Being in a expat relationship is an adventure sometimes not easy to navigate. Be aware of the cultural and idiomatic differences, but also of the language in which your better half expresses his/her love, and you’ll enjoy a beautiful and profound partnership, wherever you are!
My Expat Relationship and its Language
When I started dating my partner, it was beautiful, romantic, wonderful, marvelous, stunning… and often weird.
He comes from another culture (and sometimes I thing from another planet too!! hehe) and probably because of that; he expresses his love in ways that I wasn’t used to seeing.
In Chile, at least in my experience, men express their love by saying “I love you” & Co. a lot and giving gifts like flowers, bonbons, etc. I was used to that.
And along came the Austrian with his new ways… strange ways for me to identify as expressions of love.
First of all, he didn’t say sweet nothings or sweet somethings or just sweets to me. Only when I said something, he replied. Maybe. Sometimes he just stared and smiled sweetly.
And gifts… not usual. I have to apply assertiveness and say what I want, when I want it and how I want it. Romantic, right?
Still, I dare to say without a doubt that he is one of the most romantic men I’ve ever met. Because EVERY TIME I need his help with something, he does it. I sometimes don’t even have to tell him, just express the need, and BAM! It’s done. He sometimes spends hours trying to make my life easier and better. And he touches me all the time. My hair, my arms, my shoulders.
Yet it took my years to understand that was an expression of love from him.
Cultural difference? Gender difference? Brain difference? Maybe all of it combined? What I know is that I’ve learned to see how he shows his love to me, and since then, the relationship has improved a lot!
Introducing The 5 Love Languages (Dr. Chapman)
It’s an interesting summary of how every one of us is different in communicating and expressing our love. You always have to pay attention, but being in an expat relationship, it is important that we concentrate even more on understanding the other person and their way of communicating.
How many times I’ve heard from my clients things like “she doesn’t see all that I do for her” or “if he loved me, he could say it more often as I do.”
Although I think it’s not that easy to classify, it is good and interesting to see the many ways we can express our love and misread our partner; while they think they are showing their love, we interpret it as “normal” or don’t even see it.
Here are the five different ways that Chapman describes as “languages of love”:
#1: Words of Affirmation
People with this love language need to hear their partner say “I love you.” Hearing the reasons behind that love is even better. Don’t underestimate the power of words and how often they articulate a compliment or a kind thing to say.
#2: Quality Time
Full, undivided attention. That’s the key. Spending quality time and not being distracted by phones, TV, or neighbors outside. Listening and communicating and being there 100% at that moment. That’s how people with this love language show their affection.
#3: Receiving Gifts
This language thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. It has little to do with spending money or materialism. The perfect gift or gesture shows how much they love you, and you are worth every penny or every minute they spend thinking on that present.
#4: Acts of Service
Probably the most unpopular of them. Yet it is more usual than you think! Fixing your computer, repairing the ceiling, or painting the kitchen can be an expression of your partner’s love. Concrete acts, solving predicaments, fixing problems. Anything to make your life easier and happier.
#5: Physical Touch
Hugs; a touch on the arm, shoulder, or face. Unexpected kisses on the cheek… all of that are signs of love for this language—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence!
Which one is your love language? Discover it, talk about it with your partner and enjoy your ways to express it to one another, without prejudice and with acceptance!
Are you experiencing difficulties in your expat relationship? Contact me now! Don’t waste another minute feeling sad or stuck on the hamster wheel and enjoy a beautiful and profound international love!
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Gabriela Encina is an online psychologist specialized in expat women and supports them with the guidance and tools they need to feel confident, make the best decisions for their lives, build and maintain meaningful relationships and prioritize their well-being.
Her approach is practical, solution-oriented and focused on the present.
Gabriela offers counseling to expat women in Spanish, English and German.