Week 37: Languages of love

I have been having a bit of a hard time lately, specifically with relationships in my life. With several of my friends and family members, I have been feeling taken for granted and like a low priority.

I take it really hard when people don’t communicate and don’t make an effort. Lately, I’ve been struggling with cases of people not calling me or even calling me back. Not initiating plans or keeping me in the loop on plans. Filling up their schedules and offering me only the leftover time. Not writing back to emails or even responding to texts.

Too often lately, I feel like people I care about don’t care about seeing me or talking to me — at least, not enough to make it a priority. They let weeks go by without seeing me, or they let months go by without talking to me, despite my best efforts. This leads to my feeling very unimportant. It’s like I have been put on the back burner and forgotten there.

Granted, I’m not entirely blameless. I keep a busy schedule, and I’m not exactly sitting around waiting to answer my phone whenever someone calls. Also, many wonderful people do make these efforts, and I appreciate them so much. But my hurt feelings have been building up lately, and I’ve been trying to process them.

I know (or at least, I hope) nobody means to hurt my feelings. My friends and family do care and value me; they want to talk to me and spend time with me. Maybe they just don’t realize my feelings, or they really are that busy, or they prefer to communicate differently, or they are struggling with matters of their own.

I am aware of all that, so why does this affect me so much — likely more than it should?

I actually think I have the answer.

There is a book my roommate shared with me called “The Five Languages Of Love.” In it, author Gary Chapman identifies what he calls the “languages of love,” with the idea being that we all give and receive love in five ways, but each of us gives and receives in some ways more than others.

The five languages of love are words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, physical touch and quality time.

This is my deal: All I care about is quality time.

Of course, I am not saying I dislike people saying kind things to me or taking care of me or giving me presents. And I am a huge, huge fan of hugs; I couldn’t live without hugs. I do give and receive love in all five languages. But the only one that really, truly matters to me in terms of feeling loved and valued in a relationship — boyfriend, family, friend, whatever — is quality time.

This is why communication and effort mean so much to me, and why I am so upset by a lack of them. This is why I consistently try to make plans with friends and family nearby, and why I try so hard to talk regularly with friends and family far away.

This is why a visit means more than anything else a person could offer me, and why I’d rather do something with you than receive a gift from you. This is why I might not tell you all my feelings or spend a lot of money on you, but I will absolutely try to see you and talk to you.

This is also why I get so incredibly frustrated when people are on their phones while they’re with me. That’s not quality time.

It comes down to this: Make time for me, and I will feel valued. Give me your full attention, and I will feel loved. I promise I will give you my time and attention too. For me, quality time is the ultimate. Without it, I’m at a loss.

I’m not entirely sure where this realization leaves me, but I think I need to start speaking up. Even though it scares me, I need to tell people how I feel and when and why they hurt my feelings. Not everyone puts a premium on this language of love, and others might not realize I do.

As one of my friends told me recently, “You have to stand up for yourself so you can get the love you need and deserve.”

Endnotes: 

Currently reading: Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (still)

Currently watching: Masters of Sex, recent episodes

Song of the week: Timeflies’ “Amy” (IT’S MY NAME!)

Plans for the weekend: I have a friend from ESPN in town this week for work, so I’ll get to hang out with her, and then I have a friend from high school coming to visit this weekend. We’re planning on some hiking, beach time and a Tim McGraw concert!

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