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How do we love?

One of the most painful problems that people come up against is feeling unloved in their closest relationships. Many things may contribute to this: difficulties in communication, misunderstandings and unchecked assumptions, lack of quality time for sharing, or inability to prioritise the relationship over other life demands. It has also been proposed that people express their love in different ways depending on who they are constitutionally.

The founder of Formative Psychology, Stanley Keleman, argues that we each experience and interact with the world differently and hence we give and receive love in different ways. Keleman describes three constitutional types:

  • Mesomorphs express love through action and movement, are loyal and energetic.
  • Endomorphs show love by being receptive and empathic towards loved ones, by being patient and taking care of others.
  • Ectomorphs love others by gathering information about them, by being intuitive and sympathetic, but need more time to be on their own.

Each of us has a mixture of these types but a tendency towards one of them. If we do not take the different ways we love and want to be loved into consideration we will expect our partners to be just like us. And we will feel angry when they are not.

For example:
“I want her to do more with me. I do all these things for her but she does not appreciate it!”
“I don’t need him to do all that stuff. I want him to sit with me and talk?”
Or perhaps …
“Why does she want me to be with her so much? I need more time on my own. She doesn’t seem to be interested in anything I want to talk about!”

According to our constitution some of us value time alone and independence over community and intimacy, some of us value competition and action over family togetherness or a need for solitude and introspection.

If we have a better understanding of our partner’s ways of loving we become more appreciative of what they offers us. Anger and criticism turns to acceptance and appreciation.

“My partner loves me but she needs some time alone.”

In couples work each partner has the opportunity to let the other know how s/he likes to love and wants to receive love in return. With greater self-knowledge and acceptance we are more likely to ask for what we want and negotiate what is possible. We are also more likely to have realistic expectations of our loved ones and to value them for who they are and what they offer to our relationship.

For more information on my work with couples please get in touch with me.