Love is something that all human beings are capable of experiencing, and most of us are lucky enough to be able to throughout our lifetimes. However, it’s not the same for everyone. While our individual backgrounds and personalities affect the ways in which we approach relationships, so too does the way our minds work. While the general theory is that all people can be categorized as using one of five love languages, neurodivergent people have their own ways of expressing this feeling.
What is neurodivergence?
The term “neurodivergent” comes from “neurodiversity,” a term coined by Australian sociologist Judy Singer in 1998 to discuss the distinctive ways in which people’s brains work. Given that every individual is unique, it means there’s no such thing as “normal” when it comes to thinking.
Neurodivergence is categorized as a way of thinking that is different than most other people. This doesn’t imply that neurodivergent people have less cognitive ability or are in any way intellectually inferior, nor does it imply that they are in any way “abnormal,” The Cleveland Clinic notes. All it means is that they have different strengths, needs, and differences in the way their brains work, though the reason for that isn’t always known.
People who fall under the neurodivergent category may or may not have a diagnosed medical condition. For instance, some neurodivergent individuals may be on the autism spectrum, have ADHD, or suffer from conditions like dyspraxia, dyslexia, or mental health conditions such as biplar disorder and OCD, to name a few. However, neurodivergence is not dependent on medical diagnosis and can be experienced by anyone.
In addition to impacting the way neurodivergent people think, it can also change their love languages and the way they function within romantic relationships.
The 5 neurodivergent love languages
The five neurodivergent love languages: infodumping, parallel play, support swapping, Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body, and "I found this cool rock/button/leaf/etc and thought you would like it"
— Myth (@neurowonderful) May 27, 2021
Because neurodivergence isn’t a diagnosed medical condition, the love languages listed below are not “official,” per se. Instead, they were posted on Twitter by user @neurowonderful and became so popular that they’ve been widely adopted (and certainly appreciated) by the neurodivergent community.
This is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: dumping a load of information about something on a partner. This neurodivergent love language is all about sharing the minutiae of something you’re passionate about with your partner, sometimes to the point of bombaring them.
For instance, maybe you’re obsessed with Radiohead and because you’re neurodivergent, you know pretty much every factoid about the band’s members and their achievements. Because you love Radiohead so much, you want your partner to love them too, so you share all the trivia you know about the group with your S.O. And we do mean EVERY bit. It can be annoying, but you’d like to think it’s endearing.
Parallel Play/Body Doubling
As @neurowonderful points out, you might also refer to this as “being alone together.” It’s a great way to share quality time in comfortable silence, doing your own thing while still being physically together. It requires feeling secure in your relationship and knowing that you don’t need to entertain your partner all the time for them to love you or enjoy being with you.
For many neurodivergent people, sharing the same physical space while working on individual hobbies or passions is a great way to be close to the person they love while also indulging their need for quiet and solitude. For instance, maybe one person reads a book while the other plays video games. Or, one person does a crossword puzzle while the other makes crafts.
Of all the neurodivergent love languages, this one may be most unfamiliar to those whose brains don’t work differently. However, it should be widely understood by all: It’s simply a way of looking after each other in small, simple ways that show a deep sense of care.
For instance, support swapping could be reminding someone to take their medicine while they offer to pick up your dry cleaning on the way home from work. Or, it could be helping someone prepare for a job interview and they write a reference for you when you apply for a new position. Who wouldn’t appreciate that?
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@neurowonderful describes this as “Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body.” It’s the human equivalent of a weighted blanket. In other words, this love language literally does mean using deep pressure to make the neurodivergent person feel more grounded and secure. As they point out, this can “provide proprioceptive input and can soothe body stress responses.”
Of course, it’s always important to get consent and to be sure that this love language is one used and appreciated by the other person. Not everyone enjoys deep pressure or finds it helpful, so good, clear communication is key.
Penguin pebbling is a neurodivergent version of one of the conventional love langauges: gift giving. However, instead of gifting jewelry, trips, or other items, this is all about giving the other partner smaller things that are more interesting or meaningful to the ND person. It can also mean giving the other person something you know they’re interested in or would find fascinating.
What kinds of items are included in penguin pebbling depend on the giver and the recipient. For instance, it could be something as simple as a “cool rock,” as @neurowonderful points out, or a hilarious meme or an article you read online that taught you something new.