When it comes to relationship advice, love languages are probably the most go-to remedy for anyone who wants to improve their connections with their partners or loved ones. Yet, unbeknownst to many, love languages can actually take a toll on your relationship if you’re not careful. In this episode, Paul Blanchard helps you avoid falling trap into this, sharing the two conditions to not let love languages wreck your relationships. Join him as he talks more about the division it creates, how it is weaponized, and how we can overcome that.
It is Power Session time. It is time to get rocking and rolling. I’m excited to be with you as we’re going to be talking about relationships and love languages. I’ve got some bones to pick here with this stuff. Potential rant warning in terms of where we’re going to go. Potential misunderstandings of where I’m coming from, but I will do my best to explain as we go along, remembering that I am here wanting to disrupt the way you’re thinking about certain things. I’m not here to trash talk on the love languages or anyone’s relationship, or anything else that we talk about. I’m hoping to expand your mind a little bit in terms of how you think about certain things, sharing some principles, some important things to understand about the way the brain works.
That will hopefully give you a chance to step back and reassess some of the things and language that we’ve been given in the world, in our relationships, whether it’s our intimate, romantic relationships, family relationships, or friend relationships where we’re able to point at certain things that stop us from being able to dig deeper and grow. We want to make sure we avoid justifying staying exactly the way we are right now with fancy terminology. Let’s disrupt some patterns. Let’s dive in here. Let’s get started.
The Importance of Love Languages
Welcome to this power session. Confession alerts, the love languages drive me insane. We’re going to talk about this. Why are we talking about this? The 24th of June, 2020 is my fifteenth wedding anniversary to my amazing, incredible wife. We’ve been married for fifteen years. We have three daughters. I wouldn’t trade her, our relationship, or our journey for anything. It had its ups and downs. I felt impressed to talk about relationships because sometimes we can see people in positions to teach us, coach for us, and be on stage. That’s my profession. That’s what I do. Sometimes, I’ll be talking to clients about little tips that my wife and I will have, a fight that we get in, or four days without talking to each other because of different things.
They go, “Really? You? That happened?” “Of course, it does.” I work with many couples, and we’ll get into their relationships because I love to focus on business, profit, productivity, sales, and marketing. I love that stuff, but I also know at its core that professional problems are personal problems in disguise. For any of that stuff to work, we’ve got to make sure that our relationships are good, like here in Habit Finder. We love business, tactical, strategic, and all that stuff as much as any company. I feel like we can compete with the best companies out there in terms of those areas. At least get you into a position to make sure you’re making the right decisions for the right reasons about your marketing, sales, strategies, or whatever.
None of that stuff matters if at its core, we don’t understand the way our brains work, the way other people’s brains work, and how to connect as human beings. I do have some frustrations with personality tests. The same reasons I have frustrations with the love languages. That’s what we’re going to talk about. If you know anyone that talks about love languages or anyone that mentioned their love language before, tag them in this. You might want to warm them first. I’m not here to abolish love languages or rag on them. It’s not love language’s fault. Just like my frustration with personality tests, it’s not the personality test’s fault. There are some amazing ones out there. I work with a lot of companies that love the Enneagram, DiSC, and Myers-Briggs.
Weaponizing The Love Languages
They are phenomenal awareness tools. Where I get my frustration is how people weaponize them. It’s the way that people use them to justify not growing and not challenging their boundaries. As soon as we can put some fancy language to it or it’s in a book so we can point at it because Dr. so-and-so said it, then suddenly we can go, “That’s the way I am. I’m whatever number, color, animal thing.” That totally explains. I know you think I’m a jerk but it’s because I’m a number, color, animal thing. That’s what I want to talk about in terms of our relationships and love languages. I appreciate the context that is provided in the love languages. I appreciate understanding that there are five primary categories and 23% of people respond to words of affirmation.
I’m here to tell you I’ve been studying the brains of hundreds of thousands of people. A hundred percent of people respond to words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch whether you’re meeting their expectations of what those things should look like, your timing is right, or you most often prefer one or the other to sit there and say, “That is my love language. You can only speak that language to me or I won’t love you.” It’s where I get frustrated with people going, “He wants so much physical touch and I only respond to acts of service.” That’s a great starting point for a conversation. I love that if it’s the start of a conversation to say my preferential starting point, my natural reference point, my more likely area to pay more attention is in this area.
The moment we turn that into a box of, “I only respond to. I only speak this language. That’s my only personality,” is where we are immediately defining the mathematics of who we are as human beings. We are an L of index one to the power of an L of index one has proven a cancer StrengthsFinder Calculus, that I don’t have time to write out or explain to you. I only know a fraction of it but what I do know is that the human being is infinite. We are the most priceless, valuable mathematical product on the planet. We are beyond worth, priceless, and infinite. We’re built for this unlike any other creature or thing on the planet. We are built to learn more about ourselves, to think about ourselves, to think what we’re thinking about ourselves, and to think about those thoughts that we thought someone else might be thinking about what we were thinking about ourselves.
There’s Always Room to Grow
We are multifaceted creatures. It’s amazing. It’s awesome. It comes with some downsides, dark sides, and challenges but I don’t think any of us would trade that for pure myopic animal instincts. We’ve got those too that adds even more to the mix. There’s more to learn about ourselves. Let me make this absolutely clear. I am a huge fan of personality tests and love languages if they are the impetus or the starting point for a conversation. I have some reference points but if I’m going to use them and weaponize them as my shield and my sword of that’s just the way I am. As a coach, I get frustrated with that because people will come and say, “These are my problems, but this is how I am.”
The equation is rather simple at this point. Those are your problems because you believe that’s the way you are. If you can learn to think differently about yourself which is that’s personal development, changing the way you interpret your problems, other people and their problems, stuff, and personalities. That’s one challenge with the personality test. You’re getting an aggregate report that is somehow tried to summarize in 4 to 8 different versions of the aggregate preferential versions of your memorized emotions and it’s the same thing with your love languages. You have memorized emotions, you have different personalities, different preference points as your life has shaped you and as you have chosen to interpret the way life has shaped you. It’s not what life has done to you, it’s how you chose to interpret it.
That converging point is what has created our preferences such as personality and our love languages, but that is only the start of the conversation. Here are some things that I want you to understand that I hope will help you in terms of leveraging this incredible power of understanding personality and specifically love languages which is an extension of personality and emotional preference. That’s what it is. Emotional preference is completely dictated by our definition of self and our interpretation of our life, our definition of what we deserve, and our interpretation of what we deserve from others. If we shift those interpretations, guess what happens? What I hope will happen now that you will seek to be multilingual and be a better interpreter than speaker.
Realize What Truly Matters
I speak English but I am way better at interpreting English than I am at speaking English. I have no doubt that the way I speak, and I get made fun of from other people for pronouncing things wrong or saying the wrong words at times. Sometimes, I’ll grab onto one word and won’t be quite what I meant. I’ll pronounce another word differently or I’ll mix up the meanings of words. Anytime you use as many words as I do as a profession, I’m going to have issues with that, but I am way better at interpreting English than I am at speaking it properly. I would ask that you do the same. If you are going to adhere or put stock into these love languages, there are two conditions I would ask you to consider to make sure that they don’t wreck your marriage, that you don’t go, “What am I married to a gift-giving person for when I don’t care about that? I just want quality time.”
I need to find someone that speaks quality time language and meet with them. No, because more likely than not, if you married someone who spoke the same language as you, it would be a completely different kind of battle. It would be a battle of expectations of what that quality time should look like. There are so many levels of what’s been summarized here and these five things, just as personality tests that have 5, 6, 7, 8 variations of quadrillions of emotional preferences. We’ve got quadrillions and we’re going, “These ones are going to be this color. These ones are going to be this color. These quadrillions are going to be this color,” and we’ll try and help put people into buckets to start to make some sense of themselves.
Again, a great place to start discovering yourself, to get some reference points. Some point on the map of you is here. If that’s your idea to set up camp that you are here and never become more, even though everything in your physiology, neurology, and the way you are built as a human being is pointing towards becoming more than you are now or as we found from a neurological aspect, accessing more than you’re accessing now. Being able to shift your frame of reference, shift your interpretation of how you’re experiencing your life and others. Love languages are a great place to start because our relationships are in trouble. The noise has turned up in the world and it’s turning up noise in relationships. Not everybody. I’ve met a lot of people that this has brought them closer together, but I’ve also met a lot of people that this has been incredibly challenging and all their coping mechanisms, all the things they use to get through it in the past are not up to snuff.
Go Back to Your Roots
The moment we turn that into a box that only speaks a certain love language is the moment we start defining the mathematics of who we are as human beings.
They’re not getting us through this anymore. I’ve always heard a lot of talk about love languages, but I can imagine the volumes turned up on these languages now. The volume has turned up on what people are experiencing, how they need to be talked to, what they need to be sharing, and how you need to be connecting with them. My wife’s love language is acts of service and mine is physical touch. That’s where we come from. Apparently, I’m in 19% of the population and my wife is in 20% of the population. We are both in 100% of the population. There is no human being on the planet that does not respond to physical touch.
How they interpret that response the way they are touched by whom they are touched, where they’re touched, how they’re touched, on and on, is going to determine whether you could rewire or shift that. Acts of service is the same thing. It’s not just that her natural love language is acts of service, it’s going to be certain acts of service. What about the acts of service that she doesn’t even see and notice? I could get into love languages argument with her about, what about all the acts of service that I do that you’re not aware of? How come I don’t get any credit for those? At least with physical touch, I know when it’s happening. What about all the services that I do that you don’t pay attention to or that you don’t appreciate? How come you get to say this is my love language and this is the only way that I want to be able to receive it?
Condition One: Choose To Be Multilingual
That’s what we want to start breaking down. That’s what we want to be able to understand. If we’re going to make love languages a part of our language and relationship, two conditions. Number one is choose to be multilingual. Don’t say that’s my love language so I can’t speak the other ones. If you want to be more diverse, more well-rounded from a global perspective, you should speak more than one language. I can’t think of a language other than love that could be any more important. Love would be the most important language there is.
Og Mandino said, “It’s the greatest secret of success in all ventures. Let’s learn to speak more than one.” What does that have to do with it? That has to do with repetition, interpretation, and awareness. It’s not, “That’s my love language. That’s not my love language.” It is, “What could I change in my interpretation? What could I experience? What could I challenge in terms of what I’m doing to learn a new language?” It might be awkward at first just like learning a new language. If I want to learn to speak Spanish, Polack, or whatever, it’s going to be difficult, challenging, uncomfortable and awkward at first.
Why will we power through that in learning a real language? We somehow expect I can’t learn a new love language because that should happen naturally. Coleen asked a great question, “What are the love languages?” They are words of affirmation, that’s the most common. Quality time and acts of service are the next most common, and then physical touch and gifts. Those are the five love languages. A lot of research and work was done and it’s fantastic. It narrows the context of where you can start the conversation. Those of you who are just jumping in, I’m not here to bash the love languages. I’m here to bash how people use them and weaponize them in their relationships. They use them to go, “That’s just how I am. That’s the language I speak. You need to learn to speak it or we’re not going to get along.”
That’s garbage. That’s crap. That’s not how relationships work. There is a give and take, a tango or a dance to this. Sometimes, you’re going to step forward with your right foot and they’re not going to step back with their left foot. You’re going to step on their toes and you’re going to fight or you’re going to have a misunderstanding. I tell every couple that I work with, “I’m not here to teach you to not fight. I’m here to teach you to fight fair.” Everyone fights. Every couple I’ve ever met, even the ones who say they don’t fight, they fight. They just fight differently than you might see on TV or in a movie.
Agree to Disagree
Everyone has a disagreement. Everyone has their manipulative tactics of what they do, what they withhold, what they don’t do, what they go around about doing, or whatever it might be. To Marilyn’s comment, “It is how you feel most loved, is when someone is doing this.” My first challenge to you is to be multilingual. Figure out what it is about you that might be able to learn a different language. Understanding that it might be a little awkward at first because the language that you learned from a child, whether that was acts of service that you were conditioned to pay more attention to, physical touch, quality time, gifts or words of affirmation, and start to challenge because you’re going to learn more about you by learning to speak other love languages.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have your preference. What I get frustrated with, where I see people doing the most damage is where they say, “That’s my language. I can’t learn to speak other languages.” I would ask, “What is it about you that you have a hard time interpreting that language?” That’s the second condition I would ask. If love languages are going to be a part of your relationship, that you become a good interpreter. As I mentioned, I am better at interpreting English than I am at speaking English properly. I say things enough times so that hopefully you can find the interpretation that I’m intending for you to be able to grab onto and make a difference in your relationship and in your life.
Condition Two: Become A Better Interpreter
Number one, become multilingual. Learn another love language. Invest in that. Number two, become a better interpreter meaning, if your love language is words of affirmation, you should be having conversation with your loved ones around what those words are and what they mean to you. There are also two sides to this. Listen to the words they use to describe the same things. That’s what I mean by becoming a better interpreter. Let me do a blatant one, “I wish that he would say I love you more often.” He might be saying I love you more often but he’s not using those exact words. He may be wrestling with some of his own challenges in terms of being multilingual or words of affirmation love languages. If you were able to step into his world or her world and understand what words of affirmation they’re trying to express even though they may not be your words, you can become a better interpreter.
That’s going to serve both of you. If you’re going to stand on this is my love language, then you may want to also say or want to put in the work to becoming aware of the language that your partner is trying to speak. They may be trying to speak physical touch but not very good at it, or not the way you wanted it to be. They may be trying to speak quality time but they’re not quite sure how to structure that. They may be trying to speak gifts but they’re too terrified or freaked out of giving the wrong one or whatever it is. These are the conversations that love languages should be able to create in our relationship. It shouldn’t be, “You don’t get me because you’re a physical touch and I’m words of affirmation,” or “Your gifts and I’m acts of service.”
That should allow us to find common ground that we both have preferences on the way we are naturally drawn to the way love is expressed. Let’s start to expand our horizons or become multilingual. Let’s learn another love language, not because the one we’ve known since birth or for as long as we can remember will become invalidated. There’s always your language of origin or your first language but try becoming a little bit better at some of the other ones. In addition to that, focus on being a better interpreter than a speaker. Whatever your love language is, pay closer attention to the way they speak it to you, because it may not be what you were expecting, that concrete condition you had set for how it’s supposed to look, sound, feel, and what it was supposed to be depending on the love language.
Learning a New Language
If you’re looking for interpreters or being a better interpreter, I promise you, you will start to notice the ways your partner is trying to speak your love language in their own way. They’re trying to express it. They’re trying to figure that out. If we can show up with both of those, we’re trying to learn more than one love language or we’re trying to seek to understand the interpretation of how our loved ones might be speaking even in the smallest of ways. They might be trying to speak our love language, but they may feel completely inadequate in doing so. They don’t say very many words in that particular love language. They don’t trust themselves to carry on a conversation with that love language but they’re trying, then we can start to dance and interact with each other. We can start to communicate without needing to make the other person wrong. We can start to create safe places for each other, where someone just needs to be heard so you can hold space for them.
In other time, the other needs to be heard and you can hold space for them, but please let’s stop weaponizing our love languages. Let’s stop using them to divide and to explain why we’re not connecting as human beings. Let’s use them as a great starting point for a conversation, to figure out where our conditions and our preferences, where we need to travel from to be able to find real connection regardless of our love language and our personality. I would ask that at this time in the world, that we focus on the quality of our languages and what connects us. We focus on our differences and the celebration of those differences. We focus on wanting to learn different languages, wanting to experience different things, and getting an opportunity to be able to seek to understand each other.
I think the love languages are beautiful. We want to make sure we’re not using them as an excuse not to learn any other languages. Ensure that if we do hold on tight to one particular one, we get better and better at seeing how other people are trying to speak that language to us regardless of how inadequate they may feel. Katie asks, “Can we not keep asking for them to explain what we don’t understand?” There’s a difference between asking someone to explain something to you and seeking to understand. “I don’t get that, tell me,” versus just listening. Tell me more about that. The first step to good listening is to notice what’s important to them. It’s not as effective to listen so they can explain to us that they know what’s important to us. We want to go on and see what’s important to them. When that wall comes down, we can ask for permission to share what’s important to us. It can be received, reciprocated, fostered, and developed in a completely different level. In fact, clinically focused, 40% increase in cooperation, productive energy when we show up focused on what’s important to them first.
Allow Yourself to be Heard
If you’re holding onto your love language, make sure that whoever your committed companion is, whoever you care about, that you know what theirs is, and that you are as interested in learning to speak theirs, as you would want them to be interested in learning to speak yours. That’s going to allow us to be bilingual and focus on our interpretation of those things. This is not about anti-love languages. This is not about how it’s bad, it’s not. Be aware of using terms like this just because a PhD came up with it, a program came up with it, or Habit Finder taught that we don’t ever weaponize it to play small, to make someone else feel wrong, stay stuck where we are, or to justify not growing and becoming more because that’s what we’re built to do. We are infinite creatures. The more we learn about ourselves, the more we test ourselves, the more there is to learn, test and discover.
Love is the Greatest Language
At the end of the day, the greatest love language any of us can speak is connection—the end of the story. You may have your preferences of how that connection looks—their words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. We teach here at Habit Finder the connection, and then you can apply it to any of the love languages you care to speak more fluently. Thanks for being here. Thanks for letting me rant a little bit. If I offended anyone or if you took this as demonstrative or destructive of things that you feel are dear, like personalities or love languages, that wasn’t my intention at all.
As I usually try to do, I shake up the snow globe and get you to think a little bit differently about stuff because every good thing can be used in a bad way. I want you to be aware of that. Be conscious of it and continue to expand and grow. Don’t ever define ourselves in a box. Embrace what we know about our current definitions but use them like we use gratitude to get to the next level. Thank you, Katie. Thanks, Cindy. Thanks, everybody, for being on here. I appreciate it. I hope you’re doing well and I’ll talk to you later.