I never know exactly where inspiration for one of my entries is going to come from but it is better than having no inspiration at all. I had a couple of ideas for today’s post but as I was lying in bed earlier, this one came in and shoved all of them aside.
The topic of quality time came to my mind because of some recent events in my life. Some of them I’ve discussed, some I have not and a couple that are continuing to unfold. So this isn’t a post that comes to you entirely from left field.
When my friend graduated from bible college a decade ago, he came home with two very specific things that he was quite high on when it came to the question of dealing with people and how best to deal with an individual.
He wanted to determine a person’s personality type and their love language. He talked about these two things in particular with such frequency that I actually managed to learn quite a bit without really being taught. Simply by listening to him I was able to start expounding on those topics myself after awhile.
As time has passed, my memory of personality types has faded to a large extent. However, for some reason I still recall quite a bit about love languages.
A brief description of the concept of love languages. There are basically 5 ways in which people express love for one another. This does not apply exclusively to romantic love but also to the love between parents and children, siblings, close friendships and so on.
The five love languages are: acts of service (you show someone love by doing things for them), words of affirmation (you show them love by paying them compliments), physical touch (it could be hand holding, a pat on the back, a hug basically it is what it sounds like), gift giving (you show your love by giving gifts) and quality time (you show your love for someone by spending your time with them). We all use all of these two one degree or another but we have a primary love language, one that appeals to us above all others. If I had to rank my preference from one to five it would be: quality time, words of affirmation, physical touch, acts of service and gifts. Three and four may change places depending on circumstance.
If I had to guess the primary love language of certain people in my life, I would definitely say my mom is an acts of service person because she’s always doing things for people, especially her children. My friend Scott would probably be most identified as a gift giver, considering how often he pays for lunch compared to how often I pay for lunch.
Examining my romantic relationships here is what you find. My first girlfriend is actually the same person I have known longer than anyone else on earth that is not a member of my family. I can’t say we ever really dated though because all we did was exchange letters. This was before The Internet was something we easily had access to and phone calls were quite difficult to pull off back then as well (our parents paid the bill)
We saw each other for maybe a week each summer and were only boyfriend and girlfriend for a year, my sophomore year of High School. I broke up with her, in the worst way possible (I wrote a letter) because I had a crush on a mutual friend of ours. This situation once stressed me out so bad that in the presence of another mutual friend with whom I had finally opened up aabout it all, I was unable to stand up straight. I was folded over like I had just taken a soccer ball to the stomach.
All these years later, we’re still friends. She keeps telling me that the way we broke up wasn’t so bad and I keep apologizing anyway. Now it is kind of a joke thing but still, as mature as I may have been for my age even back then, it didn’t apply to girls.
I can’t recall if we’ve ever discussed love languages or not. She knows that this blog exists so maybe she’ll comment?
In college, I met a girl who ran a Yahoo group for blind and visually impaired students in college. We exchanged contact information and used to spend hours at a time conversing over MSN messenger. I fell hard for her because of all that quality time we spent together, even though I had not met her yet (she ended up being in my guide dogs class but by then things had fizzled out) and I hadn’t even heard her voice. I even asked her out but apparently the method that I chose did not sit well with her and her response can legitimately be credited for causing my first and to this day only real panic attack. By the time we actually met things has fizzled and I was dating the girl I’m going to talk about below. We have since lost touch but I can say I learned quite a bit from that time and I actually have her to thank for convincing me to go to Guide Dog school in the first place. If not for her I would never have had Ginny.
I am a definite quality of time guy, however. You want to win my heart, spend time with me. Those other things are nice and words of affirmation have had a real impact on me, especially lately but even so, quality time is number one.
The first girl I really dated (the first one I ever kissed) was a few years younger than I. It is one of those things that would be less of an issue now than it was then as when we dated I was in college and her in High School. Her bad habit was making plans to do things with me and them canceling. Sometimes for valid reasons (which I always understand) and sometimes for little to no reason or little to no notice. This used to drive me absolutely crazy! Unfortunately, since I had no knowledge of any of this back then, the best I could do to explain my frustration was say it was rude. Looking back, I really shouldn’t have been surprised when she dumped me to date someone closer to her own age and closer to her in geography. After a time of icy relations we were able to establish a casual friendship that exists today. We’re friends but don’t really hang out, she’s busy now with a husband and two children anyway.
After her I dated another girl right away and as discussed here, they shared a common first and middle name. That was about all they shared because the second one wasn’t a very good communicator at all. I tried to draw her out, it is one of the few instances where I didn’t lower myself to the communication skills of someone else, as discussed here. I don’t think about her a lot but because we were childhood friends before we dated and because I did see her a couple years ago by pure coincidence I have had chances to recall our very short romance. I don’t have the foggiest clue of what her love language is, my best theory is that it would be quality time but quality time spent together and not necessarily talking. Her communication issues, to be fair, were fueled in large part by her own disabilities. She is not only blind but also requires the use of a hearing aid.
She broke up with me, on my birthday which still wasn’t as bad, as this year.
How we broke up is a matter of dispute. I actually didn’t know it was a matter of dispute until a few years ago. She told me that she wanted to get back together with her x-boyfriend and that’s not something you forget when you get passed over for another guy twice in 3 months. Later, when she told someone else, her version of the story was that we broke up because of the fact that long distance is hard. But while we lived in different cities at the time, we dated in college when she lived a floor below me in our dorm. We never made it to the summer where we would have been apart.
Then about a year later came my next and longest relationship. It was with a girl I’d met in my guide dog class but didn’t date until nearly three years after that happened. She lives in California and I obviously do not. We spent hours on the phone and on AOL Instant messenger (we’re getting closer to modern technology) and we’re also getting to the point where I start learning about these love languages.
Our relationship was full of ups and downs, twists and turns, highs and lows. It really could have come from a daytime soap like Days of Our Lives or something. We definitely have a chemistry and keep getting drawn back to one another. This does not mean that we are each other’s destiny or that it would work out but there’s probably always going to be a spark if that makes sense.
I think her love languages were a combination of words of affirmation, physical touch and quality time. I could give her quality time easily but during most of our relationship we were too far apart for physical touch. As for words of affirmation, I don’t believe I was ever very good at paying her compliments. I think I’ve only gotten better in the words of affirmation department in about the last 18 months or so when I realized that there were a lot of people in my life who knew that I appreciated them but did not know why.
After we broke up in 2012 we both entered new relationships, lost touch for awhile but have since reconnected. It was after we broke up that I was quite down on long distance relationships. I’ll explained how I’ve become more receptive to the idea further down in this post.
My last relationship is the most interesting when it comes to quality time. Finally, I dated someone who lives in the same town as I do. In fact, she lives within walking distance of my apartment building though I never walked to her house, the point is that I could.
When we were together and by together I mean in the same room not in the relationship, we had a lot of fun. We would go to movies, sporting events, we went to a play, we went out of town to a conference I had to attend, we did things that normal couples do and it was fun. The time we spent together was good, quality time.
Unfortunately, there was a huge issue. She can be very difficult to get ahold of to do anything. This isn’t a problem exclusive to me, she even admitted as such, her mom has even talked to me about it from time to time. Well, as I said, I am only as good at communicating as my partner, I’m a dependent communicator, however with her I did try to make an effort. Unfortunately, I could only have texts go unanswered and calls go unreturned before stopping altogether. I broke up with her in a voicemail message because I was tired of being unable to talk to her at all. I did so under protest because even though we had issues, I thought they could be worked on, I don’t quit easily. But I reached the point where in the words of Yogi Bear: “enough is too much”.
Even though we were close geographically, in some ways it often felt like we were on entirely different planets. Coming to that realization is what made me more receptive to a long distance relationship again. I’d rather talk online with someone for hours every week than sit next to them at dinner and a movie one night and then have them disappear for three weeks.
She also did the making plans and then canceling them with no notice thing. For someone
who speaks in the love language of quality time, this is a really major direction. It is bad enough that you have decided you don’t want to spend time with me but worse when you don’t even tell me why. Again, it isn’t a case of an emergency coming up that requires her full attention. In those situations, a quality of time person like myself can be quite supportive and understanding. Unlike the first girl for whom this was an issue, at least this time I could explain better why it hurt me so much. And because I am more reactive than proactive in the communication department, when she became hard to get hold of, so did I. I had no issue giving her a taste of her own medicine. Call me spiteful and maybe I am and maybe that’s really why it ended but with me, you get out what you put in.
So yes, quality of time is definitely my primary love language. The key word for me is quality. Going to the movie with someone and not talking can be time well spent and so can a long conversation on Skype or Facebook. A 10 minute phonecall out of the blue can carry as much weight as that long online chat if it is a good conversation. Someone who calls me and then we both sit in silence saying nothing is not giving me quality time they’re wasting both of our time. Someone giving me their time is a precious gift because I know that we each only have so much and when it runs out there is no refill.
The fact that it means so much to me does not mean I am greedy. People have lives and responsibilities, they can’t give me all of their time. That’s actually the whole point, the way I see it. It is that they even consider me worth fitting into their schedule that makes it special.
This is why a small thing >my new friend did this morning meant so much. She explained that sometimes she’ll read a message I’ve sent her but won’t have a chance to respond right away, if for example she has a quick moment in the car to read she obviously can’t respond right away. Of course, I knew this already and it is not a problem. However, it was nice to hear because she essentially made it a point to reassure me and since we hadn’t talked about this subject at all yet (she sees this post when it is available to everyone else) she had know way of knowing if that might be something I’d worry about. It wasn’t but her concern means something. Few people really get me and it seems more and more with each passing day that she is one of them.
Note: I can’t end this post without mentioning the fact that there are a series of books on the five love languages written by Dr. Gary Chapman. I don’t base my life or how I deal with people entirely around this concept but it is a tool in my box.
This is one of my favorite love songs ever. I heard this one as a child many times, I feel like it might have even been on a cassette tape that my parents had. Anyway, for years and years I never heard it and barely knew any of the words. I didn’t know who sang it either so I was in trouble if I ever wanted to hear it again.
Thank the Lord for The Internet because I was easily able to figure out what song I was looking for based only on a couple of lines from lyrics that I remembered from so long ago. I looked this up a decade ago and at that point it may have been twenty years since I heard the song. Now it resides comfortably in my music collection never to be forgotten.
When I looked it up I was stunned to learn that it was by a band that I already liked, I just didn’t know it was their song.
Wikipedia says that it was a major hit for ‘The Hollies’ in 1974 reaching number 3 on the adult contemporary chart and number 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. I never heard it on my Sirius/XM 70s on 7 station but then again, I had no idea it came out in that decade until I did my research a decade ago to make sure the whole thing wasn’t just a song in my head.
So without further delay, here is ‘The Air That I Breath’ by ‘The Hollies’. Enjoy!
I was going to use this song on the dreaded Valentine’s Day but since this post ended up being about love I thought it would work well here. There are plenty of other songs for me to use on Feb. 14.