The importance on knowing your love language.
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
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.