Have you ever felt like you were putting a lot of effort into showing love to your partner, but they just didn’t seem to be getting the message? Or maybe you have felt like you and your partner aren’t speaking the same language when it comes to showing affection. Learning which of the five languages is yours and which is your partner’s could be the key to unlocking a deeper level of connection and could help you see things from their perspective.
The Five Love Languages, The Basics
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghFebruary 20, 2023 communication, couples communication, couples counseling, couples therapy, dating, healthy relationships, the five love languages0 comments
What are the Five Love Languages?
You may have heard the term “love languages,” but you may be wondering: what exactly are they? To put it simply, the love languages are the different ways in which people give and receive love. The concept of love languages was introduced by Dr. Gary Chapman in his book The Five Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate where he proposed that each individual has a preferred way of expressing love. According to Chapman, the primary love languages are acts of service, physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, and giving and receiving gifts. Understanding your own love language, as well as your partner’s, can help improve communication, deepen intimacy, strengthen your relationship, and help build a foundation of mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation for one another.
Let’s take a brief look at each love language:
Acts of Service
Those with acts of service as their love language feel most loved when their partner does things for them that they perceive as helpful, such as running errands, cooking, cleaning, getting their partner’s favorite coffee in the morning, or performing other tasks. The focus is on the effort and the willingness to help, rather than the actual task itself.
People who have physical touch as their love language feel most appreciated when they receive physical contact and intimacy from their partners. This includes things like holding hands, hugging, kissing, having sex, massaging one’s back or shoulders, and cuddling. Physical touch communicates a sense of emotional closeness and comfort that words or actions may not be able to convey.
If your love language is quality time, you feel most loved when your partner and other loved ones spend uninterrupted, focused time with you. This means giving undivided attention, actively listening, and engaging in activities or conversations that both of you enjoy. Things like keeping phones away while on a date, your partner listening intently while you speak, and simply being present with each other are seen as meaningful.
Words of Affirmation
Those whose love language is words of affirmation feel most appreciated when they receive verbal expressions of affection and appreciation from their partners. This includes words of encouragement, appreciation, and gratitude, such as saying “I love you” often, or compliments, like “you are so kind.” Words of affirmation convey a sense of love, respect, and validation that can help build self-esteem and deepen the emotional connection between two people.
For individuals who have gifts as their love language, they feel most loved when they receive thoughtful, meaningful, and personal gifts, or as Dr. Gary Chapman calls it: “visual symbols of love.” The focus is on the time and effort put into selecting and presenting the gift, rather than the monetary value of the gift itself. Gifts can communicate love, care, and affection within the relationship.
Written by Téa Del Rio, Counseling Intern. If you’d like to schedule an appointment with Téa, please call us at 412-322-2129.
Chapman G. (1992). The five love languages: How to express heartfelt commitment to your mate. Northfield Publishing.
What to Say to Someone With Depression
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghJune 15, 2022 communication, counseling for depression, depression, depression counseling, depression therapy, friendship, major depressive disorder0 comments
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated 21 million adults in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2020 so it’s likely someone you know or love has been affected. Knowing what to say to someone with depression isn’t always easy. However, social support can remind your loved one that they are not alone.
Research has shown that strong social support is an important factor in decreasing functional impairment in patients with depression and in increasing the likelihood of recovery. If your friend isn’t ready to talk, continue to offer your support by checking in regularly, either in person, on the phone, or by text.
So, what should you say to someone who has depression? Here are 8 suggestions.
What to Say to a Depressed Friend
- “I know you don’t see a light right now, but it’s there.”
- “I am here for you, tell me how you are feeling.”
- “I see that you have taken steps every single day to conquer your depression.”
- “You are resilient and you have people who love and care for you, including me.”
- “What can I pick you up from the grocery store?”
- “Would you like to join me on a short walk? If you’re not feeling up for it today, that’s okay.”
- “You don’t have to figure it all out today. We’re in this together.”
- “I can look for a counselor for you. Would that help?”
If you or someone you know would like Depression Therapy, please contact us at 412-322-2129 or fill out the form below.
Everything You Wanted to Know About Boundaries in Relationships
by Counseling and Wellness Center of PittsburghApril 7, 2022 borderline personality disorder, boundaries, communication, conflict resolution, conversations for couples, couples communication, educational, emotional intelligence, how to say no, personal growth, relationship, relationship conflict, relationship resolutions, self care, stress management0 comments
You may have heard that boundaries in relationships are good and worthwhile. Understandably you might have some questions about boundaries such as what are they? How do I set a boundary? How do I communicate a boundary? How do I enforce a boundary? Is there any flexibility to boundaries? I will answer all of these questions for you because as a licensed marriage and family therapist I am professionally and personally invested in people having the healthiest relationships they can for as long as it makes sense.
I would like to start with some warnings at the outset: boundaries are difficult, people often react negatively to them, and relationships can get worse before getting better when you challenge a person even if it is for the best. Here’s the thing: despite how it might feel, setting boundaries in a relationship shows that you care deeply about the relationship because it’s a difficult thing to do. People generally don’t expend the energy to do such challenging relationship work with persons they have no intention of maintaining a relationship with. A boundary communicates that you want to keep the person in your life and gives them clear guidance on how that can happen.
Boundaries vs. Rules
First, it is important to specify what a boundary is and what it isn’t. A boundary is about you and what you will/will not or can/can not do. When you try to make a boundary about someone else and what they will/will not or can/cannot do, that is a rule and is actually a disempowering position. You do not have control over others, but you do have control over yourself. For example, “Hey, Uncle so-and-so, you can’t say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner” is a rule that is hard to enforce because Uncle so-and-so can choose to ignore that rule and say racist things anyway. Now what? Repeat yourself? Get into a verbal altercation over Thanksgiving dinner? Not ideal, right? However, if instead you say, “Hey, Uncle so-and-so, if you continue to say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner I will leave” Uncle so-and-so can choose to violate your request but there are now consequences that you control for that choice.
4 Steps To Set Boundaries in Relationships
- Identify how you want to interact in this relationship and/or how you don’t want to interact in this relationship. This is the boundary you are setting.
- Communicate the boundary to the person the boundary applies to directly. By the way, it’s not enough to simply say it. Effective communication and therefore effective boundary-setting involves confirming that the person received the appropriate message. This is as simple as asking, “What is it you just heard me say?” The person should be able to accurately summarize what your boundary is. If they cannot, either you are not communicating accurately and effectively or they are struggling to hear you. Repeat or re-form what your boundary is until what you’re saying and what they reflect back match.
- Attach a consequence to the violation of this boundary. A boundary with no consequence is toothless. It’s important to emphasize here that this can be read as a threat or ultimatum but it’s not. An ultimatum is a demand followed by retaliation usually of a similar caliber (think “taste of their own medicine”) but a consequence is merely the effect of an action. There are natural consequences to a person’s choices. To refer back to the Uncle so-and-so example, it is a natural consequence for you to remove his access to you if he can’t respect your boundary. This should also be communicated effectively and reflected back to you accurately.
- Build in a warning system. The violation of a boundary isn’t always intentional or malicious. When it is not their own boundary it is easy for a person to forget, especially over time. I think most people and most boundaries deserve at least one warning stated thusly, “Hey, remember when I told you that if you say racist things at Thanksgiving dinner that I will leave? Well, the next time this happens that will be the consequence.” You can absolutely choose not to build in a warning system but I like to work under the assumption that your relationships are valuable enough to you to give them a chance. I reserve two warnings for children and exceptionally difficult boundaries. Three strikes should almost never be considered acceptable. Even with two warnings you run the risk of setting a precedent that a person may violate your boundary only this many times, and they could take advantage of that.
Now for the hardest part: following through. I cannot emphasize this enough: it is extremely important that you do follow through on your boundary and its attached consequences or you run the risk of doing further damage to your relationships by showing you can’t be relied on or your word is meaningless.
You might be saying to yourself, “Okay, this is all well and good but what if I’m dealing with a hostile person who will take this the wrong way?” Well, that’s not something you can control. That is not where your power lies. Your power lies in the fact that you have the ability to set and enforce a boundary. How they react is in their control. However, you can increase your success in communicating around boundaries by leading with the relationship. Something like, “Hey, I have something I need to talk to you about and I want you to know that I value our relationship. That is the reason I’m bringing this up.” You can even bookend your boundary communication with an echo of this statement just to keep the sentiment fresh in their minds and minimize their reactivity.
Finally, I’d like to address flexibility with boundaries. Boundaries should not necessarily be firm and unwavering. People and circumstances change, and so it stands to reason that boundaries can, too. Again, communication here is key. Perhaps before you are done communicating about your boundary you establish that you’re going to try things this way for a certain period of time after which the intention is to reconvene and have a discussion about how that went and whether or not this boundary needs to change. You could also just check in after a certain period of time in the same way whether you established this in the original boundary communication or not. I do not recommend altering a boundary on a whim. This is a serious matter. You take your relationships and your boundaries seriously. Any changes should be communicated.
I wish you the best of luck in your relationships and boundaries!
Written by Amanda Taylor (they/their), an out and proud member of the LGBTQIA+ community and licensed marriage and family therapist at Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh.