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How to manage and reduce stress in a relationship

After the love languages, the stress languages arrive: are you a denier or a fix-it-all?

How to manage and reduce stress in a relationship After the love languages, the stress languages arrive: are you a denier or a fix-it-all?

Love relationships are complicated. They're a delicate juggling act where we try to maintain a balance of fluctuating emotions, needs, daily commitments, stress, and everything life throws at us each day. It all becomes more complicated if we can't decipher what we expect and desire from our partner, and vice versa. Each person expresses and receives love in different forms and ways, but if we don't understand this language, made of words and gestures, misunderstandings and tensions can arise within the couple. It would be useful to have a small vocabulary that helps us translate the signals and words we all use to give and ask for love.

The Five Love Languages

Relationship counselor Gary Chapman, in his book titled The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, identified five love languages, different ways to communicate love and affection that each of us has and regularly practices:

  • Words of Affirmation: expressing love and feeling loved through compliments, words of support, words of encouragement, but also messages or letters that make us feel special, instill confidence, and boost self-esteem.
  • Quality Time: those who belong to this category crave spending time with their significant other without distractions. No cell phones and social media to scroll through. Whether it's taking a walk after dinner or sharing a plate of noodles, what matters is real closeness, sincere listening, and exclusive attention.
  • Physical Touch: those who prefer this language use their bodies to say "I love you" and seek every opportunity to connect physically with their loved one. Not just sexual intimacy: a hug, a kiss, or a fleeting touch of hands is enough. The important thing is to always maintain physical contact with the partner.
  • Acts of service: love is also expressed through actions. It's a language of care and devotion, like small gestures that relieve the partner from daily chores and make life simpler, lighter, happier for the one we love. Some examples? Grocery shopping, walking the dog, loading the dishwasher, preparing dinner or bringing breakfast to bed.
  • Gift-giving: transmitting love through gifts. There's a need to give and receive love through visible signs. They don't have to be expensive: it's not about the material value, but the thought behind the gift, having had a special thought for the one we love.

@sunnyliachoi Are you an introvert or extrovert? Which edition should i do next? #lovelanguages #pov #relatable Somewhere Only We Know - sᴀʏᴜʀɪ

The Five Languages of Stress

There are not only the languages of love, but also those of stress. Stress, in fact, negatively impacts not only our mental health and our well-being, but also that of those we are close to because it depletes the energy that we could otherwise invest in our relationship, makes us more susceptible and irritable, inhibits libido, and often leads us to vent our frustrations on our loved one. The result can be potentially harmful and could create a large gap in the couple, even ruining it. So, to avoid misunderstandings and help communication within a lovestory, Chantal Donnelly, a wellness expert and author of Settled: How to Find Calm in a Stress-Inducing World, identified 5 stress languages that refer to how we react and express ourselves when stressed:

  • The Fixer: people with this stress language are natural problem solvers. They have a proactive approach, and as soon as a problem arises, they immediately start brainstorming on how to deal with it, make lists of things to do, seek advice to follow, and take responsibility for solving any challenge or obstacle that arises. The risk is a potential burnout or, worse, becoming annoying or overbearing enough to take on the role of their partner's parent. To avoid such consequences, it is useful to remember that not all problems require an immediate solution.
  • The Denier: the stress language of the denier implies minimizing or openly denying the existence of the source of stress. Those who belong to this category avoid discussing the topic and act as if the problem does not exist, hoping that the cause of stress will disappear on its own. A characteristic of deniers is to suppress negative emotions, preferring to maintain toxic positivity that can lead to the accumulation over time of unresolved problems.
  • The Numb-er: people with this language cope with stress by numbing emotions through distraction, avoidance, or substance use. Better to escape than to face the problem. In an attempt to silence their feelings or the negative things that are afflicting them, they prefer to bury themselves in work, become maniacally dedicated to physical exercise, gambling, shopping, social media, or binge-watching TV shows.
  • The Exploder: according to Donnelly, in the brains of exploders, a "fight or flight" stress response is triggered, causing them to release stress through anger, shouting, or other intense reactions. They often get angry in the middle of a conversation or blame their partner for the stressful situation. A reaction that can be cathartic for them but cause discomfort to those around them.
  • The Imploder: someone with this language tends to internalize stress and often punish or belittle themselves. Suppressing emotions and not expressing them externally can lead to emotional tension or physical discomfort such as headaches and stomach problems.


“Stress languages” may be just as eye opening for our relationships as love languages. Becoming aware of your partner’s go-to stress response is invaluable. It can bring empathy, respect, and, deeper engagement. It is not that we want to fix or judge another’s stress language. The 5 stress languages as I see them are: The Fixer: These are the doers who go into immediate action. Whether in Tend or Befriend or Fight mode, it will be difficult for a Fixer to slow down - even when it is time to sleep. The Denier: This can look like a type of extreme optimist who is blind to reality, a stoic who shuns all emotions, or toxic positivity. The Numb-er: These folks use distractions, drugs, alcohol, T.V., or sex. Numbing can also look like long hours at the office; workaholism is a common numb-er strategy. The Exploder: This can look like catastrophizing (feeling that everything is a catastrophe), reactive rage, paranoia, searching for a blame target, or a strong urge to escape from the stressful environment. The Imploder: This is a typical freeze response and can look like self-blame, paralysis, helplessness, depression, ignoring or “ghosting” people, or the inability to make eye contact or express emotions. What is your stress language? Is it a blend of 2 languages? Do you express different languages during different aspects of your life (work vs. family vs. intimacy)? #fyp #bodyinsight #stressinformed #stressinsight #stresslanguage #settled #physicaltherapist #physicaltherapy

original sound - Chantal Donnelly,PT

Be Careful Not to Minimize

TikTok has fallen in love with these definitions, and the platform is teeming with creators trying to identify them through gestures and words from their partner. The risk is playing the sociologist or psychologist without having the real skills, labeling and belittling the many facets of behavior and emotions into a few clichés. By doing so, we lose what according to those who identified these languages should be their usefulness: helping to achieve greater understanding and connection in our relationship. Knowing them should better indicate to us what our partner needs at that moment, fostering greater empathy, initiating sincere mutual communication, deep emotional connection, reducing misunderstandings, and creating a stronger bond as a couple. Without resentment and recriminations, in a constructive perspective.