The Art of Loving Yourself in Your Language
by Mx. Chelsey Morgan
By now, we all know the 5 love languages. We hear them referenced in every relationship help book or YouTube video, especially around Valentine’s Day. But, for transparency’s sake or in case you’re living under a metaphorical rock, the 5 love languages are the 5 ways in which people express or understand love. Their origin is a novel written in 1992 by Gary Chapman called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, and they are separated into the following categories: Words of Affirmation, Gift Giving, Acts of Service, Quality Time, and Physical Touch.
There are plenty of amazing creators who’ve spoken more on what each of these love languages look like when you’re partnered. If you’re interested in learning more about what your love language might be, I’d recommend you start by taking the quiz or, if you’re not a pop quiz person, check out this episode of the Beyond the Bedroom podcast with Certified Sex Educator Birna Gustafsson.
However, if you’re like me and you take personality tests like you’re training for some type of introspective quiz show, you’re probably very well aware of your love language. Unfortunately, knowing how you give and receive love to a partner does not always translate when you’re sitting alone in an empty apartment during a pandemic wondering how to love yourself.
If that’s you, I hope this helps.
Words of Affirmation
There are people in this world who give and receive love through words of affirmation who are incredible at hyping themselves all the way up. I am not one of those people. But, who knows? Maybe you are. So here’s what they do.
Every day, once a day, look in the mirror and give yourself the love you need. Tell yourself the words you truly need to hear, whether you believe them or not, and walk through life embodying those statements. It’s very much… I am healthy. I am wealthy. I am rich. I am that bitch. I am gonna go get that bag and I’m not gonna take your shit… or something that like that.
Though, for many, including myself, that’s not something we all feel quite so comfortable doing. For one reason or another, whether it’s trouble looking at ourselves in the mirror or trouble feeling genuine or staying grounded in those moments, it’s hard to feel loved in that way. For you, I recommend choosing a notebook, one specifically for affirmations, and giving yourself the space to love yourself in those pages.
If that’s still not something that feels comfortable or positive, I encourage you to be aware of the media you’re consuming. Loving yourself through words of affirmation can very well just mean limiting your media consumption to that which encourages you to be your best self. Listen to positive music. Find a podcast about a subject that stimulates you. Follow creators on social media that are sex, kink and body positive, or, take a social media break all together. Mute words that trigger you and find content that inspires you. Make sure the words that you’re spending your day hearing celebrate what makes you, you. Embody those words, especially when it’s difficult to do so, and set your intention toward affirming all that is beautiful about who you are.
I’d absolutely love to spend this section listing out an extensive encyclopedia of businesses, restaurants, and sex toy shops and to tell you to buy all of the clothes, books and vibrators your heart desires. However, unfortunately, most people, myself included, do not have the privilege of unlimited funding. Not to mention we all live in a society that places guilt those who choose to spend money on themselves to begin with. So, instead, I challenge you to re-think what the word gift means to you.
If you’re able, maybe it means sending yourself flowers to be delivered in a few months and being delighted and surprised when they show up at your door. Maybe it means putting aside a dollar a day so you can end your week an overpriced latte or a pastry from a local bakery. Or, maybe it’s simpler than that. A gift to yourself could be a long shower, an extra slice of cake, a glass of wine with dinner, or giving yourself permission to spend a few more minutes in bed.
For some, the definition of the perfect gift has a dollar amount and that’s valid. Though for others, a gift is simply the manifestation of intention. It’s a card that says “I appreciate you”. It’s an airport trinket that says “I think of you”. It could even be a vibrator that says “I value your pleasure”. If those sentiments resonate with you, I challenge you to gift yourself a physical manifestation of your self-care and value it as you would a bouquet of flowers on your doorstep on Valentine’s Day.
Acts of Service
If your love language is acts of service, it may be difficult to conceptualize how you can serve yourself in the same way you service other people.
If that’s you, I challenge you to find the you care for other and do those tasks for yourself every day. If you feel comfortable and productive in a clean, organized environment, find the energy to straighten up the house before bed. That way, you can wake up and start your day feeling balanced and ready to take on your responsibilities. If you’re a lover of food, cook yourself something new and put some extra thought into preparing and plating it for yourself.
If you’re a member of the kink community, take a moment to sit down and define what it means to you to be a service submissive or a service Dominant. What would you do to express your love to your partner? Depending on your boundaries and your preferred kink dynamics, that could look like treating yourself with the utmost respect, listening to your body’s basic needs for food, sleep and pleasure, or defining a morning or evening ritual to show your love for yourself or self-pleasuring in a way that’s purposeful while respecting and acknowledging your own boundaries. Find ways to give yourself after-care after a stressful or emotionally intense day. Don’t wait for someone to care for or for someone to care for you. Find safe, sane and consensual ways to service yourself when you need it most.
Just remember, you deserve to be loved fully and completely in your language. If you’re willing to put in the work to help others feel loved, know that it’s okay to reserve some of that energy to do the same for yourself.
Depending on what your life looks like, spending quality time with yourself can either sound nearly impossible, incredibly laughable or just… not ideal. But if quality time is your love language, regardless of the obstacles, it is important to not deny yourself the pleasure.
Maybe you’re in a situation where you’re constantly surrounded by others. Maybe you live with your parents or your kids or you have roommates that you love or hate or somewhere in between. Maybe you’re like me and you live alone during a time when quality time with others in the way that you crave isn’t necessarily an option. Regardless of your circumstance, I implore you to remember that what you need is quality, not quantity. It’s not about dedicating an hour to mediation or to yoga or reading a book a week until the end of the pandemic – though if that works for you, you’re incredible and I appreciate you.
Someone’s going to have to count the number of times I’ve said the word, but I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll say it again. It’s about intention. Maybe today you only have the spoons, or mental capacity, to sit with yourself for 10 minutes. Maybe your mind likes to wander at a figurative mile a minute and so, to you, spending 10 minutes with your thoughts does more harm than good. Maybe you just hate to read. For you, and for me, I’d say to take some time every day to do something that calms you.
Watch that guilty pleasure show you don’t tell most people you like. Listen to true crime podcasts. Paint your nails. Flex in the mirror. Dance alone in your room. If you’re an artist, create. If you’re a gamer, play Horizon Zero Dawn. It’s honestly so good. If you’re a rope bunny or a rigger, learn some new ties or watch some kinktok creators on an app that’s not paying me enough to name it. Show yourself some compassion. Take the pressure off and spend some quality time doing what helps you to feel loved.
Hello. My name is Chelsey Morgan and my primary love language is physical touch. I live alone. I work from home. My closest family member is roughly 500 miles away. My friends are scattered and we’re in a global pandemic. If you relate to my situation, let me start by saying, I love you and I feel your pain. However, if physical touch is your love language, all is not lost.
I’d like to get the obvious out of the way. Self-pleasuring is a wonderful and healthy way to give yourself the physical touch that you crave. To some, that may be enough said. However, there are many who see solo sex as a significantly less satisfying experience to partnered sex. Of course, there is no way to truly mimic the experience of being with a partner, but there are ways to incorporate intentional touch in order to increase pleasure and to curate a satisfying experience for yourself. Think of it this way, when you’re having partnered sex, do you simply just go for it and try to get it over with? Or do you take the time to build tension, to tease or edge, to try for multiple orgasms or to engage other parts of your body? If those are things you need in order for partnered sex to be pleasurable, why wouldn’t you work to incorporate those practices into your solo play? Knowing how you enjoy being touched can only benefit you and better your future sexual experiences.
Let’s be honest though, feeling love through physical touch more often than not has nothing to do with sex. In fact, many people with physical touch as their love language don’t feel sexual attraction or have low desire and are happy without sex altogether. Whether that’s you or not, you still are entitled to feeling loved in your language and there are plenty of ways to show up for yourself physically without involving sex.
For some people, this may look like setting aside time each day to ground themselves in their body. Whether that be performing a meditative body scan, doing yoga or working out, or taking a hot shower and doing a skin care routine. It can be anything and everything that reminds your skin to feel. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a hug every once in a while when you’re down. If you’re able, buy a weighted blanket or a body pillow to help you sleep.
If you’re interested in kink, I highly recommend rope as a therapeutic act. Practicing self-ties can stimulate your physical body in a way that centers you as an active participant in your own pleasure. Feel the rope on your body. Feel it run through your fingers and spend time giving yourself the touch you need. This goes for any kink or practice, but of course, this comes with a reminder to kink safely. Have rope sheers or, if you prefer sensation or impact play, have a first aid kit nearby and listen to your body’s cues. Respecting your own boundaries is just as crucial as respecting the boundaries of others.
Kink isn’t inherently about sex and is not reserved for allosexual people [people who experience sexual attraction; the opposite of asexual]. For some, it’s simply how they express their love language to their partner, and, as I hope you’ve learned by now, it’s a wonderful way to express your love language to yourself.
If you’ve made it this far, give yourself a pat on the back, a kind word, or an extra slice of cake because you’ve both done yourself a service and dedicated quality time toward the practice of loving yourself. Self-care is not an option or a trend. It’s a fundamental part of being human. It’s putting your figurative mask on before assisting those around you and ensuring a life that is filled with love, whether you’re partnered or not.