Thursday, April 03, 2008

Effusive.....

After my weird encounter with the Might Be Stalker From Hell, I got to thinking about something.

One of the things that annoyed me a great deal in his conversations were the questions. "Did you think about me?" "Have you been thinking about me since we talked?" It didn't make me feel any desire. It just made me want to smack him. If I was willing to completely toss my Buddhist card in the fireplace, I might have said, "Yes. I thought about what an insecure dolt you are."

This led me to remember something. I have not been in a "romantic" relationship for quite a while now. When I did do that sort of thing, one of the conflicts I usually had with potential partners was the fact that I have a strong stoic streak.

My ex-husband complained of that, too. He felt that I didn't express myself openly enough. He used to say that the only way I would express intimacy was in the bedroom. (And he was complaining??? :)

Yet I am left with a real conflict between saying and doing. Saying is easy. Dumping an avalanche of feeling-talk is relatively easy. I prefer to show love through my actions. I'm not a particularly sentimental person which doesn't mean that I don't love. Actually, I do. Rather strongly. It just means I don't find it necessary to talk about it.

I'm always reminded of the scene in Fiddler on the Roof between Tevye and Goldie. Tevye asks Goldie if she loves him. She responds:

Do I love you? For twenty five years, I've washed your clothes, Cooked your meals, cleaned your house, Given you children, milked the cow, After twenty five years, why talk about love right now?

I have never been one to express feelings openly. It doesn't seem to be a part of me and being asked to do so (put on the spot) makes me squirm.

How about you? Do you think "saying it" is important?
~*

39 comments:

Molly said...

Talk is cheap, words are nice, but only if they're backed up by actions. I'm not averse to sweet nothings whispered in my ear! But for that I'd have to go elsewhere...my husband and you must be cut from the same cloth!

citizen of the world said...

I really don't like to have to talk about "the realtionship." But I do want to hear (and say) I love you. Unless I don't - then I'd ratehr avoid the whole topic.

meno said...

I used to think it was not important to say it, but now i feel otherwise.

But i don't want to go on and on about it. :)

Dawn said...

I believe you should say I love you often but not casually.
Everyone is different though. Some people need to hear it more. My husbands parents rarely ever told him they loved him yet we know they did. They would voice their dissapointment quite freely though.
I always tell him how much I love him because I do and it just comes out naturally :) I'm very expressive physically and verbally!

Aliki2006 said...

I think saying it is important. Sometimes you have to make things a regular practice and, in doing so, they become internalized even deeper. We say "I love you" a lot around here--to the kids, to each other. Not to cheapen it, but because I like to think that the love really is there, all the time, even at the worst moments. Sometimes when L. is really upset and has behaved very badly he will ask me -- "do you still love me?" It's important to say it, even if I don't often feel it in that mushy, heartfelt way at that very moment.

SUEB0B said...

Different people have different needs and different ideas of what love is.

Some ways of showing love are
words
touch
acts of service
praise
quality time

Each person has one way that is most important to them. Finding out what that is, and doing it, is an act of love in itself.

Casdok said...

The spoken word is only a small part of our communication. We express our thoughts in so many different ways even without realizing.

Journey Through Life said...

Actions definitely speak louder than words. However, I am also one that likes the words! But words without the actions are meaningless. Both are important to me.

Your Fiddler on the Roof quote is similiar to what a friend of mine, who is not very good at expressing her feelings, said to her husband. He was complaining that she only loved the children and not him. And she said, "everytime I feed the children I am thinking of you, everytime I hug the children I am thinking of you, when I go shopping for us I am thinking of you. My love is in every one of my actions."

I enjoyed reading this post. Got me quite a few smiles!
Annie
xx

niobe said...

I have trouble "feeling it." But saying it? No problem at all.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

There's a wonderful book called "The Five Languages of Love" - it's actually terribly written, but the content is good. It says that each person feels love in a different way or ways, usually part of five categories - words of affirmation, physical touch, tasks done for you, time spent with you, or presents. If you're the type who needs words of affirmation, then saying "I love you" would be very important. Otherwise, probably not so much. This book has been truly helpful to my DH and me over time, as we feel "loved" in different ways.

Mariposa said...

Words reinforced with actions is the nicest! Personally, I'm that who person who does not tire saying I miss you...ILY, you look wonderful...etc! I am just that...can't help it! ;) But not because I am that, that I make people obligated to do the same to me...

Say It said...

I feel your actions speak louder than words, however, words reinforce the actions. Its always nice to hear, especially when you know its real.

Janet said...

I would way rather my husband show me that he loves me: bringing me coffee, suggesting I take a bath when I'm worn out, stuff like that. Anyone can say the words.

Julie Pippert said...

I do think saying it is important, especially at certain times. I think we are wise enough to know the truth of the words when they come with the right actions behind them. I know last night, even as I cuddled her after her tantrum, my daughter needed to hear the words. She knew I hugged her, but she needed to hear my feelings too.

I am intrigued by your ex's sentiment.

You know, that sounds like a lot of what many women I hear say about their husbands. And yet...it's not a deal-breaker usually. I wonder if we are more tolerant of it in men than in women?

Jana B said...

I like a combo of the two...

Like Niobe, I have trouble "feeling" the love... I know it IS there, and occasionally it bubbles to the surface... I make sure to tell him when I feel overwhelmed with love for him like that.

But I also tell him by packing his lunch.

the psycho therapist said...

Agree there are many ways of "showing" love but "saying", speaking aloud, is another animal...has its own "energy field" uniquely affecting the receiver.

If love is felt along with a desire to express it in a given moment, I will speak the words. In general, I am not one to say "I love you" at the drop of a hat, say at the closing of a every telephone conversation or end of a personal visit. I witness this behavior in others from time to time and it feels kind of "off, as if the words are being "overused" and diluted in the process.

And that's just me.

QT said...

OMG, Chani - I am exactly the same way and get accused of being cold.

While I do say I love you, I am not a sentimental person AT ALL, and things that I think are cheesy and contrived might be a person's way of showing me affection.

I've been this way my whole life, my mother reminds me...

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Yes, I do. But this is obviously a highly subjective topic.

I have never asked anyone "Do you love me?" which makes me cringe, but verbal reassurance, as long as it's backed up by loving actions, is the icing on the cake.

I once had a boyfriend who said, "Just because I've never said I love you doesn't mean I don't." He didn't, of course. His actions consistently belied any kind of love for me, but that's a whole post if I chose to write one. (And don't.)

It's a beautiful thing to be able to exchange such words freely and openly, and to know that you both mean it.

The Fool said...

If all expressions of love are important, it would seem that to be the most open as one can be - to give and receive in as many ways as possible - would be the way to be.

One just needs to be.

jen said...

i think doing is important. i think saying is an offshoot of doing, but doing is more important.

Catherine said...

You said: If I was willing to completely toss my Buddhist card in the fireplace, I might have said..

Oh, so true. I think that all the time (well, my card isn't Buddhist, but you know what I mean).

Anyway, I agree with the theory of love languages, and one of my top ones is definietly Words. Of course, love that is all talk but not substance is not love. But Love that is spoken, to me, is life changing.

My husband though - his language is service. So he might clean the bathroom for me to say I love you - but I totally miss the message. We're getting better.

anne said...

I think saying it is important.

I also think showing it, living it, laughing it, smiling it, touching it, crying it, singing it, etc. is important.

Some people need to hear the words. Some people need to say them.

Nick said...

Hi Chani. Just saw your comment on Heart and realised I hadn't visited for a while. Just read about the stalker - that sounds like a really horrible, creepy experience. Hope you haven't heard anything more from him.

Is saying it important? I think yes, you should say what you're feeling or thinking because it helps other people to understand you. I tend to be rather a quiet, self-contained person and I think quite often people assume mistaken things about me simply because I haven't told them enough.

seventh sister said...

I personally would be in a relationship with a person who chose not to express his feeling both verbally and by his actions. People almost always have something that they are passionate about an can talk about it anc concentrate on it for hours. If I can't have a relationship that is like that, I just don't want one. Feelings were not expressed in my family when I was growing up and my parents divorced shortly after I left home. My father is getting divorced again and can't figure out why. It is easy for me to see. He chooses to put many other things ahead of the relationship in his life and I cannot imagine him saying "I love you" to anyone. I am sure that he thinks he loves deeply but both isi actions and his lack of words say differently. I don't think washing clothes, housekeeping, child care, or earning a living are the best ways to show love. Those are the mimimun things you do for your family and for yourelf.

painted maypole said...

but as tevye and golde end the song, they sing "but even still... it's nice to know..."

I think you need to show it and say it. but different people express differently, and need to experience it differently. some people don't need it said as much, and that's just as well. hearing words are not the only way to "know"

Carla said...

I come from a stoic Norwegian background, so I totally get where you're coming from. Words can be nice sometimes, but if the actions don't match up, they mean nothing.

Lex said...

I agree with the love languages idea too, but I think people get it twisted. The language has to do, as I understand it, with what we individually interpret as love. So, since I'm words and service oriented, I interpret those things as loving. The loving act to our partner is not to speak our own language back to them, but to learn theirs and learn how to love them in their language -- so that our acts don't get lost on them.

And yes, saying it matters to me. But so do actions. I love for a guest to take my trash out on the way out the door without being asked.

Angela said...

I come from a family who say "I love you" a lot and it's sincere and backed up by loving action. So you might think in my romantic relationships I would want to hear it, but it doesn't really matter to me. It can get to be just another three words so I'd rather have it less and more heartfelt than more. I do, however, require lots of touching!

Cre8Tiva said...

say what is i your heart always...rebecca

Angela said...

I absolutely agree that the actions are more important -- and I also know that many of us really, really, really want to hear it, too. Maybe it's just a matter of matching up two people who don't prefer to hear it! :)

(And I wouldn't put any stock -- stalk? -- in Mr. Strangelove. He scares me. And asking you those questions just confirms that it's all about him -- sheesh -- scary, that. Here's hoping that he's gone for good.

Dandelion seeds said...

for me it is important to say it...say it if you mean it.

doing is important. But saying 'you matter and I adore you' opens something up in me-and I know it does in my husband as well.

MsLittlePea said...

Yes I do...I think saying it is just as important as 'acting' it. I grew up never hearing my parents say it to each other or to any of us kids come to think of it. Even though we knew we all loved each other, it DID feel cold, so that's probably why the words are important to me. I think a lot of people used it so lightly or say it just because they want to hear it repeated back and that's how it can start to feel empty.

Ian Lidster said...

This is such an entrancing question, my thoughtful friend, that I could 'talk' to you about it for hours. As for your 'stalker' contact, I would say to him: "If you have to ask, then maybe my non-response should speak for itself."
As for me, yes, I do like to be told. I not only want, I seem to have a visceral 'need' for endearments. Something to do with my aloof mother, I suspect.
Anyway, the entire topic of endearments has given me fuel for a blog.

we_be_toys said...

I'm of both minds; I think its important to say "I love you" from time to time, because we all need to hear it once in awhile. But I also think actions speak louder than words. You can say "I love you" while you're treating someone like crap too. The deeds are more important than the words, ultimately.

crazymumma said...

I think saying it is important for ME to tell my girls I love them a million times a day.

But for adults? I wish we would more.

Defiantmuse said...

I've always thought actions speak louder than words.

I, too, struggle with saying it. I get uncomfortable. Sometimes I'm struck with the urge to say something sentimental but I don't often choke it out. And when I do it doesn't flow, it feels unnatural.

I don't know why. Maybe some people are just wired that way? Or maybe we need therapy. lol.

Christine said...

saying it is important, but it has to come with actions. both alone tend to feel empty.

Suki said...

My boy is a lot like you. He gives me his support, he will hold me, he will tell me he loves me, but things like exchanging gifts and flowers or endless sweet nothings ... they just seem superfluous.

What works in our relationship is to be stable, to know ourselves, to trust ourselves and our perception - which includes how we see each other. Talking can be relevant, it can be fun, or it can be redundant. Each relationship will have its comfort level, based on the individuals and their circumstances.

For me, telling him I love him is still important, but we are young and have been together barely a year. I feel the magic of the words, of the tone, and yes - a reaffirmation of everything we are to each other with those words. I am sure things will change as we mature as people and as a couple... but for now, since we are physically apart, "saying it" is important to me.

Mel said...

I think saying it is important if you mean it.
If you are far from each other it brings you closer, if it is real why keep it to yourself?