The last few weeks have felt very self reflective for me, I tend to direct myself towards the route of self discovery and personal growth when faced with situations that I find emotionally challenging, so it got me thinking …. Why does telling someone I love them feel so unimportant to me, until people around me start asking if I’ve told the person I’m dating that I love them yet, it really doesn’t enter my head.
I really had to delve into my childhood to find an answer to this one, but really it came to me after an off topic conversation with a friend about the importance of understanding a partners love language and what we naturally gravitate towards to express our love for another person.
It suddenly dawned on me that ‘I love you’s’ weren’t something that were thrown around left right and centre as I was growing up, and I’m not saying that’s because there was no love in my family, in fact it was quite the opposite, but we knew we loved each other in different ways rather that constantly telling each other that we love them.
As I was growing up, I was shown continuously that the way someone expresses they care about you or love you is through doing things for you, from cooking you a meal, helping you with homework (one of my parents expressions of love), buying you new things or taking you on days out etc.
Even when I look at the relationship my parents had (all be it not an ever lasting love affair) but my mum would show she cared about my dad by looking after me and my brother and not asking for help and always making sure she had home cooked meals prepared for him, it was even shown when she supported him throughout a career change. And my dads way of showing love was through financial support, he would ensure we kept a (large) roof over our heads and he would always take us on a lavish family holiday once a year.
But this proves my point – all of these expressions of love are action based, not word based. And this was what I grew up around.
So now here’s my question I’ve had to ask myself, is this why I have such an issue with verbally expressing how I feel about someone? Quite possibly.
To me, as soon as I start going above and beyond for someone through doing things like booking weekends away, cooking for them, making the bed and making them a coffee when they want one, I’m showing how much I care or that I’m falling in love with them (because trust me, unless I really like you, I will probably always hesitate to do things for you) and it replaces the need for that all be it intimidating (to me) three word eight letter sentence.
I also tend to forget that not everyone will understand this expression of love and will need to hear exactly how I feel about them because doing things isn’t an obvious enough sign if your love language isn’t acts of service. But here’s the funny thing, I don’t want to receive love through acts of service. In fact, I want someone to tell me how they feel about me, I like having viral reassurance which is why words of affirmation is my joint top love language – so although I cant express love this way, I do want to receive it this way, which has some kind of twisted irony to it really!
But here’s the thing, the type of love you grow up around will either do one of two things to you as an adult. You either admire the love you’ve been around as a child and want to replicate that in adulthood, or … you want the total opposite because you crave what you didn’t have.
So although I can’t bring myself to tell someone how much I care about them or how much I love them, I do want them to tell me – talk about hypocritical. But it does make sense because I want the opposite of what I’ve grown up around.
My childhood also wasn’t filled with constant expressions of PDA either between my parents or towards me and my brother from my parents. We weren’t raised by overly ‘huggy‘ parents and yet for me now as an adult, physical touch is the joint top love language I want my partner to express towards me to show that they care.
So here’s the question I’ll pose to you – how did your parents express love to you and your siblings and each other?
And how do you think this has impacted what love actually is to you?
When you actually sit down to think to answer the question of ‘what is love to you’ its initially going to be hard to answer, but a lot of us will form our answer based on what we’ve seen and experienced, either through what we’ve grown up around or from the rom coms we’ve seen at the cinema. But it’s important to be able to answer the question taking out external factors that may have shaped our opinion.