The Eighth Love Language

It’s been a while since I’ve written about love language, so if you want to catch up on my original entries, they are listed here (in addition to the original 5 love languages):

  1. Acts of Service
  2. Touch
  3. Quality Time
  4. Words of Affirmation
  5. Gifts
  6. Chocolate
  7. Quantity Time

I also wrote an entry about the 15 workplace love languages.

As you can tell, I really love the concept of love languages. If you’re not familiar with them, they are a gauge of how you are best loved (and conversely, how you best show love). For example, some people feel the most loved if someone gives them a gift, while others would feel the more loved by having a great conversation with a friend.

fabolous-swizz-beatz-make-surprise-appearance-rucker-park-01Like anything else, it’s a spectrum–there isn’t one right answer for anyone. But it is helpful to know your top 1-2 love languages, your bottom 1-2, as well as the top and bottom love languages for your spouse, friends, and family members.

So today I was having a conversation about love languages at work, and we struck gold: We discovered a new love language. I don’t know why it never occurred to me before, but it seems so clear now.

The eighth love language is the Support of Presence.

Basically, the support of presence love language is when someone supports you by their presence. An example of this would be if you’re running a marathon and a friend runs with you for the final mile. Or if you’re doing a reading at an open mic night and your girlfriend shows up to support you. Or when your parents attended your piano recital 20 years ago.

The support of presence love language is not to be confused with acts of service, which would involve someone going out of their way to serve you in some way (i.e., cleaning your apartment for you). Nor is it to be confused with quality or quantity time, which involve either a short, intense period of connection or a longer period of shared space (i.e., going to a movie with a friend).

It was incredibly enlightening for me to stumble upon this love language, because it’s probably one of my top 3. It means a lot when people show up to support me for something I’ve accomplished, and sometimes it stings a bit when they don’t. I don’t help matters but downplaying accomplishments at times–now I realize that’s kind of a defense mechanism. If I don’t share with people how proud I am of something and how much it would mean to me if they showed up, then I don’t have to deal with the hurt of them not showing up–they didn’t know any better. Which really isn’t a healthy approach.

And for me, it’s not always about an accomplishment. I have a big annual Festivus party, and it means a LOT to me when people attend. It isn’t an act of service, and I barely get to talk with anyone at the party (definitely not in depth), but just knowing that people decided to make me feel popular for a night goes a long way.

Now I know why I always get emotional when in movies and on TV the person who couldn’t attend an important event for someone else ends up making it at the last minute.

If you’re reading this and thinking, “That’s crazy!”, then that probably means that your love language is not the support of presence. Which is fine–everyone is different. But for those of you who can relate, what do you think? How has this love language played a role in your life?

What are your top two love languages?


10 Responses to “The Eighth Love Language”

  1. Georgia says:

    Jamey this is a HUGE love language! This for me also applies when you are going through something major and someone calls to check on you even though they are thousands of miles away. For me it’s not always about physical presence, but also a matter of trying to be present in your life and show love or concern when they can’t physically be there. Yes, I agree with you. When a husband/boyfriend/friend/family shows up to a huge event in your life or even just a small get together you are throwing, it speaks volumes.

  2. Emma says:

    Cannot agree more! Thus is in my top 3 for sure, brilliant. I’ve actually recently been trying to articulate this, thank you!

    • Emma says:

      Also, do you think this extends beyond physical presence? Like do you ever get the same feeling from someone regularly commenting on the blog or consistently supporting your ideas at work (even by email) or on Kickstarter? I think maybe I have felt this type of love online before and I’m curious about how that translates.

      • Jamey Stegmaier says:

        Emma and Georgia–Absolutely, the support of presence can mean emotional presence or virtual presence–it’s not just physical presence. The blog comments are a great example. 🙂

  3. Joe Babbitt says:

    Quality time and words of affirmation share my #1 slot according to the tests (“bilingual”) which touch just a single point behind them.

    Love languages are pretty important and I think that more people should pay attention to the concept. As for the eighth, I’m not sure if I think it registers as a full language to me so much as a regional dialect. By this I mean that when I think about love languages, I think about the relationships that are most important to me, and support of presence, while definitely important, is almost a given for the people I have those important relationships with, and the other people that happen to show….well, that’s nice, and I appreciate it a lot, but I wouldn’t go as far as to call it a love language. That’s just being a decent friend. I will concede that this may be a six of one, half-dozen of the other argument.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Joe–Well, that’s the interesting thing about love languages. Some people might say the same about gifts–they might say that they think being a decent friend means giving them a gift on their birthday. Others might define a decent friend as someone who picks them up when they get a flat tire (act of service). Or a decent friend might give them a hug when they see them (physical touch). All of those are different ways to express friendship, but we all value them in different ways.

  4. T-Mac says:

    I’m a Words of Affirmation & Touch person. Considering Support of Presence is a new perspective for me. Intuitively, it makes sense that this would matter to some people, but I’ve never considered it in the light of love languages before. I actually prefer that people not show up for big events of mine, particularly when they’re performance-oriented. For instance, I can’t focus on playing soccer if Laura comes out to watch me. I find myself super aware that she’s there…to the point that I worry about playing well and usually don’t. I’m quite the opposite of Joe. I usually don’t go to many of my friends’ events unless they specifically ask me to come. Understanding that support of presence is important to you, please do let me know explicitly if there’s anything you’d really like me to attend!

  5. Katy says:

    My top love language is Quality Time, followed closely by Physical Touch, although I think this new discovery “Support of Presence” could easily tie or possible even replace Touch for my #2 spot.

    At times, I’ve found myself purposely not sharing important events I have coming up with others if I think they will say they can’t attend, as I’d rather not put myself through the trouble of asking only to be rejected than face the feeling of being hurt when I’m told “no.” That is an unhealthy approach, and makes me wonder how many times I’ve limited myself from feeling supported by friends/family/significant others just because I chose not to even ask them to support me. I think because I know how I feel when people support me, I always make any attempt possible to be supportive of others and show up to cheer them on (even if it’s something like sitting in the audience of a show that my little sister is helping out with backstage).

  6. Leandra says:

    My top 2 are Acts of Service and Quality Time, but I’m definitely needy of a little bit of all of them to feel REALLY fill my love tank! My husband does a great job! 😉

    We talked a little about the love languages when we had you on our podcast! That was super fun! I love meeting new people and discovering that they’re into something you’re into, it’s so great! Especially something as cool as The Love Languages.

    I think you’re on to something with the support of presence one, though I kind of see Joe’s point with it as well. Still gets you thinking though! 🙂

  7. Katie says:

    Mine is quality time by a landslide, followed by an almost-tie between physical touch and words of affirmation. I do like the addition of the support of presence, and as others have mentioned, it can go a long way into making a difference in any relationship. I agree too that it might have some overlap with other love languages–maybe acts of service? In a way, this person is going out of their way to be there for you (which helps you mentally) and usually not really receiving anything for it. They’re doing it to show that they care for you.

    My mom traveled a lot for her job when I was growing up, and actually had an apartment in another city where she spent several nights a week. When I found out that she was going to be gone for my 16th birthday, I was devastated. I’d gotten used to her being absent for certain things, but she was such a great mom that it usually didn’t bother me. But for some reason, this one really hurt.

    The day of my birthday, a friend picked me up under the pretense of going to the movies. We went back to her house first because she “forgot my gift” and I walked into a suprise party with all of my friends. I loved it, but when the laughter died down and my mom came out from around the corner, I lost it. I was so happy to see her there that I burst into tears. Unfortunately, my ugly cry face (complete with braces) was captured on photo for me to cringe at afterwards! It turns out that her excuse of being out of town was all part of the surprise, but it did mean a lot to me to have her there.

    I can see it in Charlotte’s face too when she searches for me in the crowd at her school concerts. It might be inconvenient to sit through all of the other performances, but I know it’s important to her, so I make every effort to support her with my presence.

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