by Catherine Weingarten and Maddie Shmidt
Everyone says that love languages can be a great way to connect with your partner, since learning how they show and receive love can help you meet each other’s emotional needs. But what if their love language is not “gifts” or “words of affirmation” but instead something wildly upsetting? My boyfriend’s love language is theater speak, and this is my story.
It all started when he went to adult theater camp, which he thought could be a cool way to meet some new friends. When he got back he was devilishly charming, which I can only assume was the result of being the only straight man around for a whole week. He serenaded me with show tunes as I cooked, he tapped around the living room and said things like, “You’re a doll!” It was so old fashioned and heartwarming….until it wasn’t.
Soon, things started to get odd. When I would put on makeup for our dinner plans, he’d say, “Our call time is 7.” Then at 6:55, he’d yell, “places, 5.” Having no idea what that meant, I didn’t respond, but that only pissed him off more. He’d be like, “You have to say ‘thank you five’ after I say places.” And I’d be like “I don’t have to say anything” and then he’d be like “do it or the theater gods will smite you!” And then he’d start crying.
When I started dating a theater guy, I thought that would just mean role-play in the bedroom, but that has unfortunately never happened. Instead, he doesn’t ask me to go down on him, he asks if I want to “do some prop work.” And when he lets me know he’ll be cumming in 5 minutes, he makes me say “thank you, 5.” (Although let’s be honest, it’s more like “thank you, 3.”)
It’s even worse when we fight. In the middle of a screaming match, he asked, “What is your motivation right now?” and I said, “Telling you that you should clean up your socks cause they’re gross.” But then he was like no, raise the stakes!!! So I was like um, “If you don’t clean up your socks, I’m going to break up with you.” And right at the climax of our fight, he hugged me and said, “Wow, you really went to a deep place. Good work.” Can you see why this is so confusing?!
Finally, I took drastic measures. I signed us up for couple’s therapy so we could get to the root of our issue. But when he insisted we both sing our problems, he started belting “Somebody hold me too close, Somebody hurt me too deep,” which only made the therapist start weeping and clapping. I don’t understand why he’d want me to “hurt him,” unless it’s some kind of kink? And sorry, that’s way too much, I’m very, very vanilla.
I haven’t broken up with him yet, and I may never again set foot in a theater. But if there’s one thing our failing relationship and theater have in common, it’s that the show must go on.