Love Languages

I had an interesting conversation with my sister this weekend about “quality time.” It’s good for me to be reminded now and then (okay, more often than that) that other people do not necessarily think or feel the way I do about things. My sister told me that quality time, while nice, isn’t really something she needs all that much of in her relationships with others. She can see her closest friends only once or twice a year and still consider them her best friends for life. That surprised me, because–as I so often do–I have always assumed everyone feels the same way I do about spending time with those they love: the more of it, the better.

I think I take this need for time spent together to an unhealthy extreme at times. I start to rate my relationships with people based on how much I’ve seen of them in the past week, month, or year. If I haven’t seen you in two years or more, chances are I consider you (and our friendship) a lovely thing of the past. One year is beginning to push the limits. And if I only see you once every few months, especially if you live close enough to me that we could run into one another more often than that, I’ll eventually cease to consider you a close friend, even if I still enjoy the relationship as one of more “casual” friendship. I don’t necessarily do this consciously, but since I rate not only how much I love, but how much I am loved in terms of how much time I’m able to spend with someone, I just can’t take a relationship seriously when I never see that someone.

It’s particularly challenging as a single professional to make that time for others, though. Work and other commitments can crowd out a lot of flexibility for spending time with friends, especially when their schedules don’t align with yours. It makes for a lot of frustrating weekends spent at home, wondering why the phone only rings when I’m at work, or just heading out for that volunteer thing I promised to do at church…

It also means I’m probably a pretty annoying person to have as a friend. My apologies to all for my neediness.

Still, it’s good to take a close look at your particular “love language,” to figure out what you need in your relationships with other people, and how you are able to give best of yourself. I’ve also found it helpful in dealing with my own frustration and hurt in my friendships and even in my family. (If I’m feeling “unloved” in a given relationship, chances are I’m dealing with a person who doesn’t view quality time as terribly important. And I’ve probably caused plenty of hurt feelings myself, since giving gifts or speaking words of affirmation are two things I tend to forget, though plenty of people need to receive love in those ways.)

This post is a bit discombobulated–sorry about that. I was fascinated by this conversation and thought I would share, and since it’s a work morning, I don’t really have time to organize my thoughts more clearly. Good luck reading…

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4 thoughts on “Love Languages

  1. Your post makes plenty of sense to me! I think I’m more like you in the “quality time” thing, though… On the flip side of your friendship dilemma, though, does spending more time with you make someone “close”?

  2. Ooh, good question. No, spending lots of time with someone does not make them close. In fact, I just get very, very tired of people I’m not as close to if they insist on spending all sorts of time together. Rather, when I am close to people (which is actually a process), I want to spend time with them, and the closer we are, the more I want to see of them. Which really seems like a very logical progression, so I’m not sure why it took so many words to describe it. 😉

  3. I find it interesting that, if you pay close attention, you can often figure out the love languages of friends and acquaintances by watching how they express love. I, for instance, most value touch and words of affirmation. As you may have noticed, I often encourage people and want to hug a little longer than I think is average.

    I’m glad to know that you value quality time (I think that’s my #3). What else is at the top of your list?

  4. Hmm. I think my list is pretty basic: quality time and quality time being what I give and what I most like to receive. And second is probably acts of service. I’m a pretty good conglomeration of both my parents–Mom is very much quality time, and Dad is acts of service.

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