“What are you doing here?”
It was an honest question. I had no idea how to respond, greatly aware that I hadn’t completely considered my reason.
The question hung in the air — time passing, and I still wasn’t answering. I had apparently lost the ability to “language.”
Before I could answer, though, I had to know myself.
Why was I there? My friend hadn’t requested I join him. There was no real purpose for my presence.
I’d just volunteered — maybe more like invited myself in. I tried coming up with my logic for joining him.
Do I want him not to be lonely?
He’s an introvert, so that wasn’t gonna fly.
He might need my help with something.
But he’s a grown man — older than I am, actually. Not taking off either.
I just want him to know I care.
That’s interesting. How would sitting next to him without speaking to each other while we work show care? Who on earth would find that “caring” or “loving”?
I would . . .
The answer hit me like a big yellow school bus. I wasn’t here for him; I was here for me.
Regarding The 5 Love Languages, my second greatest “love language” is quality time. I communicate and receive love simply by being physically present with someone.
We can be silent for hours — but if we are “intentionally” together, then I perceive it as a sign of care and love.
I joined my friend this day literally just to communicate that I care about him and, maybe more so, as a gesture to receive similar care and love from him.
I’d hoped to feel love from him.
That sounds innocent — but, obviously, I hadn’t told him this. I hadn’t even asked if quality time was a love language he understood enough — to give or receive.
It was like I’d started speaking Chinese to him without asking if he even spoke Chinese. And then I got upset when he tried to speak English or just didn’t respond to me.
I processed all this as fast as I could, the question still hanging in the air:
“What are you doing here?”
I laid out the answer. Plain and simple.
However, it didn’t quite work. The asker wasn’t convinced — or, at least, he wasn’t sure that was an okay reason.
But I do tend to ask myself hard questions and not be satisfied with the answers.
I decided to abandon the quest to feel okay and go back to reading.
My friend sat adjacent to me, oblivious. He had no idea I had just interrogated myself on my presence with him today.
Far as he knew, my focus on my reading never broke. As I flipped the page of my book, I glanced over at him.
I just hope he knows I care, I thought.
What are your primary love languages? When have you had a hard time either giving or receiving this love language to/from another man?
Two of my love languages are quality time and physical touch, but I often try to adapt and instead use my friends’ love languages so they will better understand my expressions of love.
Once I tried to communicate love to a friend by simply sitting with him while he was eating lunch alone. He reacted very much like your co-worker in this story! When I saw that he appreciated acts of service, I joined with him working on his favorite projects. Suddenly he opened up and treated me like his best friend!
Wonderful, Marshall. I’m taking this thought with me.
Thank you for sharing, Marshall! I have definitely had to work to be more intentional about speaking other love languages. It isn’t always natural- but it is vital to close relationships. Your story with your friend is a great example of that!
Interesting, Dean! My question is, if he was your friend, why did he question you at all? Seems like you’d be a welcome sight and presence regardless why you showed up. But I am very magnanimous and open to such spontaneous things. So, maybe it does not compute in my mind because of this.
I thought my primary love language was physical touch, But my wife, who knows me better than anyone, says it is affirming words. I guess she’s right. I’m constantly seeking affirmation. I think my second would be quality time. So, if you had suddenly showed up where I was and wanted to be near me, I would have been thrilled. And if you would have told me that you came to spend time with me, those would have been affirming words (I’m worth your time) and that would have put me in love language heaven.
My wife’s love language is touch, so I am trying to be more mindful of this. I can get by with words. She needs the the physical closeness.
Well, Kirk, my friend didn’t actually ask me that question- the conversation was all internal. I realized as we sat there that I hadn’t considered the reason for my presence. My friend was literally just working on some stuff, completely oblivious to my internal conflict.
Like you, my primary love language is words of affirmation. Your scenario of someone showing up and saying, “Let’s spend time together!” is basically my ideal way of hanging out with people all the time. Thank you for sharing some about your love languages!
We’d be a pair…
“Hi, Dean, let’s hang out.”
“You, know, I really appreciate you taking time to do this.”
“Whatever! You’re the one who suggested it and just showed up. This means a lot to me.”
“Well, thank you. I really like the way you said that. Makes me feel peachy keen.”
“No problem, Kirk. You’re a swell friend.”
“Really? I don’t feel like one at times.”
“But you are!”
“Awww, thanks, Dean. What shall we do?”
“Let’s go watch the sunset.”
“Are you kidding? I totally love sunsets! That’s like the best suggestion ever!”
“Glad I thought of it.”
**Enter sunset. Sit in silence for awhile.**
“Dean, is something wrong?”
“Well, I’m just checking because we’ve sat here for 10 minutes and you haven’t said anything. Did I do something to offend you?”
“No, Kirk, not at all! In fact, I was wondering the same thing. I was hoping your silence was not some disapproval on the way I was looking at the sunset.”
“You’re joking. I love the way you look at the sunset! You are a swell friend.”
“Awww, thanks, Kirk.”
That sounds like an amazing way to hang out and I see literally no problems with this scenario. Also, I might have already had scenarios like this about a hundred times or so in my life… 😉
Warm fuzzies, Dean. That scenarios is pure warm fuzzies to one who values words of affirmation. LOL!
That scenario actually reminds me of the Frog and Toad books by Arnold Lobel that I read as a child (actually, I still read them–my boys have a few). They are constantly affirming and reaffirming and doing nice things for each other, and getting into funny situations, but it all comes out right in the end. Yessir, I loved those books, because they resonated with my own love language. I still get all warm inside reading them. 🙂
My primary love language is touch…a handshake, a hug, arm around the shoulder. This is not, however, all that easily given in my world, and in my austere British culture. Although there are “football friends”, my peers tend to shake hands and hug, albeit, briefly, in tenderer moments. My younger Briton friends are a bit more relaxed, and that is good, I believe. Often, though, I receive the gift of “presence” and “service:” a walk is enjoyed; a car is serviced. From time to time, I do find those men who appreciate a token of esteem, such as a bookmark from some event. In Japan, where I lived for some time, movie houses often sold all sorts of memorabilia from movies, and those were fun to give. The key for learning any language is careful practice, and a love language seems to require even more careful practice on our parts, it seems.
I can only imagine how an austere British culture could have an impact on your expression and reception of your love language. Here in the states, there is somewhat a stigma on touch between guys- I know many of many of my fellow authors with physical touch as a love language have wrestled with this.
And you are so right, Paul, about the careful practice. I’ve learned how to communicate in the other love languages since I have loved ones who communicate in those other languages. It takes work, but it is definitely worth it in the end.
I have no problems giving of quality time or words of affirmation, but I have a hard time asking for it. I always feel as though Asking for quality time with someone makes me seem lied in someway. Here recently though that has been changing.
Good for you, Brandon. I’m kind of the same way. It’s sometimes hard asking for what you feel you need from others. Seems like if you have to ask for it, and they give it as a result of you asking, they are just humoring you. But, really, some people just don’t intuitively “get” what I need. So, I have to stick my neck out a bit and trust their response in giving is genuine. I know that, unless my wife had told me she values physical touch over anything else, it wouldn’t have occurred to me. I would have kept heaping words of affirmation on her (my primary love language), and she would have appreciated them, but they wouldn’t have met her needs.
Yeah, I’m with you on the asking for it. It’s very difficult and I also struggle with it. Like you said- it feels like asking for it makes I feel less authentic. It requires humility- something else I struggle with.
Interesting story! Thanks for sharing, Dean!
I think Love Languages can be helpful but can also make it easy to overthink showing affection. (I was relieved at the end when you decided not to overthink it!) Perhaps it also makes it easy to underestimate others’ capacity for understanding our own love languages (e.g., how you imagined that if your friend’s love language wasn’t quality time, the affection you offered by way of quality time would be incomprehensible and unwelcome–I feel like he would have to be pretty emotionally immature for your expression of love to fall completely on deaf ears, as it were).
But I guess the point of the story is you offered him something you wanted from him. Do you think you were trying to transact affection in that encounter? Like, were there strings attached? I feel like that’s where the problem would lie, at least for me–in some sense of entitlement.
That is indeed the point, Ryan! I projected my desire into him and began processing this when I realized I might have erred in my doing of this. It was definitely a problem that I attached that string. It was a real gut check moment for me. I had to humbly admit to myself my ulterior motives and figure out how to move forward that day and he following days to ensure I avoided the same mistake.
Love languages are not the ultimate answer to everything in communication in relationships. But in this moment, it did help shed light on my motivations for my actions.
Thanks for reading, Ryan!