The lesson: Love is understand in many languages. I am still learning how to love.
Firstly, for the purpose of clarification – the title of this post, is not simply a play on word to sound poetic or eloquent, but rather it is a clear statement of the term ‘love languages’. What is a love language? Love language refers to the way in which we all understand or perceive love and how we translate specific actions as expressions of love or gestures of love, such as gift giving to express love. The five types of love of languages are the following: Physical Affection, Words of Affirmation, Gift-Giving, Acts of Service and Quality Time.
Read more on each love language here: 5 Love Languages by Dr Gary Chapman
I am an advocate for love, more specifically – open expressions of love. I do not believe in playing-coy, in repressing positive emotions, and I certainly do not believe in diluting who I am for the comfort of others. Over the years, my love language has adapted, grown and evolved due to the various types of love I have experienced and my exposure to love languages and expressions of love that I had yet to discover at a young age. Throughout my child-hood, up until my late teenage years I understood love in the language of gift-giving and words of affirmation. As a child, it is without doubt that I knew how to get what I wanted when it came to material possessions, and my parents failed to firmly speak the word ‘no’, in fact, the minute the word ‘no’ was spoken, my mind translated this to me as ‘you are not deserving’ and the hurt I experienced as a result led to tears. Now, I am well and truly aware that this sounds like a cry for pity from the mouth (or fingers, in this case) of a spoiled girl, however something that must be understood is that my self-worth was equated to that of my material belongings, my confidence, my entire image was built around what I had, and if I did not have these possessions then I simply wasn’t good enough. I could not understand love in other forms, therefore where this love language of gift giving was absent, in the eyes of a younger self, all forms of love in my life were also absent.
For the sake of honesty, and for the sake of remaining true to the purpose of this blog, I will openly admit and express that the absence of my parents at such a young age, whether due to business trips or illness meant that I could not understand love as quality time or acts of service, and the ‘coldness’ or lack of affections within parent-child relations prevalent within traditional African culture meant that physical affection as love simply did not cross my mind. I will say however, that this is not at the fault of my parents, far from, particularly as my family as a whole has always done what they could do to ensure that both my brother and myself would live successful lives. It is also worth noting that ‘words of affirmation’ were continuously expressed, if it wasn’t for my father I wouldn’t have the confidence in myself to be anything or anyone that I want to, if it wasn’t for being told that I determine my destiny and my path, and that I should not allow anyone else’s opinions or views get in the way of this, I would not even be writing this particular post. My point is to express how childhood love acts as a blueprint for the ways in which we understand love at a later age.
What is my ‘love language’ now? Still gift-giving… but also acts of service, physical affection, words of affirmation and spending quality-time. In understanding these love languages, I have allowed myself to become multi-lingual in the art of love languages and because of this, I now allow myself to openly express and receive love in all forms. This is truly important because I also understand that everyone speaks and understands a different love language, therefore I also allow myself to express love accordingly, in a way that prevents miscommunication or misinterpretation by speaking in a language that the recipient of my love… understands.
Do you know your love language?