Kris, I’m going to politely (and strongly) disagree with you on this piece. Before I make my case, let me first say, I realize this is a 1,000–2,000 word essay so I’m sure it doesn’t encompass your entire world view. Were we to sit down and grab a beer or coffee, we’d probably find a lot of middle ground, so I just want to say that up front. Please feel free to correct anything I inferred.
That being said, the way people love is complex. If you’ve never read about Attachment Theory and the ways we learn to love I’d highly suggest it. Off the bat, you imply Quality Time is the best love language but I’m also assuming that’s one of your love languages? Here’s what’s interesting. I’m a Words of Affirmation love type, and yet the way you describe us as insecure and having to earn love is exactly how I would describe Quality Time. In effect, in order to feel love you must earn it by spending time and that can be needy and demanding (as you kind of pointed out). If I am required to spend time with someone even though I don’t want to in order for them to feel loved, then I feel like I’m earning their love. Do you see the problem? Plus, from a philosophical standpoint what you’re doing is called a Confirmation bias (ie. you’re favoring things that confirm your existing beliefs. As humans, we are primed to see and agree with ideas that fit our preconceptions, and to ignore and dismiss information that conflicts with them). You also misperceive “gifts” men and women. While I’m not gifts at all, many of my friends are, but you paint them as somewhat greedy and materialistic. Many gifts people don’t need things that cost money. A handwritten note will do. The gift has to do with the thought behind it, just like spending time with someone is about the INTENTION behind it. In effect, many of the love styles really aren’t that different, but it’s how they manifest that the person receives and understands as love.
Finally, it’s irresponsible to claim that us affirmation types have a toxic love style. Imagine a child that’s neglected most of their life or even a woman who’s been abused. People need affirmation. Even you do, Kris. If people started suddenly showing up on your articles and claiming you sucked and should kill yourself, after a while it’d wear on you. What happens when people stop clapping? For everyone they seek affirmation from somewhere. That’s why this whole self love movement is garbage (as you kind of hint).
This is perhaps most evident with the rise of social media. The more friends and followers we have, the more people like our content, then the better we feel about ourselves. Perhaps you’ve even seen young men and women reaching out to celebrities on social media begging them to follow them or respond, using drastic measures to grab their attention. Why would they do this?
Imagine for a moment your favorite artist is someone like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Andy Biersack, or James Hetfield of Metallica. Suddenly out of all their followers they choose to respond and let you know explicitly that you matter. As a fan, your self-esteem and self-worth would skyrocket because of this simple fact—someone with a perceived greater worth gave you validation.
Dr. Timothy Keller explains this dilemma in one of his books where he states:
In the end, you can’t name yourself or bless yourself. You can’t ultimately say to yourself, I don’t care that everyone thinks I’m a monster. I love myself and that’s all that matters. That would not convince us of our worth, unless we were mentally unsound. We need someone from outside to say we are of great worth, and the greater the worth of the person telling us so, the more powerful that recognition is to our identity formation. So if we try to self-authenticate or validate ourselves, we place ourselves in an infinite loop of delusion that will lead to either narcissism or self-loathing.
So whether you like it or not, you derive your own validation from some form of affirmation. And as writers, perhaps we’re the worst as we can fall headlong into depression when we throw our heart and soul into a piece and people hate it.
Anyway, as I know many here respect your writing and thoughts, I thought it was important to point some things out. I mean this with no ill, but in the spirit of creating better writing and pieces for the future.