how do you show you love someone?
earlier this week, i made an instagram post asking my audience to share the little acts of love that reinforced the belief that they mattered to the people in their lives, and i got a number of responses that gave me a renewed sense of appreciation for love as a concept. i love love. i love how deliberately loving someone can be such a transformative experience. how it makes you glow from the inside out. all the various representations, planetariums, and vessels through which love can be shown. and what better time to talk about love than in february, valentine’s very own?
there’s generally this idea that there are five love languages (words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, physical touch, and gifts), and that we all speak one or the other. i find this to be a very narrow interpretation. for one, relationship dynamics might have us speaking different love languages with different people, depending on what we need and what they might need from us. in some relationships, i appreciate words of affirmation more, and in others, i prioritize quality time. a subconscious understanding of what both parties need is what propels our love.
not to mention how different life phases and experiences may require changing our love language priorities. a friend going through a rough patch might appreciate acts of service more, even when they are naturally very self-sufficient. and a hug, or hand-squeeze could do wonders to someone who claims to not love being touched, under anxiety-inducing conditions. the bottom line is this: allowing ourselves to appreciate and enjoy the full spectrum of how we can show and be shown love is so important.
and so below, i have documented examples of how love languages can be made manifest through you.
for all the real lovers out there, this is for you.
acts of service
plugging your friend’s phone while they’re asleep because you woke up in the middle of the night and there was light. sharing memes, or funny posts you know would brighten their day. helping them review their portfolios, newsletters, or resumes. washing the dishes after they are done eating, even when you hate doing it. buying them food, regardless of whether or not they say they are hungry. picking them up from work. filling their car tank, or the generator in their apartment. remembering the little details: “you are allergic to nuts, so i got this one for you instead.” adding them to your subscription-based accounts — netflix, prime, spotify. helping them make their bed, because they are always running late to school and sometimes forget. folding the laundry. helping them to carry out research to complete their projects. sending them job postings, and conducting mock-interviews for them. cooking, because they have bad eating habits and the least you can do is help. giving them a place to stay when life gets in the way. fixing things — a sink, a dress, a heart.
all types of hugs — long, all-encompassing hugs that make you heady with perfume and happiness; side-hugs that serve as reminders, that they’re here for you; that simply saying goodbye is not enough. forehead kisses from the one you adore. steering your body while walking down the road as you waffle excitedly about the things you love—first, to avoid incoming vehicles, and then to hold you close. foreplay. booty rubs. slow, loving sex. eye contact from across the room is a form of touch. a subtle stroke on the cheek. a foot massage. being pulled in by the waist for a lingering kiss. the act of removing tiny, imperceptible flecks from the face of a loved one. biting (debatable). holding hands while taking a walk. making out in the rain. kisses in the morning when the world is still young and details like hygiene do not matter. laughter too, is a form of touch. cuddling. tracing shapes and patterns on skin. showering together. being carried and twirled around like the most precious thing in the world. a hand squeeze. a fist bump. an attack of tiny kisses all over the face.
it’s in the big things — rent money, a new phone, gadgets to help them carry out their creative endeavors. and the little things — buying them mcvities dark cream cookies because they’ve been obsessed lately, or airtime for calls. sending gift cards for skincare and books, because they are particular about these items and you want them to get gifts they would really like and use. paying for their maintenance routine—hair, nails, gym membership — things that make them feel really good about themselves. there are the gifts you make with your own hands — a bracelet, a song, a jar filled with a hundred reasons why you love them. and gifts to remind them of you, or of someone they deeply care about, like a necklace from a dead parent. they are also gifts that cannot be touched with bare hands, but get rooted so deeply in the heart that they elicit a smile whenever they are remembered, for years to come; like a trip to a bucket-list country, a favourite band’s concert, or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. there is the gift of time. of allowing life to do its thing. the gift of support. of never having to feel like a burden. the gift of space, when needed, and silence when words get in the way. the gift of you. giving yourself to them, wholeheartedly, honestly.
words of affirmation
the “tell me about your day” conversations. the “i like how you…” conversations. remembering little things about them, and reminding them of these details (“your r’s are so cute” “you have the most beautiful handwriting”). telling them you’re proud of them when they do the things that are easy to do, and the hard ones, too. random “i love you” messages. random “i’m thankful you’re in my life” messages. telling them that they’re so beautiful, and you like their smile, and the features you know make them feel a little insecure. offering reassurance on a platter, without them having to ask. reemphasizing how amazing you think they are — how their being alive in this very moment makes the world a better place. how well they handled a situation they previously would have handled poorly. how gorgeous they look in this dress. how being with them makes you feel protected, and safe. sending goodnight messages. sending get well soon messages. telling other people how cool they are, when they are in and outside the room. sending songs that have lyrics that communicate how you feel about them. sending instagram posts and tiktoks that say the things you don’t know how to say.
giving them your full attention when speaking to them. following them on errands, just so they can have some company to rely on. movie nights where more time is spent gossiping than watching the movies you spent hours picking. elaborate date nights, dresses and all. taking walks in the evening together, hand in hand. sitting down at home to do nothing, just basking in the comfortable silence of two people who like each other. meeting in groups, and enjoying the feeling of watching the people you love, engage and interact with each other. laughter. spontaneous hangouts that leave you feeling like liquid air. meeting to work together, even when you both work remotely and are very comfortable in your homes. active listening. art gallery dates. shared 5am silences. praying and worshipping together. trying new hobbies, like painting and pottery. making a meal in each other’s company, even when one person does most of the cooking and the other one just gets things from the fridge. random 11 pm phone calls that stretch for hours and hours. face timing in the bathroom. falling asleep to the sound of their voice.
happy lovers day in advance. whether or not you’re in a romantic relationship, allow yourself to bask in the love that is readily available for you. kiss and hug your friends, tell them that you love them, and what their being alive means to you. buy berry blast for a loved one, and remember to call your mom!
life is too short to be forming hard guy.
Media I consumed Last week:
Reading: Finished reading The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion. In this book, the author documents the aftermath of her husband’s death and her experience navigating grief. Heartbreaking and a little self-indulgent, but I loved it.
Watching: Currently watching Sweet Home, a K-drama series about a dystopian world where monsters are sprouting from god knows where and killing people, and a group of neighbors who are trapped in their apartment complex (because the monsters are outside) and have to navigate living together and fighting the ones that get in. Stellar stuff, fr. I also watched The Favourite, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, a story following two women fighting for the affection of the Queen of England. An absurd film, but I loved it, too.
A good week for media!
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