Becoming fluent in love language
February 9, 2023
I was still at college in New York when my friend Sara sent me a survey question for her psychology class, "What is your love language?"
I stared at my phone screen for a while and thought. My brain wasn't coming up with any conclusions for me, so I went to my next-best (better) option: Google.
As it turns out, the five love languages were first written about by Gary Chapman in 1992. The ways people express and receive love, according to old Chapman, are through receiving gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service and physical touch.
I thought about my grandmother, who regularly sent me homemade chocolate chip cookies all wrapped-up in tissue paper when I was in college. I knew it was her way of telling me she was thinking of me, but I had never related that back to the time I used to spend with her when I was little, rolling out big lumps of dough, which she would swiftly cut in half and reshape before placing on the baking sheet.
My younger sister used to march into a room where people were relaxing and minding their business and demand to know if she looked good. I always told her it kind of defeated the purpose if she had to fish for the compliment, but in hindsight, she was demanding love from the people who were supposed to give it to her.
I ran out of deodorant the other day. I told my mom I stank, which she probably already knew, and she promptly pulled two different types of deodorant out of storage for me to try. Since then, she has given me five more smell-reducing products in the form of bars, gels and sprays, all pulled from the depths of our home storage. An act of service both for me and the people around me.
When I was still in high school, playing volleyball with my cousin, she would wind up and slap me across the butt every time I scored a point. I'm not going to act like I enjoyed that, but for her it was a congratulatory beating. When we attended our teammate's funeral our junior year, my cousin was there doling out hugs. I cried on her shoulder.
Sara sent out a quiz for all my friends to take to figure out what our love languages were, since none of us knew. Now I know that when Kenzie asks me to go for a hike past the middle of nowhere, it's because she enjoys the quality time. And when Lindsey fawns over every little flower, teddy bear or chocolate her husband gives her for months after, it's because it meant that much to her. Old Chapman's love languages are only the bare bones of how we connect with each other, but it is nice to see love simply.
Avery Howe is a staff reporter with the Northern Wyoming News.