Every Valentine’s Day, I write a love blog. This year, I decided to tackle this fundamental question – What is love? – and to link it to the Enneagram in some way. In trying to figure out how to address this question, the answer was so complex that it was challenging to digest. For example, love was perceived differently in a wide variety of centuries. Culture has a lot do to with how we define love. What about romantic love versus love of children, community and even the divine? Religious views also play a key role in our definitions of love. Then there is what we have learned from our families and experiences.
As a result, I decided to bypass all of this and to examine the expressions of love. First, here is a real story, just to set the stage for the Enneagram.
When I was in my early 30s and single, I started dating a man, also in his 30s, whom I had briefly dated in college. After a few dates in round two, he picked me up one evening and said, “I have to ask you something,” followed by this: “Will you marry me?” I was stunned by this offer since, from my perspective, our relationship was not even romantic at that stage.
My response was less than elegant, but it was straightforward as I asked, “Why?”
He answered, “Because I think I love you.”
My response was simply this: “But I need you to feel that you love me.”
Needless to say, that was the end of whatever the relationship might have been, but I sometimes tell this story in programs to illustrate the languages of love. The man in the story was an Enneagram Five and had been part of the original group from the US that went to Africa to study with Oscar Icahzo. In the world of Fives, there can be a confusion between thinking and feeling; “I think I love you” may easily mean “I feel I love you.” To add to this, Fives often ponder their thoughts and feelings when they are alone, thinking about feelings and experiences. He may well have been thinking about me in the space between college and that second time together, perhaps even falling in love with me through his mind. He was having a relationship with me that I wasn’t having with him.
As a Two, “I think I love you” means I am not sure if I love you, and so that is how I took his vulnerable expression of love. In retrospect, had I known the Enneagram then and been able to use it wisely, the conversation might have ended differently. I might have understood his expression of love. As it was, he left immediately and I’ve been thinking about this encounter for 30 plus years.
The story leads me to a possible hypothesis. What if there are three expressions of love – one from the mind (where he lived), one from the heart (where I live), and one from the body – that are not only just different and valid. But even more, what if real, pure and easily received love expressions need to come from all three Centers of Intelligence? Here are some ways love gets expressed through each Center:
Love expressions from the mind | things we say to ourselves
“I think about how much I love you”
“I think of you often”
“I think I love you”
“I think about all the little things you do and say”
Love poem from the mind | a poem by the poet William Carlos Williams
I lie here thinking of you:
the stain of love
is upon the world!
Love songs from the mind | the 1st a song by Elvis Presley; the 2nd by Natalie Cole
Maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have
Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
Little things I should have said & done
I just never took the time
But you were always on my mind
I’ve got love on my mind
I’ve got love on my mind
I’ve got love on my mind
Love expressions from the heart | things we say to ourselves
“My heart is overflowing”
“I love everything about you”
“I even love the annoying things you do”
“My heart is wide open with love”
Love poem from the heart | a poem by Rita Dove
My heart is humming a tune
I haven’t heard in years!
Love songs from the heart | the 1st by Sinead O’Connor; the 2nd by Norah Jones
In this heart lies for you
A lark born only for you
Who sings only to you
My heart is drenched in wine
Love expressions from the body | things we say to ourselves
“I love spending time with you”
“I am there for you in times of need”
“I love to just look at you (hold your hand….)”
“There are so many things I want to do with you”
Love poem from the body | a poem by Lord Byron
And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent
Love songs from the body | the 1st by Stevie Wonder; the 2nd by Carole King
Come on up you say
Cause you feel your love comin’ down
I find myself rushin’ over to
Do something for you love
I feel the earth move under my feet
I feel the sky tumbling down
If it is true that expressions of love come from our heads, hearts, and bodies, and that the most bountiful expression comes from all three, on this Valentine’s Day, tell those whom you love how you think of them, how you feel about them, and then do something to show your love in action. That is love potion #9!