A couple of weeks ago, a colleague asked me about my ‘love language’. What was mine, did I have one, what did I think about it all, she wanted to know.
After I had finished vomiting in my mouth a little bit, and my eyes were back in their sockets after rolling into the back of my head, I asked what the hell she was talking about.
“You know,” she said, “how do you tell people you love them?”
After laughing awkwardly and joking that, um, I don’t, I realised three seconds later that I wasn’t actually joking, and that I really, truly don’t.
As she threw a litany of examples at me in an attempt to warm my cold, long-dead heart, I realised, actually, I did tell people, I just never told them loudly. Because the nicest things often aren’t the loudest.
The things that are done because the person wants to do, not be seen. The people who please out of a desire, not a duty.
I thought of the time my boyfriend – who lacks sentiment at the best of times and who I am particularity glad doesn’t read my work right about now – woke before me to clear my windscreen which was covered in the thickest of ice. He knew I would a) be running late and wouldn’t have the time to do it myself and b) probably wouldn’t be smart enough to know how to clear it anyway.
So, I asked around. I got 12 people to tell me exactly the things they’ve done for others – whether that be family, spouse of friends – to say I love you, without saying I love you at all.
- “For ages all of my books and my lamp and all of the things were just on a pile on the floor and I hated it and it really upset me. One day I came home and he’d bought me a beautiful bedside table and set up all my stuff on it.”
- “I often fill up my parent’s car with petrol, just because.”
- “My partner drove an hour and a half back to Melbourne from Barwon Heads at 1am after I locked myself out in a fire alarm. It was 30 minutes after he arrived home to visit his parents…”
- “He spent the other night saving my white sneakers after I turned them blue.”
- “I’ve liked this one author for a really long time, and I didn’t even mention that I wanted her new book, but he ordered it for me and delivered it to me without me even knowing.”
- “Bought me so much Gatorade and downloaded so much Downton Abbey when I’m hungover. Someone who will care for your hangover is a rare and beautiful gem.”
- “When he gets up every morning and brings me coffee in bed.”
- “I just tag him in memes.”
- “Anything food related. Like buying me food or making me food.”
- “I buy my boyfriend chocolate bars sometimes. It might sound silly or infantilising, but he doesn’t get anytime to get to shops on weekdays and if I surprise him with one he’s like over the moon.”
- “I’m saying I love you by surprising him with a puppy. Tomorrow.”
- “I was stressed about walking 30 minutes to the train station in the dark one really, really early morning before work. So he drove 30 minutes to my house before dawn had cracked to surprise me and to give me a lift.”
Osher Gunsberg has all the love advice…