Thursday, July 13, 2006

Interacting with people, part II

Years ago, I read a book called The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. While it was not a great piece of literature, it did contain an important notion that kind of ought to be obvious: that different people express caring in different ways, and if you aren't doing what someone else perceives as caring actions, it won't be seen that way, even if that's what you intend. He divides these into "Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch" (yeah, I stole that from a review, but I would have come up with roughly equivalent descriptions... the categories have stuck with me). While everyone has all of these to some extent, some are stronger than others.

I don't remember all the details of the book (it was probably 2000 when I read it), but the main emphasis was doing things your spouse would see as loving actions. While it is certainly important to do to others as they would have done unto them (the golden rule is pretty flawed and self-centered if you look at it in this light), I tend to flip it the other way, that if your actions you intend to be caring are rejected, it's hard to feel you have a good relationship.

Now, having given all that background... I have noticed that I really like going out of my way for people. Put it in the 'acts of service' category if you like, but it makes me genuinely happy when I can help someone by driving 50 miles farther than I would have, give them a massage when I'm tired myself, or lend a sympathetic ear to someone who calls just needing somebody to talk to at 4:00am because their life just fell apart. You could call it wanting to feel needed, or some other unhealthy projection, but it really just seems like how I want to interact with people. And if I offer to do things like that, well, you know I consider you a close friend. And if I get turned down a lot when I offer to do thing, I feel decidedly rejected. This is how I interact, and if you turn that down, it's like saying you don't want to interact with me.

Maybe some people feel this way more toward family. I was never close to my family (geographically, and therefore otherwise), so maybe I transferred this kind of high-loyalty thing to my friends instead. It doesn't feel unhealthy, though.

It's two minutes after midnight. Happy Bastille Day. Somewhere, bromeliads are blooming, and tiny frogs are sitting in them under the quiet moonlight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mip mip

7/14/2006 11:07 PM  

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