comes to giving gifts. And that can truly hurt. "It is a personal affront that their partner 'does not know them well enough' or 'care about them enough' to figure out what they would like," Milrad says. "If you are not attuned to this love language, your partner can feel unimportant and not valued."
8. One Or Both Of You Consistently Feels Let Down
If you're more of a service person, it can feel like you're constantly hung out to dry when it comes to anything chore-related, even if that's not necessarily the case. "The disappointed partner will feel like they are 'in this relationship alone,' 'can’t count on their partner,' and that it is 'all on them,'" says Milrad. And this can leave your SO — who is likely trying so hard — feeling incredibly frustrated and unappreciated, too.
9. You've Argued A Lot About Your "Communication Problems"
If your love languages are syncing up, troubles can brew in the form of miscommunication. "When partners speak different love languages they often cite a problem with communication because this difference leads to misunderstanding, misinterpretations of a partner's intent/feelings, and incorrect conclusions about how a partner feels towards them," psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC tells Bustle. And, again, it can be incredibly frustrating.
10. It Feels Like Your Sex Drives Don't Match Up
If you're not a physical person, but your partner is, it might feel like all they want is sex. As Coleman says, "In this example, the person seeking quality time might interpret their partner's touch as a desire for sex only. When this happens, they often pull away or avoid contact, which leaves their partner believing they aren't attracted to the, and/or don't want to be close to them."
11. One Or Both Of You Feels Like Your Efforts Always Go Unnoticed
Are you always trying your darndest, and yet it never feels like enough? As Coleman tells me, one of you may be showing love by doing small things around the house, while the other is dishing out words of affirmation. You're both doing a lot for the relationship, but because it's not what the other wants, it feels like nothing at all.
As you can see, this love language business really can make or break a relationship. If any of the above sounds familiar, sit down to talk about how you can better meet each other's needs. You'll likely have a much healthier relationship as a result.
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