Language of Love

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It had been over for months. The credits had been rolling for a while even without viewers. There were those last days when you suspected it was over and they suspected it was over but nobody wanted to look at the hard wrinkled face of the end. It was over when they started returning your calls three hours later, with little or frail apology. Your whatsapp remained blue like the cloudless Turkana skies. On your birthday they sent you a meme. And not even a funny one. It was over when you last met at the lobby of the bank and their laughter was dry and dishonest and they were ready to bolt, sitting there at the edge of their seat like they had mumps on their ass. You just knew the two of you were drowning in this phoney geniality when they asked you, “Did you change your spectacles?” You hadn’t changed your specs in four years.

Truth is, you didn’t know them anymore. They knew you even less. You could have shaved and gotten a tattoo of a vulture on your bald scalp and they wouldn’t have noticed because you were looking at each other in past tense. Everything had changed. Time had chipped away at the two of you turning you into an amateurish sculpture of unrequited love.

It was over when you went for weeks without really speaking, because they were busy and you were busy and you all let that relationship sink further in that murk of indifference. The last time you saw them you were at the bar and you had stepped outside to smoke. It had rained; one of those moonless nights so dark that even the breeze seems to be coloured black. Standing there under the awning, cigarette burning between your fingers, you lazily watched a girl in a dress that looked like a parachute that had deployed prematurely painfully clomp up the staircase in her impossible wooden wedges. As she got closer, you realised that the person she was hanging onto for support was them. You don’t recall the awkward conversation that ensued but you remember that their teeth looked whiter than usual. “Maybe you should stop smoking, we don’t want to lose you,” they said lightly. Well, they had a smoke of their own and they were blowing it up your ass.

And so when it was finally over it ended without any spark; like a dead battery. And it was both a relief and a surprise; at how you simply accepted it without investigating its consequence. It had run its course – a year and two months, but who was counting? The night you were deleting their old messages from your phone you went through the text messages they had sent and they were all “Will call you right back.” That made you chuckle. It was a clean break. There were no long speeches of “I wish you well, I hope you find happiness and we will always be friends.” None of that claptrap. You were not going to be friends. You were never really friends. You had fun moments, yes, but you wouldn’t say that you were besotted. Maybe they would block you on Whatsapp and Instagram, maybe they wouldn’t. You didn’t care. You never heard from them again. They went back to their lives. You went back to yours. One day you saw them in traffic, they were eating something from a serviette, it could have been bitterness. But it wasn’t carbs.

Then you never saw them again.

Your life continued. You chased business. You discovered an ingenious way to read the FT for free. You joined a new gym. You handed your office landlord notice because for how long were you going to complain about the office toilet? You bought a new suit. You bought your father a new suit. Against your better judgement you went for a stag party in Kitisuru where a large stripper gave you a lap dance and your lap hurt for days. Your mother lost two of her cows to a disease that sounded a hell lot like something that Nairobi motorists have. You took a roadtrip to Nanyuki with a girl with a silver ring on her navel and who had never seen Mt. Kenya and you would wake up to find her seated in the cold of the balcony, staring hard at the mountain. You lost a client. Then got another one. You re-read Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol. You rode in a Chrysler driven by a former special forces operative at midnight. You discovered a new word: disjune.

Months passed.

Then you met someone else. They were introduced to you as someone “you would click with. They like Zumba like you.” You don’t like Zumba, you like Rhumba. Well. Not another dancer, you thought to yourself, you were not about to allow anyone to dance on your lap again. You called them up on the phone and they sounded warm and charming. They sounded like those people who cut their apple into four equal pieces. You then met them – of all the places – in a meeting room because sometimes these things are a business transaction; you deal with the currency of hearts and expectations after all. To mean it wasn’t a real date. A meet and greet.

How that happened was that they were doing some banking at Yaya and you happened to have been getting a haircut up Ring Road. They were dressed the way bankers dress; like they are going for a business luncheon after. She commented on your aftershave. You explained that you had just had a haircut. She looked at your head and mumbled politely, “Oh, nice.” They seemed nice. But they all seem nice the first time, don’t they? They offered you coffee from the complimentary confectionery because they are with Priority banking and guys there get pampered because they are the geese that lay the golden eggs. You would very much have liked a cookie with your coffee but you didn’t want to look like a foodie.

They sipped their water and smiled a lot and you made small talk. The meeting room was small and functional, a place that doesn’t invite lingering. A place for busy geese. Their subtle perfume filled the room. They asked you about yourself and instead you told them what you do. You asked them if they love what they do. You asked them about their last name and what it meant. You wanted to ask for more sugar in your coffee but you didn’t want to come across as needy, so you suffered through that cup. Later when you played over the meeting as you drove back to your office you concluded that indeed it had gone well, even though you almost ruined it in the end when you asked them if they cut their apple into four equal parts.

At some point the two of you got into a relationship.

It’s always difficult to know when a relationship starts. One day you wake up and you just realise you are in one. Some start with a sloppy kiss in the parking outside a bar. Some start by the other party saying something as abstract like, “I hope you are not shagging someone else.” Some start when you are invited to accompany them to their daughter’s school play and they turn and enthuse, “Isn’t she talented!” and you have to lie that she is even though that little girl – cute as a button as she is – can’t sing for shit. Sometimes they just make you an egg and boom, you are dating. Sometimes you could be buying batteries for your electric toothbrush on your way to meet them and they say, “Do you mind awfully picking sanitary pads for me, I just realised I’m out.” For others it takes them getting in the bathroom and sitting there taking a leak as you are having a shower. The point is, if you aren’t careful you will always find yourself in a relationship. And nobody is to blame.

When you think about it, relationships are very like the relationships you have with your bank relationship manager. There are always expectations and some are met while others are not. Money and finances are also always things that can make or break. These relationships, not nurtured, breed disappointment and then people simply drift apart and break up and move on to other relationships. The only difference is that they are mature; nobody blocks or unfriends anybody or goes to the next relationship and talks badly about what a nightmare their previous relationship was.

I have a theory (based on my last experience with my relationship manager) that as long as you have defined what your languages of love are, there will always be less problems.

For the sake of the cool people seated there at the back, going through their Instagram feed, there are five languages of love. One of them is words of affirmation. This is the language for people who want to be told nice things. Oh, such big handsome hands, Christine! Oh, look at how you stir your coffee, such flair and great coordination. Oh, you are so intelligent, run me through the pythagoras theorem again. Etc etc.

Then there is the language of quality time. These are the people who invented date night. They want to spend an intense amount of blocked time with you without you replying an email or taking a call or blowing your nose. You can’t even go to the loo. You know how in Luke 14:5 they ask if it’s okay to pull out your ox that has fallen in a well on the sabbath? Well, the people whose language of love is quality time would not allow that. That ox would die in that well. How dare it fall during their quality time?

The third language of love is receiving gifts. These are people who equate gifts to love. Doesn’t matter that Jesus gave them a gift by dying on the cross for their sins. They still and will always want something wrapped. Or it will be a wrap.

The fourth language of love is acts of service. If this is your language then you are better off learning Luganda. Then getting a Baganda woman. They kneel before you. They serve you as King. Or they used to. There are girls who don’t want much from you; the very act of removing their nail polish is enough for them. They wouldn’t ask for more.

The last language of love is physical touch. Did you know that there are men who love to have their backs rubbed? You want to get him to take you on a holiday? Rub his back. He’s mad at something you did? Rub his back. You want to get him in the mood; rub his back. He’s like a genie in a bottle. He probably purrs while you rub his back.

The language of love that works for two people in this bank relationship manager – client relationship are “acts of service” and “gifting.” But in hard Kenyan cash. You make them money and they serve you. The world of relationship managers would be a much better place with this understood.

My relationship with my ex-relationship manager with Stanchart’s Priority Banking wasn’t working, so we broke up. It wasn’t a nasty breakup. No bad SMSes were traded. Nobody made any disparaging remarks about anybody’s loving skills. We just became strangers and we went our separate ways. Sometimes I think about him. I hope he’s doing well wherever he is. I hope he’s happy. I hope he finally found his banking chakra. I hope he found someone who understands his language of love. I take part of the responsibility for that relationship’s failure; I never read his language of love properly. I think his language of love was quality time and physical touch and given that we weren’t meeting and I certainly as hell wasn’t rubbing his back we drifted apart.

Then Stanchart gave me a new relationship manager called Jasmit Kaur. She’s a star. I don’t even know what I was doing with the other guy. I don’t remember who I was when I was with the other guy. Well, it’s early days with Jasmit but we are happy. Her language of love is gifting in hard cash…rather cash to the bank. Mine is words of affirmation and acts of service. So our conversations go something like this:

Hi Jackson, are you keeping well? I read your article in Msafiri, it was so funny.

Oh thank you! Some people didn’t get it! Bless your funny bones. Did you also read the one I did last month about the next African footballers to watch out for?

Oh, yes. That was also very nice. I enjoyed reading it. I enjoy reading everything you write.

Oh, stop now…Okay, don’t. But are you well, Jasmit?

I am well. By the way, how is the gym coming?

Oh it’s great. It’s just great.

Can you now bench-press 35kgs?

I can do 39kgs now.

You big strong boy, you. Congratulations!

On and on it goes. Words of affirmation!

For acts of service she just calls me to find out if I’m happy with the bank’s services and that I shouldn’t hesitate if I need anything. She also emails me the bank’s local investment services, market updates and things that I hardly ever read because of all the financial jargon. If I need to change currency she is always a phone-call away. For Christmas she sent me an e-card. Whenever she calls she asks me, “How are the children?” Isn’t it nice when people ask you about your children? It makes you feel so grown up and responsible. And on my part, I fulfill her language of love by just working hard and being a good client.

And it works perfectly.

I hope we don’t break up. The worst that can happen is if some bank takes her away and then I will have to be handed another relationship manager whose language of love could be words of affirmation. Then we will have a problem because come on, what will I tell them? “Hey Linda. How’s things? By the way, you mentioned that you have a greenhouse on the side, I see you as the kind of person who is loved by plants. Did you know there are people like that? People who just touch tomatoes and those tomatoes grow into big, healthy, happy tomatoes that bring joy to the world? Just a touch, Linda, like those guys who carry a crying child and they hush immediately only this is the Midas touch of agriculture. Pumpkins love you. Coriander die for you. Let’s not even talk about oranges, they go bananas! Cucumbers…my God, cucumbers hear you are coming and they blush. You seem like that person, the pied piper of vegetables. So Linda, any news on that loan?”

That relationship won’t last. I can tell you.

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177 Comments
  1. Wait, there’s a way I can read FT for free!? Someone pour me the tea!

    I would definitely ask if they cut their apples in four slices, or do they like pineapples on pizza!

    Relationships require time and work. Like friendships.

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    1. Friendships actually require more effort than relationships.Cos our expectations from our friends are always higher

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    2. Even the lowly times wont allow me to read their articles anymore….Btw fam, you should check out Poe Ballantines essay, 501 minutes to Christ. Whaaat a read….plus if you go broke ……get the articles on TETW.

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  2. Hahaha…you get me everytime Biko.And yes I cut my apple into four equal pieces.

    ”That ox would die in that well.”‘ Ha ha ha

    And who knew that disjune means breakfast.

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  3. Hahahahahaaaaaa…. Oranges gone bananas
    Bravo!! You’re way of writing gives me chills and your wisdom leaves me in awe.
    Hehe You like affirmation, don’t you?
    Day made

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    1. I beg to differ…a clean break up is different from a mutually agreed break up. When you separate your feelings towards a situation from the reality of it and respect the other party’s decision (whether you disagree or not), then you have a clean break up.
      This life…adulting issa must.

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  4. Relationships, oh! They can be complicated and then throw in our unvoiced expectations, mexican soap operas and Mills and Boon novel characters as our marking schemes and there, right there is recipe for disaster.
    Our reasons for starting a relationship are also fundamental for the relationship remaining and keeping strong or lasting.
    Companies (successful ones) have annual reviews and I think serious relationships should have constant reviews so that they can be re – oriented when they start falling or failing.

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  5. Languages of love. This gives me a new perspective. I always thought they were languages we speak, but now I understand we must speak them to those who will understand them, and just because they understand them does not mean it is the language they speak. does that make sense? I’ll be at the back with the cool kids. All the best with miss Kaur.

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    1. I agree. Worked with her for some months and couldn’t get enough of her warmth. I think i fell in love. Such a great soul. If any bank is looking for a bad-ass relationship manager, here’s one. Fantastic in business development too.

      We miss you, Jasmit.

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  6. Against your better judgement you went for a stag party in Kitisuru where a large stripper gave you a lap dance and your lap hurt for days….
    I laughed at that..

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  7. Come now! what’s wrong with date night, if he has an electric tooth brush he better be open to date night, every week!

    So back rubbing is a thing?…on it!

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  8. I found a way to read NYTimes for free but not the whole month but FT pia mkiniambia I won’t mind
    I like ur bank relationship manager that relationship is going places by the way
    Relationships can start anywhere ask a millennial like me some even start with haujalala bado wewe on App
    Bottom line relationships can start anywhere
    And Biko apples are always cut into 4 pieces 4 unless your alone then u can do anything with them

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  9. It’s always difficult to know when a relationship starts. One day you wake up and you just realize you are in one.

    That is sooo true. I remember I started a relationship with this guy because I said… “I hate the rains because no umbrella covers my A**.”

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    1. Mauryn, hmmmh, I would start a relationship with a woman who is so corcky and confident she is that “endowed”, the African raw male in me grrrr!!

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  10. It is not you. It is me… And that was the last thing you remember hearing. You woke up two years later to somebody rubbing your back. Just like she did. And you now have a feeling for foredoom closing on you. You feel like it is happening again.
    So you hastily call your contractor. And have those walls built quickly. You are now safe in there. In the fortress. Until you get out

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  11. Relationships can be too much work! The relationship manager needs someone chatty and excited with life; most introverts, keen readers and writers will perform badly at it. Talking and keeping up with ‘nothing’ is too much work. Like heck, what story should I be calling a client for if not work?!

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    1. You could write long flowery e-mails..hahaha
      I get you. I can’t do chatty phone calls for nobody.
      Then there are friends who just call to say, I wanted to greet you. Those make me boil. They should have just whatsapped.

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  12. Relationships start in a funny weird way. You wake up in one yet you slept thinking you can’t possibly have her. Great read kama kawaida.

    People have ways with plants by the way. You touch one and pap it blossoms

  13. Let’s not even talk about oranges, they go bananas!
    Hahaha! you are funny Biko.
    Jasmit sounds great but Linda might surprise you with some of her harvest on Christmas instead of an e-card, am sure your language of love is receiving gifts.
    She might gift you some warus (we all now how you love them), you will drop Jasmit like a hot potato!

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  14. The language of love ….
    Never saw that coming, u gt me square
    About the quadral apples I think that’s me
    Hahaha n the sugarless coffee he’d take it that way and his ox would have to die in that ditch…

  15. I really like my RM too Adija at Yaya. Because of her I have made many good investment decisions. Some times over a cup of coffee..sometimes she will come over to my nail bar . My favorite part of priority banking was getting signed up for the lounge key pass at aiport lounges all over the world.

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  16. For others it takes them getting in the bathroom and sitting there taking a leak as you are having a shower. The point is, if you aren’t careful you will always find yourself in a relationship. And nobody is to blame…Situationships galore

    He’s like a genie in a bottle. He probably purrs while you rub his back..haha a Genie I say!!

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  17. This was a really interesting piece…up until it turned into an ad. Almost the same way some guys would prop you up just before asking for a soft loan. Nice read though.

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    1. We all have bills we must pay, including you. Personally, I’d prefer this way of advertising than the conventional way of advertising all around us (read Viusasa).

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    2. Biko makes his bread by writing. and sometimes that write up is sponsored by a company. Making everyone laugh is great but there are bills to pay – like all of us.

  18. New relationships are real hard work. Just when you think you know their language of love, they no longer are interested and you are off to the next. ION Side rubs and side hugs followed by forehead kisses are everything.

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  19. How we find ourselves in new relationships, did I laugh hard. Guys who buy pads for their women are the same that queue in the supermarket with a packet of condoms! I respect them. andrewismme.wordpress.com

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  20. This business of Baganda women kneeling down in service once freaked me out. A friend of mine and I went to visit his uncle. After being welcome in to the house, my friend asked for a glass of water. The uncle summoned the house help who came back with the water, fell onto her knees and bowed almost over before my buddy and stretched out her her to pass on the glass.
    I freaked out. I was thirsty too but I didn’t feel like I could subject a fellow human being to such humility. I satyed thirsty for the duration of that visit.
    That bowing thing is ugly. I vowed if ever I was to get a help from those sides of the continent, my first rule to her would be not to ever bow before me, or anybody else.

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    1. Hehehehe. We visited a new mother – a colleague – and she has this Baganda househelp. She knelt to greet me and the others and at first I was like maybe she is collecting something from under the chair, shock on me! And I was like, aki Sophie si you tell her to stop doing that and apparently she can’t stop. I even told her to not kneel for the time we were there but she just couldn’t. It’s like its in their DNA. The lady I was seated with, I had to collect her jaw every time she saw her kneeling.

  21. In any relationship, people shouldn’t take others for granted and people should take responsibility for making sure they aren’t being taken for granted. Most especially people shouldn’t settle for mediocre anything. If that’s what is being served, throw a hissy fit and demand better. Life is too short to go about anything in a half-assed manner. Love is not grey, love is fire and it is ice at the same time.
    And in areas such as banking or trading or in any sector where money changes hands, customer service personnel should realize they are on thin ice, where if they don’t mollycoddle the customers, and consistently drum into them that they are special, and that the whole universe revolves around them and the stars are twinkling over them; they might have as well barbecued the goose laying the golden eggs.

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  22. The 6th language of love is money, hard cash. It relates with love and affection in direct proportions. When the money and all the various happy, fun and exciting activities are in plenty, you will feel more pampered than a village MCA somewhere in this autonomous country. When the money disappears, that’s when you realize the chances of affection coming your way are much more slimmer than the chances of Waititu’s command of the Queen’s language improving are.

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  23. “Oh, such big handsome hands, Christine! Oh, look at how you stir your coffee, such flair and great coordination. Oh, you are so intelligent, run me through the pythagoras theorem again. Etc etc.” Ha ha ha this is the funniest piece ever, i just couldn’t get past this lines…
    Good work Biko

  24. Life is all about finding someone who makes your life happy and fulfilling.
    On bank issues, let me stick to “member” for now. I will cross the bank relationship manager bridge when I get there.

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  25. Someone told me that a relationship is a full time job…. i dont need another job ..*chuckles*… just kidding ………….

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  26. But nothing is lasting in this world. Even joy begins to fade after only one minute. Two minutes later, and it is weaker still, until finally it is swallowed up in our everyday, prosaic state of mind, just as a ripple made by a pebble gradually merges with the smooth surface of the water.”

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  27. Acts of service tops in my list.Its a lee way to heart..the rest can be compromised.
    Nice piece Biko and keep up the good work

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  28. “Well, they had a smoke of their own and they were blowing it up your ass.” That line killed me, for real for real hahaha!

  29. Can I just say how amazing to find other writers’ blogs among the comments.
    I just ‘googled’ how to read FT for free haha.

  30. our life continued. You chased business. You discovered an ingenious way to read the FT for free. You joined a new gym. You handed your office landlord notice because for how long were you going to complain about the office toilet? [change creeps smoothly without notice]

  31. Biko I have noticed you love cookies,great piece as usual without disappointment
    The five languages of love has really cracked me up

  32. Pumpkins love you. Coriander die for you. Let’s not even talk about oranges, they go bananas! Cucumbers…my God, cucumbers hear you are coming and they blush. You seem like that person, the pied piper of vegetables. So Linda, any news on that loan?”

    Haha

  33. Bikozulu,,,, this one was an incredible one
    . and i think bottomline, love is what makes life worth living. I think it should always be that way… Great piece!!

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  34. i do not want to blame it on my understanding but this “You would very much have liked a cookie with your coffee but you didn’t want to look like a foodie.” line…..

  35. hey biko your style of writing is really awesome ‘humor laced with sarcasm’ but got to ask this: can you carry a conversation in the same manner without working some nerves baldy lol

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  36. Moral of the story
    1.Biko likes back rubs,no way another man confessed that to you
    2.Biko likes rship managers that kiss his ass(not literally)
    3.The writting today is sort of all over the place.how the first lart of the story marries to the second is a tad sloppy.bt still makes an interesting read.

  37. Oh, such big handsome hands, Christine! Oh, look at how you stir your coffee, such flair and great coordination. Oh, you are so intelligent, run me through the pythagoras theorem again. Etc
    THIS DID CRACK ME UP

  38. Even with the language of love there are so many of us out here who don’t know where we fall
    So I suggest the sixth maybe call it confused or better still discovery journey

  39. ‘You would very much have liked a cookie with your coffee but you didn’t want to look like a foodie’ Saw what you did there.Good piece Biko.

  40. This is so Funny 🙂
    “You can’t even go to the loo. You know how in Luke 14:5 they ask if it’s okay to pull out your ox that has fallen in a well on the sabbath? Well, the people whose language of love is quality time would not allow that. That ox would die in that well. How dare it fall during their quality time?”

  41. You would very much have liked a cookie with your coffee but you didn’t want to look like a foodie.

    I love the rhythm.

  42. ”Your mother lost two of her cows to a disease that sounded a hell lot like something that Nairobi motorists have.”
    This cracked me up. Is it mad cow disease?

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  43. Hahahhaha I thank God for Biko…see am headed for an exam and…. I’d postponed reading this until I couldn’t anymore. Had to screenshot that part of how we find ourselves in relationship

  44. If you are not careful, you will ind yourself in a relationship. Lol. I was watching ‘I’m Sorry’ Series last night and one of the episodes was actually talking about the languages of love. My greedy ass wants all those languages of love spoken to me, in moderation though. The other party should be one who hears the acts of service language, I speak that perfectly.

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  45. Funny you don’t talk about anybody’s shoes….anyhuuu, you get into a relationship then as time goes by it just stop working. Then after break up, you get into another and if it goes well you start to wonder what the hell possessed you when you were in the previous one. Then is when you realize it wouldn’t have worked out anyway. You get to see all that was wrong with it. You enjoy the new one and hope it doesn’t go to shit… I was allilobit surprised though, disjune means breakfast? For real? C’mon now! Now I have to google it…damn

  46. I am a QT person. I die. 🙂 🙂 You know how in Luke 14:5 they ask if it’s okay to pull out your ox that has fallen in a well on the sabbath? Well, the people whose language of love is quality time would not allow that. That ox would die in that well. How dare it fall during their quality time?

  47. I have managed to read this blog successfully twice or so on the exact days, Tuesdays. It is always at the back of my mind but most times I am lazy and I find excuses (read actual work) to postpone. So yes, you can go ahead and call me a procrastinator but at least I set time aside to come back and have my share. Sort of my last laugh.

    Many are the times I am tempted to scroll all the way to the 100+ comments first and this got me thinking that it is why I am always reading later, to munch all the comments most of which are copy pastes.

    First paragraph : Four years, typos always get to me. Linda has lost a shoe again?

  48. This is really helpful, and funny too. This will help my next relationship I hope.

    I like the second-person perspective you used, Biko. Welldone.

  49. This made me think of two relationships i had with 2 different banks. It was a loopsided affair. One (high profile bank) conveniently withheld multiple avenues of transaction costs. this was no big account but a hustler account so l was bleeding money. (shaking my head like a indian) Was also led to beleive i could withdraw money from Paypal but we only know there is only one bank that does that- good ol Equity. The other, goofed and forgot to stop a standing order, even with a written and email notice before hand so i lost some cash in the process with no apology or promise of refund. I was happy to count it as a loss just to move away from this draining relationship. They also refused (coz i didnt tick that box) to stop sending bank statement by post which would cost 150 bob ever 3 months coz i figured a tree hugger like me doesn’t mind emailed statements, which were free! I wonder where it is they still get money for postage years after we permanently parted – i stll get zero balance bank statements. Sigh! I’ll never date a guy called Stanley.

    I love your post, Good Relationships matter!

  50. Taken a few notes!I beg to differ though!
    Kwaani, that’s all Kenyan men see in Baganda women banage they are in for a rude awakening.A Muganda woman who kneels before you to greet and in other formal settings is not necessarily an act of service!. But what do I know, I m just a Ugandan girl that loves to be a brother’s keeper, men don’t be too surprised when it doesn’t happen!

  51. Well told, love languages, Gray Chapman saved many of us with his ‘theory’ on love languages, thanks for bringing this to light in a humors way

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  52. LMAO! Biko biko o!
    I’m sure you already know that “biko” means “please” in Igbo language. It’d be nice if you could interpret some of the swahili words to english for those of us that don’t really speak it.
    May your creative juices never cease to flow!

  53. Sigh..im in a relationship (I think) now with some hot mama who sold me insurance 2 months ago. Sadly, its already fading away. Couldn’t stop laughing and relating to this as i read along. Great read kama kawa