As per John Gottman’s research, love maps are a fundamental element to make relationships work in the long run.
Taking care of your love maps, or the knowledge you have about your partner, will make sure you keep a happy, long-lasting relationship.
This article will explain:
- What love maps are
- Why love maps are important
- How you can use love maps to improve your relationship
What Is a Love Map
John Gottman is funny sometimes.
He seems to have little sense of marketing and uses complex names that bare little resemblance to reality and which confuse instead of helping.
But the definition of a love map is super simple:
A love map is the knowledge you have about your partner.
Yes, because it is!
And what, it gets better: building a love map means getting you your partner.
But don’t close the page just yet.
If it were just that simple, we wouldn’t have even needed an article on it. But there is something more in store for you.
The more you know about your partner, the richer your love map is. Here’s some example of what is inside a love map:
- Major events in your partner’s life
- Goals and dreams
- Worries and fears
- Favorite food, cities, holidays etc.
Love Map Updates
The bulk of the love map stays the same.
Once you deeply get to know your partner, you got most of your map. But it doesn’t end there, of course.
As your partner grows and changes, so should the love maps.
Updating love maps means you stay curious about your partner, and it’s crucial to keep the relationship strong.
Because updating love maps sends that message that you care about your partner.
Updates are where most couples slip
At the beginning of a relationship, it’s easier to build love maps.
This might be even more true in more traditional cultures or in cultures with longer dating period before sex (of course, that’s on average: staying longer without sex is obviously no guarantee that the couple is any good at building love maps).
As time goes by though it’s unluckily rather common that couples start taking each other for granted and stop updating their love maps and asking about each other.
As Brene Brown points in Daring Greatly, stopping to care, or disengagement, is the first sign of betrayal. Indeed as we will see in the examples, that’s the perfect recipe for romance to die -and extramarital affairs to blossom-.
Why Love Maps Are The Foundation
Gottman says that couples who stay together for the long haul stay together for a reason. And that’s usually not because of great sex, lack of arguments or power of will.
It’s usually because they like each other. And liking has a strong relationship with how well we know each other and how well we keep being interested in each other.
Love Maps & Love
Without a love map, you can’t really know your partner. And if you don’t really know someone, how can you truly love them?
Staying together without love maps indeed sends a very bad message.
If you don’t care to get to know the person, you basically communicate you are with your partner because you had no other options. You couldn’t get any better, she’s got a vagina (or penis), and boom, there you are.
Now, don’t tell your partner, but even if that weren’t true, you can still grow fond of each other.
Deepen those love maps, and start being together growing love and appreciation.
Love Maps Are Like Insurance
In The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work Gottman says that deep love maps give solid foundations to a marriage. Couples with rich love maps indeed cope better with the stressful events in their lives.
A strong love map will strengthen the bond, and that bond will keep you going when the going gets tough.
On the other hand, if you don’t start with deep love maps it will be easy to lose your direction when a major upset hits you.
Examples of Love Maps
Here are a few examples of love maps from relationships:
#1. Pillow Talk Love Maps
Bedroom conversation can often be the perfect time to expand our love maps. Pillow talk after an orgasm is also a the perfect time to expand on sexual love maps.
Here is an example from “Crazy Stupid Love”:
Note that the above relationship example is just starting. As we’ve mentioned it’s easier to start with deep love maps. But it doesn’t mean everyone does it well.
Start well and you’re halfway through!
#2 Deep Romance Love Maps
Before Sunrise is the perfect example of love maps romance.
The whole movie is basically based on the magic and romance of love maps and getting to know the partner like nobody else has ever known them.
Here is a great example:
The opposite instead are relationships with no love maps, or with zero updates:
# 3. Dead Relationships Lack of Love Maps
The movie Fargo is an example of a completely absent love map.
Notice she tries to build him up without asking him how he feels, which is a bit of an empty support.
But it’s on his side that it gets really terrible.
He knows nothing about his wife’s life and his “I love you” sound empty and meaningless. When we love somebody we know nothing about, it’s fair to think we’re in love with our own made up image, not with the person.
#4. Affair Love Maps
Now it gets even more interesting.
A lack of love maps pushes partners into affairs. Indeed statistics say that most affairs, especially for women, start in the workplace and with an emotional bond first –read here how emotional affair begin-.
It’s not uncommon for affair partners to say “you understand me so much better” (love map is not the same as understanding someone, but you can’t have understanding without love maps).
Here is a good example:
Updating Love Maps Prevents Affairs
Updating love maps is indeed a great antidote to affairs.
It keeps the connection going and the romance fresh. And it creates a “team effect” with which the couple takes on the world a duo, not as separate entities.
Love Map Questions
To deepen your love maps you can ask each other any kind of question and branch off from there.
I would start from the deeper, most basic stuff.
Here are some examples:
- What did you want to do as a kid
- Why you didn’t do that
- How did you end up doing what you do now
- Does does satisfy you?
- If not, what would you want to do now if you could do anything?
- Is that your dream?
- If not, what would you say is your dream life?
- If you could be paid the same you’re paid now, what would you do?
- Don’t you think you could that, somehow?
- How would you like to be remembered
- Do you care about leaving a mark on this world?
- What are you busy with these days
- What worries you these days
- The best thing that happened to you in the last week
- What are you looking forward the most in your daily life
- What are you looking forward the most in the upcoming month
- You favorite way to spend this evening?
Other People in Their Life
- Favorite colleagues
- Most hated colleague
- Most handsome / beautiful colleague
- Best friend
- How are your friends doing
- What’s your relationship like with your friends now
- Has anything happened to your friend
- When did you last speak to your family
- What did you say
- Who do you look forward the most to seeing
- Best way to soothe?
- What dish do you look forward the most
- Favorite sexual position
- How do you usually orgasm
- Best holiday ever
- If you could go anywhere, where would you go right now. Why?
- The next book you would like to read
- What team do you support if your team is out of the competition?
- Your most secret ambition you would never tell anyone
- A secret you have never told anyone
As you can see you can really go wild about it. And I bet many of these answers are unknown to you about your partner.
Love Maps Games
Instead of asking your partner, let your partner come up with one of the questions above -or simply make your own questions-. Then you talk about what you think your partner would reply.
Then listen to what your partner say and use it as a discussion topic to deepen your love maps and to better get to know your partner.
In a nutshell, why should you care about love maps and getting to know your partner better and better?
- The better you know your partner, the more solid your relationship
- The more you ask, the more you care (and the more your partner feels cared for)
- The more you share, the deeper the bond and the higher the quality of the relationship