Very few people in a relationship complain about too much love – and so much more than too little. If love is distributed unevenly, then this can be a problem in reality. But there is often something else behind the sentence “You don’t love me enough”.
Eric Hegemann knows what it’s all about. He’s familiar with this problem from his work as a couples counselor – he offers several online courses on relationship topics of all kinds at his Modern Love School. The partnership expert spoke to BILD der FRAU about this.
“You Don’t Love Me Enough”: What’s Really Up? An expert explains
BILD der WOMAN: What is often included in the accusation “You don’t love me enough”?
Eric Heijman: It is possible that behind this is a very dangerous idea: if you really love me, then you will … So I would like to answer the question with different questions: when does a partner feel truly loved? In what situations does he have the impression that he feels comfortable? And would you make sentences like “I feel safe, I saw, I can count on you, you will notice whether you are okay or not and try actively and without being asked to show your affection”? Because everyone, depending on their biography and experiences in past relationships, feels this affection differently.
The partner may be trying too hard to show his love. However, it is also possible that these attempts will not work because they may not create that feeling of love. Here I recommend taking a look at the “five love languages” model. This is from American couples therapist Gary Chapman – although it’s not a strong scientific model, it can be very helpful.
Do you have an example?
The partner feels loved through help, someone who likes to take charge and be trusted when things get tough. Who has learned to do everything themselves because asking for or accepting help is a weakness – this person may experience offers of help as dogmatic. Instead of being likable, he may feel “small in size.”
or gifts. The partner may have experienced: valuable gifts mean that someone is investing, so generosity is a sign of return to the other person. Only: for others, the gift is not a sign of “You are my priority 1”, but rather an unnecessary trade. If your partner now sees gifts as a symbol of love, but you don’t – for you, they are more useful but not for your partner, then you two are talking about each other. Although – in your own perception – you act in a loving way.
The problem of different love languages
Is this one of the “five love languages” you mentioned?
I agree. In addition, one’s own love languages are often used – unconsciously – in order to get them in return. This can work beautifully as long as they are the same. If they are not, the partners quickly feel unloved and have the impression: I love more, my partner loves less. According to Chapman, the five love languages are:
- time together
- Willingness to help
- Praise and appreciation.
Only when the partners here synchronize their love languages and can translate behavior, so to speak, do they experience equality in this way of showing love.
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Who translates the languages of love correctly, again at eye level
Do all love languages occur equally often?
According to a study by Parship, the most common love language is physical. In practice, I tend to experience the need for time as a couple, but here the boundaries can of course be flexible. I often ask a partner first: In what situations do you think your partner feels especially loved by you? Often the other person’s evaluation first reveals the first differences. Since I am convinced that everyone speaks more than one language, I always ask for the two most likely languages. Because the two of them rarely get along in a pair.
This immediately opens up a wealth of negotiation opportunities. By this I mean behaviors that can be reinforced, and perhaps even ritualized, to show affection for your partner. The moment they both realize what their actions provoke, when nothing remains uncertain and approximate, the partners are again on an equal footing. There is no longer a secret account kept at the head of all that was invested and how little of it came back. Suddenly, other previously unnoticed behaviors are also taken into account and rewarded. This can ensure a noticeable improvement in the relationship – in a short time.
Of course, it can also happen that someone loves more
Is there anything else that often goes wrong because it doesn’t have enough love?
The fact that one loves more can also mean that one partner cares more about closeness than the other. The need for proximity and distance is not the same for every person. For example, after a long and stressful day, one person wants to recharge their energy through conversation and exchange, while the other person wants time for themselves to sort out their thoughts. Both strategies are good, they both work, but they don’t go well. Because the painful feeling of rejection can quickly arise – or the impression that boundaries are not respected and needs are not recognized. However, conviction can arise: he or she does not like me.
Is it really anything other than the fact that one loves more than the other?
In fact, I wanted to address that as well: it could certainly be that one person loves more and the other loves less. Especially then, but also for the reasons mentioned above, the partners have to check whether their needs are being met in this stellar constellation – or whether they have to permanently do without something they really need. Because understanding each other is of course important, but in general what matters in the long run: Do I experience this relationship as satisfying – or am I missing something important to me?
➔ You can find more information about our expert Eric Hegmann here, and click here to access Modern Love School. There you will find more suitable online courses on the topic discussed here.
Eric Hegemann also spoke to BILD der FRAU on the topic “Relationship Imbalance – When One Loves More”.
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