When Art is Your Love Language

When I’m so happy and satisfied and moved and full of love about something or someone, I make art about it.

I write poetry or love letters. I paint. I create little cartoon portraits on internet apps.

As children and still as adults, long afternoons and evenings were spent with my brother and sister, reaching over each other to get a tube of the next color we needed, trading brushes, just creating together. It led to a lifelong love of creativity and art as an expression of love, affection, and closeness.

When I love someone, I show it in art.

In April, coping with the early days of socially isolating due to the COVID pandemic, my partner and I sent letters to each other to get through the long stretches without seeing each other. I sent him six small watercolor paintings with my letters, and the last letter was a poem.

When my friend lost two pets over the summer, I thought “I should paint them a portrait of those pets.” I haven’t done it yet, but I’ll get there. Sometimes the art has to percolate.

My partner and his roommate love Skyrim, so I painted them a scene of a dragon flying among snowy mountains and a forest. I plan to paint my sister a similar one for her new home when she moves in with her fiancé.

An ex partner loved mermaids, and I painted her a scene of a mermaid looking out to sea at sunset. The mermaid had a back tattoo and a fin mohawk, and the sunset and water were the colors of the bisexual pride flag.

If I love you, I show it in art. In colors. In words.

I’ve tried selling art before, and it doesn’t always feel the same. It’s hard for me to get the art moving without that love behind it.

It’s okay to just enjoy your artistic hobbies and not try to monetize them — it’s a capitalist pressure to think we need to only do things that can bring in income.

Creating for the sake of creation is a radical act, and we should do it more often.

I’ve also made art for people who it turned out weren’t safe for me.

This art feels like a betrayal. Short stories I wrote for an abuser. A painting. A story recited in public about how real and true love and friendship could be.

That lost art was part of me, and undeserved by them. If I had a time machine I would write a different story. But I told that story — even if the story isn’t the truth anymore.

It hurts to know that I put that part of myself on paper or in words, when I later wish I never had.

I can’t take it back, but it hurts to feel like I wasted it.

When I’m feeling blocked creatively, is it because I don’t want to “waste” art on people?

In “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says that it’s okay to discard (throw away, donate, or otherwise re-home) gifts from others, because sometimes the joy of the item was in the moment of giving. If it no longer gives you joy, it’s okay to discard.

Can the same be true of art?

In the moment, the creation of that art was joyous and full of love. In the moment, the art was pure. The words, the brushstrokes, the art, the love — it was all real.

And the love being real doesn’t mean that the pain wasn’t real. The love being real doesn’t mean that the abuse wasn’t real. The love being real doesn’t mean that the betrayal wasn’t real.

I can be at peace with the fact that those people received my art, and my love.

The authenticity of my love, and my art as an extension of it, is about me. Not them.

And I will keep making art.

And I will keep loving.

The 8 Different Types of Love

Whether you are attending a Galentine’s Day brunch, treating yourself to a night of self-care or spending the holiday with a special someone, Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion for celebrating love. However, as many know, you don’t need romance to commemorate relationships and the love you have for someone. This February 14th, examine how you display love and how others display love towards you!

Just like a snowflake, every love is unique and there can be different traits and characteristics found in every type of love. Every relationship can have a different meaning to you, due to the different types of love associated with relationships.

For decades, humans have experienced up to eight different types of love. Sometimes you can even experience love with someone you don’t know!

The Greeks studied love and signified eight different types giving each a Greek name. Today, there are even intensifiers of love known as love catalysts that can enhance the love you feel within relationships.

What is a Love Catalyst?

A love catalyst is the part of yourself that enhances your experience with a type of love and can provoke certain feelings to arise. These feelings can lead to positive emotions like euphoria that can enhance your relationship with a romantic partner, friend or with yourself. For example, affectionate love is propelled by the mind and self-love is intensified by the soul. 

Say Hello to the 8 Different Types of Love

To help you gain familiarity with the eight types of love FTD has created eight love characters to represent the types of love found in every relationship. Find which love type you identify with by meeting each below!

Philia – Affectionate Love 

types-of-love-1-philia

Philia or “brotherly love” is love without romantic strings and usually occurs between friends or family. When individuals share the same values and respect for each other they display Philia. 

Love Catalyst: The Mind 

Your mind decides who you can trust based on feelings of respect and familiarity. 

 

Pragma – Enduring Love

types-of-love-2-pragma

 

Pragma is a mature love between a couple that has grown and matured for many years. Commitment and dedication are required to achieve Pragma and it is also known as everlasting love. 

Love Catalyst: Etheric (Subconscious)

The love catalyst for Pragma is the subconscious. You are driven towards each other unknowingly, but there is a sense of purpose in your unity.

 

Storge – Familiar Love 

types-of-love-3-storge

 

Storge is a natural love common between close friends and between parents and children as well. This love is built on deep emotional connection and acceptance of each other. This love comes easily and immediately in parent and child relationships.

Love Catalyst: Causal (Memories)

The love catalyst for Storge is memories. As you create more memories the value and emotional attachment to the relationship increases. 

 

Eros – Romantic Love 

types-of-love-4-eros

 

Eros is a passionate love that is displayed through physical affection. This love is a desire for another person’s body and touch. Common displays are through kissing, holding hands and hugging. 

Love Catalyst: Physical Body (Hormones)

Physical touch lights a fire in you and romantic actions create more admiration for your partner. 

Ludus – Playful Love 

types-of-love-5-ludus

Ludus is known as the “honeymoon stage” of relationships and consists of child-like play and teasing the one you are interested in. Although common in young couples, older couples who strive for this love find a more rewarding relationship.

Love Catalyst: Astral (Emotion)

Emotions inspire you to feel giddy and excited with your newer or newly interesting partner. 

 

Mania – Obsessive Love 

types-of-love-6-mania

 

Mania is an obsessive love with your partner and can lead to possessiveness and jealousy. Most cases of obsessiveness can lead to an imbalance in the relationship however a healthy dose of playfulness and romantic love can even out the relationship.

Love Catalyst: Survival instinct

Codependency can lead to a person feel desperate for their partner in order to find self-value. This lack of self-confidence can make a partner feel like they need the other to survive. 

 

Philautia – Self Love

types-of-love-7-philautia

 

Philautia is the practice of self-love and self-value. It also means you recognize your personal needs and are responsible for your well-being. 

Love Catalyst: Soul 

Your soul lets you understand your needs whether they are physical, emotional or mental. 

 

Agape – Selfless Love 

types-of-love-8-agape

 

Agape is the highest level of love a person can offer. Offering Agape is loving throughout any and all circumstances. Agape is not a physical act, it’s a feeling, but acts of self-love can elicit Agape since self-monitoring leads to results.

Love Catalyst: Spirit 

Your spirit motivates you to be kind and shows others kindness before yourself. 

Perfect Your Love Combo 

types-of-love-9-combination

Use the different love catalysts to help you fully immerse yourself in the best traits from each type of love. 

This Valentine’s Day, inspect some of your relationships to identify what kind of love you enjoy the most. Try some creative ideas to enhance love with your partner, relationships or with yourself!  

Check out the full infographic from FTD below. All images provided by Siege Media.

types-of-love-infographic

 

There’s no timeline on healing or love

time

When I turned 25, I made a five year plan. Become debt free and a mother by 30, in April 2018.

I am now 31 and neither of those things happened.

In fact, as 30 approached, I was facing a lot of other huge life circumstances. In August 2016 I got married and immediately started trying to conceive a much wanted baby. In January 2017 I stopped speaking to my mother, until February 2018 when I unwittingly made contact with her through my stepdad’s phone. She tersely let me know he had cancer, and through speaking with my siblings I came to understand that she had deliberately kept the news from me to punish me for cutting her out of my life. (I wrote about this experience here).

Within a ten day span in March 2018, I left an abusive marriage, packed everything I owned and moved into a new apartment, endured transatlantic cyber bullying at the hands of my husband, and watched my stepfather die of lung cancer. Oh, and accepted a book deal.

Life did not give one iota of a shit about my five year plan. I still have student loans and I never did get pregnant (thank goodness).

The timeline of healing

After I left my abuser, I committed to only casual relationships on a non-monogamous basis for at least a year. And then I fell in love. And I fought it. I didn’t want to be in love, I wanted time to be single and to heal.

My sister gave me some sage advice: There’s no timeline on healing or love. You’re allowed to fall in love whenever you fall in love.

I decided I could work on healing from my abusive upbringing and marriage at the same time I was enjoying a relationship. I continued going to therapy and reading books that helped me process my trauma, and I had fewer panic attacks and C-PTSD episodes as time went on. I was healing.

And then our relationship imploded, as did another year-long relationship of mine, and I found myself newly single again.

But I noticed something important. While it had taken me years to realize my marriage was harmful, it took me only months with my boyfriend and mere weeks with my girlfriend. Of course, looking back, I can see that there were signs of the unhealthy patterns long before I realized them, but it was proof of my healing. I was doing the work. I wasn’t putting up with unhealthy behavior once I realized it was happening.

The timeline of love

Letting myself feel my feelings and fall in love was important. Fresh out of an abusive marriage, I really needed to feel loved again. I am a big fan of taking time to be single and focus on self-love, but I’m also not upset that I spent my first year away from my ex feeling loved and supported by two partners.

When those relationships ended, I was much more able to take time to be single. Seeing that I had fallen into similar behaviors (serving as one partner’s sole emotional support to my own detriment, allowing the other to continually violate my boundaries and forgiving them because each time seemed individually like an honest mistake) as I had in my marriage, because on some level I was still scared of being seen as too hard to love, was something I needed to realize. And now that I’ve had those experiences, I have realized them.

This has given me new targets for therapy.

Your responsibilities in a relationship

Some fundamental truths I’ve stumbled upon in therapy include the following:

  • I am not responsible for making my thoughts and emotions comfortable for other people. How many of us do this? We feel hurt or upset but keep our pain internalized until we’ve either ignored it or whittled it into something tiny and non-offensive that we can bring up to our partners apologetically and hope to stand up for ourselves about it. The trouble is, when we’ve been taught over and over again that our hurt feelings aren’t valid, we just start invalidating them ourselves. “I won’t talk about this with him, I’m probably just overreacting.” No, we’re not doing that anymore. If you feel hurt, tell your partner. The discomfort of this conversation is important: if the discomfort gives way to healing and repair, then that’s a sign of a healthy relationship. If it gives way to invalidating blame, then that’s a sign you aren’t with someone who values you and wants to treat you well.
  • Managing my partners’ behavior is not a normal part of a healthy relationship. I’ve always been the PR spinner in my relationships. With my abusive ex, I would post cute stories about our conversations on Facebook and my friends fawned over how sweet we were. “Get a man who makes coffee in the morning and does the dishes!” I’d say, to a chorus of “He should teach a class on being a husband!” and “Can I borrow him so he can teach mine??” But the man only had three regular chores and didn’t do any of them completely. If I wanted to continue getting coffee in the morning and have him washing dishes at 50% competency, I had to put on the happy face and brag about him in a public way so he rewarded me instead of punishing me. I also had a habit of staying mentally two steps ahead of partners’ behavior to make sure they didn’t do something problematic. I also did this with my parents: I’d have to watch to make sure dad didn’t harass a waitress with a sexist comment or keep an eye on mom’s mood to warn my sister to behave. I have always had to stay aware of everyone around me to reduce the risk of danger/abuse. Turns out this is not a normal part of a relationship.
  • I give my love away freely so people never feel like they have to earn it. Realizing this was hard. I have always felt like I had to behave properly in order to receive love – I had to earn it. If I was a bad kid, I didn’t get love. If I was a bad wife, I didn’t get love. Subsequently, I wanted to make sure no one ever felt like that’s what I was doing to them. I didn’t want to paywall my affections and make someone earn them… so I had no boundaries because I always wanted people to have access to my love. This is unsustainable. Love is unconditional, but access is not, and sometimes I have to say no to something or someone in order to take care of myself and avoid burning out. Boundaries are a form of love too.
  • I am not responsible for making other people love me and treat me with value; that is their job. Seriously. If you are in a relationship with me, I shouldn’t have to convince you I’m worth loving, appreciating, or being with. Having to perform at this level with so many partners has been exhausting, and I don’t do it anymore. If you don’t want to be with me, stop being with me. I should not have to earn your time and attention.

Single part two

As I mentioned, after these two breakups I’ve been spending time being single and casually dating, but I’m not in any serious relationships. I still consider myself single. But I’m also feeling like I may be ready to start dating a little more seriously soon. My plan is to stay single until the new year, but we all know that life laughs at my plans. And if I end up feeling ready before then, that’s okay too. Because I decide when I’m ready, and it doesn’t mean I can’t dial things back if I find I still need single time later.

The same is true for you. You can’t heal on a timeline and you can’t control when something happens off your plan. But you can choose to lean into your vulnerability and your love and let something wonderful happen. (And you can also choose to pull back and say no, I’m actually not ready yet. It is up to you!)

Read more from me

If you dig my brand of encouragement, you might like my Patreon page, where supporters receive a weekly pep talk post! You can sign up at varying levels for different content access, starting at just $1 per month.

You can also support my work by purchasing my book, The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation. I’d love for you to let me know what you think of the book, so please give it a read and leave a review on Amazon. If you’re morally opposed to Amazon, I have some other links here.