A couple of weeks ago, Manfriend finally asked the question.  “Sarah,” he said, “what are your love languages?”

Love languages, if you don’t know this already, is a shorthand way of referring to a set of theories by a guy who says, essentially, there are five different ways to show love: physical affection, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, and gifts.  These are the five love languages.  We each preference a language or two, meaning we’re more likely to communicate our love for people in one or two particular languages (e.g., by saying the words “I love you,” by hugging, by doing the dishes, etc.) than we are to love people equally with all five.  In return, we’re each more likely to notice love that is shown to us in a love language we prefer.  In other words, we’re a little dense.

For example, if I’m an acts of service lover, then you may literally be saying to me “I love you” every single time we see each other—”How are you?  I love you.  For dinner, can we have pizza salad?  I love you”—but if you’re not doing acts of service for me, I may still not feel loved.  Irrational, you might say.  You are loved.  Nevertheless.

The love languages theory is useful but not perfect.  For instance, just about everybody I know hears the theory and then says, “Wait—I think I’m all of the love languages.”  Truer than not, I’d wager.  But the love languages guy does have a point: for some reason—both nature and nurture, I’d guess—we like to be told we’re loved in some ways more than others.  This turns out to matter.

Because of a dutiful sister who has long LOVED the love languages, this gift from a friend on my 27th birthday, and too much time thinking about myself, when Manfriend asked, I was ready.  “Physical affection, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service.  In that order.”

“Oh,” he said.  And he took my hand.

But Manfriend, it turns out, is not those same love languages in that order.  My sister called it, after spending a weekend with us.  “Your love languages are different,” she said.  “He’s quality time and acts of service.  You’re words of affirmation and physical affection.”  (For some reason, people always think I’m mostly words of affirmation.  For some reason.  Which maybe I would agree with if I weren’t always craving to have my back scratched.)

We’re working this out.  The other night when Manfriend was away in Boston, I sat in my room missing him and wondering what he would do if he were me.  I thought of something.  An act of service, turns out.  (Why didn’t I think of it on my own?)  So I did it.  And when he came home, he was so delighted, he sent me a text with words of affirmation.  I was so delighted, I wanted to kiss him.  I caught myself.

Kiss him, Sarah, do.  But then also vacuum his car.

I’ll be a multi-lingual lover yet.