I read something once that said “the love language of your preference is what you didn’t receive when you were younger.” I found this interesting but, not to dump on my family too hard, I lowkey feel like I didn’t receive a whole lot of anything as a kid so it’s pretty hard for me to relate to or refute this claim. What I do know is that I am definitely more needy than the average lover. Related? Probably. Damn, maybe they were right after all.
For those of you unacquainted with the concept of love languages, The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a book by Gary Chapman. In it, he outlines five ways to express and experience love between romantic partners that Chapman calls “love languages.” Since it’s release almost thirty years ago, Chapman’s concept of love languages really took hold and a good deal of folx even today are vaguely aware of this idea’s existence. To this day, you can take an official quiz on The 5 Love Languages official website.
The five “languages” are words of affirmation, acts of service, gift-giving, quality time, and physical touch. I’m going to assume that the name of each of the languages is sufficient for you to understand what each of them entails.
I’ve been married for almost eight years now and partnered with Nicholas for over ten. When we first got together, my self esteem was so low that I desperately craved words of affirmation. However, I’ve found that as I’ve grown less insecure as well as adjusted to Nicholas’ personality and how he tends to express his feelings, I now want physical touch above all other things.
This is where the theory that whatever you didn’t receive as a child is what you prefer now seems to break down in my mind. It’s possible this is true at first but I think that as you become more attuned to the person you’re with, the more aware and receptive you are of how they express their affection. This is the nature of growing alongside someone – your desires and understanding changes as theirs does and vice versa.
To be truly successful in a relationship, I think that all five aspects need to be present. Just because I don’t prefer acts of service over physical touch doesn’t mean that I don’t feel pleasantly surprised and grateful when Nicholas does the laundry for me. In fact, I think the occasional out-of-the-norm expression of affection can do a lot for a relationship. It’s so easy to take what we reliably get every single day for granted; this is probably why quality time doesn’t appear to rank very high in my head but as soon as I’m missing it, I start goading Nicholas into spending at least an hour a night at least sitting next to me on the couch. I’ve just come to expect it at this point. Pay attention to meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
I think the five love languages are an interesting piece of suggested psychology and I recommend taking a moment or two to think about your own, even if you’re single. It’s worth having an idea of what your needs are and what makes you happiest. We’re going through a particularly strange time where my fellow physical touch folx might be really struggling but maybe leaning more heavily on the other four languages can keep you from going bonkers. It’s worth a shot, anyway. What language(s) do y’all most identify with? Let’s chat.