Archive of ‘Love’ category

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Think about a someone in your life (past or present) that you have/had romantic feelings for.  What did that person do for you that made you feel particularly special?  For some people, their partner bought them “just because” flowers…for others, it’s a long embrace after not seeing one another all day.  Everyone will likely have a different answer to this–which is the beauty of relationships and the diversity of what people want…and need.  People, in all relationships, show love through their love language.  A love language depicts how you want to be shown that you’re valued and appreciated; in so many words, a love language is how you want to be loved.  

By: Julie Burke, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Susan Gonzales, LPC-S, LMFT

There are 5 Different Love Languages

Words of Affirmation

This language uses words to affirm other people

  • How to speak this love language: Encourage, affirm, appreciate, listen activity, send an unexpected note or card
  • Things to avoid: Non-constructive criticism, not recognizing or appreciating effort
Quality Time

This requires giving someone undivided attention

  • How to speak this love language: Uninterrupted and focused conversations, meaningful one-on-one interactions, create special moments together, go on a weekend getaway together
  • Things to avoid: Distractions when spending time together (eg: cell phones, televisions, etc.), long stints without one-on-one time
Receiving Gifts

For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.

  • How to speak this love language: Speak purposefully and thoughtfully, express gratitude when receiving a gift, give a meaningful gift, remember that small gestures matter
  • Things to avoid: Forget special occasions  
Acts of Service 

For people who’s love language is acts of service–think of the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.  

  • How to speak this love language: Show your partner that you’re with them and partnered with them–use phrases such as “I’ll help…” or “Let’s do this together…”, make them breakfast in bed and help with various chores
  • Things to avoid: Lack follow-through on tasks (both big & small), making requests of others a higher priority  
Physical Touch

To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch

  • How to speak this love language: use body language and tough to emphasize love, hug, hold hands, kiss, making intimacy a thoughtful priority
  • Things to avoid: Physical neglect, long stints without intimacy, receiving affection coldly  

It is important to know what you and your partner’s love languages are (they may be different, by the way) because it allows you to communicate to your partner that you care about them and are speaking to their needs.  Because the way we want to be loved seems most familiar and makes most sense to us, people most often try to give love using their love language–which is not always what is needed.  The following example will make all of this make more sense.  

I know of a couple–it is a husband and wife.  The wife’s love language is receiving gifts.  This does NOT mean that in order for her to feel loved or special, that her husband is required to purchase her gifts all the time, by the way.  Rather, if her husband happens to surprise her with a gift–whether it’s a book she’s been wanting or a massage–it’s going to be meaningful to her and she will feel special and loved that her husband thought of her and gave her something.  Her husband’s love language, on the other hand, is words of affirmation.  Recently, the wife purchased her husband a sports jersey for his favorite football team.  Because that is her love language, she was under the assumption that that gift would be a great gesture to say “I love you”.  While the husband appreciated the gift, it just felt like any other day…just with the addition of a new clothing item because she was trying to show love by loving her husband with her love language.  She ultimately realized that in order for him to feel special and loved, her husband needed to hear something affirming eg: “You are a really great partner and parent and I appreciate you”.  From her perspective, she assumed he should be aware of those things already–so it did not feel necessary to share those things with him.  That’s simply because that’s not how she needs to be loved, though.

I already mentioned this, but it seems necessary to do this again.  If you’re with someone and their love language is “receiving gifts” for example–it does NOT mean that you will have to purchase them gifts all the time to show them affection; it’s the same with quality time–if your love language is quality time–it doesn’t mean that absolutely every interaction you have with your significant other is mandated to be undivided attention towards one another.  After all, people who have quality time as their love language also really appreciate receiving gifts and physical touch, too (and vice versa).  

It’s really quite simple.  If you are aware of what your partner’s love language is, it will allow you to be more attuned to them and you’ll be able to show them in a way that’s meaningful to them that you love and care about them.  In the above example with the husband and wife, keep in mind that the wife just assumed her husband knew that he was a great partner and parent.  It may feel insignificant to you, but keep in mind, this is not about you.  This is entirely about your partner and what they need to feel significance and belonging from you.  

While my focus has been on romantic partners, it’s important to note that this speaks volumes for all genuine, interpersonal relationships people have.  Love languages can be applied to your friends, family, and colleagues, too.  Check out the love languages quiz here and see what your love language is.  Be mindful of the fact that your love language can (and does) change–so it’s a great idea to revisit the quiz from time to time!  

Love can be expressed and received in all five languages.  However, if you don’t speak a person’s primary love language that person will not feel loved, even though you may be speaking the other four.  Once you are speaking his or her primary love language fluently, then you can sprinkle in the other four and they will be like icing on the cake.  – Gary Chapman

When is it Time to End a Toxic Relationship?

We all like to think that “love conquers all” and when things go wrong in a relationship, we must continue to work at it and stick with it. Although this can be true, there comes a point when putting work into a relationship becomes detrimental. This is when a relationship can become toxic. This is when one begins to live in a state of sadness, anxiety, tears, suspicion, distrust, and other difficult feelings and emotions.

So, the questions stands: when it is time to end a toxic relationship?

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

By: Angelica Beker, LPC-Intern
Supervised by Lora Ferguson, LPC-S

All too often, people stay in relationships that are unhealthy and toxic for them. These relationships can become what most call ‘toxic’. Toxic relationships can involve one person doing everything in their power to stay with the other person and do whatever it takes to make things work, which can be very draining. This may include forgiving their significant other over and over for the same mistakes (i.e., infidelity), being treated in a lesser way than they deserve and are worth, living in a state of anxiety and sadness due to their partner being inconsistent and untrustworthy.

What some don’t realize is that toxic relationships can affect you not only emotionally, but also mentally and physically.

In terms of physical effects, those in toxic relationships can cry more often and feel a higher level of stress. As such, the body begins to activate more cortisol (also known as our stress hormone), leading to elevated levels of stress. Higher levels of stress can cause individuals to cope in negative ways such as drinking more, eating more unhealthy foods, engaging in risky behavior, withdrawing from people, and feeling a constant state of sadness and lowness. It can also affect the immune system, the digestive system, and one’s heart rate – all dangerous for the human body in high levels. Mentally, toxic relationships can have a very negative effect. It can lead to severe levels of depression, anxiety, and overall mental instability. It can also cause lower self-esteem and self-confidence, which can negatively affect an individual’s psyche. One can begin doubting themselves, blaming themselves, and having other damaging, negative thoughts.

Counseling, whether it is couples, marital, or individual, can be a helpful tool to people in this situation. This can provide a safe space for one to express their concerns or allow two people to be heard when they are usually not heard. However, if a relationship feels as though one person lacks empathy, cannot and will not listen to the other when they would like to express their feelings and thoughts, or if one individual is holding back another, it may be time to end this toxic relationship. Ending a relationship is never easy. It can be a difficult transition and adjustment, but in the long-run this can greatly benefit the individual struggling the most in the relationship.

Always remember: it is important to listen to your inner voice and take care of yourself!

end toxic relationship

Getting The Love You Want: Part Two

In the first part of my blog about Dr. Harville Hendrix’s “Getting the Love You Want” we discussed what characteristics a person must have in order for us to fall in love with them. Long story short, the more characteristics a person has that are similar to our ‘lost selves’ the greater chance we will fall in love with them! We are looking for an original wholeness through our romantic relationships. To discover the ‘lost self’, a set of characteristics that are out of our awareness, one may look through the lens of the ‘false self’, the characteristics we identify with and as that protect the ‘lost self’.

Jill Baumgarner,  Pre-Graduate Student Intern Supervised by Kirby Sandlin, LMFT, LPC

By: Jill Baumgarner,
Pre-Graduate Student Intern
Supervised by
Kirby Sandlin, LMFT, LPC

Now that you know all of this useful information, you are ready to learn about our love “blueprint”, our Imago! The Imago, as Dr. Hendrix describes, is the ideal mate image that you have been forming since birth and is directly constructed out of those who influenced you most strongly at an early age.

Lets back up a second. I know some of you may be asking “You’re expecting me to believe that I feel in love with my partner because they resemble my parents? No way, I chose my partner because he/she is the exact opposite!” And yes, I am asking you to believe that. Here’s why…

The part of our brain that was encoding exorbitant amounts of information, about our caretakers and our surroundings, as we entered the world is what we call the ‘old brain’. The ‘old brain’ primary care is our survival, it functions out of our awareness and it’s not in contact with the external world, the ‘new brain’ is. The ‘new brain’ holds our consciousness. It’s responsible for higher-order thinking, emotional regulation, planning, decision-making, and all the other wonderful things that make our species different from all other mammals; it’s what makes us human.

We want to know all of this because our old brain holds the key to the question “why do we fall in love with people who posses the same characteristics as our parents?” Essentially, the old brain is searching, out of our awareness, for people that resemble our caretakers in order to recreate the environment of childhood. The old brain is also very stubborn; it doesn’t participate in the new brain ways of ‘letting go’ and ‘moving on’. It’s ultimate goal is to mend childhood wounds by trying to replay those situations with romantic partners. Your brain has your partner confused with your parents!! Whatever psychological and emotional damage you endured as a child, your old brain wants to mend. It looks for romantic partners who carry some of the most influential positive and negative characteristics of our parents, which also created our own ‘lost and false self’, and then, we fall in love.

On the next part of the blog, I will discuss how to create your own Imago blueprint and how to discover which positive and negative traits of our caregivers influence us the most.

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