She's just not connecting with me, this feels like a one-way relationship...
Why doesn't she trust me the way I trust her...
We all need to feel a connection in an intimate relationship. That thing that makes you feel like you're being invested in, cared about. It's clear we also need to express that care to our partner.
Author Gary Chapman calls these connecting expressions "love languages". A love language is how an individual understands (takes in) and expresses (gives out) love.
His exhaustive list of languages are:
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
We have a tendency to use our preferred, native language. That may not be our partner's preferred language. If I say something in a way Sarah doesn't understand, who's fault is that? If I really need to feel loved, how can I help Sarah help me?
Matt's primary love language is physical touch. I want to feel confidently trusted more than anything, and I pick up that communication through how my hand is held or how I'm hugged, even receiving a confident smile from Sarah. When we were dating long-distance, I could go days without speaking with Sarah knowing that she trusts me and we're still connected. This was contradictory and hard for Sarah because...
Sarah's primary language love language is quality time. She feels connected with me when we're connected in conversation via phone or doing things together, when we're actively a couple. During long-distance dating, days we didn't speak felt like an eternity to her. She craved that time together.
Important note from Matt: I appreciate receiving the other love languages (having acts of service done for me, given gifts, spending time with others, receiving words of affirmation), but they are far less valuable to me than the trust I feel from physical touch. I think the trio of my independence, introversion and being a man make me how I am. The more I embrace the man I am, the more fruitful my life seems to become.
Having a "What's your love language" talk with Sarah was definitely a turning point in our relationship. Go do that.