Why You Might Have the Wrong Love Languages
Anybody who has spent a significant amount of time on a dating app has probably heard of “the 5 love languages.” In case you’re one of those who says their love language is “pizza” or “Spanish,” let’s first discuss what the 5 love languages actually are.
The 5 love languages were originally discussed by an author and radio talk show host by the name of Gary Chapman. They represent the various ways people communicate their love for one another. They are: (1) words of affirmation, (2) quality time, (3) acts of service, (4) physical touch, and (5) receiving gifts. People tend to put two or three of these on their dating site profile or even tell them to their dates directly. The goal is to let any potential relationship partners know how you like to have love communicated to you. Some people may use the love languages to show how they intend to demonstrate their love to others, but since it makes more sense that we love people as they want to be loved, we’ll assume they’re more often used to describe how the person saying it wants to be treated themselves.
The effortless languages
We choose our love languages based on what makes us feel loved. They let us readily tell our partners what matters most to us. How could there possibly be a wrong answer? That’s because some love languages require very little effort. Words of affirmation might make you feel loved, but are they really the best indicator that you are loved? No one who reads this (unless God forbid an 11-year-old stumbles across it) has been spared the pain of being told “I love you,” only to then be treated in a way that proves that wasn’t really the case.
Physical touch is a given. With the exception of serious trauma, if your partner doesn’t want to touch you, I’ve got bad news for you. And, sure, some people aren’t the physically affectionate type, and that type of affection can go a long way to making someone feel loved. Instinctually, from the time we’re born, physical touch is very important to us. It’s not at all bad to want this, and it’s not unreasonable to value it highly. But, once again, it’s really easy to give physical affection. We’ve all been cuddled and kissed by someone who seemingly had no qualms about breaking our heart thereafter.
The effortful love languages
What has never lied to you is actions. When somebody goes out of their way to spend time with you, expends effort and hard-earned money to give you gifts, and bends over backwards to do favors for you, you know they really care. Giving gifts does have some exceptions: Sugar daddies might see you as little more than a sex prop, but that’s just because they have enough disposable cash to spend it on people they don’t love. If someone is strapped for cash — that is, if they’re giving up the opportunity to get or do something for themselves because they’re paying for you to have or do it instead — then they’re not going to take it lightly.
To make my point as clear as possible, let’s explicitly divide the love languages into two groups. In the one group, we have words of affirmation and physical touch. These are the easy love languages. In the second group, we have quality time, acts of service, and receiving gifts. These take more effort for most people. I challenge the reader to look back on their lives and think about how consistent those people who communicated their love in those languages included in the second group were versus those who primarily communicated it using the first group.
It’s easy to tell someone you love them. Some people feel like they love someone two weeks after meeting them, before they ever really know them, and they say those three, all-important words as casually as one would a greeting. Any woman with an Instagram has received “words of affirmation” in her DM from a thirsty stranger. It’s far too easy. Likewise, cuddles, hugs, and kisses feel great. Why not give them readily?
It’s not easy, however, to drive across town after a long day just to see someone. It’s not easy to work all week just to turn around and spend that money by taking someone to dinner or getting them something they really want. It’s not easy to put time and effort into helping someone with whatever they want or need help with that day.
It seems there might be some virtue signaling in our choice of love language. It’s as if to say, “I don’t need much, just your words and touch are sufficient.” A lot of times that representation doesn’t bear out. But a lot of us actually feel that way, and that’s exactly how things should be. It’s not that we need a person to do this or that for us to love them. It’s that a person demonstrating real effort lets us know they truly care for us. Isn’t that the ultimate point of the love languages to begin with?
Too often we choose our love languages with our heart instead of our head, which, frankly, is to be expected. But then we’re completely blindsided by betrayal, and we become incapable of trusting or even recognizing the behaviors that should allow us to feel comfortable trusting. You can never really know a person, but if you start looking for love that is matched by sustained effort, you’re sure to fare better in this complex system of human relationships than those who don’t.
There are no wrong ways to feel loved. There are, however, ways of communicating love that are easier to fake than others, and in this world of fickle and opportunistic people, it’s always good to look at the love languages that are the hardest to feign.
Martin Vidal is the author of The Ambition Handbook: A Guide for Ambitious Persons