WHAT IS LOVE?

And no, I do not mean the song by Haddaway, but you can listen to it here if I’ve put you in the mood for it.

“Here, I’ll forward the link to you now, and tell me your score!!!” My flatmate bounded enthusiastically out of the room in search for her phone so she could ping the quizto my inbox. We’d spent the evening gabbing away at the dining room table about “The 5 Love Languages” after she came across it on a podcast. “It’s a book you know.” My other flatmate chipped in. “I’ve got it on my kindle if you want to borrow it.”

Love languages? There are approximately six thousand, five hundred spoken languages in the world, and I had only learned one – how the hell was I supposed to understand five new ones all about   L O V E ?

“So my top love language is Physical Touch. I think yours will probably be the same, Pam.”

I clicked on the quiz and sifted through a series of thirty questions throwing up dilemmas like:

it is more meaningful to me when…

  • I’m complimented by my partner on my appearance.
  • my partner takes the time to listen to me and really understand my feelings. 

As it turns out, my top one wasn’t Physical Touch at all, even though it featured quite high up on the list. My top language was Words of Affirmation (10), with my second language a close tie between Quality Time (8) and Physical Touch (7). Receiving Gifts (3) and Acts of Service (2) featured lowest on my score.

The 5 Love Languages

The result kind of made sense to me. Words. Words were always important to me. Even the act of studying graphic design – I loved the way words looked on paper. My pinterest is littered with words, saved because they look and sound pretty. I always overthought passing comments and cared too much about what people’s opinion of me. I needed verbal feedback to feel good about myself or someone to say thank you out loud, otherwise I’d feel like my efforts weren’t acknowledged. Perhaps that was why I always put a lot of emphasis on texting. God forbid someone leave my messages on read! That sort of thing coupled with vague or stand offish messages was enough to catapult my anxieties and insecurities through the roof!

I thought about the time I left a little note for the guy I am dating. I got a cool card and inside and I wrote some things in it related to the funny picture on the front. In my head, I thought that was a really nice thing to do – I was trying to show him how much I cared. Doing this felt effortless to me, natural if you like, and I wanted to do that, but I am not sure it was a big deal to him, and I don’t know if he’d have even kept it. A small card with some genuinely kind written words inside, mean more to me than an expensive gift, or any gift to be truthful – if there’s no sentiment behind it, but I know other people who’d be insulted if they ‘only’ received a card for their birthday when they were expecting a pair of designer shoes or an expensive bouquet of flowers. I may be pretty ruthless when it comes to possessions, keeping just what I need, but when it comes to words and notes on paper, I get all sentimental and keep them in a box to read on a rainy day.

My flatmates continued to gush over our results, both registering Physical Touch as a top language for them. “Pam’s very, ‘don’t touch me’ when she’s upset or angry, but when I am angry, I just want to be hugged to be reassured that I am still loved and that it’s okay…” my flatmate confessed.

“Me too, I need to be hugged after a ‘we need to talk’ conversation.”

Me? I had basically just discovered that I needed a constant cheerleader to sit on my shoulder, yelling “YOU GO GLEN COCO” and “GREAT JOB GIRL” at me 24/7 to feel good about myself. I needed an inner Sasha Fierce.

Yeah, my flatmates were both cuddly. They liked to be cuddled and held and have people around them to rub their heads. I hadn’t really thought about it before, but my flatmate was right. There had been times when I was so upset with people, that I would literally beg them to ‘just leave me alone’ and give me some space, yet they would continue to pursue me, ringing my phone off the hook, or trying to hug me, until I was forced to turn the phone OFF and lock myself in my room. Why was I like that? I thought about it… It was always because I was so mad that I didn’t want to say something hurtful in the heat of the moment that I’d later regret, and also partly, so that I could just get over the thing in my own time without anyone seeing me so upset – a pride thing probably. There had even been a time when during a fall out she herself had tried to hug me and I just stood there like an ice berg, cold and solid yet unable to comfort her, – and I still felt bad about that.

I what-sapped my mum.

“Mum, what things do I do for you that make you feel appreciated and that I love you?”

“You msg me. You buy me cake. You make me laugh so much. You hug me. You take me to cool places. You tell me you love and miss me, and we are silly together!”

“But what nice things do I do?” I wanted to know about the acts. 

“You got me banana pud*. You rub my shoulders. You find cute wee cafes that you know I’ll love (even ones in the UK). You carry my shopping bags. You made me that little book of vouchers**. You listen to me. You help me with fashion and sorting out my wardrobe. You cook for me. You make me laugh so much with your silly accents and impressions. You make me feel loved and important in all these ways by doing all these things.”

These things didn’t really seem like a big deal to me, to be honest. I’ll never want my mum to have to carry anything heavy, (despite the fact that she chooses to lift heavy things on a daily basis at the gym haha!) and I wanted to take her to cute cafes because she deserved to have the finest teas in all of china alongside the best cake in the world. She deserved someone to open doors for her and help her around the house.

A few days later, one friend said to another, “If you don’t think you’re a good girlfriend, then you’re probably not.” Ouch! I winced as my friend’s face fell. “Why don’t you think you’re a good girlfriend?” I asked later on, meanwhile wondering, am I a good girlfriend? Do I make enough effort? How could I be better? It’d been a long time since I’d had to consider someone else in my plans, but I was worrying that hand written notes inside daft cards and telling my bf he looked good in that outfit wasn’t quite going to cut it. I had to up my gf game or I was going to find myself relegated for sure.

I went home and hastily downloaded the book to my kindle (and by the way – I am quite anti-kindle. I like to buy real books for fear that one day, they’ll stop printing them), and it’s pretty enlightening to say the least. I enjoyed this book because it is realistic, and also because it starts with the author sitting on a plane. Chapman (the author) cites,

“…the disequilibrium of the “in-love” experience. That is, almost never do two people fall in love on the same day, and almost never do they fall out of love on the same day.”

He also discusses late pyschogist Dr. Doroth Tennov’s findings on long range studies about the “in-love” phenomenon, which concluded that the average life span of romantic obsession (ie. the in-love, fuzzy excited feelings you get when you’re mad in love) is two years (how depressing – why can’t it last forever???) – or a little longer if it’s a secret love affair. Descending from that bubble, to firmly replant our feet on solid ground is apparently when the ground gets rocky, and all those things you passed off as quirky, now become annoying. Chapman reasons that is this stage when it’s important to put in the effort of speaking your better halve’s dialect.

Reading these words, it’s no wonder there’s been so many crossed wires and clashes in the past relationships for my friends and I. Just like they taught us at school by means of what Luke said in the Bible, I personally, have been doing unto them as I expected them to do unto me (in a good way). Yet when they’re not unto-ing me, as I am un-toing to them, I’m all unholy instead, getting frustrated and convinced that they don’t love me back, leading to lost friendships and broken hearts.

Even with friends, I was sending them postcards, and telling them I missed them, because I did. I wasn’t just saying it. But maybe their love language was Quality Time, or Acts of Service, so my saying it was meaningless, unless I was backing up my words with actions. My words alone, without the effort or commitment behind them meant that they fell upon deaf ears, rendering them meaningless.

After sending this quiz to my tribe, I realised that my best friends and my boyfriend, and even my own mum, were all speaking a different love language to me. It wasn’t even the kind of language like, they spoke fluent Italian, so kind of understood Spanish. No… It was like, they spoke fluent Italian and I was speaking to them in Chinese Mandarin. It didn’t matter how loudly I was telling them I loved them if it was in Chinese; for all they knew, I could have  been swearing at them and telling them they smelled like a dead dog! And when they replied in Italian, it might have sounded pretty, but I didn’t know what they were trying to tell me either.

But what I did realise, was that if I cuddled my flatmate a little more, made more effort to spend (quality) time with another close friend, and really put more effort into acts of service with my bf, maybe I’d reap what I sowed, and receive more love and appreciation back. And wasn’t that a bit like the idea behind Karma too? You get what you give? Only for ages, I have clearly been giving the wrong things.

After gaining some perspective from the quiz and the book, maybe I ought to filter the words tumbling out of my mouth. It’s in my nature, to often just say the first thing that pops in to my head, forgetting that words can be powerful, (I myself, am can testify to that) and that once they’re said, they cannot be taken back. My bf told me, “but Pam, it’s not your job to fill the awkward silences.” and now, if I don’t feel like talking, I am not feeling guilty for allowing myself to be quiet. Instead, I am trying to focus more on the listening, the quality time, and the acts of doing things for those I love, instead of talking a good talk, and in doing so, I hope that it makes me a better daughter, friend, girlfriend and person.

If you want to find your own ‘Love Language’ or read more information about it, you can do it by clicking here.

Adios!

Adieu!

Au revoir!

Ciao!

وداعا

Bye!

Catch-ye-versace!

 

* This was when my mum was sick. I used to visit the Magnolia Bakery to buy her fave Dubai Dessert and take it to her in hospital whenever I had a work trip home to lift her spirits a bit. Plus, tell me someone who enjoys hospital food???………… EXACTLY!

** This was a Mother’s Day gift to my mum which was basically a DIY cheque book with things like “I’ll go to a gym class of your choice (for a change)” or “I’ll cook you _____ one night of your choosing since it’s your favourite.” or “1h of ironing because I know you hate it.” She likes to cash them in at every opportunity haha!

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