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just because someone doesn’t easily say, “I love you,” doesn’t mean their love language isn’t words of affection

(If you aren’t familiar with the five love languages, please take some time to inform yourself.)

(Also, please note that I believe that while we might have a primary love language or two, I do believe that most of us speak most, if not all, the languages…just some are of more concern to us than others.)

Sometimes I assume that your love language isn’t words of affection.  You don’t freely say, “I love you.”  You don’t call me “honey.”  You don’t write yards and yards of poetry.  

Sometimes that is how words of affection are expressed– but not always.

Truth be told, sweetly spoken words aren’t my specialty, either.  I feel stupid saying them.  I also don’t want pressure to return words at a moment’s notice.  I like to have time to think them through.  If you say “I love you” unexpectedly, I’m probably going to just kiss you.  No more words.

Nor am I impressed when someone says the three little words for no reason other than they think any woman wants to hear them.  But turns out they didn’t “really mean it.”  No woman is “any woman.”  We’re ourselves.

Words of affection are words that feel affectionate to YOU.

Some women like being called “honey” and “dear.”  Although not usually by strangers.  Guys, c’mon have a little common sense!  Don’t message some woman you never met with, “Hey, darling!”

I hate being called “sweetheart” or “darling,” because I’ve been jaded by the words. They don’t make me feel loved.  They make me feel like the person wanted a shortcut.  I’ll tell you sweet words so I don’t have to do any of the hard work.  Or they told me the words as a reminder of my “place.”  “Honey, let me tell you how the world works.”  If I’m only “honey,” I’m not threatening to them.  Is it any wonder I don’t care for these terms?

It took me a while to understand this.

Thus, I avoided those whose primary love language was ‘words of affection,”  I thought I’d avoided the love language more or less entirely.  I chose partners who didn’t care of words of affection either, or at least I assumed they didn’t.  Because they don’t use the words I associate with others who have eagerly claimed this love language, “My love language is words of affection.  Telling them how I feel is how I am best able to express my love.  I adore terms of endearment, both being called them and calling my partners such.”  Because they would never tell  me that they preferred words of affection to other love languages.

Or at least, I thought that’s how I felt.  Except I’ve been thinking about it, really thinking about it.  Something I’d suggest anyone do, even after knowing, deep down, what sorts of love languages work for one and which don’t.  To think about it, beyond a natural assertion of one’s preferences.

When I thought about it in depth, I realized I did like words of affection.  I even like saying them, sometimes.  I am better at writing them down, rather than spontaneously expressing sweet nothings.  But I still love beautiful words.

Give me your beautiful words, please.

Oh, it still will do nothing for me if you aren’t giving me the time I need with you.  Or if you aren’t holding me and providing the physical intimacy I need to feel loved.  But once my base needs are met, I do like those words.  I came to a tiny ephiphany:  I don’t need any words of affection, but I need specific words. 

No, I will never like “honey” or “darling,” unless I know you very, very well (okay, I am not sure I will ever want those particular endearments).  Even then, at best it will make me feel a little warm inside.  It won’t do very much.

If I know you, I do want to hear your words and your compliments.  Sometimes I even want to hear, simply, “You are beautiful.”  “You are magnificent.”  “Your skin is soft beyond belief.”

But what I love most?  ”I hope you had a good time with your family,” or “I picked up some apple juice.”  Say, “I know you love me, because you put chocolate chips in my pancakes.”  Or “I made you a pillow fort.”  (You can never go wrong by offering a kitten a soft place to rest.)  Because I know you took the time, because you love me.  I know you are saying, “I love you.” 

I will respond, “I love you, too.”

In my own words.

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when love is a gift

“What is love,” someone asked me.

“You mean being in love, or love itself?”

“Both?”

Well, let me ponder that.

“Being ‘in love’ is an infatuation. At least, that’s what it seems to mean. It’s used by the same sort of people, in my experience, as those who use phrases like ‘protect the relationship’ or ‘I give 100% in my relationship.’ What does that even mean? If it means anything at all, it means nothing consistent. Or you see people use being ‘in love’ as an excuse. An excuse to hurt someone, ‘I was in love, I wasn’t thinking clearly, I didn’t mean it.’ They are ‘in love,’ so they forget to take care of their friends, while they are lost in these so-called overwhelming feelings. It’s a phrase for which I’ve lost affection. I might use it on occasion, I’m not strongly opposed to hearing it, it just doesn’t really do much for me.”

“But love itself? Love is beautiful. If it’s not everything, it’s most of it. At least for me. I don’t actually know what love actually is— the Form of love, in the Platonic sense— but I know what surrounds love. Sometimes that love runs deep. The kind of love in which that person’s needs and wants are interwoven with your own. The Love that connects you, always, to that person. The kind of love that most people crave, that satisfies a need similar to hunger or thirst. The kind of love reserved for the “lucky and the strong.”

Sometimes love is superficial.

Does it mean much, to say, “I love people”? I don’t believe so.  It’s nice. I might, due to that love, take better care of the world around me—indirectly benefitting them— but that’s all. Still, it’s something. It’s positive.  If I meet someone, I might love easily…and stop loving with the same ease.  A light, carefree love disguised, as the case may be, by infatuation.

Love can mean more than anything, or very little at all. You know, casual love.

Sometimes it’s me saying, “You are wonderful. Something in you spoke to me, and I felt warm because of it. I would like to get to know you better, or I have gotten to know you, and I want you to know that your efforts achieved a result.” I hope you return the favor, but if you don’t, so be it. I still love you.

Sometimes love is given, without expectation.

I am sure I will love my child placed in my hands, from that very first second.  A love I will give unconditionally, as I gave it to my parents and siblings.  My manifestation of that love might change, if their behavior were severe enough– but it may not.  I don’t know.  I’ve never had it tested in that manner.  But, for now, I love them without reason or cause, but simply for being themselves.  They did plenty to “earn” that love, for everything they have ever done— but I would have loved them regardless.  Do I love the children under my care, my munchkins?  I do now, but that love developed over time, earned mutually between us. At first, I held only affection for them, as I would for any child.  But it changed, evolved.

Sometimes love is a tendril that twists and sneaks its way between hearts.

…and slowly strengthens and grows into the sturdy roots of towering redwoods.  That lasts a lifetime and beyond.  That makes itself a part of one’s life, as a tree is part of a forest.  Or whichever particular imagery works for you.

Love takes many forms. 

Affection, empathy, romantic love.  Affection is love’s distant cousin, as I view it.  Affection represents something real, but it is not synonymous with love.  Affection does not cause heartbreak. When someone I love is in pain, I hurt. When someone I feel affection for is hurting, I feel pity.  Distress.  Love may turn into a bond between you and me— but the love I speak of now is a love I give to you freely with no expectations of a relationship or commitment.  It’s the purest form of love that I can isolate into something almost tangible.  

But, when I act on that love, it becomes my gift to you.

When I love someone, I give them that love as a gift.  It cannot be taken back. I may no longer keep giving them that gift, which must be given over and over again, to create a loving relationship.  But I cannot take back that which I have already given.  If you give someone a gift, it’s theirs to do with as they please. If you hurt me badly enough, I may never want to see you again. I may regret that I will never be able to act on that love. I may put it out of my mind, pretend it never happened. You can’t remember every gift you’ve ever given, of course, even if you tried.  But it’s still no longer yours, once it changes hands (or hearts, in this case).

Love is a gift I can give to anyone. That’s caused friction, in the past. “You can’t love this person.” They are married/too young/too old/too far away/a celebrity. Oh, well. I said I loved them. I didn’t say I wanted a relationship with them. You don’t give a present, because you want a present in return. You give it, because you want to give it.

I love you, because you are lovely.

You don’t have to accept it, or do anything with it.  It is a gift.  Take the gift, or don’t, but know that someone, that I, think you are worth loving.  Reject it as you please.  Sometimes I’ve rejected the gift, too. I appreciate it, but love doesn’t always require follow through. Sometimes, it’s just love.

When love is a gift, take it or leave it.  As you will.