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.
A great starting point for understanding the way you learned to love is this question: “Did my parents notice when I was distressed and offer me a listening ear and comfort?” 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?” Most parents love their kids but may have not received comfort when they were kids and don’t know how to give it when they become parents. 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.
It is possible to identify with more than one style. Some people find they have one style at work and another in marriage. People with trauma or difficult childhood experiences often relate to every style in some way because they cycled through various approaches as kids to see what worked. Sadly, no one can adapt successfully to trauma. 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.
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 from childhood into your current relationships. You have memories of comfort, and give and receive comfort easily in your adult relationships. Unfortunately, for many of us, our first lessons in love taught us bad habits or even caused injuries. Even if you describe your childhood as normal and know 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. If we didn’t enter adulthood as a Secure Connector we can grow to become a Secure Connector. We are here to help you.
First, read How We Love; or if you are not a reader, you can watch the Streaming Version of the How We Love Workshop. Then complete the How We Love Workbook. This is a separate book that corresponds with the Expanded Version of the book, How We Love (2017). The workbook is 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 destructive core pattern in your relationship so we say, “You might as well pick the productive pain and grow!”
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 streaming version of the How We Love Workshop or go through the Group Curriculum for Singles.
We are asked this question a lot. Keep in mind, you can only change you, so make yourself the focus of change, not your partner. If you begin to grow, your partner and kids will need to relate to the new person you are becoming. As a further step, we suggest giving the book to your partner and asking them to identify what style you most often exhibit or read through just your style. 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 partner takes this powerful self-change approach.
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.
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