5.21.2007

An Informal Poll: Affection

Here's a question (OK, a bunch of questions) for you...

How do you express affection? Do you do it often with a few folks or with many people? Why? Do you not do it much at all? Why not?

I ask these questions because I've been thinking about the subject myself and am realizing how important it is to me. However, I don't think everyone can (or even should) do it the same as I do.

I only show affection to a few people, but for those few I try to do it on a regular basis (even if I'm irritated with them). I do it sometimes with words, but more often with body language (hugs, a touch on the arm, etc.) and actions (helping them with a task, for example).
Why I do it is more complicated. I do it because I know I need it and want to do unto others as I would have done unto me. I need it, so I give it, because it makes me happy and I assume it will make those I care about happy. I put that word, "need," in italics because it expresses how important I realize it is to me. Disturbingly important, actually. As someone who subscribes to some Zen philosophies about attachment and desire, having this sort of anxious grip is worrisome. It is a vulnerability. On the other hand, recognizing and embracing one's vulnerabilities is one of the lessons of being human, isn't it?

How would you answer the questions above? There are no right or wrong answers.

4 comments:

Stacey said...

(1) Both verbal and non-verbal
(2) Yes
(3) B/C it's important
(4) Try to
(5) Too tired
OK, that being said affection is a many faceted stone. Some people need to hear it, some people need to feel it, some people need to see it, while others require some merging of all 3. Some people have a higher need to receive; some to give. For me, it's a mix of all in both directions. I too have a strong need for it but am trying to see that as helping round out a softer side of myself rather than seeing it as a vulnerability thus turning it into a strength - note I said trying...
I think these are great questions and bear conversation.
No one want to over-express to someone who doesn't need nor appreciate it.

Laura said...

Interesting questions. I do try to show affection, but I wasn't raised with a touchy/feely approach to affection and that has been something I've had to learn over the years. I know that the members of my family love me, but we rarely say it to each other nor do we embrace regularly. We do, however, spend a tremendous amount of time together and clearly enjoy each other and I think that's the way we show affection.

With Grayson, it's different. I'm always telling him that I love him and constantly giving him hugs. My husband and I also do the same. I'm also very much like this with most of my friends.

The Grabill Family said...

Well - I suppose I'm weighing in late but here are my answers none the less. I am a very affectionate person - I tend to show my affection to family and friends. I am a strong proponent of letting people know that I care of them - this philosophy extends to my family, spouse, friends, and even a few chosen co-workers (who I guess are those that I would call friends as well). It is my feeling that there is nothing (NOTHING)lost in letting someone know of your affection (regardless of whether it is returned or not). I think you lose a lot more by denying or hiding your affection - but I think that is a product of the happy life I've been brought up in. However, I think the key to that philosophy is to NEVER express the affection with the purpose to hear it reflected back. It's nice when it is - but truly, your affection should never be dependent on it's being reflected back.

Brian expresses affection very differently than I do. Through our 12 years together we have worked hard to understand each others' ways of communicating our affection. Also, to meld those ways to meet with a mutual language of affection. It's a constant process, but for us, a very rewarding one.

el padre said...

My response is as follows: My expression of affection has to be spontaneous. When I feel someone is trying to get me to be affectionate I usually don't respond. Most of the time I express affection by how I am "with" the person; e.g. listening to them and giving them my undivided attention. Responding to ones emails with interest and honesty is one of the most caring things I know of. Listening and showing concern when someone you love has a problem is another. Touching them or hugging them is good too; except if it becomes "routine," in which case you do it without thinking. Again I think spontaneous affection is the best kind. That applies not only on the "when" but also the "how." A phone call when the person needs it is much more appropriate than on their birthday (not that one shouldn't call on someone's birthday, mind you; but how about some spontaneity too!)