Have you ever noticed that people express themselves differently, and at different levels of intensity? Think about laughing: everyone’s laugh is different. Some people are loud and hold their stomachs. There are people who laugh silently with teary eyes. Some people have laughs that are so different, they make everyone else laugh. Then, you have the literal “ROTFL” laughers, also known to be the violent ones who hit the nearest surface (for example, your arm).
This same individuality happens in how people express feelings of affection, gratitude, and love. You have people who are romance-novel intense, smooth-talkers, the cheesy hopeless-romantics, the quiet-strong types, the no-I’ll-do-it-for-you types, the cuddly ones, or the slightly awkward types. Some people show their gratitude through buying a “Thank You” card or by doing small actions, like carrying something for you when your hands are full. You have physically affectionate people, who drown you in hugs. You have verbally affectionate people, who drown you in compliments. There are all kinds of people!
Different intensity levels of expression don’t mean the love is any deeper or lighter. People show love in their own way, all based on preference and experience figuring out what type of affectionate display feels the most natural. That’s not to say love styles can’t be influenced by outside forces: receiving certain types of love from other people, or watching romantic movies, or reading romantic books—all these things can influence the way someone shows love. People even take notes from the relationships between other people around them. We do this wanting to find the best way to show our fondness and appreciation of others.
People show different levels of affection in different types of relationships, too. Think about it: do you interact exactly the same way with your parents as you do with your significant other? For romantic relationships, there can be a difference in the level of PDA each person is comfortable with. Compromise about the amount of PDA may vary with each relationship. Communication, understanding, and compromise are key to clearing that up.
The way someone chooses to love can change over time. What one person believes to be love may not be how someone else imagines love to be. Each action we do has a nuance. The way we talk, the way we walk, and how we display affection are part of our individual style.
Don’t believe me? Check out these examples of different ways people might express affection:
Literal and cheesy: “I love you”; “You’re so beautiful”; “I’m happy I get to share memories with you”
Small everyday things: “Did you eat?”; “I saw this and thought of you”; “What are you thinking about?”
Playful: “Weirdo”; “So who’s your best friend? Me or me?”; “OMG, so cute!”; “Bruh”
Literal and cheesy: Bear hugs; super huge smiles; buying gifts; texting and calling 24/7
Simple everyday things: Standing close; hand-holding; long hugs; bringing your favorite snack
Playful: Silly faces; pranks; hyping each other up; making each other laugh
Being cheesy is not lame. Being low-key and subtle is not being indifferent. Very enthusiastic displays of affection make the message clear but could be seen as overbearing; affection with less zest can be seen as lacking, but could just as easily filled with the same amount of emotion as larger gestures. It is very important to understand the way someone expresses themselves. Knowing how someone expresses themselves helps you to empathize and understand how that person perceives your relationship. At the end of the day, understanding different types of love levels will help you bond more closely with people—and isn’t that what we all really want?