I was first introduced to the concept of “love languages” in late high school, and I’ve been secretly analyzing friends and family according to the five love languages.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, the idea was first expressed in a book by Gary Chapman. He says that there are five basic ways people give and receive love.
The five love languages are:
- Words of affirmation
- Acts of service
- Quality time
- Physical touch
Many of us do give and receive love in these ways. But it seems that not everyone’s main method of giving or receiving love falls neatly into one of these categories.
When we encounter a person who doesn’t give or receive love in one of these more common ways, forming a connection can become a little more difficult. This can be especially true if we’re just getting to know them.
It’s time to try thinking outside the box when it comes to this issue. Does that hard-to-connect-with person you’ve met have a unique love language? Here are a few less obvious love languages that I’ve observed in people, though it’s definitely not an exhaustive list!
Another kind of quality time
When I first learned the five traditional love languages, I heard “quality time” and thought that that must be the love language of a certain close family member of mine. He’s the complete opposite of touchy-feely, won’t say what’s he’s feeling to save his life, and hates gifts.
What he does like, though, is sitting around with people. He loves talking and laughing with others. So my initial thought was that quality time must be his main thing.
But then I realized that even this didn’t quite fit. Because if you were looking for him to invite you over, plan get-togethers, and make sure he has time set aside for you, you’d be left with nothing.
No, this guy would never dream of doing those types of things. He would consider them awkward and wouldn’t want to make a big deal about being sure he was spending the time he craved with people.
To him, it seems that the best part of spending time with people is the non-forced, spontaneous aspect of it. His love language is quality time, but a different type of quality time than Gary Chapman describes.
Does this make it harder to connect with him? Absolutely.
But once I realized it, his behavior made much more sense to me. I was able to be more proactive in making sure I was around at times when such light, spontaneous time together could occur.
Not words of affirmation, but words nonetheless
I knew a brother and sister in college who were a little unusual in their personalities and their social interactions. They each had a small group of friends, but it seemed that they weren’t the type to be able to connect with just anybody.
The two of them together, though, got along just fine with one another, despite some lightly biting verbal jabs and what might almost be perceived as bickering.
It wasn’t bickering. It was sarcasm, light ribbing at one another’s expense. And the two of them loved it.
Over the course of the time I knew them, they both actually told me (sort of jokingly, but there seemed to be some true belief in it on both their parts) that their love language was sarcasm. Again, this doesn’t fit the traditional understanding of “words of affirmation”, but it worked for their sibling relationship!
A particular kind of gifts
I often think that I identify with several of the love languages in different circumstances. But those who know me best would probably agree that I’m not always easy to connect with (i.e., my poor husband…).
One of the love languages I often feel least describes my giving and receiving of love is gifts. I don’t want people to spend money on me. I’m a cheapskate myself and hate the thought of money thrown away uselessly.
And yet, if anyone buys (or makes!) some delicious food item for me, my heart is won.
Can food be a love language? I would think so. And maybe even in more ways than one.
I actually joke that my four-year-old son’s love language is sharing food. He may not typically be that concerned with food in general, but occasionally he gets it into his head that he wants to share his snack with me and is so insistent about it that I can tell he’d be very hurt if I refused.
And when we finish sharing it, he’s cutely smug and satisfied, his love quotient apparently quite replenished for now.
Don’t stop at five!
Probably the biggest asset of thinking about our relationships with others in terms of love languages is that it allows us to see that not everyone does give and receive love the same way we do.
But I have found that it’s also particularly helpful when people seem distant, unreachable, and unable to click with us.
So in the dating world, if your initial attraction seems to fizzle out strangely after beginning to get to know someone, ask yourself whether they might be one of those people whose main ways of giving and receiving love are more unique.