Friday, January 19, 2007

The need for detailed attention


horse at sunset #47
Originally uploaded by Serni.


People have many needs. Our basic needs include food, shelter and companionship. People in relationships also have emotional needs. These needs include a hug, a warm smile, a laugh, a sense of appreciation and time together. These emotional needs vary with time and circumstance. Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes expresses it in this way:
1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.


Sometimes there is a need to be cheered up and sometimes there is a need to sympathize. Sometimes a person just needs a hug and other times they just wish to be left alone. While our physical needs remain fairly constant, our emotional needs change from day to day or even moment to moment.

When a physical need is not being met, a person usually knows. Thirst for need of water and hunger for lack of food. Our physical bodies are pretty good about letting us know when we need something. It is also simple to express those needs to others.

Unfortunately, our emotional needs are not always so easy to determine or express. A person can feel an emotional lack but not know what is lacking. They just know that some need is not being met. Even if they know which need is not being met, it is sometimes hard to verbalize the need. Also, like in the case where appreciation is needed, if you have to ask for it then it isn't really appreciation.

What do you get then? As a couple you spend time together daily, yet you hear that your sweetie needs "more detailed attention" or that "we don't talk". These can be clues there is some emotional need that is not being met by your relationship. But the need can't be expressed for one reason or another. What is a loving and romantic person to do?

The answer goes back to Ecclesiastes. Our needs change with time and circumstance. A loving partner will show love, appreciation and affection in different ways to meet those needs. There are different ways to show love, appreciation and affection to "prove" that your sweetie is important in your life. These ways include:
  • Verbally: Saying I love you
  • Through touch: Hugs, kisses, etc.
  • Small, thoughtful gifts: flowers for no reason, a small candy hidden to be found later
  • Written: A love letter, post-it note or greeting card
There is a book that explores the idea that we feel loved in different ways. This book is The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. As you read this book, keep in mind that people's emotional needs change. Don't assume that because your sweetheart responds to one "love language" now, that the other techniques for expressing love should be ignored.
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