Tricky Fish Episode 5 – The One About Love Languages Part 2

Tricky Fish Episode 5 – The One About Love Languages Part 2

Tricky Fish
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This is episode 5, the second part of our two part episodes about Love Languages. In this one we discuss what not to do with love languages.

Helpful Links

5 Love Languages main site:
5 Love Languages Quiz site:
A good article to help get you started:


Announcer: Welcome to tricky fish, a conversation between a millennial daughter and her Gen X dad. Here’s your hosts, Rhiannon and Ian!

R: Hello again! And welcome to Love Languages, Part Two. I apologize to leave everyone hanging and we had to do a part two; but I definitely should have known better. So to catch anyone up, we were discussing the five commonly talked about love languages which are: quality time, physical touch, gifts (both receiving and giving), acts of service, and words of affirmation. And in our last episode, we talked about what all of these could mean, examples for each one; if you didn’t listen to it, highly suggest. And I also recommend looking into your friends his love languages as well, it doesn’t have to just be like a romantic thing. And I’ve used it to strengthen literally every relationship that I have, platonic or romantic.

I: I just want to make a quick correction. Our last episode was about redefining success. So it’s the episode before. Episode Three is the first love language podcast- episode of the podcast. So if you haven’t-

R: I meant the last love language episode… 

I: Gotcha. Okay. 

R: I’m sure people appreciate that distinction. So anyway, now with today’s episode, I wanted to talk about what to avoid- with sorry, what to avoid with these love languages. Now, when I discuss this information, it’s with the intent that we will use it to better treat people in our lives, not to purposefully do these things with the intention of hurting them or punishing them. Just so that we are on the same page, purposely doing these things to hurt other people is considered abuse or neglect, and would just be a terrible human thing to do. So just don’t. Use this knowledge for good.

I: And is definitely not something this podcast is about.

R: For sure. So based off of how my list is made, I’m going to go through what I have written down. So I’ll go with quality time first. So for quality time, they need one on one attention where they’re, like you’re getting their undivided attention for a specific amount of time. It could be just a quick breakfast date, it could be just having a morning ritual when you’re getting ready for the day, it could be an actual date. It doesn’t have to be this whole drawn out thing, it’s just time that you are dedicated to them in that moment, and nothing else is distracting you. So with that, if someone’s love language is quality time, then being on your phone the whole time you’re hanging out together, being zoned out and just not really being present in the moment- that will definitely cause them to not feel the love, so to speak. 

I: Okay, so here’s a question. 

R: Because you’re not like present and with them.

I: Sure. So here’s the question. As a writer, I just tend to get inspiration at the most random of times. And I could be with somebody, say on a date, and not look at my phone. But like, right in the middle of the conversation we’re having, I get inspired, and I get a story idea. And I have to write that down because if I don’t, I will not remember it later. So how would you handle that with somebody whose love language is quality time?

R: Well, I don’t think random acts of inspiration would be a problem. If it was, “oh, I had this quick idea. Let me pull up my phone real quick and write this down.” And then you’re in the moment again, that’s perfectly fine. The issue is, let’s say that we are riding a train together. And for whatever reason, you and I are sitting there in the seats together on this trip. If you were on your phone, just scrolling through Facebook the whole time, that doesn’t count as quality time to me; because while even though we’re technically existing next to each other, there’s nothing happening between the two of us. We’re just existing next to each other, 

I: Right.

R: So the context changes it. If it’s occasional like “Oh I got this idea, let me do this” and then come right back, and being involved and being part of the moment again, that’s perfectly acceptable; at least I would think so.

I: I also think that in that situation, you probably want to touch bases with your partner. 

R: Yeah. 

I: And be like, and this is what I do. I let people know, when I go out on dates or whatever I let them know like, “Look, I’m here in this moment. I’m not interested in being on the phone doing social media stuff”, which I’m really not into social media to begin with. So that’s not a problem. But I do let them know like, “Hey, I am a writer. I do get inspiration at the weirdest times. I do need to write it down or I will not remember it later. So if you see me pick up my phone and jot, that’s what I’m doing. But I will-”

R: Yeah, but then you’re actively doing your part to communicate your needs and expectations and setting those expectations beforehand. You’re not just twiddling with your phone and leaving this person to figure it out for themselves. And as someone who has gone on dates before where they were just scrolling on social media the whole time. I was- the whole time much like “Why are we even doing this if you could be scrolling at social media at home? I could be in comfier clothes right now. But instead, I’m here with you scrolling through Twitter”, it’s not quality time to me.

I: See, that’s why I only date in comfy clothes. So I’ve been wasting my time, I’m at least comfortable.

R: Yeah, but sometimes I get femme energy. And sometimes I just want to wear really ridiculous outfits that- 

I: Sure. 

R: Aren’t as comfy as it could be. But anyway, I digress. 

I: -laughs-

R: The next one, we’ll say is acts of service. Now for that, anything you could do to make this person’s life easier counts as an act of service. So doing something as simple as washing the dishes, or making the bed, you know, household chores, count sure. But putting their shoes- making sure they have both shoes together wherever they put their shoes, because I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been almost late to work because I can find one boot and not the other. Because I take them off at different parts of the house because I’m a jackass. And sometimes Paul will put them in my little shoe cubbie. And I know exactly where they are, because they’re both together in that shoe cubby. Because he put them there for me because I forgot. So that small little act of like just picking up and doing something that you know will benefit them later counts as an act of service, right? So for somebody that appreciates you going out of your way to make their life easier, obviously, the opposite of that would be to make more work for them. Make things take longer, make things require more effort, or more energy on their part. 

I: Right.

R: So for me prime example, actually. We were planning on getting a storage unit or a garage or something so that we had somewhere to like store stuff.

I: Right.

R: And we hadn’t even officially gotten anything yet. But Paul just pulled everything out from all the nooks and crannies and was getting ready to like pack it into a garage that we don’t even have yet. And so my house has just been a frickin disaster. And that technically it made my life difficult because I haven’t been able to hang out in my living room for the last like two weeks. But the last couple days, he’s finally been *stutters* hanging around- Hamming- oh my goodness, hammering it out, and has been really reorganizing and getting things cleaned up and is now making my life easier. You see what I mean?

I: Yeah, I feel like I got to touch on something you said just a moment ago. I feel like the collecting your shoes and putting them in the cubby, that feels to me like an act of service. 

R: Yes, that’s why I brought it up.

I: Right, but doing chores around the house doesn’t really seem to me like an act of service. Because if you live in the house, too, you should be doing your share to help keep it clean.

R: And I totally agree with you. But thinking of it as “I do this task, because I know it makes my partner happy” makes it suck a lot less versus “I have to do these dishes because I live here and I have to be a responsible adult.” It’s just the perspective of ‘I’m doing this because I love my partner. And I know that it will make their life easier. It’ll make them happy.’ And so it’s doing a task from a place of love versus a place of labor.

I: If I help clean up around the place, she won’t nag me or he won’t nag me or they won’t nag me.

R: I mean, depends on your dynamic, yeah. Thankfully, Paul and I have a really good system where for example, I hate doing laundry. Washer, dryer, that whole process: I hate doing it. I don’t have a mind for it, I forget it all the time, I always leave laundry in the washing machine overnight. So the system that we have is he washes and dries and puts them in baskets and I put away. I don’t mind doing that, I just do not like the washing and drying step. So part of our dynamic, he hates folding and putting laundry away. And so we just found a system that works for the both of us. But to me, all of that is an active service. Because think about this, if the other person didn’t live with you, you would still have to do those things. But also they’d have their own apartment or their own house where they would also have to do those things. So by you living together and you are sharing space together or whatever, then you’re able to share that work and you’re doing it because your partner then won’t have to. Yeah, you would have had to do dishes anyway. But you’re also making this a chore they don’t have to do on top of everything else. 

I: Okay, yeah.

R: And I don’t know, like every relationship has a different dynamic to. But right now, Paul’s a stay at home dad. Because of the pandemic and like with Scar’s school and with his medical problems. It’s just easier this way. And their connection has gotten better, our connection has gotten better and he takes care of stuff around the house because I’m just working constantly. So to me, even though that’s the way he’s contributing to this household, because he’s not paying for anything right now, so to him that’s how he justifies like being here.

I: Right.

R: I still view that as acts of service because he’s doing them for me, so I don’t have to so

I: You’re just getting to come home and not having to add additional work on top of everything else that you’re doing.

R: Exactly. 100% Exactly. Because that was on the To Do List anyway. I’m one of those people that like Yes, he’s here. Yes, if I asked him he would. But I’m also the kind of person who like I could just do it myself. 

I: Right. 

R: You know, and how many of us are like that? So if you have a partner whose love language is acts of service, chores count, but that’s not the only way to do it. But the negative to acts of service is doing things that make their lives harder. Giving more work, making more chores, making more things they have to do and breaking promises. I hate that so so much; broken promises where they’re like “I’m gonna do this, I’m gonna do this, we’re gonna do this, I’m going to take care of this for you” and then not doing it. That just makes me feel like I can’t trust this other person because I’m relying on them to then complete that task and then they’re leaving me hanging. 

I: Gotcha, 

R: You know? 

I: Right.

R: So if someone appreciates acts of service, don’t make commitments you’re not confident you can keep.

I: Or conversely, if it’s something that you know you’re going to do but maybe there’s a reason it’s gonna take you a little longer to do it, maybe communicate that it’s going to take a little bit longer so you’re setting proper expectations.

R: Yeah! 100% just communicate, that’s honestly all you can ask from your partner, is just communicate.

I: Right 

R: So the next one is words of affirmation. Now for that, that’s compliments, but not physical. I appreciate physical compliments a lot but I also really appreciate when people tell me what they love about me as a human and like how I make their life better, or what I bring to their life by existing in it. Yes, compliment the mortal vessel all day long. But the compliments that mean more to me are the like, the more genuine “I’m grateful I have you in my life” kind of compliments, you know? 

I: Right. 

R: And adversely for words of affirmation, things to avoid our harsh criticism. Like there’s obviously going to be feedback or constructive criticism, but it also matters how you say it. And if you’re harsh or judgmental, or rude and manipulative, that’s, that’s going to do the exact opposite-

I: Right.

R: …of words of affirmation. And purposefully withholding these things, that to me is almost like a sense of mental and emotional abuse. If you know that your partner needs words of affirmation and specifically going out of your way to not tell them that you love them, or to support them like you normally would, and then just withholding that attention; to me that’s like emotional abuse.

I: I feel like there definitely could be that. But I also think that for some people, I think they worry that if they say it too much, it might come across as insincere. And so maybe they hold back and don’t say it as often because they want to be seen as being sincere.

R: I mean, if you regularly have a pattern of every day, you’re like, “I love you. You mean so much to me”, like in the very basis let’s just say every single day you guys wrote that step where you say, I love you to each other and then out of nowhere, you just decide to stop saying it because you know words of affirmation are good for them, and you like intentionally want to punish them or whatever-

I: Right. 

R: That is what I’m saying, like changing that behavior suddenly as a consequence to something.

I: Okay, yeah. All right, that makes sense. Sure.

R: So then the next one would be physical touch. Now again, I feel like this one is a really, there’s a line between- like a really fine line between “Yes, I want this, this touch this situation”, but then it can also get touched to be too much. So again, context really matters. Consent really matters. And so for someone that has physical touch of a love language, you could do simple things like: playing with their hair, rubbing their cheek, rubbing their shoulder, just kind of grazing your hands together, touching your feet under a table, just casual touching of any kind.

I: Right.

R: Now, so the opposite of that would be either completely withholding. So if this is one of those things where you have like Paul and I have a routine when I get home from work. Where he just gives me a 20 second long hug because I’ve seen studies that show if you get hugs for like 20 seconds, it helps reset your internal stress meters or something like that. And so he just hugs me for 20 seconds, we don’t say anything, nothing, just immediately come home and get this wonderful hug. And if he were to suddenly stop doing that, I feel like that would also be kind of manipulation and kind of be abuse. And also though, if you’re hitting swinging, throwing things you’re you know, causing any kind of damage, that is obviously not where you want to be going. If physical- physical touches the love language, you know what I mean? 

I: I feel like that would apply across the board to all love languages.

R: Well yeah. But I feel like words of affirmation and physical touch are specifically ones that are like I see these being withheld in, in abusive relationships.

I: Right, okay.

R: Next would be gifts. Now this one is difficult because there’s gift giving and gift receiving. And I think it’s circumstantial for both depending on who you are. Now, I know some people who their level of gift receiving, is it could be literally anything. They’re just so happy that you thought of them when you bought something.

I: Right

R: You saw something in a store and liked it, even if it makes no sense. Even if there’s no sentimental value to it whatsoever. You just saw it in a store thought of me got it for me. I love it. I’ll keep it forever. Now, for me as somebody who moved around a lot as a kid and also as an adult, I don’t hang on to things if I don’t have to, because I don’t want to have to move them again. And I inevitably lose things during moves. So I’m like I only want to keep the stuff that matters, you know. For me personally, gift giving, I need it to be important. I need it to like mean something to who I’m getting it from and to me, not just aimlessly just giving me stuff. Also growing up poor, I feel so bad when people spend money on me, like so bad. Even if it’s my friend buying me like $10 worth of stuff for dinner and just like hanging out with me, I feel terrible that that $10 was something that somebody else spent. So gift giving is really hard for me because I, not only cannot afford to do big, gigantic, exuberant gifts but I also feel guilty when people do them for me. 

I: I think that’s because when you grow up in poverty, you come to understand the value of money more than if you grew up wealthy. Which isn’t to say that somebody who grew up wealthy doesn’t come to understand what the meaning of money, what that value is, or that someone growing up in poverty never learns that lesson. But I think in a general sense, when you grow up poor, like you’re really aware of like, if you have $10, you could buy a cake, but that might be an extravagant thing that is going to sure get you cake and you’ll enjoy the cake. But maybe you’re not going to be able to fully pay your electric bill, for example. 

R: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So with gift giving, that you have to really communicate with your partner to decide what kind of gift receiver/giver they are. Because like I said, some people are totally cool with literally any inanimate object ever. While there are others like me that are a little bit more reserved on it. So once you talk to that partner specifically to clarify, then like for me, a negative to my gift receiving is meaningless gifts. I would prefer not to get anything over a meaningless gift. I would prefer for you to keep your money and use that for literally anything that would bring you joy, over wasting it on something that I will not be able to properly appreciate.

I: Right. I know for me growing up, I grew up in poverty as well. But my approach I don’t like to be given, like I’m not one of those people whose love languages gifts, giving or receiving. For me, it’s less about like whatever the amount is, although if the amount is over a certain amount, like it just freaks me out because I don’t feel like I can return that gesture. Even if I have totally enough money in the bank that I could cover it, it’s still that residual leftover baggage from, you know, growing up poor. But for me over the years, I’ve had people give me gifts, and then throw it back in my face.

R: Yes, that’s happened to me a lot, too. That has absolutely happened to me a lot too. Which is actually the next thing I was going to bring up. Which if you have somebody in your life that gifts is a love language, you absolutely cannot bring it up and hold it against them later. The agreed upon code of behaviors for gift giving/receiving is that it is a gift that you are giving of your own volition and is not something you can then later be like “but I gave you that though”, or “that can count for this holiday to” or things like that, like you can’t Lord the ‘nice things’ you’re doing for somebody else over them. Because then it’s not a nice thing you’re doing for them, it is an obligation that they didn’t willingly sign up for.

I: Right. So I feel that that’s a good rule of thumb in general, regardless of somebody’s love language being gift giving or gift receiving. But I’m going to take a stab and say that for someone who this is their love language for, I’m going to take a guess that this would be more damaging to that person than somebody whose love language isn’t gift giving or gift receiving?

R: What do you mean?

I: In the last love language episode that we did, we did that quiz. 

R: Mhm. 

I: And gift giving/gift receiving was definitely not one of my love languages.

R: For sure. 

I: So if you were to give me a gift, and then turn around and throw it back in my face, that would still suck. But if my love language was receiving gifts, and-

R: Oh! Yeah, then it would, it would be a double whammy at that point. 

I: Okay.

R: Worse because you were emotionally like, “thank you so much. I feel so loved by this! You did this for me and I’m feeling the love that you have for me because of this.” But then later it’s “Oh, it wasn’t love it was obligation because you wanted to then use it against me later.” So it’s almost like a betrayal. 

I: Right 

R: lowkey. So that’s actually a perfect segue I wanted to bring up because I believe love languages are important to talk about in any capacity, with anybody that you actually want to have in your life long term. Because the biggest issue I see in regards to love languages is that people aren’t aware of theirs, first. Let alone, aware enough to communicate it to their partners. 

I: Mhm.

R: So then their partners aren’t able to receive that information and then be able to love them properly. So what’s happening is: all these people have their love giving languages and they’re just throwing love at this person but this person does not feel love that way. So they’re essentially speaking an entirely separate language, or you know what? We could even talk about mental illnesses. Like depression is sometimes the receptors are broken, or sometimes the chemical itself isn’t produced enough, or sometimes it’s produced too much like there’s different variations-

I: Right. 

R: …that cause the same problem, right? And love language is the same thing. Like you can be throwing acts of service at this person but if their love language is quality time, then you just zipping around the apartment cleaning stuff isn’t spending time with them. That’s you prioritizing cleaning over spending quality time with them.

I: That makes sense. And just for the listeners, we did include the link to the website where you can take the quizzes in the show notes, but the Show Notes for this episode will also have that link, too. So if you’re wanting to know what your love language is, you just go to the show notes, the link will be there. And then-

R: I’ll make sure to post it on Twitter.

I: Yes. So but no, you’re right. For me, acts of service, I think was one of my- I value when people make my life easier over gifts. So when someone comes in, and they show their love to me by giving me a gift, whatever it is, it doesn’t really matter. Like, I don’t look at that as like, I’ll take that gift, and I’ll all appreciate it. You know, I’ll say thank you. I won’t be, you know like a dick about it. Like, oh, I don’t want gifts, like what the what the hell, but the meaning of it. It’s like, it’s kind of twofold. For me, it’s like, it doesn’t really- like you hand me this tchotchke. And I just look at it. And I’m grateful, like I said, but I’m looking at, it’s like I could have just bought this myself. But I’m also with the double whammy that eventually they’re going to come back and throw this in my face. Now, they may never throw that back in my face, I have had gifts that have been given to me that have never been thrown in my face. It’s fine. 

R: But there’s still that like hesitation, that trepidation behind it because you were prepared for it to go that way.

I: Sure. But at the same time, like I said. Even if you remove that out of the equation, like you’re still giving me something, I’m like, I could have bought this myself. But if you, like let’s say that I’m in the middle of writing my novel, okay. 

R: Mhm.

I: The dogs have to be fed. So I have a dog, as I’ve said in previous episodes. My roommate has a dog. And of course, you feed the dogs together, because they’re not going to understand, ‘hey, how come that dog gets food and I don’t?” but so I’m in the middle of that and my roommate feeds the dogs. Like, to me, that means something because you took care of something for me. 

R: That was an act of service, 

I: It was an act of service, right. 

R: And that’s a perfect example, because she would like, you would have had to affect your dog anyway. She still had to feed her dog anyway. So regardless of the fact that you both had that task to do, she went out of her way to do the task for you so that it was still done but you yourself did not have to put the effort into doing it.

I: Yes. And it means a lot to me because it means I didn’t have to interrupt my flow. And then have to worry about like, okay, coming back to it like alright, well, how do I get back into that mindset? Yeah, absolutely. But you’re right. If I’m like, really, I mean, it doesn’t even have to be writing could be anything. Maybe I’m working on a work project that’s got to be done by certain time, I’m running into a deadline. And you just wander in and you’re like, ‘Hey, I thought of you. I got you this gift.’ It’s like okay, great. Thank you for the gift but I really needed to handle this. But then I still got to like, go feed the dog and I still go do the laundry and whatever. So that gift is not going to register to me, as nice as it was and- 

R: As love. 

I: Yeah.

R: You’re not going to feel loved by it. 

I: Correct. 

R: And see, this is normally, when I bring this stuff up to other people, this is when they’re like “okay, so does that mean I have to find partners that are only exclusively compatible with my love languages?” The answer is no. But you have to be prepared for a lot of communication to find the right groove for where you’re at. And a good example is with Paul and I, he is on the spectrum, and very much has an extremely low touch meter. Does not like to be touched anymore than he has to be.

I: Yeah, I’m a fan myself. 

R: Yeah, whereas I myself am a physical touch person. I cannot be touched enough by the people that I feel close and comfortable with. I am a cuddle fiend. If I could, we would all have a massive cuddle puddle. That’s what I’m hoping for post vaccines, post COVID, just giant dance parties and cuddle puddles. That’s all I need. Right?

I: See, for me, I would- I’d be okay with a cuddle puddle as long as I was on the outside of it so I can leave it as soon as I was no longer comfortable with it.

R: That’s fair, that’s fair. But we’ve had to come up with a system to make that work for us. So something that we do is I communicated to him that it doesn’t have to be where he’s in my face and giving me undivided attention. It can just be as simple as resting his hand on my leg when we’re laying next to each other in bed. Since I communicated that to him, he’s done it constantly. Because to him, he’s using his hand, I’m not invading the rest of his space. And he himself is deciding how much touch he wants to initiate and just rests it on my leg. And I feel so loved because he’s doing that, that’s a form of intimacy that he and I get to have, regardless of where we are, like that’s a intimate act of love. And I feel loved by that. 

I: So you’re getting your needs met, while not putting him in a completely uncomfortable situation.

R: Exactly. Which is why I’m saying if you do the work to realize what your loving wishes are, you can then communicate them to your partner. And then they are able to take that information and actually apply it- assuming it’s a healthy dynamic. 

I: Right.

R: And another thing is words of affirmation, for me. Again, I can never get enough words of affirmation, give me all the compliments all the reassurance. I’m here for it, like I will soak them up like a sponge in the bottom of the ocean, I’m here for it. But Paul, because of again, being on the spectrum but also because of his like abusive upbringing, not only does he not like touch, but he gets so overwhelmed if I just kind of like word vomit love at him. Because his anxiety kicks in and he’s like, ‘Oh, no, what, what did I do to make her feel this way? She’s gonna leave me, she’s way too good for me if this is how she sees me.’

I: -laughs-

R: He gets really bad loop brain. And I think it’s kind of like imposter syndrome is what I’ve been seeing people talking about it online. 

I: Right.

R: And it’s where he just gets stuck in his head, like, ‘I don’t think I’m as good as she thinks I am. And I really worried that we have the wrong impression of like, what I’m doing here, and it just sets him off into a negative tailspin. So once he communicated that to me, we came up with a three rule. And so what happens is I asked him, like, “Hey, I’m feeling super lovey, Can I throw love at you?” He takes a second or three technically, and he evaluates if he’s in a headspace for me to do that. Or if he’s already like, overwhelmed, overstimulated just needs space, whatever, because whatever his needs are, he’ll tell me like, ‘now’s not a good time, table it for later’, and then he’ll come back to me, or he’ll take a deep breath, be like, ‘okay, yes, Lay it on me.’ And then I tell him three things. So usually before I even ask him, I plan what those three things are. And so usually my sentences are like, “I think you’re an incredible man and Father, I’m so grateful I have you in my life and in my daughter’s life, and I am so looking forward to the life that we’re building together.” So I’m only saying three sentences. But I’m still conveying all of the really important and intense and chaotic and like crazy, unpredictable emotions that I feel. So I’m still pouring my love out to him, I’m still expressing my love. He just doesn’t feel love via words of affirmation so I limit it to the three basic bullet points of what I’m trying to tell him, he receives it. He’s like, ‘I got you, babe. I love you, too.’ you know?

I: So two things: first thing I imagine is that you just word vomiting all this love stuff on him and Paul going, “Oh, snap, I got the feels.’ 

R: -laughs- Maybe.

I: Like, you know, not like, ‘yeah, I caught the feels’, but more like, I caught the feels like, “I caught the cooties.’

R: Like being really uncomfortable, just your everything, but to the left. Yeah.

I: And so the second thing is, is there a specific importance for three bullet points?

R: No, that’s just what he told me. Like when we had this conversation, and that’s what’s funny is a lot of the times our conversations are something like; I’ll just ask him, when this came up, I said, “Can I word vomit at you?” And he like, took a deep breath for a second. And I like saw him physically brace himself. And I was like, “I also don’t have to, though, if that’s not your thing. Like are you okay?”

I: Oh, so, you doing the- it’s almost like how most women are when you ask them, like, ‘Is everything okay?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ And then they’re like, ‘I was just thinking…’

Both: -laughs-

I: and then you’re like, ‘Can I word vomit at you?’ And he’s like, ‘Oh…” 

R: Yeah. Well, I do tell him like I do give a heads up of, ‘Hey, can I word vomit, lovey stuff? Can I word vomit stressful stuff. Like Can I talk to you about this?’ I do try to give them a heads up. But that’s the whole point is that I convey love by giving, like by giving words of affirmation, and I also receive them that way. Where he does not receive words of affirmation as love, so when I just say stuff like that I am that doesn’t do anything. It’s just like ‘okay’, until I say too much and he starts doubting everything.

I: So it doesn’t register to him like gifts don’t register to me.

R: Exactly. So what I’ve seen in some couples where they’re like, ‘I’m giving you all this love’, like with me and Paul. If we hadn’t figured this out for us, I would be like, ‘I’m giving you all this love, I’m giving you all this attention all the time.’ And he’s like, ‘this doesn’t do anything for me. If anything, it’s annoying. I’m not feeling the love you’re trying to give.’ And it doesn’t mean that you don’t love your partner, or that you guys aren’t good for each other or meant for each other, it just means that you have different communication styles and different ways that you receive love. And just being mindful of it can make a world of a difference. Because again, I come up with this list of three things where I convey the big ideas, and emotions, and everything that are important for me to give to him. But it’s in a format that does not overwhelm his brain. It’s not super, like it’s not overwhelming to take on in just casual conversation. It respects where he’s at emotionally and what his needs are. 

I: So it really sounds like you’re just meeting your partner where they’re at.

R: Exactly! Yes, 100%! But the big challenge that I see for a lot of people is ‘well, I don’t know what my love languages are.’ When I come to people talking about love languages, I tell them, ‘I am so passionate about this, we could talk about this for hours, let’s do it!’ And I understand that can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never heard of it before. And it’s kind of like astrology- 

I: Yeah,  

R: …where there’s so much hype around it now that people feel bad for not knowing about it. You know what I mean?

I: I was one of those people that when you said, let’s do love languages, I was like what? Like I had a kind of a basic idea what it was, because I’ve heard people say things- I’ve never… but I started looking into it. And I did get overwhelmed with it, like oh my god, there’s just so much.

R: And I and I completely get that. And that’s why I wanted to bring it up and just kind of talk about it in this neutral forum. And kind of give examples of quality time and in my daily routine, because I personally feel like the love languages all apply to me just in varying degrees. So for me feeling loved, for quality time, I love that Paul has that hugging thing when I get home from work. Even though it’s 20 seconds, to me that counts as quality time because I’m getting his undivided attention, we are together in that moment for those 20 seconds regardless of whatever else is going on around us.

I: So it sounds like it’s more… 

R: intention, 

I: Quality versus quantity.

R: Yes. Intention. And so for me, I do not consider us watching TV in bed quality time. Because we do it all the time. Now that, especially now with COVID, all we really do is just either have music or TV playing in the background. And we’re usually scrolling on our phones or playing on tablets- 

I: Right.

R: – or reading a book, or whatever have you. But we’re all distracted on our own devices not engaged with one another in anyway, I don’t consider that quality time. 

I: Yeah, that makes sense. 

R: But, vice versa though. When Gus was still alive we had this thing for like two months where we went through and watched the Marvel movies in like chronological storyline order. And even though- 

I: I don’t- 

R: because our whole relationship, what?

I: I don’t think our listeners know who Gus is. So you might want to give a quick-

R: Oh! My boyfriend, sorry! Haha So I’ve mentioned before that I’m polyamorous; I currently have a husband named Paul. He’s my only relationship now because my boyfriend Gus just passed away in April. And we were together for like a year and a half-ish, give or take. And our entire relationship essentially happened through COVID. So our only form of seeing each other and spending time together was in his apartment. And again, all we did there was watch TV or listen to music or just talk. But with him. How that was different is when we watched the Marvel movies, it was specifically like we are sitting down to watch this movie together, where neither one of us are on devices. We’re not distracted with anything else. We are just actively engaged in that movie together. But something else that I absolutely loved about him is if he wanted to say something like make any kind of commentary, regardless of how many times we’ve seen whatever it was we were watching, 

I: Right. 

R: Even if it was a commercial, he would pause. So if he wanted to talk or if I wanted to say something, he would be like ‘hang on one sec’, he would pause it and then turn to me and then say ‘so what were you saying?’ And then gave me his undivided attention so that I could make whatever bullshit comment about Captain America’s ass. And he would agree with me that that is America’s ass. And then we would go back to watching our movie. And to me that counted- still counted as quality time because we were intentional about it.

I: Are you sure that he was being intentional about it and not just ‘oh my god, I don’t want you to talk.’

R: No, 100%. No, because he did it with anything, even stuff we’ve seen several times like random music videos. Anything that you could just have as background noise, he would still pause it and give me his undivided attention. And so it was the intention behind it that made it quality time versus quantity, you know?

I: Because undivided attention. 

R: Yeah, 

I: Okay.

R: The fact that he was present in the moment with me. For acts of service, that’s absolutely one of my love languages. I’m so busy and I’m one of those people that tries to take care of everyone that I possibly frickin can. So acts of service are absolutely one of my love languages, both giving and receiving. I’ll do anything that I can, honestly. For words of affirmation, those are absolutely my giving and receiving. To the point that with my co-workers at work, when I first transferred to the store I’m at now, I actually didn’t even think about it because I’m just trying to live my best life trying to be my authentic self, you know. 

I: -laugh- Right.

R: So I didn’t think to give people the warning. 

I: Oh no…

R: And I’m just pouring compliments out because my partners at work are so good at their job, and they don’t believe in themselves nearly enough. And so I’m just telling them, they’re doing great. I’m giving them positive feedback. I’m giving out high fives. I’m just trying to like keep up the good vibes. And I didn’t know until later but it did make a few partners uncomfortable because they weren’t used to getting words of affirmation. Like their parents don’t have that as a love language at all to the point that they aren’t used to hearing things like ‘good job. I’m proud of you’. So it made them uncomfortable, because they’re 19 and I have never heard that from someone and then their boss at work is just like, ‘I’m proud of you for making coffee.’ You know what I mean?

I: Yeah, I totally know how they feel because I, 

R: Because it’s not your thing either.

I: I get words of affirmation and it’s like, I don’t know what to do with it. I just say thank you, but…

R: I learned that lesson though. And that’s kind of what opened my eyes about the imp- I almost said energetic, that’s not what I meant; the employment field. Anytime a new partner comes to my store, I introduce myself as one of the supervisors blah, blah, blah, and then I tell them “also, I just want you to know, words of affirmation are one of my primary love languages so I hand compliments out all the time. I don’t say anything I do not mean and I don’t say anything that I don’t genuinely want you to believe. So if that makes you uncomfortable, let me know and I will chill out because I understand that’s not for everyone. But if it’s your jam, I’m here to give you compliments and gold stars”. And every single partner at my store, even the ones that have said words of affirmation aren’t usually for them, have said that my energy and my compliments help them get through the day, help them feel better about their performance, and ultimately has created like a much healthier vibe at my store. And that came because I was aware of my love languages enough to be communicating that to the people around me but also asking them ‘are you comfortable with this? Is it okay that I’m doing this in your energy and your space and like interacting with you like this?’ 

I: Right? 

R: I was open to feedback, it’s all you gotta be, communicate.

I: I feel like there’s a lot of people that might listen to this that were for Starbucks that are gonna want to know which Starbucks you work for so that they can get words of affirmation. 

Both: -laugh-

I: I want to work in that one.

R: Here’s the thing though. You could literally interact with me on any kind of social media and I got you. You don’t have to come to work, please don’t come to my job, I don’t want more customers. 

I: Well, there you go. You can just

R: I mean I do, but like

I: Go to Twitter-

R: They all order TikTok drinks, and they all order frappuccinos and I hate ‘em so much.

I: Wait what’s a TikTok drink? 


I: I know what TikTok is but I don’t know what a TikTok drink is.

R: It’s a like blanket term because I don’t know if it’s necessarily baristas, or just crazy customers, but they customize drinks in these elaborate crazy things. And I love the creativity, 


R: I’m not shooting that down by any means. But my issue is when I have a line so long that they’re people can’t get through my parking lot and around the block to the main road, and people decide to order five or six of these drinks for they all have 10 different customizations that take my barista, like an extra three or four minutes to make this one drink, when one drink is usually supposed to take about 45 seconds to make.

I: I think I’ve seen those, those are the ones where it’s like on the- I don’t really go to Starbucks, which probably sounds bad because you work for Starbucks.

R: Also I should, 

I: But-

R: I should make this disclaimer that I don’t speak for the company or any of their beliefs or views or anything. 

I: Oh yes. 

R: This is just my personal experience, blah blah blah.

I: We should have, we probably should have put that earlier. But yes, Starbucks puts a little sticker on the side that has like drink thing or whatever. 

R: That’s how baristas know what to make, yeah. That prints out of our machine after we like we put the order in, and then that prints out so that the partner at bar knows what to make. 

I: Okay, I don’t work for Starbucks- 

R: That’s why there’s like 10 different things. And usually the standard is they don’t want it to take a long time for a drink because the whole point is that it’s like fast food, right? So you’re supposed to be able to get it quickly, it’s a drive thru. So my frustration personally is just when people see that there’s a very long line. And then order multiple of these drinks that are all complicated and intricate, and all take way longer to make because they all want them to be aesthetically pleasing so they can post their Insta or TikTok photos of it. But in addition to that, more annoying, even more so is that people make up these random names and they’re like “Starbucks Secret Menu!” But that’s not real. That’s not anything Starbucks employees have access to the only way that we see them is if they happen to come across our feeds, or somebody we know retweets or reblogs or whatever. Otherwise, it’s just floating off and the internet abyss, there’s no like database for custom made drinks that every barista has access to. And what happens is customers come in and they’re like, “I want the Wanda and Cosmo frappuccino”, like from fairly oddparents. I have no idea what that is. I’m gonna assume maybe strawberries and cream because of the pink and then maybe matcha because of the green, but I don’t personally know, that would taste good together.

I: So if I came into your Starbucks and ordered the Grinch, 

R: Yeah, I would have no idea. 

I: I don’t know if there’s a Starbucks drink called the Grinch.

R: I would probably assume matcha because it’s green and the Grinch is green. But that’s the whole thing is people are like, they see a name that says “order this” and they come and they’re like-

I: No, it’s not green, it tastes like self loathing.

R: But it’s frustrating, because they’re like, “Can I get the -insert random internet name here-?” And I’m like, “I have no idea what that is. But if you have a recipe, I can totally make it.” And then I get attitude, like “You don’t know the recipe to your own drink?” And I’m like, “No, ma’am. I don’t know the recipe to this random internet drink that someone made up. But if you can find it, I’ll make it for you.” And then they’re all bitchy about it. It’s like, I don’t have access to this information. I don’t see the things you see. Even though I’m a partner and work for Starbucks and have for over a year. I don’t see any Starbucks stuff in my Tiktok for you feed. At all.

I: I feel like that’s pretty much any place that does like whether it’s Starbucks or McDonald’s or whatever. Like there’s no real secret menu. It’s just some stuff that some person cobbled together and put it out there. And then people just like, ‘Oh, it’s their secret many he’s got to go in and say, Yeah, I want like this, that and the other’

R: Jamba Juice has a secret menu.

I: Like an actual secret menu?

R: Yes, it’s just comprised of drinks that they’ve retired. So it’s just literally their recipe book from like, years past. So it’s not necessarily like an actual ‘secret menu’. But it’s a like, they no longer sell the Orange-A-Peel, which is what I like, and it had oranges, apples, bananas, and strawberries. 

I: Mhm.

R: So if I go to them, and I’m like, “Hey, I would love an original orange appeal.” They know what it is because it’s in the secret menu recipe book. 

I: But basically, 

R: Because they at one point did actually sell it.

I: In that case, I don’t think it’s so much a secret menu as it is just they’re no longer offering that drink. So the drink is discontinued in that if I didn’t know anything about it, and I walked in, looked at the menu, I would know that Orange-A-Peell was a thing. But if you were a longtime customer, and you came in then it’s like, ‘okay, we don’t want to offer that. But we’re still gonna let you have it.’ 

R: Yeah, 

I: Right.

R: Long story short, if you as a person need words of affirmation, I have spoons/hit points to spare here and there. But if you reach out on social media, I got you like, it’s not a thing. You don’t have to come and see me at work. Feel free to see me at work if you live in the area but otherwise, like don’t. I don’t know, 

I: But please order a drink.

R: I have this never ending thing where I’m like, I want people to come to work so that I have stuff to do so that I’m busy. But then I also am really tired and don’t want to talk to people all day. So like I don’t want people to show up, but like I need a job. 

Both: -laughs-

R: Continue your usual Starbucks habits.

I: I feel like almost all of our listeners can relate.

R: That’s true. Okay, so if you’re gonna take anything away from this episode, my darlings, figure out what your love languages are. They don’t have to be complicated. It can be small little things that add up over time, just like we talked about in our success episodes; where small things add up over time. Love is still love, even if it’s not giant gestures. 

I: Sure, 

R: Communicate those with a partner that with your partner, but all make sure that any relationships you’re having, whether platonic or romantic are the kinds of relationships that you can have those conversations with, and then see how healthier your relationships get. And resume your regularly scheduled Starbucks habits. Remember to tip your baristas because the pay it forward line really does nothing and I hope you have the week you deserve.

I: All right, well, that’s a week! This has been another episode of tricky fish. If you enjoyed what you heard and want more of it. You can follow us at Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts from. Please leave us a review as that really helps us out. You can find this at tricky fish podcast calm, as well as on twitter at tricky fish pod

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