The Many Languages of Love

Gifts that make a Friendship

A peaceful friendship is not one that is free of conflict. It’s one where both friends have the ability to deal with conflict in fair and moderate ways.

I have recently been reading "The Five Love Languages - How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate" by Gary Chapman. And I agree very much with what Gary Chapman says about how different people have different expectations of the ways they like their partner to display "love". We all have an unconscious list of priorities about what we think are the most significant ways other people "should" show or express their "love" for us. And that applies to parents, friends, our pets, our children as well as our partners and lovers.

And according to how often what we expect does (or doesn't) happen we feel we are more loved or less loved or not loved it all by that other person.

Here is Gary Chapman's list of what he describes rather well as the five primary Emotional Love Languages:

  1. Words of affirmation
  2. Quality time
  3. Receiving gifts
  4. Acts of service
  5. Physical touch

I have an idea that there might be a few more in addition to Gary's five. The ones I have suggested below are based on the same approach that he explains. That is, these are the things we hope, expect or wish our friends or our partners or our family will do and say when they are connecting with us. 

The trouble is that each of us (being human) can be far too likely to look for answers about the nature of  ‘true love’ in those areas where we have the strongest needs. If our partner connects with us in on love channels  that are the most important for him or her, but leave our most important needs unmet we may see that partner as ‘not loving’ even though we both connect quite well on some of the other (less important to us) ‘love channels’. To be fair we need to look at the bigger picture.

The Love ratio

However, first an important condition. It's not just a matter of how many of the languages we share or how many we don't share. It's the ratio of positive to negative that is of critical  importance.

One way to see the big picture is to look at  the "love ratio".

If a couple expect to live together without any bad bits and perhaps just an occasional small fight, they are being less than realistic. What they do need to keep an eye on is the ratio of good parts to bad parts in whatever they do in the relationship.

For example they might have a really bad fight. (See pages on fighting in relationships especially  Negative Bonding Patterns and Inner Matriarch and Inner Patriarch).  But afterwards they find that this has cleared the air and they enjoy new intimacy as they repair the damage together. The more they discover about negative bonding and patriarchs and matriarchs (and how to stop them destroying a relationship)  the more things improve. See Making up after a fight.

High Love Ratio
A strong relationship is said to be one in which both partners see the ratio of all the good bits to all bad bits as better than four to one. If you have one or two bad bits to ten good bits you can be very happy. It's a great relationship, despite those two bad bits. And  so it's worthwhile working on them. If the ratio is any better maybe you are getting closer to something like the ‘soul-mate’ kind of connection.

Low Love Ratio
If one or both partners see the good-bad relationship ratio as anything less than three to one this is an indicator of real trouble. If there is serious disagreement over what counts a bad or good bit that's a sign of more serious trouble too. All of which tells you it's time to work with a professional relationship counsellor,  psychologist or psychotherapist . There is no way that a couple in this situation can "work it out by themselves"!.

Negative Love Ratio
If the ratio becomes negative (more negative than positive) there is little hope for the future without immediate action with a professional. The couple cannot sort it out by themselves once the ratio goes negative. 

What is real for you may not be real for your partner

There is a second and very  important condition in all this. It is about reality. Most of what appears to be true about the way they love you may or may not be at all accurate. What you think and feel and predict, about the other person's feelings may be very different to  what is really happening inside the other person. 

In fact, whatever the other person is saying or doing may be their idea of just how they believe they should be showing their deepest and most affectionate love. Maybe the problem isn't that they don’t love you, the problem may be that their way of loving you just fails to match up with your expectations. So, it's important that you don't use this list to help you tell your partner " See, you are doing it all wrong" or " This list proves you don't love me because you don't say (or do) ...."

Third condition

It's also a good idea to keep in mind that great truth that until we are comfortable loving ourselves when we are alone, it is going to be very difficult for us to feel comfortable receiving real love from anyone else. It's difficult enough for most people to express their love openly. If we don't truly love ourselves that makes it doubly hard (or even impossible) for them to express their love towards us..

We may sincerely believe that if another person expresses lots of love towards us, then we must surely feel more loved. And if they do it in exactly the way we desire then we believe we ought to feel even more loved. Unfortunately it doesn't work this way, except for a short time at the beginning of a new relationship. It is impossible for another human being to "make us feel loved" if we don't already feel lovable and worthy of being loved within ourselves

"Measuring"  a relationship The 90/5/5 rule

And finally perhaps the fourth and most important condition of all, and the one we most often forget. 

Whenever you are adding up those negative and positive "things" in your relationship and no matter what else you think or feel about the relationship, when it comes to counting up those positives and negatives or looking at what is really happening, keep in mind that around ninety percent or more of what makes  the relationship is determined by the actions, the energies and emotions that are exchanged between the two individuals. It's not just that this is how people  express 90 percent of their love or friendship, 90 percent of the time, it's also 90 percent more believable deep down than the remaining 10 percent.

Around five percent or a little more depends on or is influenced by the well reasoned, logical thoughts each partner has about themselves, about each other and about the relationship. We can only share our "love" this way about 5-7 percent of the time. Example: "I don't have to tell her I love her. She knows." (one of the saddest and most ineffective thoughts I can think of)

The remaining (approximately) five percent of the relationship depends on what is expressed through  the words each partner uses to describe what is going on between them. We can, at best, expect to share our deepest  "love" in words successfully 5-7 percent of the time. (So don't expect too much from your e-mails)

For  each connection on each channel, there can be varying levels of personal or impersonal connections, which adds to the complexity. See Choosing personal and impersonal channels and  Personal and impersonal styles in a relationship

My list of the Love languages

Here’s what it seems to me are a few of the things we need to do and think and say to have friendships and relationships that are successful. 

I like to think and talk about (and look at) these issues in the ways that they help enhance long term ‘friendships’ as well as ‘relationships.’ To me, a good relationship is just a friendship that’s moved to a higher and deeper plane. Extra but significant kinds of linkage get added to enrich the friendship as it grows and the level of commitment becomes much more profound but "if it ain’t a good friendship underneath, it ain’t a good relationship."

Obviously no one friendship allows us to experience all of the different kinds of linkage I have described here. Nor is it necessary to have any one of them working all the time. 

The one small drawback is that once you are aware of the these kinds of linkage you may begin to notice how some people you regard as friends are not as aware of them as you now are. This restricts your opportunities to practise friendships at a deeper level with these old friends. On the other hand you will find other friendships growing and strengthening, and you will find new and deeper friends who link with you far more closely than in the past.

SUMMARY (detailed explanations on a separate page)

A successful friendship is based on the gifts we bring with us

We need to bring some special gifts to each friendship: Without these gifts, (as explained below) the friendship will have difficulty developing past the positive bonding pattern stage.

1. The gift of being aware of who we really are (and liking ourselves as we are)

2. The gift of having some grown-up sub-personalities or inner villagers, as well as the ordinary (younger) kind

3. The gift of awareness of the way some of our sub-personalities or inner villagers,  can stop a friendship growing

4. The gift of flexibility, of being able to ‘stand between opposites’

5. The gift of having a good friendship with ourself and our ssub-personalities or inner villagers, 

6. The gift of having regular contact and two-way communication with our own inner child.

7. The gift of experiencing our own personal growth of some kind, within the friendship and as a direct result of that friendship

We can then add further gifts by making connections at some of the following levels (see below)

Once we start sharing these gifts, (above) each one of the connections or linkages (listed below) will help develop a deeper and more lasting friendship or relationship. However each kind of linkage is optional and a matter of personal choice and obviously it works only when both friends wish for and experience the same kind of connections. You’ll also notice how most different kinds of linkage seem to work in combination with and enhance some of the other kinds.

These are only the headings. For more detailed notes on each heading  click on DETAILED NOTES 



Mutual appreciation

Mutual trust and trust-worthiness, safety,

Both have boundary systems that work for both people


Supporting the other person as an individual

Mutual respect for each person’s own individuality,

Each person allow the other the freedom and space, to continue living as an individual as well as a member of a partnership or friendship

Each person can accept and respect the other’s differences


QUALITY TIME - Caring, supporting and nurturing




Emotional and feeling linkage

Awareness or integrated self linkage

Non-sexual intimacy (both able to be vulnerable together and with each other)

Energetic intuitive linkage

Heart to heart (unconditional loving) linkages


C. PHYSICAL linking

Shared activities (the active, doing things together linkages)


Enjoyment of togetherness,

Physical connecting, touching, hugs


  2. Positive goodwill and co-operation

    Shared interests (the "interested together" linkages)

    Both enjoy sharing ideas, thoughts, information and opinions

    Positive support , kindness and empathy, loyalty

    Both are committed to maintaining the friendship (hard work)

    Supporting personal growth

    Shared problem solving

  4. Physical non-intimate sexuality

    Intimate sexual linkage (if part of deeper relationships)

    Intellectual sexual linkage (if part of deeper relationship) the "erotic mind" level


    Shared spiritual beliefs

    Shared spiritual experiences

    Shared spiritual activities


Sharing and experiencing own femininity/masculinity

Shared recreation

Shared activities with family and friends

Current feedback suggests the list may be more use as a way to help people who are feeling ‘not loved’ (in their particular ways) to talk about this with their partner, but I hope that it may also serve as a way for those in love to affirm their joy about just how many ways they feel loved. 

These are only the headings. For more detailed notes on each heading  click on 

DETAILED NOTES How to make your relationships work better

As I listen to people who tell me they feel ‘loved’ or ‘not loved’ I notice many differences in what helps different people feel more or less "loved" or "not loved"

I am still writing these notes, so if you can  help me by adding some more suggestions (the ones that matter most for you) please e-mail me with your special ‘thing’

Quote from ‘Crimes and Misdemeanours’ Script by Woody Allen. In the movie, one of the fictional characters, Professor Louis Levy, explains:

......  what we are aiming at when we are in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that when we fall in love we are seeking to re-find some or all of the people to whom we were attached as children.

On the other hand we also ask our new beloved to correct all the wrongs that these earlier parents and siblings inflicted on us.

So that Love contains in it the contradiction that we attempt to return to the past and (at the same time) we are attempting to undo the past.

Woody Allen


In a relationship we may be desperately chasing after reminders of things we want to forget from our childhood. We may be almost as busy in the same relationship, avoiding the gifts we missed out on as children

Other pages:

Making Your Relationships Work - What is Love? What is commitment? What is the difference ?

Choosing Between Personal and Impersonal Channels - Added February 01 2004 

Personal and impersonal styles in a relationship

The fable of the two codependents

Feedback - please e-mail  me John Bligh Nutting -   at

Copyright © John Nutting 1996- - 2004  and   ©   GROWING AWARENESS   All rights reserved World Wide   LAST UPDATE  Thursday, 07 February 2008 17:31

Don't worry about these copyright notices at the foot of each page. It just means I want to hang on to legal ownership of what I write for use in future books.  Until that day, please feel free to copy and even adapt them for your own use and for friends as long as you acknowledge me as the author and owner of the copyright and you don't charge anyone for them. If you want to use them professionally or commercially (charge a fee for them) or for clients, each sheet you hand out must include full acknowledgment of copyright ownership as above and if  you are benefiting as a result, I would appreciate an appropriate sharing.


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