Beyond The Five Love Languages: Learning Your Core Relationship Desires
The Five Love Languages
The five love languages are widely known as a key component for a lasting relationship. Developed 30 years ago in his book “The 5 Love Languages”, Gary Chapman describes five main ways in which people give and receive love in a relationship. These five love languages are based on the idea that everyone has a preferred way of expressing love. Today many people can list them off as easily as they can list the days of the week.
Maybe you’re not as familiar, or you need a refresher, so let’s review the five love languages:
For some, visual symbols of love are what resonates most. It isn’t so much about the monetary value as it is the thought behind the gift. The careful deliberation in choosing something tells the receiver that they are cared for.
2. Words of Affirmation
Someone with this love language prefers affection through words. Whether it is spoken, written in a note, or sent in a text message, compliments and praise can make their entire day. Routinely compliment and encourage your partner.
3. Acts of service
“Actions speak louder than words”. By doing ‘nice’ things for your partner you are saying that you want to make their life easier and more enjoyable. Doing the dishes, making them a cup of coffee, or taking over diaper/kid duty are all ways to relieve your partner and make them comfortable.
4. Physical touch
Some feel most loved when their partner holds their hand, gives them a kiss, or cuddles them. Sex is of course very important to them, as is a simple touch on the arm throughout the day. Physical displays of love can be incredibly affirming.
5. Quality time
For others, joint experiences together are most powerful. This could be going out and doing something together. You could also show this form of love by simply giving your partner your undivided attention. It’s all about the one-on-one time and avoiding distractions.
Core Relationship Desires
Identifying your love language, and that of your partner’s is certainly helpful. But to truly satisfy your partner’s need for love (as well as your own), you must go deeper. You need to ask, “how do I want to feel loved?” And “how can I elicit that feeling for my partner?”
We can better understand how our partner wants to receive love by knowing the ‘four core relationship desires’. The four relationship desires exist on a spectrum between two different desires, connection vs. autonomy and security vs. adventure. Each person is somewhere on the axis.
This is about feeling close to your partner. You want to feel seen and understood by your partner. Distance, emotionally or physically, is uncomfortable for you. Intimacy and encouraging words are some ways to love you. Intentional time together is crucial when your core desire is connection. You feel satisfied when your partner sets aside the time to focus on you.
On the other side of the spectrum is autonomy, or doing separate things from your partner. Here, your partner gives you space to partake in your own hobbies and activities. Maybe it’s going for an evening walk on your own, or watching tv in a separate room. Autonomy is not a rejection of your partner, nor is it self-isolation, rather it’s the desire to have emotional independence. When your partner grants your autonomy they are saying they value what’s important to you. You are satisfied when your partner gives you room to be your own person.
Above all, you want to feel safe and secure with your partner. You want to rest assured that they will support you and be a source of comfort through it all. Trust is at the forefront. You want to feel like you are your partner’s number one choice, their priority, no matter what. To feel satisfied, you need your partner to do things that show they are committed to you for the long run.
Adventure means you want to feel excited with your partner. You want to explore new things with them, and feel alive through your experiences. There is passion in the relationship, which may play out sensually or sexually. Boredom is not your friend, as you thrive through activity. You seek pleasure and enjoy freedom. To feel satisfied you need your partner to be open to things outside of the status quo.
Why You Should Go Beyond The Love Languages
Tapping into the love languages and the core desires can be a powerful boost for your relationship. The five love languages are essentially ways to make you feel something. So it’s important to know both your partner’s love language and their relationship desire, as they are connected. It’s not enough to know that your partner values physical touch. Ask why. How does it make them feel? Once you understand what they want to feel from you, you can hone in on that and take action. You’ll find that there are countless ways to achieve what your partner desires. You are not limited to only five displays, as the love languages suggest.
Uncover Your Desires
Pinpoint where you (and your partner) are on the spectrum of relationship desires with this quiz. The results can be used to take action and make necessary changes in your relationship. If you learn to speak the same language as your partner and then listen to their desires, you’ll both feel more satisfied in your relationship. This will form a better understanding of each other’s needs and support each other’s growth.