Love languages off track?

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2011
Love languages off track?
9
Tue, 07-23-2013 - 3:53pm

I've been reading about the five love languages (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, & physical touch) and I'm starting to feel that my boyfriend and I are mismatched when it comes to these love languages.  I'd like advice on how to approach this subject with my boyfriend and explain what I need and understand what he needs.  The problem is that we don't get much alone time due to the fact that he has a 15 year old son at home and who is constantly being brought along on our "dates."  I feel one of my love languages is quality time and we don't seem to get much of that!

My boyfriend is CONSTANTLY giving me compliments.   He texts me at least 5 times a day telling me how beautiful I am, how lucky he is to have met me, ect.  At the beginning of our relationship this was a wonderful, new experience for me (didn't have it in past relationships), however, as time as gone on it now seems a little ridiculous.  Sometimes he'll text me saying, "he knew it....I don't like him as much as he likes me, or I don't think of him as much as he thinks about me."  To me this seems like emotional bullying and I don't appreciate it!

If he puts his hand on my knee and I move to get comfortable or he tries to hold my hand but I pull away to get something out of my eye he acts totally offended and says things like, "sorry I didn't mean to bother you!"   This past weekend, we were antiquing in a very hot and crowded building.  He kept coming up behind me, pulling up my sweaty hair and kissing me on the neck....gross!  That was the last thing I wanted!  What I really wanted was to be left alone and an ice cold glass of water!

I'm assuming since he gives me compliments that his love language is words of affirmation &physical touch and I am on board in trying to give him more of that but I need to be able to express what my love languages are too.

Anyone else experience this or want to offer advice on how to approach the subject?

Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Tue, 07-23-2013 - 5:44pm

First piece of advice is to ditch anything called "love languages."  Seriously.  If my DH started saying to me, "Honey, I think our love languages are different and it's causing problems," I'd ask him to talk to me in plain English.  It can be really annoying when people read a self-help book and then start trying to make other people fit into the book's categories.

If you want more alone time, just ask.  It's easy enough to say, "I'd love to have more alone-together time.  When will Dennis be away for a couple of days so we can have a date?"  If he has sole custody of Dennis, and Dennis can't be trusted to be left alone with a computer for a couple of hours, then you have to accept the situation.  Right now DH & I won't leave our 13yo DS alone for more than an hour because he has the impulse control of a typical 13yo and the internet is no place for a 13yo to be wandering alone. 

More importantly, why do you need to have a talk about the ways you relate to each other?  Why not just (a) deal with it in the moment if it must be discussed, or (b) live with it if it's not something that has to be fixed?

Examples:  you're antiquing and he kisses your neck when you are dying to *not* have physical contact.  Just turn around and say, "That's sweet, but I'm feeling kind of gross now - how about kisses later when we're alone?" 

Or:  He puts his hand on your leg, you move, and he says, "Sorry, didn't mean to bother you," and you say, "Not bothering me, just needed to scratch my nose," or "Not bothering me, just needing a little personal space."  If he gets huffy, you say, "I love how we cuddle, but I need a little more room most of the time.  I know I'm not as touchy-feely as you, but it's not personal, it's just how I am."  If he gets seriously offended by *that*, you can say, "Look, I'm just telling you how I am.  Don't take offense at it."  Warning:  if he is annoyed after you've explained yourself, then you have a passive-aggressive person on your hands, and putting up with him will drain you of all joy in life.  You can say no to that up front and call him on it, or you can let him get away with it and find yourself manipulated into trying to keep him happy for the next decade until you can't take it anymore.

As for the texting you 5 times a day to tell you how fabulous he is, that can be either really sweet or a sign of a controlling person.  Let's assume he's just being sweet but overly effusive and maybe a little clingy.  You can respond back with a simple happy face every so often, or just "love you too!"   If he starts insisting that you don't love him because you don't gush via text, that's a warning sign of a controlling, manipulative person.  You can say, "I don't like to keep interrupting my work to text" and see how he responds.

Hopefully you get the idea.  I would put aside the idea of "love languages" and instead look at whether what he's doing stems from deep attachment and genuine affection, or if you see signs that he uses expression to control you and make you feel like, "I could never leave him, see how good he is to me."  I see potential warning signs of that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Fri, 07-26-2013 - 11:16am

I so agree with Mahopac!  "Love Languages"/???  How about just speaking english.....and saying what you want and don't want?  99% of "self help" books are a crock!  The only person that benefits from nonsense like that is the author! 

This guy sounds like he's VERY insecure, and that's a big problem, one that will get worse.  It goes from insecurity to controlling........because of the fear that you'll leave him.  You thought the "affection" was great in the beginning because you hadn't had it before, and now you're seeing that like any other good thing, there can be too much of it.  I was married to a man who would NEVER go to a restaurant, not even McDonalds.  He wanted me to cook every meal.  I used to think that I would give anything to eat out once in a while.  Then after I divorced him (not for THAT reason), I was in a 7 year relationship with a man who loved to eat out a couple of nights a week, and at very nice restaurants.  Eventually, I got SICK of eating out all the time, and all the menus started looking alike.  As the old saying goes: "be careful what you wish for, you might get it!"

As for the "love languages"........learn to say what you want to say.....there's no "language" for love!  You don't like it when he's doing something, like rubbing your sweaty neck, then tell him to stop.  How hard is that?  If you want to go somewhere or do something without his son, then TELL him that.   If you're concerned about hurting his feelings, then get used to tippy toeing around him all the time..........because he IS insecure, and will not take criticism easily......and he will consider every request from you to stop doing something as criticism......and he will push back.  All in all, your best language would probably be "goodbye". 

"Love Language" is simply being able to discuss things.....things you like, things you don't like, and getting the same feedback from him.  It's called "communication".....and without it you're doomed.  His "language" is fawning over you constantly......and if you ask him to stop, he's going to react with jealousy and controlling.  In his mind it won't be because you don't like it, it will be because you found a new man, or cheated on him.  That's what insecure men do.  Good Luck to you!

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Fri, 07-26-2013 - 1:29pm

I'm coming from a different perspective than the other two.  I have read Love Languages and its actually a good book IMO.  Maybe the others have a really good marriage, I know that mine isn't always the greatest and we do have some communication issues, and we were brought up very differently than each other.  My DH and I do have different love languages, I am very much a gift person.  My husband was never a gift person, even before I read the book and would tell him how much I loved getting flowers, little thoughtful gifts, etc.  And in turn, because I love getting gifts, I give gifts often.  My DH, on the other hand, could care less about gifts, or most material possessions period.  He is Acts of Service and Touch.  Like your BF, he was extremely affectionnate when we were first married, and I am one that has neber been a big touchy feely person, so like your BF, when mine loves to hug on me and kiss my neck a lot, it would unnerve me.  My middle DD is also a very touchy person! 

So, anyways, through this long winded post, I undersatnd where you are coming from.  As you've read the book, I would read it again about how going about doing certain things as your BF's love language is and watch how he reacts.  But I would also do as the other ladies say, put things in plain langage for him, explain to him about the hand holding, that you didn't mean anything by it, you just needed to readjust things.  My DH eventually saw the book on my nightstand and read through it on his own a month or two after I read it and he took it to heart, diagnosing right away that i was a gift person and he has worked harder to keep mindful of that at times.  Its not all the time by any means, but its much more often than it used to be and he knows how happy it makes me, just like I know that he would much rather me cook him a fabulous dinner and prepare him a homemade lunch one day then to find a little gift box on his pillow after I go to work each morning.

HTH a bit.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 06-08-2011
Fri, 07-26-2013 - 6:09pm

Ok, so tell me what you think about this.  So I responded to the text "he sent me saying he knew that I wasn't thinking of him as much as he was thinking about me."  (and yes I feel very immature using text as our means of conversation but that is how it has gotten....already.....after only 4 months!)  I told him that his text made me feel uncomfortable and a little bullied into expressing my feelings about him when I wasn't ready.  He came back with a text that said he was only kidding. I told him never the less, his text made me feel uncomfortable and I would like to have a talk about this face-to-face.  He did not text me again for about 4 hours and then his text only said "no problem." 

The next day I invited him over to cook out and swim thinking we could could talk.  He brought his 15 year old son because he hadn't fixed dinner for his son and he knew his son would like to swim.  His son complained about the food not being what he wanted and then they both complained about the temperature of the pool.  It is hard to have an adult conversation when you're sharing the hot tub with a 15 year old.  (sometimes I feel I'm dating a 40 year old and 15 year old at the same time....weird!)  Anyway, at one point his son walked away from us and that is when my BF decided to bring up the text.  I told him again that I didn't think he was joking but that it felt as if it was his way to push me into being more like him...more open with my feelings.  (I'm not ready to really express more of my feelings because we've not had enough time to get to know each other, ALONE!)  Well, I could tell this upset him because he got very quiet, got out of the pool and didn't talk to me much the rest of the night.  In fact, he was a little snippy!

The next day there was abs ABSOLUTELY NO contact from him.  And to be honese it was kind of peaceful even though it seemed to confirm what I think he was feeling.

Today I got a text telling me he hoped that a medical test I was having went ok.  That was the only conversation all day today.

So, I'm assuming he's angry and hurt and his silence is his way of punishing/controlling me.

What do you think?

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-20-2009
Sun, 07-28-2013 - 12:08pm

I told you what I think in my first reply to you!  And you're proving my point!  You've been "forced" into texting rather than communicating like an adult!  (I agree with your assesment of texting!) And he accuses you of "thinking of him less than he thinks of you"?  That is CLASSIC insecurity!  And of course when you call an insecure person on what they've said, they then say "Just Kidding"!

You invite him over to "talk" and he brings his son because he hadn't fed him.  Has he heard of McDonalds or Burger King?  Has he heard of ASKING if it's ok to bring his son, who then spent his time whining and complaining about the food and the water temperature?  A 15 year old is capable of being left alone for a few hours....or is he a "problem" that can't be left alone, and are you willing to deal with that if the "relationship" goes on?

This man is so insecure, it's pathetic.  You're right, it is exactly his way of pushing you into telling him how much you love him, need him, think of him, etc.  When he doesn't get his way, you're punished by silence, and "snippyness".   I will bet that his first wife cheated on him, because of how needy he is, and his reaction to that was to be more needy......and he's being needy with you.  He's pushing too hard too fast, and he WILL become more and more needy, and he will try to be controlling, because that's how insecure people think they have to be to hold on to a partner.  Try not answering a text from him, especially one accusing you of not caring as much as he does.  He will go berzerk on you! 

I was married to an insecure man for 20 years, (I didn't realize how bad it was till after we were married) and it became a living hell.  If I was 5 minutes too long on a shopping trip, I must have been talking to a man!  If we got a hangup call, or even a man saying "sorry wrong number", it was my secret lover!  This was long before cell phones, thankfully.  I was accused of having an affair with the mailman!  If I was in the car with him, and I casually looked at a car next to us at a red light, he would ask if I wanted to get in that man's car!  It was a terrible way to live. 

You have seen the future with this man in a very short time......it will get 10 times worse once you commit to a permanent relationship with him.  The other person who replied that "love languages" worked for her has a husband who was just lazy, and the book reminded him of what his wife needed and wanted.  My husband was only concerned with what HE wanted, and so is this man you're involved with.  It's all about him, and feeding his ego (or really his LACK of ego!)  Before you invest too much time in this guy, think long and hard about he behaves, and know it will get worse.  Good Luck

Community Leader
Registered: 07-26-1999
Mon, 07-29-2013 - 8:59am

I didn't realize from your first post that you had been dating for such little time, and had no real alone time without his son there.  I agree with the other poster that he's pushing a bit too much with things.  I would want to be taking a step back and reassess things, and explain to him that you two need to start back at square one, going back to dating one on one with less/no time with his son.  Unless there is something wrong, at 15, there is no reason his son can't be left alone for amounts of time or make plans with friends or mom when his dad needs alone time with you.

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Avatar for mahopac
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-24-1997
Mon, 07-29-2013 - 1:12pm

What I think is that we were all correct in that your BF is very insecure and also easily offended.  It sounds like you approached the subject in exactly the right way at exactly the right time, and he got upset.  Maybe your comments hit the mark.

But maybe he is trying.  The fact that he didn't text you at all the next day could mean he was hurt, or that he heard you - or both.  His one text the next day was positive.  I would take this as a good sign, not a bad one.

I suspect he is also conflict-avoidant, which is typical for an insecure person.  For one thing - texting everything instead of speaking directly.  For another - his son's behavior.  I have three kids and not one of them would have complained about the water temperature or the food at someone else's house at age 15.  My 13yo, who is kind of immature, would not even do that.  Tentative parenting results from being afraid to generate conflict. 

I wouldn't be running a mile in the other direction, but I would see where it goes - cautiously.  You two might just not be suited to each other.  There's a difference between a partner who expresses himself differently from you and one who has deep insecurities that he can't control - so instead he tries to control you.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-14-2007
Wed, 08-07-2013 - 5:09pm

I also slightly disagree with the first two posters, as I am a behavior scientists.  True, some of those books are a crock, but it is true that people "show the love" differently and an author will use catch phrases to make it easy to remember and visualize.  With that said, I also agree with another poster that mentioned the short duration of your relationship.  What I think you should be looking at is not the "language" but his actions.  Come on now....15?!  He (the son) can't heat up a Hot Pocket, make a grilled cheese or something?  If the man's GF (you) call him over for dinner, brining his son over should be the very last thing on his mind for a "date".  True in deed, some people do like giving verbal praise to their SO, but so many times a day?  Feelings get hurt if you adjust your body position?  That is a bit insecure. 

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-03-2013
Tue, 09-03-2013 - 8:04pm
Mahopac, have you actually read The Five Love Languages? It's actually very insightful. Many people can't communicate in their spouses "love language", and many others have difficulty asking for what they want, so a lot of marriages fail. When you know your SO's Love Language, and start to love them in a way they need to be loved, you'd be surprised. Others love their SO in their own love language, forgetting that their SO may not need that particular love language, so when it goes without notice, or someone is upset, they wonder why. Mine personally is physical touch, with my secondary being words of affirmation. I don't feel loved when someone buys me something, I'd much rather sit and snuggle. Of course the original poster can ask for something, but if she's not getting enough of it, or her hubby continues to do something else, that's not going to work either. I'd recommend this book to everyone in a relationship. I'm not married, but in a relationship. We've both read the book, and are currently in the process of trying to figure out what the other person needs to feel loved. He does sound a little manipulative though, and that should be addressed.