How to show your love and oh, this is why I’m single

By | September 15, 2016

I’ve been reading about love recently, researching my way into crossing off life bucket list item #44 and I came across the love languages. Apparently, there are five different ways people communicate their affection and if you can figure out your honey’s preferred way and do that, you’ve got a better shot at a healthy relationship.

Here is a list of the love languages in the reverse order of how I speak my love.

5. Gifts

Some people, when they’re sweet on another person, will buy their darling presents to signify their sweetness. These people also tend to like receiving thoughtful presents from other people.

Blech. I received a big fat zero on this part of the quiz. Shopping sucks. Especially shopping for other people. I suspect a mate with this love language would not be quite right for me.

I’m ready to dismiss this love language out of hand, but I’m pretty sure my sister shows her love through gifts. For my Cousin’s bachelorette/hen party, Sister ordered personalized underwear, wrapped it and sent it with me weeks before the celebration because her pregnant self couldn’t attend a weekend full of drinking in another state.

In contrast, for my own present to said Cousin at said party that I did actually attend, I forgave a $30 debt incurred earlier that day in exchange for an extra present Cousin’s Sister (also my cousin) had with her the night before the scheduled gifting party.

Maybe I’m a horrible person. Or maybe I just show my love in different ways. I like the latter explanation more, but it’s probably a combination of both.

I should remember this fact to show my love to Sister.

4. Acts of Service 

Some folks show their love by doing shit for you. These folks generally appreciate it when you do shit for them too! Like going to the pharmacy for you when you’re sick. Or bringing you another taco bell hot sauce packet when they see you’re rationing out of laziness.

I think my father would score highly on this part of the quiz. When I’m visiting him during pomegranate season, he buys a bunch of these perfect fruits and carefully takes out the delicious juicy seeds that tend to stain everything it touches. As a result of his labor, this bowl greets me in the fridge.

Bowl of happiness (and fiber)

Bowl of happiness (and fiber)

I should keep this in mind when I want to show my love for him.

3. Words of Affirmation

Some souls prefer whispering sweet nothings and hearing them whispered back. They need to be told that they are appreciated, that they are loved, that they look tall.

I can’t think of any examples from specific family members.

2. Quality Time

Quality time! Now you’re speaking my language. I do understand the desire for words of affirmation and acts of service, but I am fluent in the dialect of quality time for showing affection.

Especially now that I’m retired, I believe that time is the single greatest gift anyone can give – themselves. You want to hang out with me? A lot? That means more than anything else. Your time is something you can’t fake and you can’t fob off on your secretary.

I talk about making friends (ask people to do things with you), making close friends (do things with the same people a lot) and I’m always nagging you about how spending your days doing things you love makes life better. You are what you do everyday. Doing things you love with people you love? That’s all I could want in life.

1. Physical touch

Okay, now I’m starting to understand why I’m single.

Physical touch was my largest love language by far. Anyone in my family will tell you that I’m a cuddler. Especially when it comes to romantic relationships, touch is paramount. In my opinion, touch is the single biggest difference between a friend and a more than friend.

Some cultures are a lot more touchy-feely than others. Depending on where on the planet you find yourself, a standard greeting could be three kisses on the check, two kisses on the cheek, one kiss on the cheek, a handshake, a hug, a bow, a curtsy or a wave.

If I don’t know you, I prefer the fist bump and explosion noise greeting. If we’re friends, the fist bump is still pretty good. I think I just really like making explosion noises. If we’re close friends, I’m happy to go for the hug. If we’re family, you’re getting a hug. Touch is reserved for those I love.

Combine my need for quality time and physical touch with my inability to sit still and you have a single lady. I’m never around long enough to form the necessary bond.

Found on the Berlin Wall

I’m not complaining about this. It’s a wonderful problem to have and I love my life more than I can explain to you with mere human words and no slide projector. I just have to keep reminding myself that this is my choice. There are trade-offs, but life is so full to the brim with trade-offs that the bag is going to rip soon. That’s simply opportunity cost.

It’s not something to mourn. It’s something to embrace. I am living the life that I want to live. I have agency.

But really, I know all this. You know all this. When I asked for advice on how to do the whole relationship thing, many of you chimed in to say that it might be difficult with my current lifestyle and that perhaps I needed to simmer down and chill out or hunker down first.

Maybe after six more months or so of wandering.

I know why people like these types of quizzes – it’s fun to analyze yourself and other people! Life is better when you can understand people better. That sounds so profound to me.

Take the love languages quiz for yourself here.

17 thoughts on “How to show your love and oh, this is why I’m single

  1. Sqsh

    I don’t think the results of your love languages test require you to compromise or settle down as such…Just to be aware of how you show/seek affection. You never know whether you might meet someone with the same Wanderlust and a fluency in the languages that matter. There are websites that link people up for dinners with like minded friends on arriving in a foreign city, there are casual acquaintances you may meet on your travels, you may be introduced to the friend of a friend at random and you never know what could happen.

    I applaud your commitment to your family and heritage, your openness about coping with your health struggles and your dedication to your goal of financial independence. These things have obviously made you happy but it sounds (with the recognition of the strain caused by opportunity cost) like you are looking for something more in your life, and right now you’re wondering if that is a partner. Perhaps – and I don’t mean to sound preachy or rude – but I can’t help feeling that an increased practice of conscious selflessness might help you feel more fulfilled and less guilt? It seems such a waste of your obvious legal talent and skills to turn your back on a field where you could really make a difference in others’ fragile and vulnerable lives. Your take on the love languages seems to circle back to the idea of why you might not be able to form a relationship (you won’t let people give you what you need) when really it should be giving you the secret key to turbocharging any relationship you want to strengthen, romantic or otherwise.

    Being open to a new relationship and caring about someone more than yourself can be very scary. I believe you will find the right person when it is meant to be, and in the meantime I wish you the best of luck in finding the things that bring you peace and lasting happiness.

  2. Daniel

    Great! I read your blog. It is inspiring. I like people that enjoy life. If you ever travel in Canada, Fredericton, NB I shall meet you for a beer. Love languages has improved my relationship. It is so great!

  3. tt


    Ugh! Brezhnev w/first cup a joe?!?

    You remain funny AND logical; completely (mostly?) willing to accept reality & consequences…

    For a recovering lawyer, you’re a pretty good diagnostician!

    Ignoring previous admissions that movies are too demanding of your time AND treading on the edge with my guy card, I respectfully recommend a few Hallmark films. Love and connection at any age, in the most un-expected places. Sappy? Perhaps.

    Just my 2 cents: the wanderlust will ease or be modified with the right connection.


  4. Mike

    I am a big believer in the old adage “there is someone for everyone”. Your retirement and doing things a bit unconventional statistically do not make you a loner. As I have gently advised friends (who have asked) you are only unique when you compare yourself to people that aren’t like you. They usually laugh but the point is there are lots of people like you. People with the same love language. People who travel for money, people who retire and travel, people who eschew the “norm” of society for something more fulfilling…for them. Compatibility is certainly a vital key to any successful and happy to a long-term commitment/relationship. I also believe that our love languages, no matter how fundamentally rooted in who we are as a result of our upbringing, environment, and just plain personal preference – can change. If someone feels that the time and effort of gift giving really expresses the caring associated with love as their main love language suddenly is deprived of physical touch (due to travel, lack of a relationship, environmental circumstances, whatever) you can bet that a loving “physical touch” will begin to become more of a desired love language. I am curious now if it can even be said that the love languages can even change throughout the day? Hmmm, perhaps. My living in 8 different places in the last 8 years as part of my own personal experiment (going for 10 in 10) has created a challenge for my desire to have deep, meaningful relationships built and strengthened over time rather than many superficial experiences (no matter have fun). But this too is the excitement of discovery a new place for a year at a job where I know I will be leaving (reduces stress). Work, right or wrong, is the birthplace of many relationships simply because of the access and constant observance of people in one place over time. Many people I would have overlooked over time showed their worth and amazing principled way of life that I would have misjudged if I was just visiting for a few days. I love figuring this out, pardon my grammatical rambling. Your journey too sounds interesting. Bottom line is: there is someone for everyone. Your situation might seem unique and there is much value in your uniqueness but I guarantee (and have met) people who have same values as you have shared on your post. But here’s the kicker, maybe a carbon copy of you is not the best match. Core beliefs must be in line (they are the pillars upon which a relationship is built) but beyond that – there are many ways to build a safe, secure, strong house to call a home. Ensure a strong structure and the rest are the fun and exciting details of designing, together, the “home” you want. Home being metaphorical as being on a plane traveling can be a home of sorts if you have the right person with you. Enjoy the journey!

  5. Lance

    I read the same book a long time ago and I’ve been surprised that it doesn’t change over time. Like you, I redlined Physical Touch and I agree it’s what separates an intimate relationship from all the others. Wouldn’t it be funny if it didn’t? Imagine a crusty boss on a Monday: “Jenkins! The whole TPS reporting system is down! Meet me in the conference room in 5 with Ramsey, Smith, Bourne, and Vasquez – we’re going to cuddle puddle until we sort this thing out!” Boom. I think I just came up with a business idea: Cuddle Consulting. Meh, maybe not.

    So instead of giving up on finding a great guy whilst in the middle of your wanderlusting (not sure that’s a word) years, why not find a fellow wanderluster (again with the word uncertainty)…. like…me? I’m Physical Touch and tied for Quality Time/Words of Affirmation, FIRE, handsome, interesting, fit, funny, and reasonably age appropriate. Oh yeah, modest when I’m not selling. Also, I find sprinting through the airport and physically blocking the plane door from closing while my partner catches up and security closes in a great bonding exercise – we should try it sometime.

  6. V

    “Combine my need for quality time and physical touch with my inability to sit still and you have” a very attractive persona/character! I just read for blog for fun but for the first time this made me ask, are you gay or straight (or in between)?

  7. tt

    PS (re film as inspiration)

    the girl in “the other end of the line” (Shriya Saran), let neither distance or convention deter her…

    What the heck, maybe a short time gig as a call center heroine? With access to financials and spending habits?

  8. Finance Solver

    For me personally, I usually utilize the 1.2. for my significant other. I figured out that I’m more of a touchy feely type of person and if I like the person a lot, I will give my time to her. Time is so precious these days and I will make the most effort in the world for someone I like. Good post!

  9. brunas

    definitely, I hate gifts and things, and I hate to buy things and presents and errands for other people, not cause I am stingy, but non-functional things have no value for me.
    I can understand why people have a hang-up for decoration, figures, 100 big photos of family members and souvenir, but it is definitely nothing for me, dont know why. I think its, cause I have so much interests and ideas, plans, activities that are waiting to be done. – I don’t want to get distracted by things and the past. I m trying to get out the best of the current situation. And material things are only hindrance and dust catcher..

    my Scores
    11 Quality Time
    8 Physical Touch
    7 Words of Affirmation
    4 Acts of Service
    0 Receiving Gifts
    : ))

  10. Laszlo

    ‘In time I exist and of time I speak’, would be the gist here. And, there is no greater joy than talking about love. A sublime and entertaining post. Voluntary Simplicity was one of the terms coined by the movement for frugality and that term would be apt to describe this piece.

  11. walter

    can you be certain you do not already know or have met the love of your life? perhaps when you can be found in some place for some extended period of time, the love of your life will magically present himself to you. you may even already know him. i’d imagine ‘catching’ you has not been easy all this time, for those in pursuit.

  12. Simon Kenton

    They missed 6: deadpan sharing raucously funny dry witticisms while the people around you look uncomprehending, then dissolving in laughter – while the people around you continue to look uncomprehending.

  13. Classical_Liberal

    I was gonna take the test… but 10-15 minutes AND I have to type my email…. Forget it! It’s practically a marriage!

    Typing this comment and catching of on thrifty gals blog will consume my next 10-15 minutes instead… maybe… it not like i’m making a commitment or anything.

  14. Ivan

    “Some folks show their love by doing shit for you. These folks generally appreciate it when you do shit for them too!”
    Lmao now this came out of left field. Your so cute. But anyways Acts of kindness was my topper and Physical Touch the runner up. This makes sence to me but at the same time im single going on 2 years now with a very bad track record before that. So maybe my love language is like the wrong dialect or something lol. I just figure you do nice things for people you love and the more touching the better lol. Of course you want to touch someone you have feelings for but this can go overboard if its at wierd times or just to much. Then it seems like desperation. Idk anyways Thanx for inviting me to your blog.


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