Speaking in Loves

The importance on knowing your love language. 

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Being young and queer, no one really teaches you how you’re supposed to love or to be loved. I think it’s become a societal expectation to follow what film and music says to do… but if you’re queer, you don’t get many mainstream examples to go off of. 

So where are you supposed to get all the answers and clues?

My friend has been going through a break-up. She was explaining to me that even though she and her boyfriend have been long-term partners, their biggest issue has been divergent expectations: he was a clingier type, so she ultimately blamed herself for not being “as affectionate”, faulting herself for the downfall of their relationship.

Giving her my perspective, I explained that it seemed like the greater fallout was not understanding each other’s love language. She cared a lot for this person, but because he had a different idea on how to “love” someone, he seemed to have misinterpreted a lot of her signals.

This can be tricky, regardless of your sexual orientation. How exactly are you supposed to decode someone’s love language, learn to appreciate it, and uphold a mutual understanding — without letting anxieties instill fear that there’s detachment? 

Someone’s “love language” is how they express, through actions or words, their amorous feelings towards another person. In 1992, Dr. Gary Chapman published a book called The Five Love Languages, which has since sold over 11 million copies worldwide, and has become the go-to text on the subject. The anthropologist lays out five primary types of love expression:

 

          l. Words of affirmation 

          2. Gift-giving

          3. Acts of service

          4. Etching out quality time 

          5. Physical touch 

 

I’ve been dating my current partner for almost two years — which in sapphic time, feels like decades. I’m talking “summer vacation home with fireplace, don’t forget the pool” king of longevity. We’ve grown tremendously as individuals, but we’ve done so by understanding how to maneuver within what is, for both of us, our first healthy and serious relationship.

But even with the fictitious beach house image, our love languages aren’t identical, and I realized that it would be impossible and even annoying if they were on par.

The way I express romance to my partner is by showering them with gifts, to the point where they’ve had to grab my face numerous times begging me to stop spending money on them. The gifts can range from getting flowers routinely to more expensive gestures like booking a hotel room for our anniversary just to ensure a night alone. The past version of myself believed that I had to buy my way through love to prove I was “worthy” of devotion, but truthfully, I just want to adorn my partner with whatever they desired.

Another expression of my love language comes from my tendency towards idealism and dreaming, specifically indulging adventurous whims. Growing up, coping with my depression led to building fantasies as a way of escaping, and something about escaping from the mundane with someone became the most romantic thing that I could imagine.

My current partner was the first person that put a face to these types of thoughts, and I was sharing my travel plans with them before we even reached a full year together. Although, I don’t think they took me very seriously… and I don’t blame them! We didn’t even know what the next week was going to look like, and there I was, going on and on about how I wanted to see the world with them.

But I think a lot about how my partner’s type of love language roots me back to the present. They remind me to enjoy what’s happening now and not inflate it with fantasy. Their love language speaks through quality time and experiences: enjoying a night out, creating moments together locally, etc.

They became my person of firsts — cooking meals, being in queer spaces, expressing myself with confidence and vulnerability, and much more. In a way, firsts are a sort of emotional travel, and through learning and trying new things with them, I can express a different side of my love language. Meanwhile, their love language comes from being present — whether it’s encouraging me to be in the moment or being attentive to my feelings, anxieties, and my state of mind whenever I’m with them. It is in this sense that our love languages complement one another.

Although, sometimes my partner and my love languages aren’t always in sync (and I don’t want them to be), our true compatibility comes from open and honest discussion of what we expect from this relationship. It’s not that either of our expressions or expectations are more “right” or “wrong” than the other, but vocalizing what each person needs, emotionally and mentally, is necessary for any fulfilling relationship.

Most importantly, it helps you understand how both of your mental tendencies shape your emotional capacities and views on romance.

In a relationship, I never needed my partner to replicate whatever language I was speaking. Nor would I ever advise them or a friend to change their love language if it doesn’t “match” what the other person expects. There’s beauty in unpredictability. As long as communication factors in at some point of the process.

If anything, in my relationship I can say we both learned from each other’s navigation of romance, which indirectly helped us grow as individuals, too. And that’s honestly all I can ever ask for.

I love them for exactly who they are, how we are, and all the gestures in between.

 

To find out what your love language is, click here

GIF by Taylor Anne Mordoh. Photos (in order of appearance) by George McFadyen and Cordelia Ostler

 

Tunnel Vision

 

Save an Uber, Ride a Cow*person is a column exploring queer millennial sex culture. The stories presented here are based on true events. Identities have been changed to protect the privacy and reputation of those involved. 

 

“hmmmm i’m only asking cus i’m drunk lmao but would you wanna fuck soon? but also no rush YKWIM”

Rina stared at her phone, frozen in place. She had only gone on two dates with Fae that week, and they’d been amazing — it was almost painfully corny, honestly. And yet, a wave of panic started to drown her thoughts. H-how am I supposed to reply back to this? The shock was a mix of things; first surprise, then flattery, some curiosity, but mostly anxiety. Actually, all of it was anxiety.

It’s not that she didn’t want to fuck Fae. Of course she wanted to, but Rina had only had sex with one person before — her ex. Maybe she was living up to her lesbian stereotype, but Rina felt feelings hard and fast and unfortunately, sex was no exception. She just couldn’t separate her emotions from the action, and this wasn’t something she wanted to change either way. Rina knew that when the time came, she’d be giving more than body to Fae.

But in this moment, she was standing in a pit of hundreds of people, waiting for a concert to start… still unsure how to respond to this text. Even in a crowded venue, talk in the air and under ultraviolet lights, she almost forgot where she was.

Finally, Rina collected herself to reply back. “LOL maybe next time i see you, we’ll see ;)”

Sent. Sigh of relief.

 *  *  *

That ‘next time’ was already within the next 24-hours.

On her way to Fae’s dorm, Rina couldn’t help but question why she felt so strongly about tying her emotions to sex. Uncertainty began setting in again. It’s not like anyone would object to her getting laid. If anything, so much of the queer community encourages hooking up, whether it was the liberation from heterosexual norms or just out of bored horniness. But being an idealist romantic was always the way she was; its roots ran deep. But still, a part of her wished she could detach herself to make hooking up easier — easier to see Fae, too.

She suddenly felt isolated, not only from the heteronormative world but also from a blaring factor that defined what queer culture in your 20s looked like. Rina had never doubted her sexuality, but she is beginning to question her validity in a community that was able to experience so much freedom, thrill, and consensus in a sexual expression that she couldn’t imagine doing herself.

Why can’t I just fucking relax? I can’t believe I’m thinking about sex THIS hard, my god, Rina stepped out the elevator and proceeded to Fae’s suite. The next few hours were blurred. Weed was smoked, clothes were off, lips were locked, and the rest escalated faster than Rina’s memory could grab onto. As she was coming down from her high, she found her arms wrapped around Fae, lying by their side. Her mind was still reeling from what just happened — how did I get here?

Whatever happened, she found a great sense of ease in herself again. Perhaps Rina had more self exploring to do on what love, sex, and romance really meant to her, but maybe now was the time to begin that exploration. She felt dumb for thinking that a queer identity can only be outlined by one definition, one lifestyle. Truthfully, isn’t that the whole point of it all to rebel and challenge what a majority has assumed for us and to create our own meanings instead? Fucking Fae for the first time was meant to be casual, but Rina found immense liberation. Not just from the sheer pleasure but from ridding such uncompromising thoughts. It was all new and exciting territory, and for once, Rina wasn’t afraid of wherever she was going with this new person.

Rina exhaled, still gliding her fingertips down Fae’s arm. Now, to tell them that I’ll probably catch serious feelings for them, if I haven’t already…

 

 

Photos (in order of appearance) by Leila Weinraub, still from Bruce LaBruce’s The Misandrists, and Donna Gottschalk.