Thursday, November 19, 2009

What kind of Lover am I?

What Kind of Lover am I?

No I’m not talking about sex, although that would be interesting and you all are dying to know. I’m talking about the ways that I express love to others, and the ways that I perceive love coming back to me. The idea that we, as humans, give and receive love in differing ways is a fascinating topic. Realizing how love plays into my own life provides answers to so many questions. I have been thinking on this subject for the past many months and I have finally boiled my observations and self-discoveries down to a few paragraphs and it helps me understand the world better.

How do I perceive love from others? Good question right? But why is it even important? The best way to communicate love to someone is to discover the channels through which they most strongly perceive love. Some people like to receive love notes. Some perceive love through words of affection. Others prefer practical works of kindness, like having their oil changed when they didn’t have time to do it themselves. Occasionally, the way we perceive love from others is not the way we GIVE love. For example, my father is a DOER and a PROVIDER. He makes sure his family has all of their physical and financial needs taken care of. He simply provides safety and security and that is how he loves his family. Yes, he says the words “I love you” and he gives gifts, but loves truly flows from him what he is providing the basics of life to his family.

When I was growing up, I perceived love in a different way than my father showed it. So even though he was loving me through my growing-up years. . . I didn’t feel it as strongly from him as I could have. We communicate love in conflicting ways. I know now that he loved me VERY much. I just didn’t speak his “language.” That may explain why I felt so alone and isolated as a child. Not even my identical twin brother related to me, or so I felt. I honestly did not feel loved, growing up. I am guessing, now, that’s because of the unique ways that I perceive love from others.

So here’s the question.

Q: How do I feel love the most? What needs to happen for me to truly recognize how much somebody loves me?

A: I need one on one time. I need time devoted to me; time to talk and listen. When I am alone with someone and we are sharing our thoughts and ideas, and they are truly listening and understanding me, I feel a sense of bliss, gratitude and true love. I feel valued. I bond.

I have felt true love many times. Here are some memories:

Grandma Joan talked with me. She shared about her latest book. She talked about family gossip. After she caught me up on her life she asked about what was new in mine and she didn’t butt in. Not a single word while I told her about my life’s dramas. All my walls came down. I know she understood me. She felt my pain. She understood my loneliness. She hugged me often and then offered to make lunch. Grandma is a DOER like my Dad. She showed love by making food and providing and controlling. But she magically knew that I needed to be heard. I needed time to just speak my feelings. That is how I know Grandma loved me.

I have a friend, Scott, who listens to me. He knows I occasionally get overwhelmed. He is a very good listener and he actually gives me his time when I need someone. I know he cares. He’s my best friend. That’s what friends do, and Scott knows I need it sometimes, so he indulges me.

My twin brother has been calling me, and visiting me and taking an interest in my life. He says he wants to meet my friends. He is interested in my music and my writing. He didn’t seem interested in those things for most of my life, and he wasn’t interested in my life, my friends, my music etc. But now, it seems things have changed and he comes around. We talk of important issues like God, family and relationships- and we see eye to eye. We do lunches together. We cook together. We laugh. I feel SO LOVED by my brother, Jason- more than ever. He spends time. He GIVES me time. He takes an interest in everything that is important to me. We’re bonding again because of it.

These are three great examples of people who have shown me love in a way that I have felt it powerfully. So if anyone wishes to show me how much they love me, and want me to really feel it- give me your time, your attention .. . . and your interest.

(ATTENTION WHORE!!! Pppththththb!)

So that brings us to an equally important question:

Q: How do I show love to others?

A: I show love through touch and thoughtful concern. I call when I think about you, just to say hi and I was thinking of you. I leave a short note on your car windshield while you’re at work, also to let you know I thought of you. I remember your birthday and leave a card on your doorstep at midnight. I cook dinner for you (a damn good one). I send flowers. I give back rubs. I listen to you. I try to understand you. I offer a shoulder to cry on.

(I think I just threw up in my mouth a little bit. . . too much)

I could list a few examples here but that would take forever.

Knowing how I give and receive love helps me understand so much about my life and my relationships. Here are some ways I can see how I have messed up my relationships because of how I give and receive love.

1) I find myself apologizing to friends and family members when I share my true and deep feelings, for fear that I’ve over-stepped a boundary or shared too much. Maybe I have learned over time that my feelings are not valid? I feel guilty for sharing my feelings because I thought (perhaps incorrectly) as a child that sharing feelings is a burden to others? That is why I feel so much love when someone spends time talking to me. (OMG Jer- you are damaged)
2) I find sometimes that when a friend actually DOES spend time talking with me, I begin to feel so appreciated and valued that I interpret that feeling as a crush. It makes me want more. I can see now, how this has played out badly in some of my friendships. I must bridal this tendency to mistake simple friendship for love or romance. (Look out- that’s drama!)
3) I don’t accept compliments well, and I second guess true love and admiration even if it stares me in the face. I feel unlovable sometimes. (Wow Jer. Really? That’s sad.) YES REALLY, now stop interrupting! (cuckoo, cuckoo) And yes it is sad. I actually struggle to believe that anyone would take an interest in me. That is why I value the attention so much, and sometimes attention scares me because I fear it’s not real or won’t last. So when a date compliments me or flirts with me, it often goes completely unnoticed.
4) I don’t like big groups much, because I feel I fall through the cracks. Big groups suck the life out of me. I prefer one-on-one get-togethers or small groups.

So the question: “Jer, why are you still single?” gets asked a lot. I can’t just say “Cuz I’m damaged. . .lol”. That’s too close to the truth. I just say I don’t know. But truly, perhaps the answer really is that I just require a bit more love and attention than most, to actually get me feeling like there’s a connection. Perhaps I’m just scared that love won’t stay? (Maybe you’re high-maintenance!!! Did you think of that?).

I love people TOO MUCH. It scares them away. It’s stifling. Nobody wants to be stalked by a lover (Jer, just tone it down for gosh sakes)

So that’s the deal with me and love. Apparently I am a high maintenance lover. (Is this really how you intended to end this blog, Jer?) No, but its true.


Anonymous said...

You and I are very much alike, but I don't consider myself damaged; however, in a way, we are all damaged. I must say, though, that these damaged areas in a person's character are what makes them most interesting and unique and adorable. Character quirks are amazing and beautiful. And requiring a listener and a little quiet time with someone is not high maintenance. I think with technology and our busy schedueles that we've downplayed our need for quality time will eachother and you're just more sensitive in the fact that you acknowledge your need for it. I think a lot of people need it and don't realize that's what they are missing. You're actually ahead of the game in that you recognize and have the ability to share a close relationship. A lot of people are actually unable to have this. Some couples don't have what you think they have and they never will! You are lucky to have these qualities that will give you the very best and closest relationships in life.

Anonymous said...
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A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Thanks for the post.
As I tend to be somewhat the opposite of you, Jeromy, I appreciate the perspective of someone who doesn't show their love the same way that I do.
You've given me quite a bit to think about.

Anonymous said...

So how DO other people show their love? I am interested. Should this inspire anyone else to write a blog about it, please share linkage. Germ, is that okay?

ammon said...

I like checking on your blog, you always share your feelings on topics worth learning more about. To be honest, I didn't understand love languages until very recently, and I'm still not very good at recognizing the forms of love's expression.

For me, I love one-on-one attention and discussions. I think it comes from being the middle child in my family. I tend to shut down in large groups, putting on a front and waiting for it to be over.

My favorite way to express love is through gifts. Maybe that's why I like Christmas time so much. Interestingly enough, gifts are also the hardest things for me to recieve, perhaps because I place such value on them. (It sounds so materialistic, but its usually never about what the gift is, but what it represents.)

Anyway, thanks for sharing! Take care.

boskers said...

I was just passing through a bunch of blogs and happened upon yours.

I really liked this post. I can relate to so much of what you said. Seriously, I always misinterpret kindness as a crush. And I assume others will interpret kindness I show as a crush so even if I want to do something nice for someone, I hold back because I don't want them to get the wrong idea. And later I regret it.

I've never been in a relationship before and never been in love, but I think I'd be high maintenance, too. I can picture myself completely infatuated and annoying the heck out of my lover.

And I agree, one-on-one is so much more pleasant than groups. Groups are exhausting. So many conversations and jokes to keep up with. So much mental, optical, and aural processing; it's tiring and often leads to a head-ache. One-on-one allows for thoughtful conversation.

I particularly love friends who can be content to be with me, and not feel awkward between the talking. That silent time is like my gauge for telling how comfortable I am with a person. If I feel that I have to say something to end the awkwardness, then I probably don't feel too comfortable. And it goes the opposite way, too. I might be perfectly content to be with someone, but they show their discomfort by forcing conversation.

Anyway, I'm rambling.

Thanks for the post!