I’ve been thinking a lot about love recently and how often people don’t see love because they aren’t using the same love language. In other words, love can take on many forms without necessarily saying “I love you”.
It can come as a ‘message me when you get home’ or a ‘I made you something’ or even letting someone go because you know in your heart that you don’t belong with them, or you are holding them back.
I was observing a situation between a single father and his two daughters. His love language was that he often bought gifts to say “I was thinking of you”, however one of his daughters had a time love language. She wanted his time. She wanted to be near him more than anything and every time he gave her a gift instead of just catching up with her, it hurt her more than anything. She was dying for him to say that he wanted to see her, for him to ask her how she is going – and just be there. His other daughter was much like him. She didn’t need time, instead she loved the gifts. Her love language aligned with his. She felt wanted and cared for, while his other daughter was sinking deeper into depression feeling like she was worth nothing.
The Father in this situation, came to me for advice. He was concerned that he was doing something wrong because he was getting two different attitudes to the present-giving. He thought that the gifts could mean something to them, but the first daughter seemed like she was unappreciative. He asked me what could he do to help her. The answer was simple “Speak her love language. She’s dying to spend time with you and if you listen closely, you will see how much it hurts when you ignore her desire to be around you. She doesn’t need gifts to see your love, she just wants to be with you, share time with you”.
It sounds cliché but sometimes it’s the little things that show someone you care.
For me, love was always intense. It was always everything or nothing, there was never any inbetween. And it greatly affected my relationships, it became my undoing; my kryptonite. I would fall so fast for someone without thinking about it and soon I was being used. It has made me cautious – some would describe it as cold or unfeeling, but I have had to learn how to protect myself. So many times I ended up hurt because I was all-in.
Often my love, my want to be with someone was at a sacrificial cost to me, in order to gain their respect.
A few months ago, I was online and I got a message from someone saying that maybe if I was more ‘open’ or ‘forgiving’ I wouldn’t be so cold hearted and cynical. I really wanted them to know my story and see if at all it changed their mind on why I am the way I am. I’m self-protecting. More than anything I would love to be the way I was before, free not to be scared or prejudiced against people, but unfortunately, I’m not 19 anymore.
It brings me back to this idea of love. A few years ago people would have said “oh! She’s so generous! She helps anyone out! She makes sure that no-one goes hungry in her class”. And its true, yes, I did ensure that if someone was hungry at my tafe, they could have some money – but that got abused. I was saving money and wasn’t able to give any more money and suddenly I became a cold hearted cow. If you met me when I was much younger, I would have been super affectionate. I would be touchy, I would want to hug you… it was my answer to everything. As if the hug would put back the pieces of someone’s broken heart.
Now, like the daughter aforementioned, I notice time. I know that my family have different love languages. I know my mum for example is a massive time person. She notices little gestures like the phone call at a set time, spending quality time with her loved ones is the way she wants to spend her love. I notice when someone thinks of me even if it’s the smallest thing, I appreciate it.
In case you were wondering, there are 5 love languages.
- Quality Time
- Receiving Gifts
- Acts of service – doing something for someone
- Physical Touch
- Words of Affirmation – telling someone that they mean a lot or that you appreciate them.
I crave those words of affirmation. I have struggled with mental illness most of my adult life and I long for words to be openly said. It provides me with certainty that the relationship I have with that person is a mutually beneficial one, or that I am loved or respected. It is a major flaw of mine to crave words of affirmation as if words aren’t being said, I feel like I am struggling to stay afloat. My brain often tells me lies about relationships or people and I rely on people’s actions as a countermeasure to stay sane. That somehow, I am not respected, cared for or loved. It feels like I am insecure about everything when I ask someone “do you love me?” or “are we okay?” when really I’m longing to hear “I care for you” or “you are important to me” or the really important one “This relationship isn’t a waste of your time”.
So, with this in mind, how do you express your love? Do you listen for other people’s love languages and reciprocate?
Food for thought.