Have you ever felt frustrated that a loved one does not understand you? You know the love between you is strong, but communication keeps breaking down.
Promoting mental wellbeing
As human beings we need to relate to people to understand ourselves. Our responses to others inform and help us develop as people.
In Beyond Reflections training, I speak about how our relationships inform our sense of identity. Humans frame our understanding of ourselves using the social constructs of shared language.
Today’s blog is about one of the ways we interact with the world around us and how we understand and interpret the meaning of others.
Improving your communication
Here at Beyond Reflection our members come to understanding themselves better. Part of the work is in developing understanding of others, identifying similarities and differences.
People give and receive love in diverse ways. At a seminar hosted by Southampton Voluntary Services a speaker introduced me to the concept of love languages. This simple tool deepened my understanding of myself and of my loved ones, with concepts I apply to this day.
In the words of Gary Chapman “by learning to recognise how you prefer to give and receive love you can learn to identify the roots of your conflicts, connect more profoundly, and truly begin to grow closer.”
The five love languages
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. Kind, encouraging, and positive words are truly life-giving.”
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. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.”
“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. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly.”
“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. Quality Time also means sharing quality conversation and quality activities.”
“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. Physical touch fosters a sense of security and belonging in any relationship.”
Strengthening your relationships
Do the test, get a percentage breakdown and then see what your lover gets. It is a wonderful place to start a conversation about deepening your relationship.
Top tip! Do this when things are going well, when you are both feeling comfortable and want to make things better. If you and your loved one are in distress, then therapy teaches us we need to return to our place of stability before we can work on improvements.
But they do not like doing tests!
Even if your lover, friend, or even colleague is not the type to do online tests you can still attempt to understand the problem from their perspective. Try reflecting on a communication which went wrong and see if you can identify where they did not feel your respect or love for them.
A comic look at compatibility
As someone who is polyamorous (I have more than one committed adult relationship) I have a need to show my love and respect for all my partners.
I do think that my life, or at least my scheduling, would be easier if my love language, or theirs, was Words of Affirmation or Receiving Gifts rather than Quality Time!
If you like learning about yourself and helping others and have five to ten hours free time a month you might be exactly right as a Beyond Reflections core service delivery volunteer. We are looking for empathic people who share our commitment to respect, accept, include, and empower our members to reflect and come to understand themselves better.
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