Love & Romance Resources
What is your Primary Love Language?
If you haven't read the book "The 5 Love Languages" and you're working on your love life, well, you should. Don't just read the recap I'm providing here. Read it. But, for the sake of argument, I'm going to basically break down why it's important.
Basically, the gist is this. There are 5 primary love languages, ie. languages with which people express love.
- Words of Affirmation. The whole whispering sweet nothings, but also just getting words of support, encourage and love from your partner is important to you. It's not enough to just be touched by your partner. You need to hear "I love you" to feel loved.
- Acts of Service. Someone who's love language is acts of service appreciates the actions. They feel love when you're doing the things that you know that they would like for you to do. If you want your spouse to mow the lawn and they do it, you feel love. If you want them to wash the dishes and they do it, you feel love. It's all about the simple, sometimes seemingly insignificant, actions that help you feel love.
- Gifts. This is pretty straight forward, but sometimes people feel and communicate love through gift giving. But, this isn't haphazard gifts. These gifts are intentional. There's meaning behind them. There's thought. There's personalization. As it says on the 5 Love Languages website: "If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous – so would the absence of everyday gestures. Gifts are visual representations of love and are treasured greatly."
- Quality Time. People who communicate through this love language want to receive undivided attention. Being there for this person is of the utmost important. Sometimes, it might mean putting work or other obligations ahead of them, but doing so and spending that time with them is crucially important.
- Physical Touch. Super straightforward. This love is communicated through touch. But not necessarily sexually intimate touch. It can be as simple as a hand hold, hug, touching their arm. Basically, for this type of love language, saying "I love you" isn't the same without physical contact involved.
Knowing your Love Language and that of your partner is crucially important to having a relationships that endures. Fortunately, the authors of this book created a quiz for you to find out! Click here to take it!
What is your Attachment Style?
Did you know that different people attach in different ways in their relationships? Logically, you've probably seen it, but do you know how to identify these different attachment styles in yourself and others? The 3 attachment styles, which are described differently in different places, are:
- Anchor. Anchors often are people that are very secure as individuals, are willing to commit and fully share with another, are generally happy people and adapt easily to the needs of the moment. They are collaborators and believe that 2 are better than 1. They are resilient, have abundant internal resources, they feel tethered to others, and do not go through life as lone wolves. They have a capacity for complexity and self-improvement.
- Island. Islands often are independent and self-reliant, take good care of themselves, are productive and creative, especially when given space, and are low maintenance. They may be unsure about their ability to be in a committed, happy and satisfying relationship. They are prone to internal processing. They loathe personal conflict, will compromise and negotiate in order to have peace. They value their independence and their problem-solving. They avoid any external neediness. They handle alone time well. They are extremely sensitive to feeling trapped by a partner and losing their autonomy. Islands can confuse neglect with independence.
- Wave. Waves often are generous and giving, focused on taking care of others, are happiest when around other people, and are able to see both sides of an issue. They fear being abandoned, punished or rejected. What they need to be careful of is that they don't do these exact things to others. They can push away partners through anger, sarcasm and threats of abandonment, but often they're just testing their partner, wanting them to move to them despite the resistance.
Note that no one person will likely full-identify with either of these styles. You might see aspects of yourself in all 3 and lean toward one style more. You may be accurately reflected in 2 styles. Regardless, you and your partner will often reflect these attachment styles in "ish"-ness. I identify as an island with anchor tendencies as well.
- Anchors dating...
- Another Anchor. You don't need to seek out other Anchors. You will gravitate to each other because you both offer an inner strength and security that the other will find attractive. Because of this, you might end up with another anchor without intending to. These relationships often start unintentionally or unofficially.
- An island. This is often an easy scenario. You will naturally give islands the space they need simply because you're easy-going. The island will depend on you to provide them with security to heal their past wounds and blossom. It will require patience. The only detriment to this relationship is if your island partner is too rigid in their ways, in which case you may lose interest.
- A wave. This is a similar situation to dating another anchor. However, dating a wave will require you to have straight talk. If they're concerned about you breaking up, be realistic and straightforward about your relationship prospects. If they get overly angry, let them know you aren't afraid of your emotions, but draw boundaries as well. You will need to be the level-headed one in these instances.
- Island dating...
- nother island. This will be a happy pairing with both partners getting plenty of space. The only issue may be that they're too distant, which may make it difficult to creating a lasting connection and bond. Also, if one partner has more island-ish tendencies, the other may feel neglected, which may create tension. A big problem that might arise is that the two might distance themselves from others. Two islands together might form one bigger island, keeping them from connecting with others outside the relationship.
- An anchor. Islands find anchors easy to date. Anchors give islands plenty of space. The anchor tends to soothe the islands insecurities.
- An island. There will be some challenges in this partnership. The island will want alone time, while the wave will crave togetherness. To navigate this, islands have to ask carefully for the space they need and you may need to make sacrifices of that space to give your wave partner can get the closeness they crave.
- Wave dating...
- nother wave. This is perhaps the most challenging combination. These relationships can be very warm, intense and all-encompassing. You will get a strong reciprocation of love and closeness. You'll just have to make sure that no one drowns in the intensity of wave emotion.
- An Anchor. Anchors will be easy for waves to date. You'll naturally be of two minds, but the anchor won't feed the ambivalence of a wave. But the wave will have to temper their feelings, anxiety, jealousness, etc. long-term or the anchor may move on.
- An island. This is a challenging combination. Your island may feel like they're giving you the cold shoulder, which may make you feel like you're not needed. If you get too emotional, too angry, etc. it might scare you island away.
Resource: Wired for Dating
Creating a relationship vision.
I'll never forget the first time I watched "I am Not Your Guru" - a Tony Robbins documentary on Netflix. And he started talking about writing a relationship vision and how most people think it's stupid. "I'll write a vision for business, but a relationship vision? You kidding me?" But he was right. Our relationships are the single most difficult things we have to experience and manage in this life because we're not just considering our emotions. We're considering the emotions, opinions, desires, etc. of two people.
I want you to take a moment to craft a relationship vision. Use the steps and questions below to get started. But if you find yourself taking your vision in a different direction, by all means! DO IT!
Steps to Create a Relationship Vision
1. Write a series of short sentences in the present tense that describe your own personal vision of a satisfying love relationship. These can include your “non-negotiables” and desires. For example:
- “We encourage each other to follow his/her dreams and we support each other's interests.”
- “We are loving parents, working on our parenting skills as a team”
- “We help each other develop healthy eating habits and exercise regularly”
- “We communicate openly and honestly with each other and our feelings and thoughts are respected"
- "We have a balance of playfulness, passion and vulnerability."
- "We have enough common interests that there is not shortage of things we can do together, but simultaneously have lives, friends and hobbies that are our own."
2. Phrase all of your sentences positively and without absolutes. For example: “We settle our differences peacefully” rather than: “We don't fight”. Another example, “We trust each other” not “ We don't get jealous”.
3. Focus on the different areas of your relationship:
- Romance and Sex
- Leisure Activities.
4. Answer the following questions in your Relationship Vision:
- What type of activities do you do together?
- How do you relate to each other?
- How do you play together?
- What is your sex life like?
- What do you do with your free time?
- How do you relate around money?
- How are decisions made?
- How do you handle conflict?
- What is your relationship to your in-laws or stepchildren?
5. If you're in a relationship, share your completed sentences with your partner. Work together to create a mutually agreed upon Relationship Vision. Start with the items you both agree are important. If you have items that are a source of conflict between you, try to come up with a compromise that satisfies both of you.
6. If you're not in a relationship, save your Vision in a safe place. You can still use this vision to help inform your future relationship decisions. It may even help you determine if a relationship is serving you and is a relationship that you should stay in.
Feelings vs. Check-lists
In the age of the romantic comedy, the Disney prince, and the tall-dark-and-handsome stranger, it’s become pretty easy for us to have this check-list of things we want our prospective partner to have, or characteristics that person should meet.
I mean think of that typical male lead in a romantic comedy. Lean, fit, and muscular. Tall. Prestigious job. Confident, but with a soft side. Or the female lead! She’s got this long, flowy hair, an easy, girl-next-door smile, confident, successful in her own right, etc.
Ha! No wonder there’s so many women that are out there nowadays with such a jaded, skewed perception of men, relationships, and finding the one.
This is where we go wrong, I think! Coming up with a checklist of all these external things, without realizing that someone could HAVE all of these things, but be completely emotionless, have no sense of humor, not treat us well, not get along with our families…there are SO many things that could not be “right” in this relationship, even if that person meets all the criteria!
So, right now – instead of thinking about what that person has in terms of qualities, think about how you want that person to make you feel! Confident, Sexy, Loved, Understood, Supported, Secure, Comforted, etc.
These are all feelings! Not check-list items of external qualities! List what qualities you want to FEEL in your ideal relationship below:
Now, having done so realize that this are the priorities when you’re looking for someone to spend your life with! Not whether or not they are the fittest person in the world or have a prestigious respected career! Those things still MAY be the case, and I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that. But, what I am saying is that those outward characteristics shouldn’t be the focus of your search! Always always always focus on the way your significant other makes you FEEL, first and foremost!
GET OUT THERE!
This is for my friends who are single. As I write this, I'm right there with you. And I can't tell you how many times I bemoaned my situation. How I complained, cried, and felt worthlessness because I was "still single" or couldn't find a guy. I would cry and gripe about this, but was I doing anything to put myself out there? Was I doing anything to actually find a guy or meet new people? Hell no.
That is why I included this quote at the top. This guy wanted to win the lottery. But he wasn't doing the one thing he needed to do to make that happen - buy a ticket.
If dating is the lottery, then putting yourself out there is the ticket to get you the relationship you say you want. How can you do that? Easy.
- Online dating. Obviously, some of us have strong feelings about this, while others have pleasant experiences. I think it's good to be clear about what you're looking for when it comes to online dating. If you want casual relationships, make that clear. If you want more serious relationships, make that clear. And adjust your expectations accordingly to what you're seeking to attract.
- Joining clubs. As I write this, I'm halfway across the world from home. Hardly conducive to meeting someone that I can have a long-term relationship with. But one of the first things I plan to do when I get back home is to join a number of clubs - a hiking club, a gym, etc. My ideal future relationship will be someone who is outdoorsy and who prioritize their physical health, so why not join clubs and gyms that will put me in direct proximity with people who fit that description?
- Solicit new introductions from friends. Do you have friends who run in completely different circles than you do? Ask to meet up with them and to have them introduce you to their friends. Who knows? You might meet someone who will introduce you to someone who might know your next significant other.
- Get out and do things. I know people who have met significant others at sporting events, out on the trail while hiking, at the grocery store...all sorts of random places. Trust me, if you're an introvert, I get the motivation to stay home and never leave. But if you want to meet someone new and get into a new relationship, getting out of your house and doing things is going to drastically increase your chacnes of that happening. Just sayin.
Brainstorm some things you can try in these categories and add some ideas of your own too!
Intimacy & Shame
No matter your feeling about the role intimacy should play in romantic relationships, I bet that we can all agree on one thing - that shame often circulates intimacy and intimate moments like a hawk. Even if it's not driven by your relationships, you may still feel shame around sexual intimacy because of society, family, friends, etc. Acknowledging that this is something you experience is the first step. I won't pretend to have this figured out for myself, but here are some books and other resources to consider.
- Overcoming Religious Sexual Shame - Click here
- Inner Shame Prohibits Intimacy - Click here
- BOOK: The Art of Intimacy and Inner Shame - Click Here
- Shame Against Female Pleasure - Click here
- It's Shamefule the Way we Shame Sexuality - Click Here
- Are We Still Condemning Women for their Sexuality - Click here
- BOOK: F*cked: Being Sexually Explorative & Self-Confident in a World That's Screwed - Click here
- BOOK: Women's Sexualities: Generations of Women Share Intimate Secrets of Sexual Self-Acceptance - Click Here
- BOOK: Woman on Fire: 9 Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence - Click Here
3 Ways to Unlearn Sexual Guilt - Click Here
5 Ways To END Sexual Shame And (Finally) Truly Enjoy Your Body - Click Here