One of the most common mistakes people make in relationships is to relate to other people as if what’s important to them in a relationship is the same as what’s important to the other people. According to Gary Chapman, author of “The Five Love Languages,” that simply isn’t true.
Some people love being told they’re loved, liked or valued. Others want to see that they’re loved, liked or valued in the form of gifts. Others like it expressed in actions. Others prefer to have their affection expressed physically.
If what’s important to you is being told that you’re loved, it’s only natural that you’ll assume the same is true with your loved ones. Yet if their definition of love is a lot of hugs, it’s entirely possible that they won’t feel loved at all, no matter how much love you feel like you’re expressing.
It also works in the reverse. You can feel like someone else doesn’t love you, like you or trust you simply because they’re not expressing love, trust or affection in the way that your brain is programmed to understand it.
Naturally, this two-way non-verbal miscommunication can cause a lot of missed opportunities in relationships. So how do you get over it?
Asking What’s Important to Them
The easiest way is of course to ask. If you already have a close relationship to someone, just bring it up as a way to potentially improve your relationship.
If you’re not close with the person yet, you can bring the subject up as a psychological experiment, a fun game to play.
No matter how you bring up the subject, you’ll probably be surprised at how different your internal system for feeling love, acceptance or connection is than other people’s. Actually hearing other people articulate their different mindset will likely change the way you view relationships forever.
Do this with all the most important people in your life.
Changing Your Habits
So once you know what other people’s “language” for receiving love, affection and connection is, what do you do with that information?
It’ll take some conscious effort to integrate that style of communication in your life. For example, if you’re used to telling someone you love them as a way of expressing love and you find out that they hear love primarily in gifts, that might seem superficial to you. And yet, that’s what’s important to them.
You might have to stretch your comfort zone or express affection in ways that don’t seem to make sense to you at first.
That’s okay. Consider it the stumbling blocks of learning to speak another “language.” Watch the other person’s reactions carefully and see if the way you’re communicating with them is having a more positive effect than your previous way of communication.
By using this principle of finding out what’s important to them, rather than assuming it’s the same as yours, you’ll be able to connect with all kinds of people that you might not have been able to connect with before. You’ll be able to remove blocks in relationships and improve many of the relationships in your life.