We’ve all been there before. At the start of a new relationship, with our hearts pacing, heads high on a cloud and our bellies filled with that fluttering sensation, hope.
At the start falling in love seems easy and effortless. Their quirks are adorable. Their oddities are charming. But falling in love and staying in love aren’t the same thing. Often, relationships that blossom quickly can wind up stale and boring, with both partners struggling to return to the beginning stages of the romance.
According to Gary Chapman, author of the book The Five Love Languages, a relationship doesn’t start until the couple has come back down from the clouds: He argues that “true love cannot begin until the ‘in-love’ experience has run its course.”
Why do couples often start out starry-eyed only to end up passionless and boring?
There are several possible reasons. Work, children, outside pressures and commitments: daily life can wreak havoc on the partnerships and the individuals within them. Over time the spark that once brought two people together slowly dies as they drift apart. But Gary Chapman offers some other reasons in his book.
He says that after studying scores of couples the average lifespan of the ‘in-love’ experience lasts about two years. What happens to the passion after that is entirely up to the individuals within the relationship.
Gary Chapman argues that love isn’t just about feelings, and that relationships aren’t founded on romance. Love is an action that requires emotional maintenance and a commitment to the other partner’s needs.
Communicating emotional needs is where most couples fail
“Our most basic emotional need is not to fall in love but to be genuinely loved by another, to know a love that grows out of reason and choice, not instinct… That kind of love requires effort and discipline.”The 5 Love Languages
Too often couples don’t know that what they really want from a romantic connection is the demonstration of love itself. Even if partners truly love each other, it can be difficult to communicate their affection.
Love, like a language or an ingrained habit, stems from patterns that are learned. These patterns are usually established by one’s parents or culture. We learn to love, not consciously, but in our developmental years. It can be difficult to put our own desire into words, or to know what we want, let alone what our partner needs.
What’s Your Love Language?
You can take a test to determine which how you and your partner should express love for each other. Chapman’s theory asserts that most individuals crave expressions of one or more of the following love languages from their romantic partner:
If your partner desires quality time offer them your undivided attention. While some individuals may simply enjoy the act of being together, others may find that they need the time and space to be heard and nurtured. Quality Time doesn’t necessarily mean dressing up and going on fancy dates, but it does entail giving your partner attention. Set aside whatever you are doing and focus on connecting with them for twenty minutes every day. Listen to them. Let them decide how those twenty minutes will be spent.
Words of Affirmation
Sometimes tossing out the three words “I love you” will cut it. But with individuals who desire affirmation, words have a potency like none other. Spoken thanks or words of praise are like water on the parched soil of the person who enjoys hearing that they please their partner. Compliment their actions, comment on their hair or clothes and watch them glow. Words don’t always have to be spoken. Send a thoughtful text or leave a note on the fridge. You can never remind them too often that they are the apple of your eye.
Acts of Service
For people whose love language is in the form of actions and service, words will seem hollow. Doing, not saying, is how you can win their hearts. These individuals thrive off of demonstrations of love that are real and visceral. It may seem like checking off a list, but offer your services to complete daily tasks. Take out the trash, pick up the kids, weed the garden beds. Volunteer to take over the dishes or walk the dog. It might take some careful observation to see what they need. If you are in doubt, ask.
If your partner always picks up something thoughtful when they’re out shopping, or comes back with a little something from their business trip, chances are that their love languages is expressed through gift-giving. It may seem easy to “buy off” their love with a trinket, but people who offer love through gifts are among the most observant and thoughtful partners out there. They are constantly paying attention to what you like and need. (For instance, if you offhandedly mentioned that you lost a cufflink or an earring, they will happily hunt for the perfect pair). Give thoughtful and tasteful gifts to your partner. The gifts don’t have to be expensive but they should demonstrate that you are thinking about them.
Immediately our minds are drawn into the bedroom. When it comes to physical touch the automatic assumption is that it will lead to ”doing the deed.” But that stereotype is far from the truth. In fact, people whose language is physical touch often seek intimacy with their partners far outside the realm of sex. Massages, foot-rubs, cuddling, snuggling, holding hands or a simple pat on the back are forms of physical love which your partner may crave.
Women who desire physical touch have a difficult time seperating this need from sex. Their partners may be all too willing to take their chosen form of intimacy a step further. Don’t assume that physical touch is a code word for “something else.” Focus on your partner and develop a connection that involves non-sexual forms of physical expression.
What happens when we don’t get what we need from the relationship?
When couples are unwilling to meet their partners halfway the relationship begins to fail. If your partner is reluctant to discuss their needs or remains unenthusiastic about meeting yours, this may signal the end of the relationship. They might have checked out, or decided the relationship isn’t worth the effort.
Oftentimes, a partner who is unwilling to demonstrate acts of love has found it elsewhere. The sad truth is that many romantic connections end when another relationship begins to form. Cheating is one of the foremost ways that relationships come to an end.
If you think that your partner may be cheating, use Spokeo’s Dating Lookup Tool to discover whether they have a dating profile. You can also use our Reverse Phone Lookup to backtrace suspicious numbers and texts you find on their cell or a shared phone bill.
You don’t have to be in a relationship to know your love language
Healthy relationships take place when we first learn to love ourselves. If you aren’t in a relationship you can take the 5 Love Languages Test for Singles. Self-knowledge is often the best way to start a romance. Only when we are happy and self-content will our capacity for love truly shine.