Your love language is how you best give and receive love. Coined by noted author and radio talk show host Gary Chapman, the five love languages include words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch and gift giving. (Though the 21st century has coined two more—plus lust languages.) And while we love a glass-half-full moment, it’s important to understand what negative side effects might be hitchhiking alongside the positive parts of your love language. Here, your toxic trait based on your love language—plus, how to deal.
This Is Your Most Toxic Trait Based on Your Love Language
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Meet the Expert
1. Words of Affirmation
- Toxic Trait: verbally lying or manipulating others
People whose love language is verbal affirmation place a high value on words—so using them deceitfully comes easily, says Page. This can turn into a toxic trait when they’re feeling uncomfortable with the truth, leading them to lie or create a cover story.
How to Handle It
If you find yourself struggling with this, Page says the best thing you can do is, firstly, be honest with yourself. “Ask yourself why you are lying or hiding the truth,” she says. “Do you believe people will abandon you if they know who you really are? Are you afraid of being perceived as stupid so you exaggerate your accomplishments? At the heart of lying is a fear of real intimacy. You may need to seek professional help to work through feeling like your truth isn't enough to get the attention and love you want.”
2. Acts of Service
- Toxic Trait: procrastinating asking for help
Helpers never want to be helped, and this can get them into trouble when they put off asking for it until it’s too late. According to Page, this manifests as a toxic trait when helpers—for whom the definition of love is action—start believing that others should be stepping up to the plate in the same way they do to prove their love, without necessarily communicating the expectation, or feeling unworthy for needing it.
How to Deal
“The best way to move through this toxic trait is to practice accepting help from others and then eventually learn to ask for help,” Page says. “Let other people open doors for you, dry dishes while you wash, or hold your tools while you fix something. Once you feel worthy of support, learn how to ask for the help you need. If you’re facing an important task you can’t seem to finish, recognize that your procrastination habit might be popping up because you feel neglected. If you feel that the last thing you would ever do is get help from a therapist on how to ask for help, that’s a pretty good sign you could benefit from exactly that service.”
3. Physical Touch
- Toxic Trait: avoidance
People whose love language is physical touch may slip into avoidance if they have a fear of rejection or adequacy, Page says. “People who enjoy physical touch may also have a heightened sensitivity to touch, meaning that they may withdraw from touch if they are feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated.”
How to Deal
Page recommends that if you find yourself avoiding physical touch when you’d normally be the most exuberant hugger, stress management training might be beneficial to break the avoidance pattern.
“Once you have your stress response managed, you’ll want to start challenging yourself to take on people and situations that you’re tempted to avoid one at a time. Like a workout, you’ll build up the muscle of showing up if you keep practicing over time.”
4. Gift Giving
- Toxic Trait: shopping addiction
As a gift giver and receiver, you always have to have the perfect present on hand, right? Never one to be caught unprepared, you have an overflowing closet stuffed with “happies.” Baby shower? You got it. Birthday party? Check. Housewarming? Covered. However, Page says that this love language can quickly snowball into a compulsive shopping habit. Because, hey, new stuff is always a thrill.
“The feeling can become addictive and lead to the urge to continuously purchase new items to fulfill the desire for excitement and pleasure,” she says. “Compulsive shopping can also be a way to cope with negative emotions such as stress or anxiety.”
How to Deal
“Recovering from shopping addiction behavior is a process that requires patience, self-awareness, and commitment,” Page says. The first thing to do is understand where the compulsion is coming from. “Did you feel let down or rejected by someone before the need to buy a new dress kicked in?” This love language will benefit from creating (and sticking to!) a budget, practicing mindfulness and self-care and learning to differentiate from wants and needs.
5. Quality Time
- Toxic Trait: self-isolation and withdrawal
“When Quality Time lovers feel like their needs are not being met, they can experience feelings of withdrawal or isolation,” Page says. “This can cause them to question the strength of their relationship or the intentions of their partner, which can worsen their feelings of loneliness and make them even more prone to self-isolating behavior.”
How to Deal
Find yourself withdrawing to cope with feelings of dismissal and rejection? Page says it’s good to practice communicating your needs around how you spend time with people. “Especially with an intimate partner, you’ll need to work together to prioritize quality time so you can prevent withdrawal feelings and build a stronger relationship at the same time.”