Understanding and Expressing Love in Relationships

In relationship counseling we use an analogy that healthy love relationships run off of 6 tanks, love tanks, if you will, that fill up and deplete at different rates just by virtue of being in a relationship.. Those tanks in no particular order are- loving words, loving behaviors, gifts, bonding time, sex, future vision (planning for the future together) and physical intimacy.

You probably have an idea which tank is in which order for your partner- which one always seems empty and needs filling- and it’s not usually the one you’re spending the most time filling. Your partner may not need a lot of gifts, but they may need a lot of “I love you's” to understand that you love them.  And you might not be an I love you person- you might be a sex person or a future vision person. The conflict happens when you’re thoughtlessly trying to fill the sex tank when your partner’s I love you tank is empty. What happens next is each of you walking around feeling unloved and misunderstood in your relationship.

It takes intention to make sure you're checking in on each tank and it takes follow-through to check in and fill tanks consistently without overfilling or ignoring tanks that don't seem important to us until they're running on empty. If you are your partner is willfully ignoring the work it tanks to fill the "love tanks" then this might be a sign of emotional neglect- either on purpose (not as common as you'd think) or out of- well, let's say being out of shape rather than lazy.  In relationship therapy, we want to get you back into shape so you're able to love your partner and express your love needs/wants to your partner so they can love you back in a way that each of you understands and feels most safe and seen and heard.

MyTherapist New York offers psychotherapy for individuals, couples therapy, relationship counseling and sex therapy that is modern and effective.