Lately I have the feeling that I have collected a wide range of methods, tips and concepts that have helped me to better understand myself and my relationships. One of them is the 5 love languages. I would like to share with you why I find them so helpful and how they bring me to the question in the headline.
According to Gary Chapman (so far the 5 love languages are the only thing I have read from him. I think that most of his lyrics are rather Christian religious and focused on the monogamous two person marriages…well, this one can be interpreted in many ways;)) there are 5 relationship languages. With the help of these languages we communicate in relationships that we love someone and get the feeling of being loved through them. He distinguishes between:
Acts of affirmation (for a wide variety of things, such as services or support, etc.)
Quality Time (doing nice things together, like excursions, holidays, watching movies, cooking together, etc.)
Acts of service/ willingness to help (doing laundry, taking someone to the airport, cooking food, massages, etc.)
Giving and receiving gifts (attention and appreciation is expressed in the form of gifts)
Tenderness/physical touch (any form of touch can be included, from hugging, to holding hands, to kissing, etc.)
Grief and loss in relationships
Through the 5 love languages I was able to express clearly for the first time how I communicate in loving relationships and which language(s) are particularly central to me. They showed me that I don’t need sex or sexual situations to define a relationship as a loving relationship. It has become clear to me that physical intimacy is not the only and above all not the most important language through which I communicate in loving relationships and experience the feeling of “being loved”. It is very important to me, without doubt, but at the same time I have asked myself the question so often: What if there is no physical intimacy? Is it still a relationship, then? I was afraid that I might get to the point where I no longer physically desire my relationship persons and…and then?
I know from painful experience that it can happen when the central languages of relationships are suddenly lost. When my monogamous relationship became an open relationship and finally a polyamorous relationship, things changed. Whether temporary or final, it doesn’t matter, because I first had to say goodbye to certain things. For example, the fact that for a very long time I was the only person who was allowed to spend the most time with my relationship person. I mourned for a very long time, it took me time to adjust to the fact that I was no longer. I think it was also important for me to get involved with grieving. When relationships suddenly change, especially in a direction I do not expect or perhaps do not necessarily initiate myself, then I often find it quite difficult to let go and get involved with new things. That’s why mourning was also decisive, because it showed me on the one hand that something was lost there and on the other hand that it was apparently important to me what was lost there.
So the central question is: what makes me happy? Are they gifts? Physical affection? Or Quality Time? And which of these plays the biggest role? Because in the end it all comes down to one question:
What would make me leave a relationship?
That reminds me a bit of this game, Jenga, it’s about building a tower of wooden blocks and carefully removing blocks bit by bit until the tower finally collapses and someone loses because he pulled the stone that made everything collapse. It’s a game about skills. The stones have to be removed carefully, similar to the relationship. Relationships can change so often, and then it all comes down to which aspects of the relationship maintain the tower and which cause it to collapse.
For me this is the most exciting part of a relationship, because I learn most about myself. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through my definition of a relationship. I was always torn between “Is this still a relationship?” and “This is all nonsense, you clearly want to define this as a relationship” when central things change in my relationships. In the end I came to the conclusion that I can decide for myself what a loving relationship is for me and what not. On the one hand it helped to learn about myself that two and not just one language of relationships are most important to me and on the other hand that I can decide which changes I want to allow and which not. Some changes feel bad at first (and for a long time afterwards), others will never feel good. For me, finding that out requires a process that I can or cannot get involved in. I can rarely say right away that a change will feel permanently bad. What finally remains for me is to decide for or against the process of finding out. And I think that in the end a lot depends on this decision.