Bones Theory

Booth and Brennan and The Five Love Languages


Hey, hey! So, last Wednesday, pal Nicole brought us a great conversation piece about how Brennan touches Booth to keep him close, literally. I loved her point about how they are in a serious relationship, that while it’s maybe not as romantic as we want it to be, there is no questioning that it’s serious. I just thought that was such a perfect way to look at it. Even if it’s not exactly what we want at this time, there is still some honorability to it. Don’t you think? But what also really pleased me was the discussion that happened in the comments about the Five Love Languages.

I’m no expert at them, though I have read all the books. I have to say the idea of the 5 LLs really did change the way I look at people and myself.

I was going to just comment on Nicole’s essay about it, but then I figured it was worth its own discussion, and I’d open it up to everyone to really discuss.

Here’s a little background on them:

The premise is this: Each person works out of a need to love and be loved. However, each person’s expression of love is not the exact same. The key is to figure out a person’s love ‘language’ and be able to ‘communicate’ with him or her in a way that is effective. Each person can have more than one LL, but there is usually one primary one.

The five LLs are as follows:

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

One factor I always thought was important to examine was the idea that a person will usually love based out of his or her love language and if a person is angry with someone, he or she will most likely withhold ‘love’ by using his or her love language. This is ineffective, as the ‘someone’, if he or she does not share the same LL will not notice that love is being withheld.

For example, if person A’s LL is Touch, but person B’s LL is Quality Time, person A could be mad at person B and decide not to touch them. Person B will not notice that this is happening, and he or she will be happy as person A will still be in the same room, and quality time will still be happening.

So when considering Booth and Brennan, I think it’s important to ask ourselves:

  1. How does each express love?
  2. Is that a reflection of a recognition of how his/her partner wants to be loved, or a reflection on how he/she wants to be loved?

I’ll toss out my opinions here, and then you all can discuss if you want.

I think Booth’s Primary LL is Touch, and his secondary LL is Quality Time. He is most affected when Brennan touches him (Soldier on a Grave, Mayhem on a Cross, End in the Beginning) and when she is  just…with him (ConMan in the Meth Lab, Bond in the Boot). This is also how he expresses his love for her (Woman in Limbo, Pain in the Heart…either with hugs or just letting him lean on her, or just showing up with food).

With Brennan…it’s a little trickier. I think her primary LL is actually Gifts, and I think her secondary one is Words of Affirmation. She loves getting gifts from Booth, and I think she recognizes them as love (maybe). And if she wants to make someone feel ‘loved’ (though she may never say this), she will try to compliment him or her. Of course, she doesn’t always say the right thing…but I don’t think that changes the fact that it’s her way of expressing affection. I think Nicole was right when she said that Brennan touches Booth in order to keep him close, but that might not necessarily be a love thing, and just more of a desperation thing…or just a desire to be close to him.

Well, what do you think? How do Booth and Brennan express love, and in which ways do they seem most eager to receive love? Can you give examples?

This discussion was brought to you by the Coalition for a Greater Shipper World in Support of Sweets/Wyatt 2010.


16 thoughts on “Booth and Brennan and The Five Love Languages

  1. I think Booth and Brennan deal w/ the 5LL on a unique and extraordinary way. He knows she’s fragile under her armor of knowledge and she don’t let anybody touch or hug her but Booth. Can you imagine how will be see this two mixing the 5LL w/ a real couple intimacy ? Will be amazing !

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  3. Well, my first thoughts were that ‘Touch’ was the main LL for both of them…because of Booth with his guy hugs….and Bren with her hand on the arm in Soldier, pinching Booth’s cheek, kissing his cheek in Knight on Grid, hand over hankerchief/heart in Mayhem.

    When you brought up gifts though, I wondered if that was actually Booth’s Love Language to her, he has given her a few key tokens. But what if the gifts were a way for him to express his love in a way that Bren would not find threatening? It makes me wonder if their Love Language to each other will change once they are a couple??

    I also liked your comment about Bren expressing love by TRYING to compliment people….yes, I think she does this too….but she doesn’t always do it successfully, does she? Gotta love her – LOL!

  4. Wow, nice complex question! I agree that Booth expresses love through touch but I also think that he knows how skittish Brennan is about physical contact so for the most part he has kept his touching very casual, unless Brennan is clearly upset and open to more-then he goes for the full guy hug. For the first one he had to ask; successive ones became much more instinctive. Because he had to keep touching to a minimum early on, Booth resorted to gifts as a way of showing affection: Jasper, smurfette, her earring, the Christmas Tree. These were all items loaded with significance that were comfortable for Brennan to accept.

    Booth understands that Brennan’s ability to put up with contact is directly proportional to her feelings for a person; up to the 100th, he was giving only what he thought she could receive without scaring her off. That said, he must have felt her closer to him early on in the 5th season because the touching became more personal: his hand over hers when they were repairing the sink, the brushing back of her hair in Night at the Bones Museum, the hand-holding in the chicken episode. He even overcame his need for physical distance after the rejection; in the prom episode he holds her tight during the dance once he sees how important that moment is to her.

    For him, I believe her words of encouragement are what he perceives as love. Booth needs a lot of reassurance as to his worth as a person and other than his grandfather no one is able to validate him as Brennan can. She lets him “be a guy,” accepting his help even when she may not need it and constantly reminding him that he really is a good person. I think Brennan too knows how important her reassurance is for him and even when her words don’t always come out right, she always makes an effort to encourage him-even going so far in Proof in the Pudding as to obscuring the facts about the Kennedy case in order to put him at ease. This is how she shows him affection. While we all know that she also shows her affection through touch, I think she is clueless as to how her closeness truly affects Booth which is why I’m waiting for one of her touches to be deliberate-he won’t miss that cue.

    While gifts and touching may be taken as signs of love by Brennan, perhaps “quality time” is what she values the most from Booth. Even when she complains that Booth is always hovering around her, being overprotective, I believe that those are exactly the things that have attracted him to her. Where others have abandoned her he always stays close-particularly when times are tough. She rejected his help early on but, realizing that he genuinely cares about her, she grew to accept and even crave all the time he insists on spending with her.

    And I agree with Wellsbones; once all these languages come together it’s going to be pretty amazing to see.

  5. Hi! I’m excited to see this post because I made a comment with Janet about the love languages on the other post. I think we all respond a little to all the love languages with usually 1 or 2 languages being stronger. I think we could all pick out moments for each of Booth and Brennan when they responded to each love langauge.

    I believe that like most guys, Booth has a physical touch LL. He responds to her touching him very much. Just his looks when she wraps her arms around him to adjust his back is proof enough of this. He in turn also touches her a lot. Guiding through a door or on a dance floor. Reassuring hugs, etc.

    But then I’m torn between Quality Time and Words of Affirmation.. Remember his hurt in the beginning of the third season when she wouldn’t go out in the field with him. He wants her there. He brought her to the Gamer in the Grease case even though there wasn’t bones (yet! anyway) because he thought she would find it interesting. His pain when their relationship would on by “just coffee”. He enjoys her company and wants her around.

    But he values his worth of him equally as well. He wants to know that he is a good man in her eyes. Does she think he is a good father? A good FBI agent? He reacts to what she says about his character. He swells with pride when she says he is the only FBI agent she wants to work with. That she thinks he’s intelligent in his own way.

    Brennan is more difficult. I would agree with the gifts comments. She does enjoy those small tokens of appreciation. But I would argue that she values Acts of Service as well. Booth protecting and looking after her is an act of service. Dropping his Gravedigger case is an act of service towards Brennan.

  6. I think this is a great topic. My husband and I saw Gary Chapman (the author of The Five Love Languages) speak at a marriage conference 8 or 9 years ago and I know I’ve read the book…it’s just been a long time.

    All of that being said, I’m typically terrible at figuring out what people’s love languages actually are so instead of making my own observations, I’m going to “dogpile” on some of the comments that have already been made.

    I am absolutely fascinated by two thoughts related to this topic:

    1. that one of Booth’s primary LL’s might be words of affirmation, and

    2. he craves touch from Brennan but not necessarily from other people (ShrinkyMojo made an interesting observation in a response to Nicole’s blog entry last week that when anyone other than Brennan tries to touch Booth he “cringes…backs away…and basically withdraws from any sort of touching or hugging, unless he initiates it.”)

    I think this point has already been made by at least one other person (if not two or three), but it’s worth noting how both of these LL’s (words of affirmation and touch) relate back to Booth’s abusive childhood. And it’s significant, I think, that Brennan is the only one who has really ever been able to fill his needs in both of these areas.

  7. Compelling arguments for the different LLs . . .

    I think I have to still go with Words of Affirmation as being Booth’s primary one. I think it is more than just Brennan’s words to him that affect him, though hers mean the most, of course.

    With the abusive background I can see that Touch could be a potential secondary, but it really is only from Brennan, at this point, which is significant of course.

    I am less certain with Brennan. I can agree that Words of Affirmation for her are important when taking into consideration her literalness – but it seems like she gets the most out of Acts of Service and Quality Time. The Quality Time would support moving her past the abandonment issues and she continually questions the longevity of love.

    Hmm. I think I am not running with the pack on this one. Maybe I’m way off . . .

    *backing out of the conversation gracefully*

  8. First-time poster here – thanks for a wonderful blog and some pretty interesting discussions!

    Everyone seems to be saying that with Booth it’s easy to identify what’s going on, but it’s more difficult with Brennan, and I agree.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my take on Brennan. I think that Brennan defies classification in many ways. However, I would go for Words of Affirmation as her primary mode. It’s just that her ‘language’ is so unique you almost miss what she’s saying. Also sometimes I wonder whether she knows what she’s saying, not that it makes what she says any less true.

    Essentially I think she often tells Booth that she loves him, but it’s so well-hidden you have to dig pretty deep to find it. It starts tentatively at the end of season 3, in Wannabe when she’s fishing for compliments in the diner scene and tells him he’s a very good FBI agent or something like this (he doesn’t reciprocate – instead he makes fun of her for her ego). Then it builds momentum and goes on throughout season 4, which I see as a pretty extended ‘I love you’ from Brennan, one that Booth simply does not seem to hear. She says it so many times I’ve lost count – from “you’re made of very very good stuff” to “every element is your element” to praising his ability to use intelligence and even to saying that looking at herself through his eyes would make her live her life more successfully. Then, of course, she asks him to have a child with her. And no matter how carefully couched in the language of rationality that is, the bottom line really is that it’s another way of saying ‘I love you’. And finally, I always saw her novel as yet another way of telling him that maybe, if she were someone else, someone not so deeply connected to the world of science and the dead, maybe if she were someone else they could be together. Seriously, how much more evidence do we need?

    The fact that Booth never seems to register what this all means is soemthing that I wasn’t comfortable with at the time and I’m not comfortable with now either. He just doesn’t get her language of love. He should.

    • Perhaps he should, but even though he “should” in the way that a character should, I like that it is real. I’d say that given the evidence you have provided (awesome), Brennan does not know Booth’s love language, either.

      I’ve been married for 18 years and my husband still does not know my love language(s). He shows me through his own, instead, which I do understand. So, I can be forgiving of Booth and Brennan for not knowing best what each other’s love languages are. 🙂

    • *wide eyes* You have read my mind. Seriously, I’ve been thinking that forever (well, not forever, just since early-mid season 4). And you worded it so well! I agree that it’s incredibly frustrating that Booth’s not “getting it,” but… isn’t it so real?

    • I love this thought but I also believe that while it’s most likely true, Brennan herself doesn’t see it that way. She doesn’t know she’s telling Booth she loves him, with her actions and her words. At least, she didn’t then.

      And if she didn’t know the truth behind her actions, how could we expect Booth to?

  9. This is a great topic!

    And I think you might be right about what you think their main LLs are. I also think that they are in a way aware of the other one’s LLs. You gave an example on how it can go wrong when people have other LLs and that way they don’t see it when the other person is angry. But I think that Booth & Brennan learned a lot on that subject and are more or less aware of what a sign of love for the other person is.

    Booth is definitely one for touching, he likes to show his affection that way. Brennan is a lot more touchy as she used to be, which might be the result of having Booth around her and him touching her all the time.

    I would say that Brennan is one for Words of Affirmation as well, she needs to hear how much she’s valued sometimes and she tries to tell people that she appreciates them the same way, even if it doesn’t always come out right. Acts of Service follows that up a little bit. It’s what she does, she’s constantly fighting for justice, to give people back their face and in my opinion that’s a way of expressing ‘love’.

    Quality Time is something you can put with both of them. Like Sweets said, they have a surrogate relationship which makes it hard to form bonds with other people but also makes it hard for them to sacrifice time they usually spend together. For example when Brennan has a date (most obvious when she is with Sully), Booth will always show up and interrupt them. Sure that’s partly because there’s a little jealousy there but I think it’s also because normally she’d be spending that time with him. Now we can see the same thing with Brennan, when Booth leaves her at the bar to go out with Hannah, she doesn’t like it one bit either. Or when they are in Booth’s apartment. She knows that she has to give Booth & Hannah some alone time, yet she doesn’t leave yet when Angela & Cam do, she’s reluctant to do so.

    Mentioning that scene makes me believe that Gifts is actually a LL of her too, after all she’s very pleased that Booth is so happy with the phone and when mentioning it to Hannah she got all excited (how cute and sad!). Which caused the whole awkward ‘you’re welcome’ from both Hannah & Brennan but it does show how much she wants Booth to be happy and therefore loves him.

    So yeah I think that by now they know about each other’s LLs, they just need to start trusting that they do and listen to it in stead of pretending that they probably got it whole wrong and don’t understand what the other is trying to say.

  10. Thanks for this. I’ve often thought of the Love Languages when discussing with people why he didn’t say, ‘I love you’ to her in the conversation the night of the 100th and why it doesn’t bother me. (It clearly does a lot of people, and I assume it’s because I’m different from many women in my love languages.) I think you’ve nailed the differences between them in this respect perfectly. 🙂

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  12. With Brennan, I believe she lets you know she loves you as she proceeds. It’s like the whole negative space thing. I don’t not say I love you so therefore I love you–she’s schooled herself to logic, to thinking. I think she also works very hard to identify through observation what each person important to her values. She identifies that Booth says unsolicited gifts (the bug book from Hodgins at the airport) mean love. She acknowledges that Angela offers advice/time. She identifies Booth’s expressions of love as touching. She acknowledges the respect/love (the not so much saying as being) that Hodgins offers (trapped in the car). (~~my thinking worth exactly what you paid for it, nothing).

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