The Fascinating Link Between Self-Destructive Behavior and Love Languages
Tik-Tok is a fascinating place. Social media can show us when something really resonates with a massive amount of people. Posts go viral, sometimes out of malice or anger, but because they create such a lightbulb moment in someone that they just have to share it. A recent viral post explores a fascinating connection between love languages and self-destructive behaviors.
What are the Five Love Languages?
Posts going viral are not unlike a book becoming a best seller. People read the book and want to share it, they talk about it, pass it around, buy copies of it for friends and loved ones. The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman is such a book. It has sold over 12 million copies in English and has been translated into 50 languages. You could say it went old-school viral.
Dr. Chapman discovered in his 40 years as a couples counselor that people often felt that their partner just didn’t love them. But the other person would insist that they were trying. He found that the types of love that people gave and wanted to receive fell into five categories. When he started introducing these categories, or “languages” to his couples, what he found was that they really helped them feel more loved by their partners.
The Five Love Languages are:
- Words of Affirmation: like “you are such a great cook! I am so lucky to be living with someone who takes such care in their food preparation, thank you for taking such good care of me”
- Physical Touch: sexy-time of course, but also could be a backrub at the end of the day, cuddling on the couch, holding hands in the park
- Acts of Service: this is doing something for your partner or loved ones that makes their lives easier. Maybe taking the time to do a chore that they normally do, or running an errand for them.
- Gifts: presents!
- Quality Time: Just spending real, meaningful time with the person you love.
Most of us like all of these things to some extent. But we each have one or two that make us feel most loved. And if we aren’t getting our primary language, we can feel neglected. If you don’t know off the bat what yours is, you can take a quiz here and find out.
(Hint: if you’re struggling to answer one of the questions, close your eyes and imagine someone you love; a parent, child, best friend, partner, etc. doing each thing. For example, imagine your child spontaneously giving you a gift, vs telling you that they appreciate you, they are both great of course, but one might feel a little more meaningful to you than the other).
My main love language is quality time. When my family asks what I want for my birthday, it’s not gifts or “me time” it’s spending time with them doing something meaningful. For mother’s day last week, we went to a museum and I felt so happy and fulfilled having an afternoon with my favorite people.
How we deny ourselves love
But back to Tik-Tok. There’s been a post recently that’s gone viral, and it explores the way that we self-sabotage and how it might be related to your love language.
What is self-sabotage? It’s the things we do that make life difficult for ourselves. This could be so many things, negative self-talk, worry, giving up before we’re finished with something or procrastination, isolating ourselves from loved ones, binging or restricting ourselves.
These Tik-Toks asked people to think about their go-to form of self-destructive behavior, and then name their love language, and what many people found is that they were related.
Here are some of the comments from the videos:
People who used self-harm in the form of binging, biting nails, substance abuse, or hurting their body — their love language was physical touch
Isolation — and Quality Time (I definitely do this)
Procrastination — Acts of Service
Never asking for help — Acts of Service
Negative Self Talk — Words of Affirmation
Of course, this is just a fun social media game, and it’s not a perfect science. But, most people that responded to this were amazed at the way that they linked up. And many people asked, “ok, now that I know this, what I should do with this information?”
Last year I realized that maybe the best way to show myself love was to give myself my preferred love language. Since my LL is quality time, that seemed difficult to do by myself. After a particularly hard week, I decided to treat myself by going to my favorite cafe with a journal and a book, which felt really nice. But this experiment lends another layer to the puzzle. If one way I am denying myself love is by isolating, then it also makes sense to reach out when I am needing love. It makes sense to try to plan quality time with friends. In times of distress, this can be difficult, but I’ve been trying to do it more by inviting a friend out for a hike, or a small group over for a casual evening.
Recognizing the way that we are denying ourselves love might be a key to asking for what we need. If words of affirmation are our love language, and we realize that we are spewing negative self-talk at ourselves, we can either try to give those affirmations to ourselves or ask for them.
It can feel so uncomfortable to ask for it though, right? But, imagine if someone you loved came to you and said “I’ve been really beating myself up lately and could use a pep talk — can you tell me what I’ve been doing right?” I bet you’d be happy to shower them with affirmations!
If this resonates with you, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!