Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a “love style?”
- When we say love style, we don’t mean personality types or a description of temperament. Rather, a love style is an injury resulting from our early experiences with our parents. Often, our love style interacts negatively with the love style of another, resulting in a repetitive cycle of pain that blocks us from experiencing close emotional connections with those we love the most. You can find out more about the love styles on our webpage about The Love Styles
Q. How can I find out my love style?
- A great starting point for understanding the way you learned to love is this question: “Was it safe in my family to be vulnerable and talk about difficult feelings?” We have asked this question to thousands of people. The disturbing truth is that about 75% of the people we ask can’t recall even one memory of comfort from either parent during times of emotional distress within the first eighteen years of their life. Memories of comfort are a strong indicator that your parents taught you to express feelings, seek connection, and expect relief when you are stressed or upset.Many of us have never stopped to ask, “What exactly did I learn about love from my parents, and how is that impacting my relationships now?” Not understanding your love style can be like an invisible handicap, hindering your ability to form deep bonds in your relationships with your spouse and kids. With a diagnosis, a cure is possible! Take our love-style quiz to go deeper.
Q. What is a “core pattern?”
- Since everyone has a dominant love style, we can use the pairings of any two love styles to help identify the areas where that relationship is likely to experience the most strain. This combination of the love styles of two different people is called a “core pattern.” Your relationships’ core pattern is simply a combination of your love style and that of your spouse or significant other.
Q. Are there any healthy love-styles?
- Yes, there is one healthy love style: the “secure connector.” Ideally, as an adult you know how to connect emotionally, bringing your positive love lessons into your current relationships. You have memories of comfort, and you give and receive comfort easily in your adult relationships. Out of all the love-styles, this is the most healthy, so we call people who connect in this manner “secure connectors.”Unfortunately, for many of us, our first lessons in love taught us bad habits or caused us a lot of injury. Even if you would describe your childhood as normal and know that your parents deeply loved you, they still might not have had the skills to form close emotional connections. Insufficient nurture, comfort, and emotional connection results in a broken or damaging love style: the avoider, pleaser, vacillator, controller, or victim.
Q. Is it possible to have more than one love style?
- It is possible to identify with more than one, and that’s not uncommon, especially among people who experienced very difficult childhoods; people in this group may primarily be controllers or victims, but they often relate to every style in some way because they cycled through various approaches as kids to see what worked. We suggest you focus on the style that shows up most often in the relationship you most want to change. If you are married, that will likely be your spouse.
Q. Can I have a different love style with different people?
- Yes, you can have different styles with different people. Some people may relate to one style
in their work environment, and another in their marriage. It’s not uncommon that a divorce followed by a remarriage will bring out a different style. The main goal is to identify the one style most prominent within your current relationship and to use that as a starting point for growth.
Q. How can I change my love style to become a secure connector?
- First, read How We Love; or if you are not a reader, you can watch the DVD of the How We Love Seminar. Then do the Workbook that is in the back of the paperback version of, How We Love. These questions and growth goals are designed to guide you on a journey of healing. Our advice is to go slow so you don’t get overwhelmed, but keep going… don’t give up! All growth is uncomfortable and sometimes painful because we have to learn new skills and try new things. Remember, it’s also painful to be stuck in a relationship so we say, “you might as well pick the productive pain and grow!”
Q. What if I am single or divorced? Can the book help me?
- Absolutely! We have heard from may single people who have said, “This book helped me understand why my dating relationships always end in the same way.” Divorced people comment, “I wish I had understood this in my first marriage, but at least I know my future relationships can be different.”
If you are not a reader, you can watch the DVD of the How We Love Seminar, instead.
Q. What if my spouse doesn’t want to participate?
- We are asked this question a lot. Keep in mind, you can only change you, so make yourself the focus of change, not your spouse. If you begin to grow, your spouse and kids will need to relate to the new person you are becoming. As a further step, we suggest giving the book to your spouse and asking them to identify what style you most often exhibit. Then, ask them to pick one growth goal from the workbook where they would like you to focus (one that corresponds with your style). Then… do it!. We have seen many stubborn spouses soften when their mate takes this powerful self-change approach.
Q. My marriage is on the rocks, and we have tried everything. Why will this help?
- Many therapists and marriage books focus on symptoms — they encourage the couple to “try harder” in order to change these symptoms without ever digging deeper to understand or address the root causes of those symptoms. Understanding your love style gives you a diagnosis beyond the external, and a clear view of the source causing your relational difficulties. When you work at the root level, change becomes more powerful and more lasting.