Insights from Reading Eat, Pray, Love & 5 Love Languages

I went to the bookstore on Sunday and read two books: Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert, and The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman.

This post isn’t a book review. I read maybe the first 30 pages of each book and had a couple of thoughts, which I want to share, and if I finish either book I’ll review later.


(Gilbert on A New Way To Think About Creativity)

Eat, Pray, Love: Mega-bestseller about a chick who goes through a nasty divorce and spends a year living in Italy, India, and Indonesia finding herself. Very well written, witty, funny, major page turner,  provocative. If you read this, you will either love it or hate it with a passion, no gray area. I’ve only read the first 26 “chapters” of book one (of three), so not that far into it, but I’m starting to form a strong opinion. Firstly, the voice of the author is awesome, and is a must-read for any writer/blogger.

The conflict I’m having is whether to like the writer or hate her. She cheated on her husband (unstated in the book, but I found this out on the ‘net) with a younger, sexier actor dude, then left her husband, then went through a horribly nasty divorce where she basically gave away everything, then used a book advance to go abroad and find herself for a year. This was after the actor dude dumped her. We know nothing about the ex-husband, which was a huge question mark for me, and it begs the question why exactly did she cheat on hubby and generally act like a mega-bitch to the sorry bastard? So, with that data, I’m inclined to hate her.

But, the problem is, I love the voice of the story teller, in fact I’m in love with her, so it’s impossible for me to be the guy that finds her despicable. Flawed and human, yes. If you’ve read the book, please comment and give me your take.

The Five Love Languages: Dr. Gary Chapman’s book that Honey and I referenced several times recently: in A Love Styles Exercise, What’s Your Fighting Style? and Is Your Love Style Blowing Your First Dates? The book is filed under “Christian Inspiration” and it’s a little too soft and squishy for my tastes, but the insight it offers is OFF THE CHARTS. This, more than anything I’ve read or figured out in the last 2-3 years, is a huge key to attraction and relationships for me. After just reading a few chapters I found myself re-examining all of my relationships through the lens of the five love languages. Wow.

If you’re a hardcore pickup dude or whatever, don’t be put-off by the girly nature of the book. It’s got some serious value. You can find a summary of the five love languages on Chapman’s site. I simply don’t understand why this knowledge isn’t more widespread. If people learned about this shit they would be WAY more equipped to do the relationship thing. It’s mondo helpful in attraction, too.

Chapman described everyone as having a fuel tank where the fuel is love (just bear with me here). When you’re connecting properly with your loved ones, the tank is full, and everything is totally cool. When there’s conflict or lousy connections or lack of communication, the tank empties. When it empties, you start to do some really douchy things, like get depressed or suicidal or stalkery or whatever.

The key here is recognizing what love languages you’re fluent in, what you need, and what your partner needs: touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service.

I’ll use myself and my ex-girlfriend, Megan, as an example. I consider myself average in the quality time area, perhaps a 5 out of 10 (I’m bad at this because I require an unusually high amount of private time to recharge, probably double what a regular person needs). Just pulling a number out of my butt, I’d say I’m capable of giving 20 hours of quality time per week. Megan needs at least 40 hours minimum to be happy. So, even though I feel like I’m at maximum output, I’m still nowhere close to meeting her needs. Huge problem and huge source of frustration for both of us. Since neither of us had the vocabulary or foundation to properly deal with this, we didn’t know how to compromise on those numbers and find a workable middle.

On the flipside, I require a lot of touch to be happy, and when I say touch, I mean her touching me and sex doesn’t count. Touching could be as simple as holding hands, a kiss, or a hug. Megan would never engage in touch unless we were sleeping together, and that lack drained me. The thing is, I didn’t realize this was happening, and it never occurred to me that a lack of regular touching, from her, would create any internal negativity on my part. Even if I had realized it, I probably wouldn’t have admitted to it because I was busy trying to be all cool and stuff. Again, another problem.

Even if you’re in the early stages of a relationship, just dating, or even just picking up chicks, it’s majorly to your advantage to be fluent in the love languages and understand what it is you need and what she’s looking for.

That’s what I got for now. If you’ve read either book, let us know your opinions.

  • T

    Well frankly, it was Eat, Pray, Love that made me really get into blogging. I LOVED that book. Much of it was familiar to me. Her thoughts, her depression, her lack of fulfillment in her marriage.

    Perhaps she and her husband weren’t communicating with the proper love languages either? That was the major problem in my marriage too.

    I have, obviously, read the Five Love Languages too and I agree – GREAT INSIGHT!

    It helps explain so much and it is helping me to realize what is keeping my long distance relationship going.

    Thanks for your input Lance!
    .-= T´s last blog …Don’t know nothin’ bout me =-.

  • Lance

    @T: I find myself loving the book, and I definitely identify with what Gilbert went through. Still, I want to understand what kind of man she was married to, what drove her to cheat on him, why she was unfulfilled, and why the divorce got so bad. There’s big insight there and we’re not getting it. And I guess we’ll never get it.

  • Sara

    It’s funny — I liked Eat, Pray, Love, but felt the same distaste for her that you felt very early, even though I was interested in what she was saying. By the end, I still didn’t really like her — she’s a narcissist. But I still liked the book. It’s hard to understand if you haven’t read it.

    Thanks for the insight on the Love Languages. It’s pretty cheesy when viewed through the author’s lens (even for me, as a woman), so it will be pretty hard for guys to swallow, which is a shame because you’re right about it being important for people to understand this (at least, at an unconscious level) in order to have successful relationships. Maybe you should get up with them and see about rewriting it for well, everyone who’s not already a married, conservative Christian couple.

  • T

    It is interesting to me that you’re interested in that when it really didn’t add to the story at all. She was on a journey of self. It wouldn’t have mattered what kind of man she was married to, what drove her to cheat on him/divorce him was that she was not happy. It is not that HE didn’t MAKE her happy. She was simply lost and needed to find out who she was.

    Unfortunately, that is the downfall of many marriages these days. We all tend to lose ourselves in our marriages and feel that the only way to gain that back is to leave the marriage. The affair was only a symptom, not the underlying problem.

    From what I recall about the book, her husband was very much in love with her and wanted to be the best for her… but she was ready to move on. That hurt him and that is why the divorce got so bad. She wasn’t really in love with the man she cheated on her husband with. She was in love with the escape. Which is why the trip overseas was so intriguing to her.

    She could have just as easily completed this journey in her marriage but couldn’t see how it was possible. She could have just as easily completed this journey without travel but couldn’t see how it was possible. She believed that she had to be completely removed physically from both in order see herself more clearly.
    .-= T´s last blog …93 Years of Life =-.

  • Honey

    That’s interesting, T. It’s one of the reasons I think waiting to get married (or in a serious relationship) until after you’ve done some introspection and self-growth is so important.

    But then again, it never ends, does it? You need to find someone that you can grow with, but also that will allow you to grow separately from. And I don’t mean “allow” in the sense of “permit,” but in the sense of “enable.”
    .-= Honey´s last blog …Insights from Reading Eat,Pray,Love & 5 Love Languages =-.

  • Mikko Kemppe – Relationship Coach

    I have read the 5 love languages, but have not read the Eat, Pray, And Love. Although, after reading this post it makes me want to go and grab a copy of it.

    I also liked the 5 love languages and found a lot of helpful information. But personally, I have found the mars venus books by Dr. John Gray be even much more helpful. But obviously I am biased as I consider him my mentor.

    I also find T’s comment intriguing. I agree that it is possible to go through a personal growth journey within a marriage. However, I also believe there is such a thing as two people not necessarily meant to share the rest of their life together.

    I don’t see why learning more about a person’s real life background could not add more context to a story or a book. In addition, I think it is wise to always carefully examine a person’s character and life before considering to take any advice from them.

    And in this way, I am also always curious about relationship authors lives and their spouses or partners as well as in what they write.
    .-= Mikko Kemppe – Relationship Coach´s last blog …He Is Just Not That Into You, Or Is He? =-.

  • Lance

    T, I hear what you’re saying about the journey of self, and yes the story is focused on that and rightly so. But, I think the foundational events and thoughts that led up to spurring a journey of self, ie the cheating and what exactly happened between her and hubby, that’s incredibly important, because it contextualizes and colors everything. Plus, how do we know she’s the good guy here? It can’t be simply because she says so and because she’s a woman.

    One could easily interpret that she’s the bad guy in this story because she cheated and ran off to hang with yogi’s, while her ex was left standing with his dick in the wind, so to speak. So, if she’s the bad guy, then her journey of self can’t be trusted, because it’s a monumentally selfish act.

    Anyway, food for thought. At the moment I do sympathize with the character…

  • dadshouse

    I read Eat Pray Love. I agree, author has an awesome voice. BUT, she’s so friggin’ naive. She’s like a kid in a candy shop for the very first time, saying “Oh my god, you have to check this one out. It’s called CHOCOLATE, and it’s divine!”

    Except replace candy and chocolote with sex and use-your-imagination…

    I felt the Pray section was basic spirituality. Like she’d read the same books I’d read: Tolle, Myss, Dalai Lama, Moore, Krishnamurti, etc. No big deal.

    The Love section is nuts. I didn’t buy it at all. I just felt like she was trying to finish the book.
    .-= dadshouse´s last blog …How to Cheat at the Kissie Game =-.

  • T

    Here’s the thing though. I didn’t see her as the “good guy” in the book. She was simply the main character. I think she came off as selfish because she painted herself that way. I don’t think she was necessarily glamorizing her divorce or the depression she felt afterward. I think she was only documenting her journey. Selfish or not, she was still learning who she was and who she was not.

    This is why it inspired me to blog. I too feel very much as if I’m on a “journey of self”. That is why I named my blog “The Quest for T”.

    I try to speak in that same voice. I try not to gloss over the fact that I too had an affair on my husband. I too have made mistakes. I too have ugly feelings and bouts of depression. But through it all, I am growing and learning more about who I am.

    And yes, Honey, I do agree that self-growth and introspection do continue through life. And perhaps, as Mikko said, we aren’t meant to spend the rest of our lives with one person. Maybe we go through part of the journey with someone, grow apart and then move on. Or perhaps we do grow closer. I suppose it depends heavily on the communication between both “growers”.

    Great post and the comments are really interesting too!
    .-= T´s last blog …93 Years of Life =-.

  • Honey

    I am digging your point, T. Lance, you’re the protagonist in your life, so you sympathize with your own struggles – but that doesn’t mean you’re the hero, or that you don’t acknowledge your own shortcomings and try to fix them.

    However, given what T says here, I think it would have been easy to improve the book by telling the parts of the backstory and context that are missing. She doesn’t need to be perfect, she just needs to be relateable.
    .-= Honey´s last blog …So I Was Driving Home And Heard This Friggin’ Awesome PJ Song… =-.

  • Lance

    @Honey: Agreed, good points. I don’t have a problem with following (and rooting) for a character that’s a bad guy, but I do have to relate to that person. That’s the problem with the first 30-40 pages is that she doesn’t come across as relateable. She comes across as a good looking white chick that everyone likes who can do basically anything she wants because she’s a good looking white chick. That’s actually written on the page, although with much more poetry.

    I read another 50 pages last night and, fortunately, she writes her way out of the problem and connects, so it’s all good. More to come…
    .-= Lance´s last blog …So I Was Driving Home And Heard This Friggin’ Awesome PJ Song… =-.

  • Honey

    Well, I certainly think it’s natural to want the whole picture in order to connect. You’re the first person to recommend this book that makes me actually want to read it :-)
    .-= Honey´s last blog …So I Was Driving Home And Heard This Friggin’ Awesome PJ Song… =-.

  • Lance

    Yeah, well worth reading. I’m hooked to the point I stopped at B&N twice to read chapters, then got a library card, then requested the book when a copy becomes available. You can find used copies on Amazon for like less than a dollar. It’s perfect for bloggers because the way she writes is similar to blog posts.
    .-= Lance´s last blog …So I Was Driving Home And Heard This Friggin’ Awesome PJ Song… =-.

  • Share

    I was hooked on Eat Pray Love.
    I actually picked up this book from the library as I do with all the books I read with no expectations what so ever. I noticed that for the first time in my life, I chose to read a book SLOWLY. I was letting myself enjoy every word of the book.

    I read the book once, and I can honestly say it changed my life. I bought this book (I have NEVER bought a book in my life if I had already read it) I highlighted the quotes that affected me. I swear by this book and so does many of my friends who read it.

    Gilbert was able to vocalize my thoughts, my fears and my intuitions. I quote her so often to explain what I am feeling, what I am going through.
    I am 17 years old and I swear this book changed my life.