I Faked My Love Language for My Abuser’s Benefit

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Photo by Christiana Rivers on Unsplash

onsistently, my love language quiz results have placed words of affirmation and acts of service vying for top spot, with physical touch and quality time a distant second place tie, and gifts bringing up the rear. Today, my Facebook memories brought up a screenshot of my quiz results from 2015 with the caption, “No wonder I love it when he does the dishes!”

My results were as follows:

  • Acts of Service: 11
  • Words of Affirmation: 10
  • Physical Touch: 5
  • Quality Time: 4
  • Gifts: 0

While it’s possible to give and receive love in all five love languages, taking the quiz is a great check-in to make sure I’m honoring the easiest and most effective ways for my loved ones to show me they care.

My new results, taken four years after the previous quiz, were completely different.

  • Words of Affirmation: 9
  • Physical Touch: 7
  • Quality Time: 7
  • Acts of Service: 6
  • Receiving Gifts: 1

Why the difference?

It was easier to close off that part of myself and act like touch wasn’t an important part of making me feel connected and loved.

Four years ago, I would have taken the quiz with my partner in mind. A partner who did not provide physical touch unless I begged, a partner who only told me nice things when I was in crisis about our relationship going under, and a partner who viewed “quality time” as watching tv every night while he was allowed to be on his phone and I wasn’t.

I was stressed when I was home, because if he needed me, I dropped what I was doing to go to him. Look at this photo, do you like how I edited it? I can’t find my inhaler, can you look for it in the bed? If I was using my phone to chat with online friends, he’d make snide comments. I was isolated and any time for myself was apt to be interrupted.

I was stressed when I wasn’t home, because I worried about him needing me and me taking my time elsewhere. I’d apologize for taking so long to go grocery shopping. I’d feel bad for meeting a friend for lunch. I felt guilty for doing anything for me.

In that relationship, I did feel the most loved when he complimented me or did the dishes. Those were the smallest possible things he could do to keep me feeling like our relationship was positive. But he never tried harder than the bare minimum.

Giving everything I had to a man who gave me next to nothing was dehumanizing and, to be frank, a real brain-fuck. How could he possibly not love me when I spent all of my energy on proving how good a partner I was?

Of course my 2015 quiz results would show lack of interest in physical touch. I wasn’t getting touched regularly. If I acknowledged that it made me feel good, that was something he could easily withdraw or deny (and he did). It was easier to close off that part of myself and act like touch wasn’t an important part of making me feel connected and loved. It was too dependent on him to provide for me. It wasn’t safe.

The version of me that took the quiz in 2015 took it for my abuser’s benefit. I wanted my results to be a tidy package of easy things he could do for me. The most basic things he could do to show up in our relationship. And he still didn’t.

Childhood informs our love languages

I don’t have to be good enough for her to be good enough for me.

Reflecting on my past love languages also made me realize that I would have seen acts of service and words of affirmation as key love languages as a child.

Chores were the way we made sure mom was in a good mood. If she wasn’t happy, we would clean. That was the only safe move. So naturally, I would view service as love. I traded my service for her love. And her love came in the form of words that I had done a good job.

All I ever wanted from my mother was for her to think I was good enough, and it took removing her from my life for me to realize I was. I don’t have to be good enough for her to be good enough for me.

Love after trauma

Trusting people after trauma is a leap of faith. Sometimes it won’t work out. And other times, it is extremely rewarding.

After I left my abusive marriage, I fell in love again immediately. I moved in with a new partner after dating for about six months, and we were unbelievably happy together. Until we weren’t.

We broke up. I moved out, and I moved on.

I have been single for almost five months, and it is lonely sometimes. I want affirmation and compliments. I want to feel desired. I want someone to woo me. I want to be touched.

I am finding these things in other ways, because I still have a lot of healing to do when it comes to relationships and allowing romantic partners to define me.

I have close friendships and am not shy about hugs and kisses in all relationships from platonic to romantic. I schedule quality time not only with other people individually and in groups but for myself to be alone. I ask for affirmation or touch or time when I need it.

Love after trauma is love for yourself.

An abuser will twist love into something only they can provide for you. But once you find your way to freedom, you’ll find that love is in you. Love is your boundaries saying “No, this person doesn’t get to control me anymore.” Love is choosing healthy friendships and relationships.

Love yourself enough to do the hard work of recovery, to choose introspection when you find yourself seeking love in others before you seek it in yourself, and to go drink some water, sunshine. You got this.

Prone to sudden bursts of encouragement. They/them. Queer, autistic author of bit.ly/GaslightingMillennials

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