Q: “I was listening to a coaching about the 5 love languages and while I’ve read that book years ago, after reading your book I now see a lot of what is discussed as coming from a place of lack. How does your work integrate with the 5 love languages? In what way can the love languages work against what we’re trying to obtain with our partner?”
A: Many years ago, I thought the “The Five Love Languages” was an excellent tool for someone to understand what makes their partner feel more loved and important to them.
My love languages were words of affirmation and quality time. I wouldn’t have wanted you to buy me an expensive gift. In fact, it would have made me quite uncomfortable to receive it.
I didn’t believe I was beautiful or worthy, and I needed someone to tell me otherwise. I feared that if all time was not spent with me I’d lose the person I was with to someone else who was more worthy, attractive, etc. I spent so much time trying to get their attention, I didn’t even pay attention.
Fast forward to today… more emotionally sober and with a completely different perspective, I recognize where those wishes came from. And you are right to notice that they came from a place of lack.
“The Five Love Languages” is a well-written book and triggers self-inquiry, yet it isn’t a solution for our feeling unloved or unimportant. It is the temporary filling of our deficits or appeasement of our pain.
This appeasing may seem to be the secret for peace-keeping in our partnerships, yet it is enabling our insobriety, attempting to reduce our feelings of lack and ignoring our personal responsibility to meet our own needs.
This sustains unhealthy relationships by enabling unhealthy individuals.
We can use “The Five Love Languages” to discover our love languages, and by doing so reveal what we believe is lacking in us! We can define what we think we need in order to uncover what we can improve within ourselves.
If I need these things I can then ask myself, “Why? What are my Trauma-Influenced Self-Beliefs and Trauma Filters? How are these specifically ruling the unhealthy cycle of my romantic relationships?”
Finding and using only our love language is a bandaid. A next hit of Oxytocin—a chemical that we crave to feel something good in ourselves, about ourselves. It provides a sense of bonding. It alleviates our self-beliefs, but only momentarily, granting us relief from our thoughts that we aren’t good enough, we aren’t attractive, we aren’t important, etc.
Even with the use of our love language, the negative self-belief remains. The biochemical addiction remains. The feelings of chronic resentment, frustration, and shame remains. The Emotionally-Triggered Behaviors (ETBs) of jealousy, judgmentalism, childishness, and manipulation remain. And we will keep using the same tool to correct the same problem. To fill the same hole, that is unfillable, using these tools.
This is why the effect of the gift only lasts a short time. And they have to buy more and more things. The hug only sustains your good mood for a moment and you have to keep reaching. And the compliment only keeps you “happy” for a while, keeping you attached to your phone for the next bit of attention. The quality time is never quality enough or long enough. The demonstration is never big enough and the message on the card may never be romantic enough… to make you permanently believe in your lovability.
And your good feelings won’t last long. The belief of lack within us is perpetuated, and we inevitably push our partners away, or end up filling them with shame by constantly rejecting their efforts or asking them to walk on “eggshells!”
There is nothing wrong or bad about wanting this “loved” feeling. It feels “good.” But to use this language as a tool to make your partner feel loved isn’t the best gift you can offer them. The best gift in my opinion, is to help them realize how lovable and whole they are even without your love.
Then once we are healthy, we can love each other using all of these languages. We can douse each other in the words, service, gifts, touch, etc. I still enjoy words of affirmation and quality time but it ADDS to my life, it doesn’t complete me.
In short, we can understand what our love language is so we can feel loved when our partner uses the language, but we can never know we are loved by using this. One is temporary and conditional, the other is permanent and unconditional.