the five love skills

Defining 5 Love Skills: Moving the Love Languages Into Action


  1. Distance
  2. Attention
  3. Accountability
  4. Commitment
  5. Joyful Engagement

We’ve been living and loving within the 5 Love Languages for 15 years now. And recently I’ve been reading and writing about the 6th Love Language. But I think we’re getting things mixed up. Distance is not the 6th Love Language, distance is the 1st Love Skill.

I believe we can strengthen and enrich any intimate relationship.

These skills are complementary to love languages. As we begin to incorporate conscious relationship-building to our life work, we continue to look for ways to improve, ways to strengthen our love relationships, and ways to strengthen our own confidence as we move in and out of relationships searching for the winning combination.

1. Distance

Sometimes in a loving and close relationship, one of the most powerful tonics is to spend some time apart. By “giving the other person space” we can reconnect with our own center/aloneness. And in those times we can appreciate how much our partner adds to our joy, our feelings of wellbeing. We can also retune with our own wants and desires. Goals and ideas that are separate from our couple goals. These are important. When we wrap all of our goals and dreams up in our relationship or our kids, we disempower our solo vision, our independent needs, what WE want for ourselves.

2. Attention

Listening with good attention and no distractions is one of the most loving skills you can develop. And you can put time into this practice with each other, as a couple. Being heard is one of the most powerful connective experiences an individual can have. When you feel heard, seen, you feel affirmed and loved. By practicing, and taking time to give our partner excited and mono-focused attention, we give them a place to be heard, to voice their joys and aspirations, and their complaints. Listen. Don’t respond right away, unless you are asked for a response. And just allow your partner to feel heard. Embraced in their complete self, warts, dreams, complaints and all.

3. Accountability

This is one of the 4 elements. When you say you are going to do something, do it. When you make a commitment to clean out your part of the garage, set a time expectation for when it will be done, and then meet your commitment. If you set an agreement with your partner about drinking or eating sweets, stick to it. Don’t waffle. Be strong in your commitments, set time-frames so you can be held accountable, and then succeed. It’s actions, not words, that make relationships work.

4. Commitment

Give voice to your commitment to your partner and your family. Speak your true love frequently. Make sure those around you know you can be counted on, and then share your commitments to grow, fix, connect. By committing to your partner and your mutual goals, you are showing them “I am all in.” You want your partner to know and feel that you are all in. Cheating happens when there is a lack of clear commitment, a lack of accountability, and too many unmet expectations and wants that have gone unvoiced and unfulfilled for too long.

5. Joyful Engagement

This is the big one. Share joy. Share laughter. If there is a game you play that makes you both laugh, play it. If you binge-watch a funny show together, do it with the knowledge that laughter and holding hands is one of the best and most simple bonding experiences you can share. Let your partner know you are delighted to see them, whenever you greet them after being apart. It is your joy that will infuse your partner and kids with their own joy. The joy you can show at being with them is joy that will be magnified as they too light up in love.

This feels like a rough outline for a new book on relationship building. I do rely on Love Languages a lot, but I think we need more than that. We need action and clear commitments to fulfill with our partners. We need to give them the space to miss us. The space to get into their own inner dialogue about dreams and projects. We need to feel our own isolation and how much more vibrant we feel when we are together.

It’s clear, we cannot be ALL ON all the time. We cannot keep the bliss of infatuation forever. We will have up periods and down periods and neutral periods. That’s part of all of us in our individual walks of life. What we can (and must do) is make the most of our connection with our partner and family. By building these LOVE SKILLS ™ we have tools to establish a strong sense of trust, love, and contentment.

Isn’t that what we’re all looking for?

  • Trust

  • Love

  • Contentment

May your journey be full and prosperous.


John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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