4 min read

On Love and Attraction

Love Languages, Attractions, and Understanding

Venus and Adonis

As we were walking the Springtime block of Cumberland Ave, my friend introduced me to the concept of Love Languages. It is a concept introduced and made popular in recent years by a book author. The author asserts five languages, modes of expression, of love:

  • quality time together
  • spoken word
  • gift-giving
  • service to the other
  • physical

In discussing them, we shared views on the prioritization and rankings of each of those languages. It came about from her recent realization that gift-giving is a language she enjoys. As our discourse unfolded, we agreed that quality time together is the top language. At the bottom is spoken word. The other three fill-out the middle, to us, in no particular order. I can share my reasoning on the order.

Quality time together together is on top because it is the mode of expression that provides the most opportunity for a future together. As we all search out new friends, lovers, and life-long mates we presume to spend at least the next morning together. Assuming you can inhabit the same space at the same time with another and enjoy that time, and bond in that space, and feel enraptured by the other, you have yourself a good probability of experiencing the same the next day. It is independent of the other’s skills of articulation, practical ability to care for or provide, to give material goods, or to keep their physical self fit. Yet, with the singular pleasure in being with the other, you have the basis for another day of love.

Spoken word is on bottom because language is a tool that few people dedicate themselves to the mastery of. It is rare that the other will have the articulation of love found in masterful television shows, movies, and plays of all kinds. With a world of examples of higher quality words available to everyone, the sounds of “you are beautiful,” “you are handsome,” “I like you,” and so on, can easily leave one wanting. Spoken word has its worth in love, no doubt about it. The simplicity of, “you are beautiful,” said at the right time, can make the other feel all the more love from you. More practically, the skills of communicating can mend differences in beliefs and values, construct plans and events, share jokes and thoughts, to build bonds. To focus on spoken word practicalities to the exclusion of other modes of expression would complicate love. Love can be communicated across languages, without a word, among broad populations.

What of the middle three? She and I focussed on the value of quality time, the subordinate value of spoken word, and only a few moments on physical, service, and gift-giving languages. In healthy individuals each of these three is accomplishable. Assuming relative employment then gift-giving is achievable; any pauper can afford roses. Given a minimally-able body, physical love can be made without effort. Provided the most basic of practical skills, anyone can cook a meal for a lover. In all three cases there is the presumption of a certain level of health. As a lifetime passes by the probability that one may become unable to use one of these languages increases, making these languages impermanent. Could the same be said of quality time together? Distances separate us as a matter of routine and in those times the opportunity for love to diminish increases. That’s a valid point, though unique among the languages, there is a high degree of choice in creating distance. We are free to be as near or far from each other as we choose; few forces of nature or society will separate lovers who choose to be together.

Turning the corner to Tecumseh Road, our conversation was mostly on love languages from the perspective of the giver, “how would we prefer to express love to another?” That was the essential perspective of the conversation. And the medium that made the concept popular lends itself to that. A book reader is taking action by poring through the pages of an author’s mind, in this case reading the ways one can express love. The natural result for the reader is the self-examination of one’s expression of love.

What about the opposite, to be on the receiving end? The other side of love is attraction. As one expresses their love to you, you feel attraction. You can feel no attraction when you are not receptive to the mode of expression being shared. You can feel full attraction when you are perfectly attuned to the love language being expressed. For each language, there is a corresponding attraction:

  • durational
  • verbal
  • gestural
  • sacrificial
  • physical

Explicitly, these align as follows. Assuming you feel durational attraction, the more time a friend spends with you, the more fully attracted to them you are. Assuming you feel verbal attraction, the more aligned their speech is to your speech, the more you feel attracted. Assuming gestural attraction, the ability for your partner to give you objects and materials that delight you will be attractive to you. Assuming sacrificial attraction, the services the other gives on your behalf will be a source of attraction. Assuming physical attraction, the touch of your lover will deepen your attraction.

Assuming and contemplating the perspective of the receiver is valuable, with an attempt at understanding the receiver you can plausibly discover which language they would care to “hear.” With that, you can tailor your expression to their reception. Using those Shakespearian characters, Venus and Adonis, as examples, assuming Venus’s primary love language is physical and Adonis primarily feels durational attraction then Venus would do better to spend time with Adonis on the hunt, first, then later give her physical expression of love.

When love and attraction are fully-aligned, when both prefer the same love language, when both receive attraction in the same way, then there exists a magical rarity. More commonly, love and attraction are imperfectly arranged. So there is reason for understanding. There is reason for contemplation of the other. Perfect alignment is optional for successful relationships.