Love Should Be Smart
Should Be Smart!
In relationships, love is
never enough.† Successfully
relationships also need a good deal of intelligence and courage.†
Even when it comes to giving and receiving love, wise couples will tend
to be ďsmartĒ about it.
A. Learning Your Partnerís
A common, mistaken belief couples make is that "the way I experience being
loved is the way my partner will or should experience being loved". This is
often a big, big mistake. "If I like receiving cards, doesnít
everyone?" "If I donít need to hear, ĎI love youí, then my
partner should not need it". These beliefs are rarely spoken, but
frequently acted upon.
We believe you are better
off to assume that your Partner speaks an entirely different "love
language" than you do, and if you want to really communicate your love, you
will need to learn his or her "love language".
B. Finding Your Partnerís
If you will forgive a switch in metaphors, it may be helpful to picture the idea
of "receptor buttons" in various places on your psyche. Receptor
buttons can be words, touches or behaviors, but each person has different
receptor buttons or different words, touches or behaviors that are his or her
unique "receptor buttons". If you hit a receptor button by saying just
the right words, or touching in just the right way or doing a particular
behavior in a particular way, the receptor button will connect directly to the
pleasure centers of the brain and your partner will immediately feel pleasured,
loved, cared about.
If you express your love in
a word, touch or behavior that does not touch a receptor button, your partner
will have to look at what you are doing, interpret it as a loving gesture and
appreciate it, but it will be appreciated intellectually and will not
immediately connect to the pleasure centers.
Wise partners will receive
and enjoy and appreciate love regardless of whether or not it hits a receptor
button, but really smart partners will learn their partners receptor buttons and
regularly share the words, touches and behaviors that immediately make them feel
loved and cared about without having to intellectually interpret and value the
The purpose of the ďCaring
BehaviorsĒ section of the Coupleís Workstation is for you to begin a
process of identifying your partnerís receptor buttons, or to switch back to
the first metaphor, and learn your partnerís love language.
Here to read more about the Coupleís Workstation or Click
Here to Take the Tour!
C. Target Specific Caring
When we are talking about "receptor buttons" and "love
language", it is important to understand that the "buttons" and
the "language" are frequently very precise. Your partner may have a
receptor button that is a hug. When you hug your partner, he or she will
immediately feel warm, loved, safe, cared about. But if you explore the hugs
further, you very likely will discover that a particular kind of hug, with a
certain length of time and just the right pressure will really hit the receptor
When Carol, my wife, hugs me
with both arms around my neck, for some reason that feels ten times better to me
than a hug with both arms around my waist. And a hug with one arm around my neck
and the other arm around my waist with her hand putting just the right pressure
on a certain spot in my back puts me in heaven. I donít know why. I like
almost any hug from Carol, but these are particularly impactful for me.
Learning these "target
specific" receptor buttons can be like mastering an art. You can always be
fine-tuning and improving the timing, the tone of voice, the words, the
appreciations, the right combination of words and touches. A wise partner will
know many different ways and the times when their partner needs just the right
word, touch or behavior. This can involve a lifetime of learning. The Partner
Interview on Caring Behaviors in the Coupleís Workstation will help you
continue to learn each otherís "receptor buttons".
D. The Clairvoyant Myth
A second mistake couples make is what I call the clairvoyant myth, the belief
that "my partner either already knows or should know where my receptor
buttons are or what my love language is". This is a major misconception.
And thatís why we have this section of the Coupleís Workstation, to give you
the intellectual support and the means for breaking out of the clairvoyant myth
and becoming very smart, intelligent, and conscious about learning the various
ways your partner can most easily take in loving acts.
You and your partner are
unique; each of you is unique. Even though you have much in common with each
other and with other people, you will have special words, touches and behaviors
that make you feel loved and cared about. Your partner will understand what
these are best if you let him or her clearly know.
"If I have to ask for
something, it doesnít count if I get it" is an attitude that is more
common than one would hope. It is part of the clairvoyant myth. It is important
to regularly and clearly let your partner know your love language. It is equally
important to understand and learn your partnerís.
E. Ways of Feeling Loved
There are three main avenues of giving and receiving love: words, touches and
behaviors. Your relationship task is to learn the words, the touches and the
behaviors or actions that touch your partnerís receptor buttons. In the
Partner Interview, you will seek to discover the kind of words, touches and
behaviors that constitute your partnerís love language. It is important know
many items in each area.
Touching, of course, refers to physical connecting. Hugs, kisses, snuggling,
touching the face with a hand, holding hands, caresses, etc. Touch is a basic
human need, but some people need it more than others. Finding out the kinds and
frequency of your partnerís preferences for touch will be very important.
When it comes to intimate,
committed, love relationships knowing how to disengage from touching is often as
important as engaging in touching. If you were to observe a loving couple that
is comfortable with each other touching, you would observe a kind of relaxed
dance of touch. If they are watching TV or in the movie, they will hold hands
for a few minutes and then one or the other will shift positions, withdraw the
hand, pick up something and later take the hand again. This dance of connecting
and disconnecting is very important.
People who are uncomfortable
with touching often do not know how to disengage without worrying that the
partner will be hurt or disappointed or displeased.
Learning to be comfortable
with "disengaging" is an essential part of being comfortable with
"engaging". This is true for conversations as well as for touching.
Isolators (people who protect themselves from being suffocated or smothered by
distancing or avoiding contact) in particular will need to talk about this with
Verbal communication, of course, is a major form of human communication. It is
what clearly distinguishes us from the animal kingdom. Yet within the human
community, there is also a wide range of differences in both the need for and
the kind of communication by words.
There seems to be some sex
differences in regard to communication by words. Men speak on average about 2500
words a day; women speak on average about 5,000 words a day.
When it comes to sex
differences, it is important to understand that virtually everything that is
true about men is also true about women, and everything that is true about women
is also true about men. We are not talking about pure differences as much as
differences in emphasis or degree.
For example, many (not all)
women tend to like verbal messages that are reassuring about the quality of
their relationships (I love you, Iím glad Iím married to you, You are so
considerate of your friends, etc). Do men like this too? Yes, but often not to
the degree. Men tend to prefer verbal messages that show appreciation for
accomplishments (You are so good at that, Thatís a wonderful fire you built in
the fireplace, You work hard, etc). Do women like this, too? Of course. But wise
women will experiment with the idea that their male partners may need and enjoy
this 3 or 4 times more than they. And wise men will experiment with the idea
that their female partners may need and enjoy reassurances and enjoyment about
the relationship 3 or 4 time more than they..
There are lots of possible
explanations for this phenomenon. What may be important for you is to see if
this tends to be true for your unique relationship, and if it is you will
probably be wise to accept this difference and adjust your words accordingly.
Some people, both men and
women, prefer indirect caring words rather than direct. For example, the direct
"I love you" or "You were wonderful tonight" is great for
some people. For others, the indirect, "I feel happy when Iím with
you" or "I enjoyed tonight very much" is preferred. This is a
time to learn the kinds and actual phrases that mean a lot to your partner.
3. Behaviors and Actions
For many people, itís not what you say; itís what you do that counts.
Particularly, if behavior in oneís family of origin was the opposite of the
words that were spoken, words will lose their meaning even if you love hearing
Some people feel loved by
doing separate things together in the same room. Helping with a task or
regularly doing a chore is a powerful expression of love for many people. For
others, it is just doing what needs to be done. Offering to get a cup of coffee
or "Iím going out; can I get anything for you" or "putting
dishes in the dish washer" will often make one person feel loved and have
little or no meaning of love for another..
In the Partner Interview,
you will have an opportunity to explore all of these behavioral avenues of
If this article feels
important or relevant to you, you might enjoy a free month in our Coupleís
Workstation.† Be sure to do the
exercise on Caring Behaviors.† A
unique benefit of the Coupleís Workstation is that when you complete this
exercise with your partner, you will both receive periodic email reminders about
which words, touches and behaviors touch your partnerís receptor buttons.
Write to Questions@relationship-help.com
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