Although Love is Universal, Love Languages Are Not


Canva Illustration by Marlene Garcia/ The Runner

Yasmin Marcelo, Special to The Runner

When asked if they are familiar with the feeling of love, most people are likely to say yes. Whether it may be familial, platonic, or romantic, people have felt the emotion at least once in their lifetime. However, when asked how they like to express and receive love, that is usually when the answers vary. 

Every individual communicates in their own unique way, and the same principle applies to love. Love languages are the different ways people like to show and be shown love. The 5 are: physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gift giving.  

For Gaby Castro, the primary love language she enjoys receiving is quality time with words of affirmation coming in as a close second. She likes spending time with people she cares about as she appreciates it when “they make the effort to spend time with me or at least just meet up to say ‘hi,’” she explains. Words of affirmation also mean a lot to her because she likes having a “reminder that the person enjoys [her] company and wants to be around [her].”  

Castro states that the love languages she uses to tell people she loves them are quality time and gift giving. She elaborates, “I like providing gifts to the person (even if it’s drinks and food) just to show them that I am thinking about them. I also like providing them my time whenever they need me.” 

Rossley Cruz also lists quality time and words of affirmation as the love languages she favors being given, along with physical touch. She further states that she enjoys using the aforementioned love languages to express her love for others. Like Castro, she adds, “I also like to give gifts as a way to show my love to that person.” 

Similar to both Castro and Cruz, the love language Najeeb Darwish’s prefers for himself is quality time. As for the one he likes to provide, he uses acts of service toward the people he cares about. 

A person’s upbringing and past experiences play a big role in developing their love languages. As people’s needs change over time in different environments and phases of their lives, so can love languages. 

Castro attributes her fondness of quality time to how her mother cared for her as a child. She shares how her mother used to “[take her] everywhere… grocery shopping, to the park, shopping at the swap meet, and other things.” Her interactions with her mother led her to associate “time spent with love and affection.” When several of her friends “[hung] out together without telling [her],” she interpreted it as them not caring for her as much since her primary love language is quality time. 

On the other hand, Darwish expresses, “my turbulent upbringing helped me appreciate the peacefulness of quality time.” 

Because of the pandemic, there have been adjustments made to minimize the spread of the virus, hence the numerous lockdowns. This has also altered the way people socialize and interact with each other.  

Cruz says, “because of the pandemic, quality time has been added as a form of [my] love language[s].” The distance from her family and friends led her to realize that she “truly loves spending time with the people [she] love[s].” 

In Castro’s case, the pandemic did not alter any of her languages. Instead, it reinforced her already preferred ones. She discusses, “being in quarantine made me realize how much I need quality time with people just to assure that my relationships are still solid.” Because of the social distancing protocols, however, spending quality time became more challenging. To mimic the experience, she explains, “I text [my friends and family] whenever I can or send them videos or memes just so we can talk at least through texts.” 

As for Darwish’s love languages compared to before and after the pandemic, he shares, “I don’t think it changed. Maybe before I liked words of affirmation.”  

While people have their favorite methods of expressing their love, they also have ones they dislike.  

Castro cites her least favored love language as physical touch. She elaborates, “I like my own personal space and feel apprehensive when people invade it. I have created a little bubble for myself that I don’t want people in.” However, she also clarifies that she does not really mind it when her mother or her close friends get physically touchy; she would simply need a warning beforehand.  

Receiving gifts is the love language Cruz is most avoidant of. She shares, “I always feel guilty… as if I’m taking advantage of the person giving me gifts” despite knowing that it is not the case.  

Meanwhile, Darwish is “not a fan” of physical touch and does not care much for gift giving because of “the sense of obligation.” 

In a time where countless conversations occur on digital platforms, in-person contact is no longer the most prevalent way for people to connect. Therefore, it is important for people to be aware of their friends’ and family’s love languages to make every form of social interactions much more meaningful and fulfilling.