A guide to love

the 3 fundamentals of meaningful relationships

As Valentine’s day approaches, many of us are faced with a familiar feeling: the pressure to showcase our affection for our significant others or actively seek out romantic relationships. How meaningful your relationship is does not boil down to how many red roses are delivered by a secret admirer or how fancy the restaurant you share a romantic meal with your partner at is

Rationally, we know that quantifying love is a near-impossible task. But we often find ourselves caught up in this very task. So, what does a healthy, loving relationship look like? And how do intimacy and communication lay the foundations of a meaningful relationship?

Let’s take it back to basics.

Love in meaningful relationships

Our pursuit of happiness is inextricably tied to our relationships, and the people we surround ourselves with. A study looked into the various determinants of a happy and meaningful life: unsurprisingly, the word “Love” was frequently mentioned. Love is at the core of our relationships, whether they are with a partner, friend or family member. 

Science defines the feeling of love and falling in love as a complex hormone cocktail, activated by the reward system in the brain. Essentially, it is a biological need. Practically speaking though, how do we communicate that love and affection to one another? 

Love languages

According to Gary Chapman’s book on love languages, there are 5 ways in which people speak and understand love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gift giving. 

Most of us speak a different primary love language to that of our partner. But Chapman argues that it is  understanding each others’ love language that matters and deepens intimacy. This is because over time, as our relationships evolve, communication is what makes them last. 

Scientific studies have somewhat validated his approach, because Chapman’s multidisciplinary approach breaks down love in its complexity, into a practical how-to guide. That being said, we need to keep in mind the rich diversity of expression in love; to restrict ourselves to 5 single “love languages”  may be too simplistic. If you are interested and would like to learn more, we highly recommend Dr. Sheva’s upcoming workshop: “Love Languages: Learn How to Give and Receive Love that Fulfills Both You and Your Partner”.

Intimacy

In addition to the way in which we demonstrate our affection for others, the notion of intimacy comes up frequently. Intimacy might mean having “deep” talks with a partner to one, friend or family member, whereas for another it might be the simple act of holding hands. So what unites the various interpretations? 

Quite simply, intimacy is emotional and physical closeness, an expression of feeling that brings us closer together. At its core, intimacy is built on compassion, empathy and understanding. A study found that intimacy reduced stress between partners: specifically, it reduced cortisol levels, our body’s stress

hormone. It was also associated with better health outcomes. With this in mind, you can imagine just how important it is with regard to our health and well-being. 

Below are a few tips to deepen intimacy:

  • Express your feelings: Because we often come to the realization that we aren’t mind readers! Confiding in partners, friends and family are what lay the foundations of intimacy.
  • Listen with empathy: Practice makes perfect. Giving a loved one your undivided attention is a learned skill for many, and not always easy. Naturally, it takes time to fully understand and feel what they are going through. If we start by becoming aware of the difference between active and passive listening, we are already taking a step in the right direction.  
  • It’s all about connection. Our relationships are ever-evolving. This is why we need to make the time for our loved ones by continuously cultivating our precious connections. 

Valentine’s day

Now, is there a particular reason why over time, February 14th has become the pinnacle of love fests? The traditional feast is increasingly associated with gifting rather than a celebration of romantic love – great news for our gift giving love language speakers out there! 

Saint Valentine was actually an Italian clergyman from a small village, Treni, on the outskirts of Rome. He was arrestedeventually beheaded on February 14th around 270 AD, and later martyred. How did he become the patron saint of love you may ask? Interestingly, Valentine’s day only became a feast associated with love & fertility centuries later. 

In the late 14th century, the author of “The Canterbury Tales”, Geoffrey Chaucer, was one of the first to popularize February 14th as a feast of love and a basis for courtly poetry.  Although we associate Valentine’s day cards today with the commercialization of love,  they were originally powerful tools to bring to life the language love. This was in a time when marrying for love was becoming more common, towards the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is true, however, that the majority of us have felt that the exchange of gifts has become increasingly important in today’s cultural backdrop of dating, love and sex.

A guide to love

What’s important to remember is that we don’t need a specific occasion to express and communicate your love for each other. And the way in which you do so does not automatically have to involve spending money. In becoming aware of our communication, we facilitate intimacy and become closer to our loved ones. If you are interested in delving deeper into the topic of building positive relationships, we would be delighted to welcome you to our virtual event on February 28th. Our team will focus on positive communication so as to strengthen our relationships: we hope to see you there!

Keywords: Compassion, meaningful relationships, love languages, intimacy, Valentine’s day

  • Belk, R. W., & Coon, G. S. (1991). Can’t buy me love: Dating, money, and gifts. NA – Advances in Consumer Research, 18, 521-527.
  • Chapman, G. (1992). The 5 love languages: the secret to love that lasts (1st ed.). Chicago: Northfield Publishing.
  • Cook, M., Pasley, J., Pellarin, E., Medow, K., Baltz, M., & Buhman-Wiggs, A. (2013). Construct validation of the five love languages. Journal of Psychological Inquiry, 18(2), 50-61.
  • Ditzen, B., Hoppmann, C., & Klumb, P. (2008). Positive Couple Interactions and Daily Cortisol: On the Stress-Protecting Role of Intimacy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 70(8), 883-889. https://doi.org/10.1097/psy.0b013e318185c4fc
  • Egbert, N., & Polk, D. (2006). Speaking the Language of Relational Maintenance: A Validity Test of Chapman’s (1992) Five Love Languages. Communication Research Reports, 23(1), 19-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/17464090500535822
  • Fisher, H., Aron, A., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Romantic love: an fMRI study of a neural mechanism for mate choice. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 493(1), 58-62. https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.20772
  • Kok, J., Goh, L., & Gan, C. (2014). Meaningful life and happiness: Perspective from Malaysian Youth. The Social Science Journal, 52(1), 69-77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soscij.2014.10.002  
  • Oruch, J. B. (1981). St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February. Speculum, 56(3), 534-565. https://doi.org/10.2307/2847741   
  • Reis, H., & Shaver, P. (Ed.) (1988). Intimacy as an interpersonal process. Handbook of personal relationships (pp. 367-389).  Chichester. John Wiley & Son
  • Sally Holloway (2019) Love, Custom & Consumption: Valentine’s Day in England c. 1660–1830. Cultural and Social History, 17(3), 295-314. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780038.2019.1646075  
  • Sansone, A., Cignarelli, A., Mollaioli, D., Ciocca, G., Limoncin, E., Romanelli, F., Balercia, G. & Jannini, E. A. (2021). The Social Aspects of Sexual Health: A Twitter-Based Analysis of Valentine’s Day Perception. Sexes, 2(1), 50-59. https://doi.org/10.3390/sexes2010004 
  • Zeki, S. (2007). The neurobiology of love. FEBS Letters, 581(14), 2575-2579. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.febslet.2007.03.094 

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As Valentine’s day approaches, many of us are faced with a familiar feeling: the pressure to showcase our affection for our significant others, or actively seek out romantic relationships. How meaningful your relationship is does not boil down to how many red roses are delivered by a secret admirer, or how fancy the restaurant you share a romantic meal with your partner at is

Rationally, we know that quantifying love is a near-impossible task. But we often find ourselves caught up in this very task. So what does a healthy, loving relationship look like? And how do intimacy and communication lay the foundations of a meaningful relationship?

Let’s take it back to basics.

Love in meaningful relationships

Our pursuit of happiness is inextricably tied to our relationships, and the people we surround ourselves with. A study looked into the various determinants of a happy and meaningful life: unsurprisingly, the word “Love” was frequently mentioned. Love is at the core of our relationships, whether they are with a partner, friend or family member. 

Science defines the feeling of love and falling in love as a complex hormone cocktail, activated by the  reward system in the brain. Essentially, it is a biological need. Practically speaking though, how do we communicate that love and affection to one another? 

Love languages

According to Gary Chapman’s book on love languages, there are 5 ways in which people speak and understand love: words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, acts of service and gift giving. 

Most of us speak a different primary love language to that of our partner. But Chapman argues that it is  understanding each others’ love language that matters and deepens intimacy. This is because over time, as our relationships evolve, communication is what makes them last. 

Scientific studies have somewhat validated his approach, because Chapman’s multidisciplinary approach breaks down love in its complexity, into a practical how-to guide. That being said, we need to keep in mind the rich diversity of expression in love; to restrict ourselves to 5 single “love languages”  may be too simplistic. If you are interested and would like to learn more, we highly recommend Dr. Sheva’s upcoming workshop: “Love Languages: Learn How to Give and Receive Love that Fulfills Both You and Your Partner”.

Intimacy

In addition to the way in which we demonstrate our affection for others, the notion of intimacy comes up frequently. Intimacy might mean having “deep” talks with a partner to one, friend or family member, whereas for another it might be the simple act of holding hands. So what unites the various interpretations? 

Quite simply, intimacy is emotional and physical closeness, an expression of feeling that brings us closer together. At its core, intimacy is built on compassion, empathy and understanding. A study found that intimacy reduced stress between partners: specifically, it reduced cortisol levels, our body’s stress hormone. It was also associated with better health outcomes. With this in mind, you can imagine just how important it is with regard to our health and well-being. 

Below are a few tips to deepen intimacy:

  • Express your feelings: Because we often come to the realization that we aren’t mind readers! Confiding in partners, friends and family are what lay the foundations of intimacy.
  • Listen with empathy: Practice makes perfect. Giving a loved one your undivided attention is a learned skill for many, and not always easy. Naturally, it takes time to fully understand and feel what they are going through. If we start by becoming aware of the difference between active and passive listening, we are already taking a step in the right direction.  
  • It’s all about connection. Our relationships are ever-evolving. This is why we need to make the time for our loved ones by continuously cultivating our precious connections. 

Valentine’s day

Now, is there a particular reason why over time, February 14th has become the pinnacle of love fests? The traditional feast is increasingly  associated with gifting rather than a celebration of romantic love – great news for our gift giving love language speakers out there! 

Saint Valentine was actually an Italian clergyman from a small village, Treni, on the outskirts of Rome. He was arrested, and eventually beheaded on February 14th around 270 AD, and later martyred. How did he become the patron saint of love you may ask? Interestingly, Valentine’s day only became a feast associated with love & fertility centuries later. 

In the late 14th century, the author of “The Canterbury Tales”, Geoffrey Chaucer, was one of the first to popularize February 14th as a feast of love and a basis for courtly poetry.  Although we associate Valentine’s day cards today with the commercialization of love,  they were originally powerful tools to bring to life the language love. This was in a time when marrying for love was becoming more common, towards the beginning of the eighteenth century. It is true, however, that the majority of us have felt that the exchange of gifts has become increasingly important in today’s cultural backdrop of dating, love and sex.

A guide to love

What’s important to remember is that we don’t need a specific occasion to express and communicate your love for each other. And the way in which you do so does not automatically have to involve spending money. In becoming aware of our communication, we facilitate intimacy and become closer to our loved ones. If you are interested in delving deeper into the topic of building positive relationships, we would be delighted to welcome you to our virtual event on February 28th. Our team will focus on positive communication so as to strengthen our relationships: we hope to see you there!

Keywords: Compassion, meaningful relationships, love languages, intimacy, Valentine’s day

  • Belk, R. W., & Coon, G. S. (1991). Can’t buy me love: Dating, money, and gifts. NA – Advances in Consumer Research, 18, 521-527.
  • Chapman, G. (1992). The 5 love languages: the secret to love that lasts (1st ed.). Chicago: Northfield Publishing.
  • Cook, M., Pasley, J., Pellarin, E., Medow, K., Baltz, M., & Buhman-Wiggs, A. (2013). Construct validation of the five love languages. Journal of Psychological Inquiry, 18(2), 50-61.
  • Ditzen, B., Hoppmann, C., & Klumb, P. (2008). Positive Couple Interactions and Daily Cortisol: On the Stress-Protecting Role of Intimacy. Psychosomatic Medicine, 70(8), 883-889. https://doi.org/10.1097/psy.0b013e318185c4fc
  • Egbert, N., & Polk, D. (2006). Speaking the Language of Relational Maintenance: A Validity Test of Chapman’s (1992) Five Love Languages. Communication Research Reports, 23(1), 19-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/17464090500535822
  • Fisher, H., Aron, A., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Romantic love: an fMRI study of a neural mechanism for mate choice. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 493(1), 58-62. https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.20772
  • Kok, J., Goh, L., & Gan, C. (2014). Meaningful life and happiness: Perspective from Malaysian Youth. The Social Science Journal, 52(1), 69-77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.soscij.2014.10.002  
  • Oruch, J. B. (1981). St. Valentine, Chaucer, and Spring in February. Speculum, 56(3), 534-565. https://doi.org/10.2307/2847741   
  • Reis, H., & Shaver, P. (Ed.) (1988). Intimacy as an interpersonal process. Handbook of personal relationships (pp. 367-389).  Chichester. John Wiley & Son
  • Sally Holloway (2019) Love, Custom & Consumption: Valentine’s Day in England c. 1660–1830. Cultural and Social History, 17(3), 295-314. https://doi.org/10.1080/14780038.2019.1646075  
  • Sansone, A., Cignarelli, A., Mollaioli, D., Ciocca, G., Limoncin, E., Romanelli, F., Balercia, G. & Jannini, E. A. (2021). The Social Aspects of Sexual Health: A Twitter-Based Analysis of Valentine’s Day Perception. Sexes, 2(1), 50-59. https://doi.org/10.3390/sexes2010004 
  • Zeki, S. (2007). The neurobiology of love. FEBS Letters, 581(14), 2575-2579. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.febslet.2007.03.094 

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

More from wellyou

How food affects your mood

Many of us will have already heard the saying: You are what you eat. But what does this actually mean?

wellyou events: a review from Arcane Lost

Siddharth Chaudhary, from Arcane Lost, joined our event ‘Kickstarting 2021: Reach Your Goals and Live Intentionally’. We asked Siddharth's honest opinion of the event. Taking a sneak-peak at the review he shared with his readers

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Wanna chat? Contact us at
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Wanna chat? Contact us at
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