Sometimes, love just isn’t enough. How do you know when it’s the right time to leave a relationship, or if you should be trying harder?
A lot of the success in a relationship comes down to whether the two of you speak and understand how the other expresses love and what you each need from the other person.
I’m not talking about the book by Gary Chapman, which talks about 5 Love Languages (namely; Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Acts of Service, or Physical Touch). Personally, I don’t think that these methods of demonstrating love matter as much as the two conflicting methods of Sexual v’s Affection.
Someone who is primarily sexual in their definition of “love” is a person who needs sexual connection in order to feel loved and for love to grow for them. They can have sexual encounters without affection, but they cannot have affection without sexual encounter. This person will withhold affection if they are not getting sexual connection because they don’t feel loved enough without it.
Someone who is primarily affection orientated in their definition of “love” will only feel sexual towards someone if they feel affection first. Without affection from the other person, sexual encounters feel wrong or empty. This person will withhold their sexuality until they feel safe and secure with enough affection first.
Neither of these people are “wrong” but they are fundamentally speaking a different emotional language. The dance of their relationship cannot survive conflict without one of them compromising their needs for the other.
While everything is positive, they can supply one another with what they need in order to feel loved. However, if they become hurt by something, they will each withhold their vulnerabilities (the most precious part of themselves) and wait for the “sign” that it is safe to reveal it again to that other person.
If that sign is not coming, due to the difference in their love-language, the relationship will begin a downward spiral. Eventually resentment grows and love is continually “withheld” out of self-preservation. The relationship can no longer function.
Why Sexual or Why Affection?
How we determine whether someone loves us is usually based on their willingness to supply our basic emotional needs. The basic need is not the thing which is most vulnerable about us; it’s the opposite.
For someone who needs affection before they become sexual, their sexuality is highly vulnerable and they will only entrust it to someone they deem worthy.
For a person who is most vulnerable when they express their emotions, they don’t place a lot of importance on their sexuality. They will use sex as a way of getting closer without being vulnerable. Once they feel secure in the sexual aspect, then they can open up emotionally and express affection.
If you have managed to figure out which one you are and which one your partner is, you can potentially bridge the gap between you. Having understanding between you is the first step towards re-establishing trust and love.
If the other person is unable to, or not willing to bridge that gap, then it may be time to move on.
In all honesty, being single isn’t the worst option in life. A dysfunctional relationship is much worse than that because it will erode your sense of self-worth and provide a background stress-level which chips away at your well-being.
If you’re stuck in a relationship where you’re unfulfilled, then you’re also closed off from future possibilities to present themselves (assuming you don’t have an open-relationship or would be ok with cheating).