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What are the 5 love languages and what can they teach you?

Love is complex, to say the least. It comes and goes differently for every person, and at the same time, love is fundamentally constant, never leaving or arriving but simply showing itself in fluctuating waves. They are all significantly different in strength, from platonic to romantic love, to the love you feel for something or someone you admire, a best friend, even to a pet or a place, for example the love you have for a place could feel far stronger than for an ex lover you went there with in the past. Love also evolves over time, which doesn’t mean it loses its strength. Quite the contrary in some cases, in the early days it may be a whirlwind of loud passion and excitement, later morphing into an intimate and silent bond wearing nothing but comfort. Love is a language, either mutually understood or not between relationships. How well do we acknowledge the differing languages of love or understand them?

Love is always a two way street, in a sense a place gives you a feeling in return, so does a person. If it is not a two way street, it’s more like an infatuation. So a love language is the giving and receiving of an expression of love and the way you wish for that same expression to be returned. According to marriage counselor Gary Chapman, who defined the concept of love languages in his book The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts, there are primary, secondary and more love languages we should all be aware of.

What are the five love languages?

Each person usually has one primary love language (the thing that makes them feel loved), then one or two secondary languages as well, that are more on the side lines, but still important. The five are:

Words of affirmation

If this is one of your love languages, it means that you appreciate verbal communication like compliments, words of support and encouragement. For example, statements like “I appreciate you being here for me through this” or “You look beautiful today” and “I love the way you smile.” There are hit and misses between these languages and how they relate to each other. Someone who loves to receive words of affirmation might forget to express love through actions rather than words, and they might assume you know that they love you because of course, you’ve told them you do. This is where different love language speakers sometimes clash.

Quality time

This is when you want your partner to set time aside and give you undivided attention, during meal times for example, you want the both of you to store away your phones and have conversations together. A partner can upset someone who has this love language by leaving the room when they’re being present, or not set aside and plan time or activities.

Receiving gifts

Sometimes people want physical gifts, small or large, to be reminded that they are loved. Especially the little things in fact—something you said you liked in a passing comment. This could be leaving sticky notes at random for your partner to find, or your favourite chocolate bar waiting for you when you get home from work. A book they thought you might like, and more of these sweet attentions. For someone who has this love language, a last minute pick me up gift from the station will be translated into their partner not caring.

Acts of service

This is when you want your partner to lend a helping hand, like opening the door for you, carrying your bags or washing dishes. Simply helping you out when they think you need it, without being asked to. If this person has a partner who doesn’t think of or watch for these cues, then it could cause trouble between them.

Physical touch

The love language is in the title for this one, really. Cuddles, kisses, a hand on the waist. These people like to start and end the day with a kiss or for their hands to be held walking down the street. For someone who feels loved by this way of communication, a partner who doesn’t seem interested in your physical presence near to them will do no good.

We all may shift between love languages from time to time, it is mood dependent, however, a love language is mostly a part of our personalities and tends to change less dramatically as we mature. So when looking for the right partner, look for cues on what speaks love to them too.

Can you feng shui a relationship?

Feng shui is a pseudoscience that was developed in China around 6000 B.C. It is based on the belief that how we arrange our homes, directed by a few principles, allows us to utilise, observe and fuse energy (chi) of different kinds into our daily lives. Our ‘home’ refers to any space we inhabit, which includes ourselves. Could we use the same principles we apply to physical spaces in order to better our external relationships as well? Yes, I’m talking about your dating life as well as your friendships.

We know that what’s going on inside affects our reaction to our environment—in feng shui, the house is viewed as a whole being in which one part is intricately connected to the other. The same theory can be expanded to other aspects of our lives. In The Field, author Lynne Mctaggart reveals that the human mind and body are not separate from their environment, which implies that all matter in the universe is connected on the subatomic level through a constant dance of quantum energy exchange. To put it simply, what you are, even your thoughts, are quite literally what the world around you is too. Beautiful, right?

Respect seems to be at the core of any successful relationship; we should strive to allow another person to be and do as they like as a separate being. But for there to be good energy—good vibes, if you will—there has to be balance on the scale of mutual give and take. Humans are separate beings, like objects in a sense, with their own doors, hideaways, dust and purpose. Like feng shui, we use things like light and darkness, joy or sadness, on a daily basis to navigate the atmospheres we choose to surround ourselves in.

There are five elements that feng shui divides the world into: wood, which symbolises growth and creativity; earth is for stability and balance; metal relates to logic and intelligence; water is linked to wisdom and serenity, and fire to passion and energy.

So how does feng shui relate to romantic love in particular? I was having a conversation with a friend about how we use parts of people to fulfil a whole ideal. Have you ever used a dating app? Been there, done that. You find someone that’s downright perfect, on paper. You wear your good lingerie, or no lingerie—you bring your fire, because you’ve been date shopping for a while and why not, you’re excited. They’re excited too (one would hope). But then, your fingers reach for that app again, and whoops, you’re still shopping. Your perfect date is probably still out shopping as well. Why is that? And, more importantly, what in the world are you two looking for, exactly?

This is when the other four elements come into play. First impressions do fizzle out; fire needs earth to keep it alight. I’m thinking if it’s not a ‘hell yeah’ now, it’s probably a ‘no, thanks’ down the line, but should that be the case? Is the increase in ‘choice’ pushing us towards polyamory? Is it us simply fulfilling a whole ideal, built by parts?

What we tend to look for mostly—maybe I’m just speaking for myself here—is someone to, first of all, allow you to be you, allow you to change who that ‘you’ is, and then love you anyway without too many questions. Nobody wants to be bored, either, but an excess of passion and noise becomes chaos.

Unfortunately in love, we can’t just build a relationship into being. We can’t nudge a chair here, knock a wall down there or push a lamp into a darker corner to create a feeling. A room is much more forgiving than another person when it comes to manipulation. The curated projection of what is right in a physical space is customised only to your preference, it comes from one side only. The furniture doesn’t talk back. But to feng shui with a lover is to, theoretically, dance without bumping into another’s customised preferences.

If we could build a person perfectly suited to us, then we would have done that already, although probably the wrong way. Only you are perfectly suited for you, but we can do our best to bring out the positive energy (chi) from the world around us. That’s the whole point of feng shui—decluttering instead of emotionally consuming and accumulating beyond our needs.

Have a good old feel for what doesn’t feel right, and let go of it. Subatomic energy exchange, remember? It won’t get lost, it’ll just find somewhere else to settle. You could walk through a house blindfolded to see what needs moving, but we have to rely on our intuition. ‘Feng’ means wind, ‘shui’ means water. These two elements flow around the world. In a way, it’s comforting to think that nothing stays still, not even ‘nothing’ stays still—even in the vacuum that’s outside of our world.

There is something called Zero-point-energy, which is the lowest possible energy that a quantum mechanical system might have. The zero point of a vacuum is not zero due to fluctuations in electromagnetic waves, which means energy is still being passed from one thing to another—an atom will never bump into the same one again. If the universe can let go, I’m sure we can too.

Open your doors and windows, let all the waves run through you. Make sure the light gets in. Then, address the elements. What and who allows you to grow, to trust, who makes you want to rip your clothes off, who listens to your silence and your noise? We can apply this to one relationship, or multiple. I may be ripping this apart a little bit, so take from it what you will, and I will too.