A look at why the love languages fall apart and how we can build relationships based on trust, respect, and mutual self-awareness.

Valentine’s Day is coming up soon. I always find myself confused at this time of year, unsure of whether I really want to participate in the big spectacle of what the advertisements call “love”.

Must love be proven? If you have to buy something to show it, is it really love? Can an object denote intimacy? Can a gesture bridge the gap between two souls?

Everywhere we go, we’re bombarded with tips and tricks about relationships. The most popular relationship advice of our time pushes this idea that it is important to prove our love, to show it again and again, in order to keep a relationship healthy.

This idea descended to us from old-time chivalry, romance novels, and, more recently, relationship books like Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.

It’s a wonderful book. It’s a useful tool. The basic message is that each of us has a “love language”—a way in which we prefer to have our partners express their love for us. Some people receive love in touch, others in words, some in gifts, etc. He suggests we fix our relationships by learning and speaking our partner’s love language.

It’s an amazing book, yes. But there’s more. Perhaps, Chapman did not write more, because the little bit that’s missing is so automatic to him that he does not feel it’s worth mentioning. And yet, that little bit changes everything.

Yes, showing love is important, but it’s not all there is. If all you do is prove your love, you will always be stuck on the surface, never knowing how to get deep beneath. And, when we don’t get deep with each other—we suffer all the shades of love deprivation, including loneliness, anxiety, and depression.

To build genuinely compassionate and intimate relationships, we need to reconnect with what love really means.

On some level, we’re all struggling with making this transition from surface level changes to deep, meaningful, lasting changes.

I once knew a brilliant, radiant woman, with one big problem—she did not feel loved by her partner. Day and night, she would worry and complain about how her relationship was falling apart. She went through relationship book after relationship book. Then, she found Chapman’s book. She thought it was a godsend.

And, for a while, it really was. (Because, as I said, it’s a wonderful book, a great tool.)

She read the book, shared it with her partner, and they set to applying the strategies. She asked for words of affirmation (praise, compliments, and such). He asked for acts of service (cooking, cleaning, and such).

They went on wonderfully. For a little while. And then the honeymoon ended.

Suddenly, things were back to where they were before.

She was back to feeling unloved, and yet it was not the same feeling as before. Now, it was worse. Now, she could not tell herself that it was some accident. Now, she knew that he was well aware of what she asked for and he still refused to do it!

She was crestfallen. Things were even worse.

Is it Chapman’s book that made things worse?

That would be too easy.

I think the real culprit is the popular, troublesome, and dangerous idea that lovers must constantly “communicate love” to one another.

Is there anything more frustrating than having to say something over and over again? And yet, this is what much of relationship advice tells us—communicate your love. Show it, express it, and don’t you dare miss a day. Your partner will be terribly unhappy if you do.

Imagine that you were in a relationship with a person who kept forgetting your name. Imagine having to tell them, again and again, year after year. How exhausting!

Imagine being in a relationship with someone who cooked for you and forgot, again and again, that you despise the taste of coriander. Imagine that this person continued to put it in your food. How frustrating!

Must you communicate your feelings every day simply to prove they are true? Must you speak the truth again and again for it to be believed?

There is something inherently flawed about the idea that, to make a great relationship, we must force ourselves to repeatedly communicate something that should already be known.

There’s an underlying idea that—if I don’t tell you, you’ll forget. Even worse, if I don’t tell you, you will doubt me. You will doubt my love.

Is that not disheartening?

If I do not tell you, each day, each moment, that I still love you, you lose faith in me. This makes me feel as if you do not trust me. You doubt my words. You doubt me.

Who wants to be in such a relationship?

And yet, imagine the opposite. Imagine being in the sort of relationship where you simply do what you please and they do what they please. You enjoy soft music and rose petals, and your partner couldn’t care less. Your partner enjoys praise and gifts, which you never give.

Who wants to be in that sort of relationship?

Both seem awful.

This is why much of relationship advice works for just a little while. It takes us from one extreme to another. We feel better simply because of novelty.

We swing on the pendulum from extreme selfishness to extreme selflessness. Neither state is sustainable.

And yet, The Five Love Languages would work very well with one small adjustment—motivation. Why should we try to meet one another’s needs?

If we want to build long-term, healthy relationships, we must learn to transcend the idea of doing things for each other to prove our love, and instead learn to facilitate each other’s already existing experience of it.

Love is my own responsibility. Love is all around me. Love is the food of my soul. In order to live happily and peacefully, I must learn to harness my own food. I must learn to feed myself.

It is no one’s responsibility to feed me. How dangerous to leave the responsibility for my own hunger in someone else’s hands!

When I am with my lover, I relax enough to remember who I am. It is easier for me to feed my soul. He helps me to return to the peace that is always available.

I do not, however, need him to make me feel loved.

How can I feel unloved if I love myself?

Love is like air. I never doubt that there is air all around me. I do, however, sometimes get short of breath. I cannot blame my partner for this, nor can I make him responsible.

I can, however, ask for help.

This is the potential within our relationships.

In order to experience the love all around us to the utmost, we must relax. When we feel closed off and uptight, we can ask for our lover’s help.

If you relax when you are touched in some way, then by touching you I help you relax. If I relax when I am spoken to in a certain way, than speaking to me in this way will help me relax.

Our relationship can then be a vessel for awareness.

The highest awareness comes in times of complete surrender, and that is what we can do—help each other surrender.

Like this, we can learn about each other. Like this, we can learn to live together. Like this, we can learn to help one another become more aware and more open.

Love does not come and go as we tense up, nor as we relax. Love is always here. We do not blame one another for being open or closed off to it. We simply help each other come back.

Using your partner as your only method for opening to love and then blaming them for slipping up—this is slave-driving. Is it not? Is this a respectful way to treat a human being? Is this not using someone to fill the spaces created by your own insecurities?

When two people come together with an understanding of their own truth, there is no need for one person to feel unworthy and the other to feel pressured. Both can play the helper and the helped, yet beyond those roles lies a deep, loving self-awareness.

This is the real love language—two souls speaking to one another through two people who allow themselves to see who is really there across from them.

It is a language we do not need to learn, because it is already flowing from within us.

We must simply trust and allow.

 

How Proving Your Love Hurts Your Relationship

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10 More Comments

  • January 31, 2014 at 2:37 pm
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    Wise words Vironika.. and i like the sound of that book… we all do speak different love languages and hence miss out on so many signs of love as its not what we’re looking for particularly..

    So true.. love is within us..something i was completely unaware of for most of my life.. and blessed to have discovered it is, waiting to be felt…embraced, brought alive by our own awareness and surrender..

    “When two people come together with an understaning of their spiritual truth” sounds the perfect foundation for dissolving pressure and feelings of unworthiness….but life doesn’t always deliver such balance.. what then? I would love to be in a relationship with someone with an awareness of their spirituality but not yet 🙂 But then I had a lot of work to do on loving myself first anway..

    Its in the cards for 2014 and I hope to nurture it with such advice as this 🙂 Much love

    Reply
    • February 1, 2014 at 1:06 pm
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      It will come, Caroline. Simply by discovering and loving yourself, deeply, you become open to a certain kind of person. Real attracts real. Being single is a privilege in this journey! Imagine those who go through a spiritual awakening while in a relationship. They are with someone who loves the mask and they must leave in order to be able to be real. Embrace this moment. You are just where you need to be, beautiful lady. <3

      Reply
  • February 5, 2014 at 12:25 pm
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    Deeply enriched with fine points of the heart! I always am doubting myself when it comes to relationships because I am often expected to communicate my every thought and feeling. When I do, it hurts them and they no longer like the cheery eyed boy I usually put on for show. I am positive, but also I am not dumb either. If a dumb personality is what you seek then you can look for it elsewhere, because I am not dumb.

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    • February 5, 2014 at 12:29 pm
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      I’ve seen, again and again, that most people reject their own emotions, thinking that they need to be happy, happy, happy all the time. Then, when others turn out to be emotional, flawed, and wounded beings, the guarded run away. Not another one like me! This is why self-acceptance is the key to good relationships. I hope you find someone who knows who they are, Bernard. Someone with whom you can just be yourself. Happy or not 🙂

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      • December 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm
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        This is interesting because this is what my partner of 11 years did, he choose happiness over our love, as he desired us to be 100% happy all the time, which didn’t make any sense to to me. How can you be 100% happy all the time? I’m very grateful for every moment we have shared and it hurts a little bit that he would want me to perfect and not accept us as we were as a very loving couple. Also it did feel like he put up a wall and he ran away quite literally and no communication whatsoever, which again is a little upsetting after being his best friend for 11 years.

        Reply
        • December 4, 2014 at 2:42 pm
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          I am sorry you’ve been through such a painful experience, Ana. I hope that, one day, you can see what he did as his own choice to do with himself and his own values, and no reflection of your worth. You deserve to be happy, despite his choices.

          You say “How can you be 100% happy all the time?” I think it is a valid question. I hope I can give at least a small amount of insight into how I think of it, anyway. To me, happiness is not the same as joy. Happiness is a chronic state of mind. I once heard it described that joy and anger and sadness are like waves on an ocean, while happiness is the whole depth of it.

          Perhaps this is what he was telling you. He needed to create his own depth. And, almost always, depth cannot be taken or inspired by another. A deep sense of satisfaction with our lives and ourselves – that is a personal journey. It is one that people should really take while young, but in a society where it is not taught, “should” goes out the window.

          This had nothing to do with you. And your allowing him to do it, though it hurts you – now that is love. That is a best friend – someone who allows you to seek happiness where you need to.

          Take care of yourself, Ana.

          With love,

          Vironika

          Reply
          • December 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm
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            Thank you, Vironika

            That makes sense now. I didn’t quite understand at the time, now it seems that we are away from each other am understanding a whole lot more and grateful for the experience at the same time. Sometimes I cry and sometimes I am strong and allow love to enter and I know that this is part of the journey because it feels good to express emotions and allow what is to move through me. I wasn’t fulfilled where I was neither, and he could see that so he has in fact helped us both. Thank you x

          • December 5, 2014 at 4:12 pm
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            Yes, this is something I always say – there is no way for one person to be completely satisfied and the other to not be. All of these things work organically together. Dissatisfaction is a dance. I cannot imagine how difficult it is to stop dancing after 11 years, but I imagine that amongst the incredible pain and trouble, there is a sense of opportunity, of gratitude. Especially for someone like you that searches for that magic 🙂

  • April 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm
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    Hey, Veronika. Lonesome here. I liked this article a lot. And everything you said in it is true. But I think actions are important in a relationship. All I mean by that is when two people are living together, they should share equally in the household responsibilities. For women especially, this shows that a guy will do whatever he can to make life easier for her. Each person should live their own lives, but come back at the end of the day and be totally open in their communication with each other. Total honesty is SO important in a relationship. It means more than all the flowers and “I love you’s” in the world. Actions speak so much louder than words. And surrendering to each other is letting down your guard and revealing every part of yourself, no matter how vulnerable. This says “I love you” to a partner more than anything else possibly could.

    Reply
    • April 23, 2014 at 12:55 am
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      I agree that actions are important, and actions originate from our thoughts. We think, we feel, we act. Loving actions without long-term love mindsets are sure to dwindle away, become tedious, or lose meaning. When our minds are set on connecting, we can allow the actions which communicate this to change over time, to evolve, to flow, as we continue to stay meaningfully aware of one another and of ourselves. 🙂

      Reply

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