I'm not usually a 'self-help' kind of girl. Sure, I've read 'How to Win Friends and Influence People' because, well... I didn't have friends. I have friends now, but I don't think it was because of that book... or was it... THE POWER OF WORDS! I think a lot of those kinds of books are useful to some, I use therapy for my learning. I've never actually read any relationship self-help 'men are from mars' shit. I suppose reading it would be more of an experiment, to see what some literary individual may have to say about things I don't know.
I recently listened to a podcast, which I guess in it's own way is a 'self-help' style depending on what you're listening to. My interests vary between multiple topics. I love Reply-All for the hosts and the facts that my brain wouldn't generally read into what they talk about. I like Risk because the stories are all so different and mostly engaging, but I never know what I'm going to hear. I enjoy Girls Gotta Eat, because it's nice to hear about two sexually positive females talk openly about their sex lives. Just to name a few. The latter of the three happened to talk about love languages.
This was a phrase I was familiar with but not one I had read into. I heard the idea of how we express love can be different than how we need love and how others need it, blah-blah-blah. A theory of compatibility. I tend to sprinkle my admiration across the board and cover my bases in most areas of appreciation. For me, I desperately need someone to tell me how important I am in their life. Words of affirmation are very clearly in my core. I have suffocated from past lovers to a point I reached out to an old lover just because I knew at least they would say I'm pretty and I wasn't getting it from the current one. I hated myself for it and couldn't really pinpoint the reason why. Instead of something to get mad about, it's something to acknowledge going forward.
With that said, I think it's very important to know how each person in your life ticks, romantic or not. As much as I need words of affirmation, I'm TERRIBLE at giving them. I can take compliments to a point, but then get in a sort of obligatory state of exchanging courtesies that make my words feel false. I don't know how to start a sentence of positive endorsement, even if in my being I feel very grateful for said person. I could not date myself because of it. I tend to show my love through gifts because it's a way to say 'I was thinking about you and listening to what you enjoy', but it's also a lot of people's lowest ranked language.
Being poly, the love languages help me to know how to cherish each partner differently. It also has really helped with my anxiety. If I'm not getting what I need I'm better at knowing 'okay so when I don't hear from you for twelve hours I kind of freak out, and I don't mean you need to message me every day to tell me I'm alive kind of thing, so I need you just to give me a 'hey I'm gonna be gone for the next two days, I'll message you when I'm back' kind of thing' (though I really appreciate when I hear from people every day, I'm not going to INSIST it on someone). I'm able to say to myself 'okay, so he didn't ask you how you are, that doesn't mean he hates you, you just need to tell him' and knowing it's different for each relationship I embark towards.
Knowing that someone needs love in a certain way allows me to act accordingly, and by that I don't mean I have to force it, I just need to be aware. I think the languages are within us. Physical touch is not one that I need a lot of to feel loved, but I know it's a main one for some people. I'm very good at sharing that need with others.
What I do know is listening to this podcast made my eyes open on previous people I've dated who didn't act with a single one, and I was entirely complacent without any form of adoration. The fact that I was being shown zero love, or worse, 'convenient' love, and not realizing it because I'm so very good at accommodating other people. It's one of those 'when you look back and you see everything much clearer' kind of things. Oh my silly like self, constantly disrespecting myself by allowing others to not respect me and thinking it was okay...
I don't think the idea of love languages means everyone needs to know and live by this. Not at all. My entire blog is based on my own experiences, and in sharing it I only hope for someone to be like 'hey yeah actually that works for me'. But for those interested my own, in order, are: Words, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Touch, Gifts. Though no one asked, what am I even writing for, maybe I'm running out of ideas.
Holly (Hools) Wyder is a creative monster. Finding every which way to express herself she has found various avenues to explore. Recently coming off of the Toronto Fringe festival with her semi-autobiographical solo show about her experience as a polyamorous, pan-romantic, asexaul, she has found her voice to express and share her journey to allow others to feel validated. A feeling she lacked (and still feels varying day to day) for a very long time. Check out her next live show and approach her about your own story, it's all about a sense of community and the only way to do that is to hear about other people's existence.