Leandie Buys Realtionship Therapist & Clinical Sexologist

How you and your partner define love could make or break your relationship

(Excerpt from Seasons of Sex by relationship counsellor and clinical sexologist, Leandie Buys)

Men and woman are different. The difference in the way in which men and women perceive love is one of the biggest relationship problems I see in my practice today…

Often we do not fully understand how different we are – not just physically, but psychologically and even mentally – in our thought processes and problem-solving skills.

Hundreds of books have been written on the subject, and thousands of scientific studies have investigated the differences. However, in my relationship counselling, I have found that people are still not aware of how the differences between men and women affect their relationships.

In my practice, I have found that men and women tend to perceive LOVE in different ways. Women often feel loved through kind deeds – like when her husband washes the dishes without being asked. Men feel loved when they are intimate with their partners.

Here is a typical example of how our different perceptions cause problems in our relationships.

(Remember, this is just an example of some trends I’ve noticed through years of practicing as a relationship counsellor and sexologist. It does not mean that ALL women are like this, or ALL men are like this.)

An example of a typical relationship:

Santie and Willem have been married for 10 years. Both work for large companies and are under a great deal of pressure at work.

One day, Santie arrived home at five in the afternoon after picking up the kids from school and stopping at the shops for some bread and milk. When she arrived home, she helped the kids with their homework, did a bit of tidying up, and packed the dish washer. Then she started preparing dinner.

Willem arrived home at seven o’clock, as Santie was just about to finish preparing the meal. When he walked into the kitchen, Willem playfully pinched Santie on the backside and tried to run his hands over her breasts.

Santie immediately became angry. “I was trying to focus on getting the food done and all he could think of was the possibility of sex!” she said in our counselling session.

Willem was hurt by her response to his playful gesture and became annoyed with Santie. It ended with an argument in front of the kids and both Willem and Santie thinking that they were right.

So what happened here?

This is a very common scenario, and I have heard it many times in my practice. The problem here is misunderstanding and miscommunication. Just a little bit of understanding would have resolved the situation instead of causing an argument.

Santie was trying hard to have dinner ready – her act of love. When Willem touched her, she felt that all her effort was completely unappreciated and that he only saw her as a sex object.

Willem arrived home and saw that Santie was stressed, so he tried to “fix” the situation by playfully touching her. As a man, he also felt that intimate contact would show his appreciation and love.

What should they have done instead?

To avoid turning the situation into an argument, Santie could have turned round, kissed Willem on the cheek, and said “Hello love, I’m busy right now, please help me by setting the table.”

Willem could also have refrained from touching Santie – if he knew it would bother her and offered support with kind words like: “Thanks for working so hard, love. I really appreciate it. Is there anything I can do to help right now?”

How do you and your partner feel loved?

The difference in the way men and women perceive love is one of the biggest relationship problems I see in my practice today. Often, the woman just wants appreciation for the work she does to help organise the family and household.

Men, on the other hand, perceive love in a more physical way – a hug or kiss on the cheek when they come home from work, a sexy SMS, or the occasional lingerie evening.

That’s not to say that men don’t appreciate words of encouragement too. A simple “You’re a great father and husband,” will go a long way in creating appreciation.

Remember that, in a relationship, love and sex are not the same

They are different parts of a whole, and if one is missing, the other will suffer.

The way men and women perceive love differs. The way men and women perceive sex also differs.

Learning to uncomplicate our relationships is the first step towards making them stronger. Understanding each other, the way in which you and your partner think, and why you both react in certain ways will help you understand your relationship better; it will also help you to ensure that your relationship goes from strength to strength.

I would recommend the 5 Love Languages book by Gary Chapman to find out what really makes you and your partner tick. This book helps each of you define exactly what makes you feel loved, and how you and your partner can understand each other on a much deeper level. It will help you understand why your partner gets annoyed when you try to do something you think they will like, and vice versa.

Understanding how your partner perceives love will make an incredible difference to the intimacy and quality of your relationship. I would advise you to invest some time and energy into this – you won’t regret it.



To find out more about how couples have overcome obstacles in their relationships, read Seasons of Sex by Leandie Buys.