In 1995 Dr. Gary Chapman began writing a series of books entitled “The 5 Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate”. This book helped to transform the way some people think about giving and receiving love by helping them to understand 5 primary categories of expression. One of the 5 love languages Chapman discusses is physical touch, which includes sexual intercourse but is certainly not limited to it. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, back rubs, or an arm around the shoulder are all ways of expressing love by physical touch. However, an entire camp of people desire one particular form of physical touch most of the time. That form is S.E.X. In fact, I’ve discovered that individuals who have identified physical touch as their primary love language have some complicated waters to navigate if sex is the type of physical touch they are most fulfilled by. Let me break this down. The actual act of sex is an entry point for experiencing love and intimacy for some folks. Both men and women on my couch have explained that during intercourse they feel most safe and free. When intercourse is tied to a person’s emotional health, it can negatively impact them when their partner doesn’t share the same viewpoint. We don’t always make the healthy connection between emotions and intercourse for various reasons. One primary reason is that a partner whose primary interest is sex isn’t always able to articulate how the act of intercourse helps them on a level that reaches beyond the surface. Therefore, if a partner sees their significant other’s consistent quest for sex as separate from their need for emotional fulfillment, safety, and freedom then they could easily be turned off. This is often the case for couples that identify as having different love languages. For the partner whose love language is sex, being denied access on a regular basis can contribute to their emotional shut down in the relationship. In my clinical experience, sex is a primary way for many partners to not only express love in the language they are most fluent in, but having access to their partner in a sexual way helps them to hear their partner’s primary language clearly. In other words, experiencing sex regularly helps some partners to be more open, coachable, and reciprocating. Many of you may be shifting in your seat a bit right now. After all, the idea of having to “put out” on a regular basis to get your needs met can feel unfair and downright cheap to some people. If you focus solely on the act without a clear understanding of its impact, it’s going to be an uphill battle with your partner. Therefore, it’s time to level the playing field. Couples that share different love languages have to acknowledge how challenging it can be for their partner to stretch beyond their comfort zone to meet their needs. Quite often is the case that the partner who doesn’t require intercourse as much as their counterpart either fails to see the emotional connection their partner has to sex or hasn’t experienced their partner stretching as much to speak their love language. This can create an extremely dangerous dynamic where both partners feel misunderstood and unfulfilled. The longer the cycle plays out, the harder it will be to get more connected as a couple. It’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you and your partner speak different love languages and the request for higher sexual frequency has caused problems in the relationship then we have to talk about it again with an open mind. If sex is what your emotional being craves, then hopefully I’ve given you a new way to tell your partner how their openness to intercourse can positively impact you. However, if you have failed to truly take time to understand and practice speaking their love language (words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, or receiving gifts) then it’s unrealistic to expect your partner to be able to hear and receive your request with the openness you desire. Also, your partner might simply need a little appetizer before the main course. Don’t neglect the hand holding, kissing, embracing, back rubs, or other types of foreplay that can help your partner get in the mood to help you. This is a requirement of togetherness. I look forward to discussing the importance of the other love languages soon. Until then, good talk!
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