The 5 Neurodivergent Love Languages

Demi Aspey
5mins read
Jan 18, 2024

Understanding how neurodivergence shapes our expression of love is crucial in our diverse world.

As a creative writer in her 30s, living with ADHD, I've discovered that our love languages are as unique as our minds.

Let's delve into the 5 neurodivergent love languages, blending professional insight with a human touch.

What Are The Classic Five Love Languages? 🩷

Before jumping in, let's quickly peek at the classic five love languages.

A love language is simply how we express our love and wish to receive love. The love could be romantic, platonic, or family love.

When you think about your love language(s), which do you prefer?

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Acts of Service
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Quality Time
  5. Physical Touch

Maybe these are not the match made in heaven you’re looking for?

In that case, it might be because we neurodivergent folks often express our love in different ways.

But we do most things a little differently (in a good way), so there’s no surprise!

Now for the fun part…

The 5 Neurodivergent Love Languages 🧠

Our neurodivergent love languages are not just quirks but profound expressions of who we are.

Unlike traditional love languages, they are tailored to the unique ways our brains process and express emotions.

5 adhd love languages
Credit: @neurowonderful (X)

Neurodivergent vs. Neurotypical Love Languages 💞

The traditional love languages, conceptualised by Gary Chapman, include acts of service, words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, and receiving gifts.

For neurodivergent individuals, these languages can take on a different hue.

For instance, physical touch for someone with sensory processing differences might be overwhelming, requiring a nuanced understanding.

Receiving gifts can also send us into a state of flux, given many of our people-pleasing natures. We have to return the favour and gain a new relationship with our Amazon delivery driver; we end up seeing them that often.

Quality time is also great…for those who don’t struggle with time-blindness and forgetfulness.

And don’t even get us started on acts of service or words of affirmation.

Most days, we struggle to get our tasks done and speak positively to ourselves when our symptoms are battling against our routine, so those we love may find themselves unintentionally at the bottom of the list.

I’m not suggesting that ADHDers don’t express love in these ways.

We do, too.

Giving gifts and acts of service are top of my list, but looking back, I often gravitate towards these for the wrong reasons.

To be fair, many other humans find their unique love languages, but society likes boxes, and these are the big five.

What Are the 5 Neurodivergent Love Languages?

Alexa, play Barry White, and let’s get it on!

ADHD Love Language #1: Info Dumping 🎙️

First up, Info Dumping!

It's like showing love through a Wikipedia binge.

neurodivergent love languages: info dumping mem
Credit: @daisandconfused (X)

You know that feeling when you just HAVE to share every SINGLE detail about your latest obsession?

That's info dumping and a heart-to-heart for the ADHD brain.

Info Dumping is a way of sharing passion and knowledge.

It's like a star coming to life in a universe of thoughts and ideas.

Imagine a partner passionately explaining their latest project or interest – it's their way of letting you into their world.

ADHD Love Language #2: Parallel Play 💕

Next, we have Parallel Play, also known as body doubling.

If you’re new here and haven’t yet caught the body doubling (slash parallel play) bug, we’ve got you!

What’s body doubling / parallel play?

Imagine chilling with someone, each doing your own thing, but together.

It's like being alone, together – cosy, comforting, and oh-so-neurodivergent (though both folks being neurodivergent isn’t a requirement!).

Parallel Play, or body doubling, is a concept where individuals engage in separate yet close activities and get things done alongside each other.

Body doubling offers a sense of companionship without the pressure of direct interaction.

5 neurodivergent love languages: parallel play / body doubling
Credit: @neurowonderful (X)

This concept is akin to the findings of Dr. Edward Hallowell , a renowned ADHD expert (and legend), who emphasises the importance of connection in ADHD relationships – often achieved through shared but independent activities.

ADHD Love Language #3: Penguin Pebbling 🐧

Ah, Penguin Pebbling – as adorable as it sounds.

Penguin Pebbling is inspired by how penguins offer pebbles as tokens of affection.

neurodivergent love language: penguin pebbling

In the neurodivergent context, it's about finding small, seemingly insignificant items with special or sentimental meaning.

It's when we find something small and seemingly random, like a cool rock or a quirky button, and give it to someone as a token of affection.

neurodivergent love languages - penguin pebbling
Credit: @neurowonderful (X)

It's the little things that count, literally!

These small gestures can be significant in building and maintaining relationships, especially for those who communicate affection through tangible, symbolic objects.

ADHD Love Language #4: Support Swapping 🤝

Then there's Support Swapping.

Think of it as sharing spoons from our limited cutlery drawer of energy.

It's about helping each other out when the going gets tough, ADHD style.

Support Swapping involves exchanging help or support, particularly during challenging times.

This practice can be linked to the 'spoon theory' concept, a model that describes the limited energy reserves in people with chronic illness or neurodivergence.

By sharing tasks or offering support, individuals show love through understanding and shared experiences.

Some tasks need more spoons, which we simply don’t have.

Someone offering you some of their spoons when required is the ultimate happily ever after.

ADHD Love Language #5: Deep Pressure 🤗

Finally, Deep Pressure.

neurodivergent love languages - deep pressure
Credit: @neurowonderful (X)

It's like a hug for your soul.

It's that comforting, grounding feeling when you're snug under a weighted blanket or getting a tight hug.

It's the physical reassurance that says, "I'm here for you."

Deep Pressure is a form of physical affection that involves firm tactile sensory input.

This can be incredibly comforting for those with sensory processing sensitivities.

Research indicates that deep pressure can have a calming effect, making it a powerful expression of love for those who find comfort in this sensory experience.

I don’t know about you; I can’t get enough of being wrapped up like a toasty burrito under my weighted blanket.

Final Neuro-Thoughts 🧠

Understanding these five neurodivergent love languages opens new avenues for connection and empathy.

As we embrace these diverse expressions of love, we enrich our relationships and deepen our understanding of each other.

And hey, if parallel play/body doubling is your language, come find your tribe of equally passionate folk over at Deepwrk.

We’re here to help you get more done together!

Frequently Asked Questions 🙋

What are the neurodivergent love languages?

Neurodivergent love languages are unique ways individuals with neurodivergent conditions like ADHD and Autism express and experience love and affection, often diverging from traditional love languages.

The five neurodivergent love languages are:

  1. Info Dumping
  2. Parallel Play/Body Doubling
  3. Penguin Pebbling
  4. Support Swapping
  5. Deep Pressure

What is neurodivergence?

Neurodivergence means that a person’s brain functions differently from a typical brain concerning social skills, learning, attention, mood, and other mental functions. It includes conditions like ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and others.

Where can I find more resources?

Head on over to our ADHD blog for more ADHD resources.

If you enjoy podcasts and love consuming information on the go, check out our article with the best ADHD podcasts of 2024.

Fan of reading? Here are our top ADHD books suggestions.

If you are looking to up your productivity game, check our article with the 15 best ADHD products & gadgets or the 20 best ADHD productivity tools and apps.

Looking for ADHD life hacks? Here you can find 17 ADHD hacks that actually work and an ADHD cleaning checklist to transform the chaos into order.

And if you want to learn more about ADHD check out our articles on doom piling, ADHD imposter syndrome, or decision fatigue.

References & Sources:

  1. Grandin T. (1992) Calming effects of deep touch pressure in patients with autistic disorder, college students, and animals
  2. The 5 Love Languages: the Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
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Demi Aspey
Demi is the founder of the creative agency, Sonder Script, a culture columnist for House of Coco magazine, a part-time lecturer, and a soon-to-be Doctor in screenwriting. She is a scriptwriter by speciality and a copywriting cultivator by trade. Demi is a mental health advocate and was diagnosed with ADHD as an adult.