Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Keeping up

This whole skunk experience didn't just get me thinking about alternative ways to bond with my dogs. I began considering the ways I show my human friends how much I appreciate them when distance (thank goodness not smell) makes hugs and body language obsolete.

About five years ago, I read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman on the recommendation of a friend. She had read the book on the recommendation of her therapist. The therapist had read it on the recommendation of her marriage counselor. The book is highly recommended, but I think you can save yourself some time and money by simply reading the summary on their website.

Basically, Chapman says there are five ways people tend to show that they care:

  • Words of Affirmation: hearing and reading that you are loved.
  • Quality Time: having the full attention of the one you love, knowing you are heard
  • Gifts: physical reminders that you are thought of and loved, especially on meaningful days
  • Acts of Service: easing the burden and responsibilities of another
  • Physical Touch: physical accessibility are crucial for hugs and little touches.

I'm a hugger, snuggler, touchy-feely person. I like proximity and ever since I was a little girl I am calmed by touch. With friends, I am pretty good at keeping up with other's personal boundaries when it comes to touch, but I can't ever resist a hug goodbye. I'm also word-oriented and like letters and emails and written notes. I appreciate the meaningful nature of a gift more than the gift itself. I love helping people with things and have had to learn to not over-commit myself or over-volunteer to help others out.

We're all like this-- we all have characteristics of each love language at different times. Chapman's book encourages us to look at how other's love languages might not match our own and learn how to be bi-lingual when it comes to love. (Or, at least have a conversational fluency.)

Going along with Chapman's book and my new-found knowledge about new ways of interacting, I looked back at my email sent box. I had easily sent more than two times the amount of emails I normally do in a week's time. I looked at my calendar and noticed it was a little more full than usual with time designated to meet up with someone for dinner or coffee or some other errand to help out a friend.

A benefit of a skunky situation: learning how to reconnect with those I care about.

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