Episode 100: The Five Love Languages with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Episode 100: The Five Love Languages with Alyssa Scolari, LPC
Alyssa is celebrating 100 episodes this week by talking about the five different love languages, first coined by psychologist Gary Chapman. Learning about the five love languages can significantly improve the relationships you have with partners, friends, and family.
To learn more about the different love languages, please see Gary Chapman’s book: The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate
Check out the Light After Trauma website for transcripts, other episodes, Alyssa’s guest appearances, and more at: www.lightaftertrauma.com
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You can also check out Alyssa at www.alyssascolari.com
Alyssa Scolari [00:23]:
Hey everybody. It is your host Alyssa Scolari. Welcome back to another episode of The Light After Trauma podcast and most especially, happy 100th episode. We are officially in triple digits. I don’t know how that happened. I have no clue. It has been almost two years since the podcast started and I can’t even wrap my brain around it. We are a hundred episodes in, and it has been so much fun every step of the way. I remember being in the pandemic right at the beginning when everything was supposed to shut down for only two weeks. And I remember thinking to myself, I have to do something to help people that are suffering. I have to do something to help people have a greater understanding about mental health. And it sort of just dawned on me like, “Oh, I really want to start a podcast.”
Alyssa Scolari [01:28]:
That is a great way to reach people and to be able to provide people with free access to mental health education. So I remember I get all these reminders on my phone from Facebook, I guess, as my equipment would come in, like my podcast microphone. I would take a picture of it and I would put it on my story. So I keep getting little reminders on my social media from that two years ago and it is mind boggling and I’m really honored to be here. There are times when the podcast has really stressed me out and has felt like a lot. But honestly, for the most part, I have been loving every second of it and I have formed friendships with, I think so many of you. I have amazing friendships right now that I would’ve never had if it weren’t for this podcast, whether it’s people who have been on the show, whether it is people who have contacted me after hearing the podcast and we just connected on social media.
Alyssa Scolari [02:38]:
I just feel like I have friends all over the world and you have been right by my side, listening to me, not just share my story, but be vulnerable. Because I shared my story, but I share my story for the most part, as I’m going through things. And it has been great to feel the support. It has been great to be able to give support in the form of education about mental health. It’s just been great. It’s all been great. I don’t even have any words. I don’t have any words. So if you and I have talked and we’re friends, thank you. I love you. If you and I have never spoken, but you just listened to the podcast. Thank you. I love you. We are going to keep going until, I don’t know when. I don’t know, we’re just going to keep going. We’re going to keep doing it. So thank you so much for all your support. I would honestly never be here without you.
Alyssa Scolari [03:46]:
And if you are continuing to like what you hear and you haven’t done so already, I kindly ask that you please leave a rating or review of the podcast because those ratings really help the podcast to continue to grow and to reach a wider audience so more people can get the mental health education and support and the trauma focused education that they need. That would be great. And without further ado, let’s get into it today. So I thought for the hundredth episode, we could talk about something maybe a little bit more fun. Listen, I always think that mental health stuff is fun, but of course it can be very, very serious. So I thought maybe we would just dial it back a notch and talk about something that I think is really cool. So today I wanted to talk about the five love languages, which I always think are interesting and relate to absolutely everybody.
Alyssa Scolari [04:42]:
The five love languages, I’m sure most of you have heard of this. But if you have not heard of this so far, it’s based on a book by a PhD, Gary Chapman, who was a therapist who worked a lot with couples and with people in complicated relationships. And he wrote this book titled, The Five Love Languages, and the book was released in 1992. And basically what this book is it’s a collection of his extensive research as a therapist and he takes kind of everything that he has seen throughout his career. And he condenses people’s communication patterns and how couples communicate love. He condenses it all into five basic categories and calls them love languages. Now it’s important to remember about love languages, that when we talk about it’s not just between romantic partners. Love languages, it’s quite literally how we express our love to the people in our lives that we want to express love to. But it’s also how we like to be loved by the people in our lives who love us. So it is both. So these love languages are not super old, definitely a newer concept.
Alyssa Scolari [06:18]:
Like I said, it came out in the nineties, 1992 specifically, the year I was born. So it is as old as I am. It is 30 years old, which is not very old. And if you’re listening out there and you think 30 is old, we need to talk. I’m just kidding, kind of, ish. Anyway, so what are the love languages? All right, let’s break it down. So we have words of affirmation. We have physical touch. We have receiving gifts. Quality time and acts of service. And we are going to get into what that means. So what are words of affirmation? Well, it seems kind of self-explanatory, but basically it’s using your language to tell somebody that you love them. And it’s not just, I love you. I love you. I love you. It’s more like you are verbally encouraging somebody. You are validating them. You are affirming them.
Alyssa Scolari [07:16]:
You are actively listening to them and giving them feedback and that feedback is really encouraging. This is the person who is a talker, if you need to just talk through things and you need to hear validation, you need to hear reassurance constantly. You might be a words of affirmation person. That might be your love language. Now, I think it’s important to note that I think you can have multiple of these. I think that every relationship needs all of these and I’m not a couple’s therapist. So don’t quote me on that, but I kind of look at all these and I’m like, “I think that all of them are important.” So this isn’t to say that you only need one for a relationship to survive, but rather there’s usually one of these that rings more true for you than it does for any of the other ones.
Alyssa Scolari [08:23]:
So folks whose love language is words of affirmation, they really appreciate things like handwritten notes. They like cards for birthdays and anniversaries. They love it when you send them a text in the middle of the day, just, “Hey, I’m thinking about you. I love you.” They love that stuff. That is how they feel the most loved. Now, maybe this isn’t how you like to receive love, because personally, it’s not how I like to receive love and I’m not saying words of affirmation are bad. I like them. They’re great. I like when my partner tells me that he loves me, but I don’t need it. It’s not my oxygen, so to speak. But maybe you are somebody who gives words of affirmation and that is how you communicate your love. So you can have one love language that’s your way of communicating, love to others and a totally different love language that’s your way of liking to receive love.
Alyssa Scolari [09:32]:
And that’s definitely the case for me. I tend to be a words of affirmation person when it comes to giving love, which honestly does that surprise anybody given the fact that I’m a therapist? Is anybody shocked by this? No, I totally show my love and my care and my concern with my clients and my friends and my husband, by words of affirmation. I’m actively listening. I’m encouraging. I’m affirming people all of the time and this is not with my clients, but with the friends in my life, with the loved ones in my life and with my partner. I will make handwritten cards or I will send an unexpected note. I know I used to do those things when David and I first started dating. I don’t so much anymore, although I probably should now that I think about it, but that is something I am much more likely to do.
Alyssa Scolari [10:33]:
But when I receive things like that, I like it, but it doesn’t necessarily just do it for me, if you know what I mean. So the next that we’re going to talk about is physical touch. When people hear this, physical touch as a love language, everybody’s brain jumps, not everybody but most people’s brain jumps to the same thing, which is sex. Or like, “Oh, if you’re a love, language is physical touch, then you just want to be having sex all of the time.” I’ve had so many people that I’ve spoken to about love languages who didn’t really understand what physical touch meant. When I say my love language is physical touch because that is my love language, people look at me almost kind of sideways. And I’m like, “That’s not what it means.” Yes. When it comes to physical touch, sex and intimacy can be a part of it.
Alyssa Scolari [11:32]:
And that is a part of it, but there are other things that are also really important when it comes to physical touch. And it’s more just nonverbal body language. So I like hugging. I kind of like kissing, but I’m more hugging is where it’s at for me. But also I like when somebody, when I say somebody I’m talking about David. I like when David will play with my hair or just give me a foot rub or just rub my back, whatever kind of physical touch. Again, non-sexual, I love it. It is the best thing ever to me. Now on the same kind of topic, I don’t really appreciate, it’s not that I don’t appreciate it. But I don’t show my love through physical time. You will not see me opening my arms and reaching out to hold somebody and initiating any kind of physical contact.
Alyssa Scolari [12:47]:
I don’t do that. I think because it’s definitely partially due to my history of sexual abuse. I like touch, but it’s somebody that I have to feel really, really safe with. So I’m not likely to go right to physical touch as a love language for friends or acquaintances or anything like that. And again, it’s not that my friends aren’t safe. People like my friends are incredibly safe people. It’s more so just that I feel like there’s a different level of safety that’s accessed with David. That just sort of makes me really be able to tap into my desire for physical touch, without having my defenses up or my nervous system kind of reactive as a result of my sexual trauma. So physical touch is my number one. That is my love language, but I am not really one to give a whole lot when it comes to, I guess I should say, I’m not really one to show my love through physical touch.
Alyssa Scolari [13:59]:
I like to receive through physical touch. So the next one is gift giving, receiving gifts. And this one really, again, is exactly as it sounds, it’s putting thought into buying things, not even buying things, making things. It could also be like, “Hey, I made you muffins.” When David and I first started dating, we would often bond over our love for food, which honestly we still do. That has never gone away. And where I lived with my parents, there was this really great Italian shop with the best cannolis. And so he also loves blueberry and they made blueberry cannolis. We worked together, we first met at work together. So I would often bring him blueberry cannolis to work. Aside from this though, I’m not much of a gift giver to the point where if I have a close friend whose birthday is coming up, or even if David’s birthday is coming up, I panic over what I’m going to get somebody for their birthday.
Alyssa Scolari [15:10]:
It is such an anxiety thing for me. I’m like, “Okay, well I know this person loves, I don’t know, plants. So I think I’m going to get this person a plant. But what if I pick the one plant that they hate, or what if I pick the one plant in the world that they happen to be allergic to?” That is just so my intrusive thoughts. I just think about all the ways in which my gift is going to be the worst thing ever. And so gift giving gives me too much anxiety. I don’t like it. I, of course, can receive it. I actually get very overwhelmed when people give me gifts. I will cry, happy tears, but I will still cry. I very much enjoy receiving gifts, but it makes me very emotional that somebody would even think of me and be so kind as to give me a gift.
Alyssa Scolari [16:08]:
So I definitely enjoy receiving this as a love language, but I have way too much anxiety to be able to really give it. And when I say it, I mean any kind of thoughtful gifts or thoughtful gestures. So then there is quality time. And this is really just when somebody spends uninterrupted time with you. Uninterrupted off of their phone, not on social media and it is one on one time. And this is, I think, a big one for a lot of people. And I think, in particularly, a lot of childhood trauma survivors, especially if there was neglect involved. People really tend to love that one-on-one time. And that’s not to say that your childhood trauma is going to drive what your love languages are. That’s certainly not the case, or at least there’s no research to my knowledge that is supporting of that.
Alyssa Scolari [17:15]:
But I do think that sometimes it can play a factor. So quality time really is creating special moments. Let’s go for a walk. We’re going to have date nights every week or every other week. We are going to go to the gym together. We’re going to ride into work together or Friday nights, our pizza and movie nights. Again, I think that these things are important for every relationship and friendship. I think quality time is, of course, very important for a friendship. But I think the question is that the most important thing to you? This would be probably my second most important love language aside from physical touch. I also really communicate my love with other people with quality time, “Hey, let’s hang out, let’s do something. Let’s go here. Let’s go there.” Now that I’ve recovered a lot from my trauma and I don’t have as much anxiety around seeing people. I really am somebody who enjoys quality time.
Alyssa Scolari [18:32]:
So then there’s acts of service. That is the last one, that’s certainly not the least. And this is just letting somebody know that you want to help them, lightening their load, doing tasks for them. “Hey, I’m going to take your car. I’m going to go get your oil changed.” Or, “Hey, I decided to make dinner tonight because I know you had a really long day.” Or it can be even something so small like, “Oh, Hey, I fed the dogs this morning, because I know you had a meeting.” It doesn’t have to be monumental. It can be very minor. “I made you breakfast. I hung a load of laundry.” Could be very small things. Acts of service is absolutely the way that my husband likes to communicate his love for me. He is a huge acts of service guy.
Alyssa Scolari [19:30]:
He does so much for me, whether it’s cooking, whether it’s cleaning, taking care of the dogs. He will do anything for me and it is really, really awesome. Now I think in terms of how he likes to receive love, I definitely think it’s quality time. I think he really appreciates quality time. So those are the love languages. Now here’s what’s really important about these love languages is, I think for many, many couples and many different kinds of friendships, love languages can be a little bit difficult because we have to learn a lot about the other person and what their needs are. And it’s sort of like, “Well, what do we do when our love languages are completely different?” And I think that when you’re with somebody and your love language is totally different than theirs. For trauma survivors, a lot of times for childhood abuse survivors, it can be really, really triggering because we may not necessarily see that.
Alyssa Scolari [20:50]:
I may not see that my mom’s showing me love by acts of service, buying me clothes, cooking for me. I may not see that as love and I may be upset and feeling unloved because I’m not getting hugs or cuddles from my mom. That is sort of a miscommunication. I’m not seeing that you love me because you are not loving me in a way that I can see, you are loving me in a way that only you can see. So this is why love languages are so important. Yes, they’re fun to talk about, but they’re actually really important for the growth of any kind of relationship, whether it’s romantic or not. And we have childhood trauma, we are already used to not getting our needs met and our brains are already hypervigilant and extra wired for protection.
Alyssa Scolari [21:51]:
So as soon as we see that our needs aren’t getting met, maybe your love language is quality time and your partner is not making any time for you. They will hang a little laundry and they mow the lawn and they cook, but maybe they haven’t planned a date night. Well, here you are triggered feeling abandoned, unloved, maybe worried that something is going wrong in the relationship because your needs aren’t getting met. So you are triggered because you can’t see that they’re expressing love through their way. So I think that it’s really important to not only ask yourself, what are my love languages? But to also ask yourself, what are the love languages of those people around me? And you don’t even have to ask yourself because if I were you, I would go straight to the source. Go right up to your partner, talk to your friends. What are your love languages?
Alyssa Scolari [22:48]:
Because once you start to realize, “Oh, Hey, this person never hugs me. I have my best friend. My best friend never hugs me.” This is not a true story. “But my best friend never hugs me when she sees me. We see each other twice a year and she never hugs me. She only waves. I feel like she doesn’t even want to be my friend.” Meanwhile, she might not be hugging you, but she lives in another country and she spent money on a plane ticket, traveled halfway around the world to spend a week with you, quality time or could that be acts of service? Maybe she doesn’t hug you when she sees you. But when you guys aren’t together, she’s texting me all the time, giving you words of affirmation. It is really important to fully assess all of what is going on sometimes when you’re feeling triggered or we’re feeling unloved.
Alyssa Scolari [23:45]:
Is it that I’m being unloved right now? Or is this person expressing love to me in a different way? And if that’s the case, if somebody is expressing love to you in a way that you don’t necessarily receive, that’s the time to have a conversation about it. Because I think you have to decide like, “Okay, what do we do and how do we compromise so that we both get our needs met? My husband likes quality time. I like physical touch. So we compromise while we spend quality time together, while we are sitting down on the couch, watching a movie together. I’m getting a foot rub or we’re holding hands or he’s rubbing my back or he’s playing with my hair. How can we compromise on this so that both of our needs get met?
Alyssa Scolari [24:42]:
It is a really important conversation to have with your friends, with your partners, with your loved ones. But I think one of the really important things here that I also want to say is to not confuse abuse with, “Oh, our love languages aren’t the same.” Because I see that happens or can happen. Love languages aren’t to be thought about when you’re in a situation where your partner is abusive or controlling or manipulative. That’s not where we want to justify somebody’s behaviors based off of love languages. So be careful not to justify abuse based off of somebody’s love languages. And this is kind of an egregious example, but just to kind of show you what I’m talking about, it wouldn’t be appropriate to say, “Well, when I was a child, we never had any food or hot water in the house, but my mom was always home with us.”
Alyssa Scolari [26:02]:
You don’t want to justify neglect. So that is really important because I do think that some people do that, not maybe necessarily with child abuse and neglect, but I do see it happening a lot with romantic partners. “He’s mean to me and he talks down to me because words of affirmation aren’t his love language. He likes physical touch, or I need to be open to having sex more because his love language is physical touch. Therefore, I can’t say no.” Those are things to really think about. And I highly recommend talking with a therapist about to make sure, yes, can it be the case that one partner may need to work on their being more intimate, perhaps. But we want to make sure that we talk to a therapist about that and make sure that it’s not the case that your partner is pressuring you inappropriately so to have sex.
Alyssa Scolari [27:07]:
So I hope that makes sense. And I think it’s a very, very important takeaway when we talk about the five love languages. So these are really fun. I absolutely love them. And if you don’t know what your love language is, there are a gazillion quizzes online that you could take to find out. You can also send the quizzes to your friends, to your partner to be able to find out. And it’s a fun way to, I think, get to know each other a little bit more. And again, if you have any questions or concerns like, “Was this abuse? Am I confusing love languages? Is this okay?” Please make sure that you talk to a therapist or to a professional about it. I strongly encourage that. So that was that. That was a wrap on episode 100, which was so fun. Thank you again for being here with me for 100 episodes. I love you all. I am holding you in the light and I will see you next week.
Alyssa Scolari [28:17]:
Thanks for listening everyone. For more information, please head over to lightaftertrauma.com or you can also follow us on social media. On Instagram, we are @lightaftertrauma and on Twitter it is @lightafterpod. Lastly, please head over to patreon.com/lightaftertrauma to support our show. We are asking for $5 a month, which is the equivalent to a cup of coffee at Starbucks. So please head on over again. That’s patreon.com/lightaftertrauma. Thank you and we appreciate your support.