By now just about everyone has heard of the five love languages**: words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service, and receiving gifts. If I had to choose a single personal love language – because honestly, I respond to four of five here – physical touch would be the one. This is a very broad one, though – it can be applied to anything from a massage to a hug from a friend to having someone run their fingers through my hair. It’s a “how I connect to people” love language. It’s an experiential love language, and only applicable to people I care about. There’s a broader language, though, a “how I connect to the world in general” language. And it doesn’t fit into any of these categories.
My primary love language is voice.
I’m not talking about words – though those can be important, too, and probably come in as a close second***. I’m talking about the literal, physical sound and timbre of voice. As an adolescent, I could develop a crush on someone purely based on the sound of their voice. Physical appearance never meant all that much to me, and when someone would ask what physical feature I noticed first and/or was attracted to in folks, I had a hard time answering. I usually said shoulders or abdomen or eyes, because aesthetically I enjoy those parts. But none of those parts had the ability to make me fall instantly in love (or “love” because of course it wasn’t really love). The right pitch and timbre of voice, though. Oh. My.
(Jason has a beautiful voice, especially on the phone, which was how we communicated for the first two months that we knew each other. Phone and letters – voice and words – never knowing what the other looked like. That was a recipe for forever, yeah?)
Voice also influences so many other aspects of my life – feeling instant kinship to someone based on voice (yes, it’s irrational!), the making or breaking of podcasts and audiobooks, what music makes me feel whole. Last week, on my way to my GNO dinner, I put on the Greatest Showman soundtrack and instantly felt alive and hopeful and happy with the world. I have never liked a musical in my life before this one, but a combination of improved style (not a fan of old-style musicals!) and the incredible voices made me fall in love. I am 100% in love with the voices that sing these songs, so I’m 100% in love with the songs in turn. Voices have the ability to make enjoyable a book I wouldn’t have normally enjoyed, or to make a good book even better. They can make lectures more memorable, stories more personable, songs more soul-shaking, people more physically attractive, and romance more thrilling.
In 1999 on my study abroad program to France, I spent a weekend in Venice. While there, I once sat in a public square and just listened. I couldn’t understand 95% of the words being said all around me, and instead let the combination of voice wash over me. I felt at peace in a way I couldn’t remember feeling before.
**Like most reductionist psychological statements, the concept is oversimplified here, but the principle is loosely well-drafted, imo.
***Though I don’t mean “words of affirmation.” I mean words. One of the first things Jason ever said to me was, “Tell me a story,” and I knew I was lost at that point. Words are powerful, and as a lifelong writer, they are a BIG part of my love language.