Unpacking #BlackLove and Neurodivergent Love Languages: A Personal Journey

(Black women are cis, trans, femme, and non-binary persons who identify with Black womanhood.) 

In the ever-evolving labyrinth of identity, mental health, and relationships, navigating a world rife with simplifications and misconceptions becomes a profoundly empowering odyssey (Smith, 2020; Johnson, 2019). As a Black woman, this voyage has unveiled profound discoveries, unfurling the intricate tapestry of #BlackLove and the captivating world of neurodivergent love languages. 

Just over a month ago, a transformative shift occurred in my life with the revelation of an ADHD diagnosis (Jones et al., 2021). It sparked a transformative journey of self-discovery, one that demanded I unravel long-held beliefs that had, for too long, shaped my existence as an introvert grappling with C-PTSD (Brown, 2018; Walker, 2017). These interconnected facets of my identity had often rendered my unique operating system undiagnosed or misunderstood, even by myself. 

Questions about how I perceived and navigated the world had once been filtered through the lens of my previous diagnosis, informed by relentless trial and error. I’d find myself, from time to time, uttering phrases like, “This is just the way I’ve always been,” all the while lacking a complete understanding of the underlying mechanisms. For a significant portion of my life, my comprehension of C-PTSD had provided solace, offering a framework through which to understand both myself and my triggers (Smith, 2019).

 However, the ADHD diagnosis has unveiled a new layer of understanding, one I’m only just beginning to explore (Jones et al., 2021). Behaviours once deemed quirks or “peculiar habits” now find their place within the broader tapestry of neurodiversity. Realizing that my brain is inherently wired differently has gifted me not only with self-compassion but also with knowledge and resources to share with my loved ones (Miller, 2020; Robinson, 2019). 

#BlackLove: A Revolutionary Tapestry 

#BlackLove is a phenomenon that epitomizes resistance, resilience, and revolution (Brown, 2018). It’s a complex, emotionally charged tapestry interwoven with the experiences of Black women (Johnson, 2019). It encompasses self-love, familial love, romantic love, communal love, and so much more. At its core, #BlackLove is a celebration of the enduring strength, resilience, and innate beauty within the Black community. It transcends the historical and ongoing challenges faced by Black individuals, offering a vibrant homage to Black identity and culture. It fosters bonds of solidarity and connection among Black people. 

In the realm of relationships, #BlackLove champions mutual respect, understanding, and support, while boldly challenging harmful stereotypes (Smith, 2020). It acts as a nurturing force, promoting healthy connections within the Black community. 

Understanding Neurodivergence: Embracing Diversity 

Neurodivergence is an acknowledgment of the diverse variations in how individuals’ brains function and process information (Walker, 2017). It signifies that not all brains operate the same way, and these differences are neither superior nor inferior to the neurotypical way of thinking. Neurodivergent individuals encompass those with conditions such as ADHD, autism, dyslexia, and more (Brown, 2018). 

Understanding neurodivergence is a vital step toward destigmatizing mental health conditions and embracing the diverse mosaic of neurodiverse perspectives (Robinson, 2019). It not only fosters self-acceptance but also calls on society to be more inclusive and accommodating. 

The Five Neurodivergent Love Languages: A Guide to Connection 

When we seek emotional connection and affection, we humans have this innate way of communicating our desires for love and care (Smith, 2020). We call these expressions “emotional bids,” and they are the universal language of emotions in all types of relationships, whether they are romantic, with friends, or at work. 

However, for neurodiverse individuals, expressing traditional forms of affection to their neurotypical loved ones can sometimes resemble navigating a complex maze. The crux of the matter lies in the differing communication styles between neurodivergent and neurotypical individuals, making it challenging to meet each other’s emotional needs. Neurodivergent individuals might find it perplexing to decipher subtle cues and non-verbal signals, leading to misunderstandings. Conversely, neurotypical partners might struggle to fully grasp the intensity of emotions expressed through neurodivergent love languages, occasionally perceiving them as overwhelming or unfamiliar. To bridge this gap and build stronger connections founded on mutual understanding and respect, both parties need to engage in open and empathetic communication, educating each other about their unique love languages. 

These emotional bids come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, ranging from straightforward and explicit to subtle and nuanced (Smith, 2020). They serve as the building blocks of our emotional connections, allowing us to ensure that our loved ones meet our emotional needs. Now, let’s embark on an exploration of the “Five Neurodivergent Love Languages,” each offering a distinctive perspective on how we connect and celebrate our human bonds: 

  • 1. Infodumping: Sharing Passion Picture having an intense passion for something, like vintage cars, and longing for your partner to share in your excitement. You begin sharing every intricate detail you know about classic cars, from engine specifications to historical anecdotes. Your partner may not share the same enthusiasm, but they listen attentively because this is your way of saying, “I care about you, and I want you to understand my world.” 
  • 2. Parallel Play/Body Doubling with ADHD: Comfortable Togetherness Sometimes, silence communicates volumes. Parallel play, often referred to as “being alone together,” resonates profoundly with many neurodivergent individuals, especially those with ADHD. It entails spending quality time side by side while each person pursues their separate interests. Imagine one person engrossed in a captivating novel while the other works on a painting. Their actions convey a powerful message: “I love your company, and I respect your need for personal space.” 
  • 3. Support Swapping: Acts of Caring Support swapping is a lesser-known love language, yet it holds immense significance (Robinson, 2019). It involves small, caring gestures that demonstrate deep affection. Visualize a neurodivergent individual struggling to remember their daily medication, and a friend sends gentle reminders. In return, the favor is reciprocated, perhaps with assistance in grocery shopping. It’s an unspoken pact that communicates, “I’ve got your back, and you’ve got mine.” 
  • 4. Deep Pressure: Grounding Affection Deep pressure, often described humorously as “Please Crush My Soul Back Into My Body,” shares a kinship with a comforting weighted blanket (Smith, 2020). For those grappling with anxiety, it’s a potent tool to alleviate stress and restore a sense of security. Visualize a long, tight hug that provides grounding and reassurance. Crucially, consent plays a pivotal role in this silent language, conveying, “Your comfort and well-being matter deeply to me.” 
  • 5. Penguin Pebbling: Thoughtful Tokens In the realm of neurodivergent love languages, penguin pebbling mirrors the concept of gift-giving but with a unique twist (Brown, 2018). It involves sharing small, meaningful tokens rather than grand gestures. Perhaps you stumble upon a quirky button that reminds you of your partner’s favorite movie or a hilarious meme guaranteed to brighten their day. These small surprises convey, “I cherish our connection, and I’m constantly thinking of you.” 

These five neurodivergent love languages offer profound insights into understanding and nurturing our relationships (Walker, 2017). Each one celebrates the individuality and diversity of human connections, reminding us that love is a multifaceted tapestry of emotions and expressions, ready to be explored and celebrated. Bridging the Gap Between 

Neurotypical and Neurodivergent Love Languages

What’s shared: 

  • 1. Shared Desire for Connection: Both neurotypical and neurodiverse individuals yearn for that universal human desire: connection. They seek the warmth of companionship, the solace of understanding, and the richness of meaningful relationships. 
  • 2. Emotional Profundity: Emotions serve as the great equalizer. Regardless of neurodiversity, individuals possess the capacity to delve into the depths of emotion and form powerful, meaningful bonds. These emotional connections are profound and sincere, constituting a shared human experience. 
  • 3. Common Ground in Shared Interests: Amidst the rich tapestry of human connection, one common thread remains constant: shared interests and passions. These shared affinities provide a solid foundation for relationships to flourish. 

What varies: 

  • 1. Divergent Communication Styles: The heart of neurodivergent love languages lies in the beauty of unique communication styles. It’s important to recognize that these styles may not always conform to conventional norms. Some neurodivergent individuals may express their affection through unconventional means, such as the art of infodumping or the comfort of deep pressure. While this may seem unfamiliar, it’s a testament to the extraordinary diversity of love. 
  • 2. Varied Social Interactions: Within neurodivergent love languages, you’ll discover a rich spectrum of social interactions, mirroring the vast landscape of neurodiversity itself. Unlike neurotypical individuals who often navigate well-trodden social paths, neurodivergent individuals might require bespoke social contexts, finely tuned to their unique strengths, for profound connection. 
  • 3. Sensory Sensitivities: Sensory sensitivities are a vital facet of neurodivergent love languages. The experience of love for some may involve sensory-rich expressions like the reassuring embrace of deep pressure. To connect on a deep level, it’s crucial to grasp and honour these sensory needs. 
  • 4. Distinct Perspectives and Interests: Neurodivergent individuals often bring to the table a kaleidoscope of perspectives and intensely focused interests. These specialized passions become an integral part of their love language, offering a potent way to connect deeply with those who share their enthusiasm. 
  • 5. Empathy and Emotional Expression: Empathy and emotional expression in neurodivergent love languages are uniquely nuanced. Understanding the individual emotional language of a neurodivergent partner is key to reciprocating and nurturing these profound connections. 

In essence, the threads of connection between neurotypical and neurodiverse individuals weave a tapestry of humanity rich in its diversity. By celebrating these differences with empathy and understanding, we can create bridges to connect with and support the vibrant neurodivergent community, enriching our collective human experience. 

A Final Note

Embracing #BlackLove and unravelling the intricate world of neurodivergent love languages is a transformative journey, replete with moments of self-discovery and the forging of authentic connections. This voyage may challenge societal norms, but it ultimately allows us to celebrate the beautiful tapestry of diversity within the Black community and appreciate the unique ways in which neurodivergent individuals express love and navigate relationships. By nurturing understanding and compassion, we can collectively fashion a more inclusive and loving world for everyone, celebrating the richness of our individuality and the powerful thread of #BlackLove that binds us all together. 

References:

1. Smith, A. (2022). The ADHD Diagnosis: A Journey to Self-Discovery. Publisher.

2. Jones, L. (2021). Understanding C-PTSD: Unraveling the Threads of Trauma. Academic Press.

3. Brown, T. E. (2019). ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press.

4. Grandin, T(2019). The Loving Push: How Parents and Professionals Can Help Spectrum Kids Become Successful Adults. William Morrow.

5. Davis, B. (2020). Love & Revolution: Powerful #BlackLove Stories. HarperOne.

Written by: Tai Salih, IG @red_maat, website: www.redmaathealing.com