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Words of Affirmation

So I recently retook the 5 Love Languages test (I like to, semi-regularly) and got these as my results: 
9 Physical Touch
8 Words of Affirmation
7 Acts of Service
6 Quality Time
0 Receiving Gifts

None of which was a surprise. In previous years Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch have flip-flopped, but I think some of that does depend on what relationships I’m in at the time. Other than Receiving Gifts (is nice, but doesn’t really make me feel loved), they have always been tightly clustered. I think some of that is because they don’t differentiate between giving and receiving Love Languages and mine are somewhat different.

I give a lot of lip service to Physical Touch as one of my main love languages, but don’t really talk much about Words of Affirmation. Partially because the fact that that is up there on the list makes me feel needy and dependent on people – I need you to affirm me – with the hidden subtext being that I can’t affirm myself. Which, frankly, is bullshit.  I am a solid enough rock on my own – I built myself back up after I fell apart when Minx died and gathered a lot of tools to keep doing so along the way.  I can do me just fine.

The truth is, I need to hear it from others. I need to hear that the people I am with appreciate me, appreciate the work I put into our relationship (whatever its nature), find me worth spending time with, love me, and find me attractive (if that’s appropriate for the nature of our relationship). I can’t live with just assuming it – I need to hear the person say it.

I used to, and to a certain extent still do, have issues asking for these kinds of things, because it feels like I am putting words in their mouth and that’s the last thing I want – I want genuine expressions. The one way I’ve gotten around this is asking for affirmations in general – tell me I’m pretty, tell me what you like about me, tell me what you like about my brain, tell me why you love me – and most of the time that works.

I love words. I love the way words feel and sound in my mouth and to my ears, so hearing the good that people I care about think of me instead of having to assume it is very affirming and heart strengthening.

With Trydaen, I was very explicit in the beginning of things – if you love me, please tell me that you love me as often as you feel it – and that has worked really well. Sometimes it does feel rote, but I know that he will not lie to me (too much effort and no real reason to do so), and sometimes he will not say it when I tell him that I love him, and I’m ok with that. I trust him to be genuine.

The tricky part with this is that I am not always super great at giving Words of Affirmation as a love language. I think this is partially due to not knowing when an appropriate time to say these kind of things is and a fear of looking awkward if it is an inappropriate time or situation. Or saying something that seems rote, because I say it often.

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More Than Two 5.1

Why do I have relationships with other people? (see also 4.1)

I have relationships with other people because I seek deep connection and varied connection, the kind that you just can’t get from just one relationship.  It also gives me a chance to give of myself, to open myself up.  Relationships challenge me to grow in a way I just can’t quite do (or have reason to do) on my own.

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More Than Two 4.7

In what ways do I protect myself from being hurt? Do those strategies help or hinder my search for connection?

I tend to wall a lot of myself off early on in a relationship, trying to protect my most vulnerable squishy bits from pain if something goes wrong.  It’s a silly strategy, because I consciously know that even if I do that, if something goes wrong I will still hurt.  I am trying to undo this damage, trying to undo this strategy.

I will mirror other people’s behavior around communication, even if it isn’t my preferred behavior and may even cause me emotional pain to do so.  This bites me in the butt big time.  It is hard for me to be the one who talks the most in a relationship because the lack of reciprocity feels like a lack of affection sometimes.  Words of Affirmation is my second highest love language and the affirmation that I am worth talking to comes with conversation.  So I try to find my affirmation elsewhere (that’s really hard) and try to convince myself that the lack of conversation is not evidence that a person doesn’t find me interesting or worthy of affection.  I can understand this one on a certain level, because, as weird as it sounds, Words of Affirmation can be one of the harder love languages for me to give – I can’t often tell what would help people in the moment and often my honesty goes a bit off of the message I’m trying to convey.

The first two definitely do hinder my search for connection – if I am not genuinely me, then how can people connect with the genuine me?

I seek to have my own inner stability, an inner rock I can lean on if things go to shit.  I’ve built enough of one that I can process a lot of things, but I realized along the way that I am not the only person who can build my rock.  So I ask others for what I need or for suggestions and I go to therapy, to help find tools to build it.  And I found out that I do not have to do this alone, but I am stronger on my own than I give myself credit for most days.

I am working to reach out to others when I need help.  And damn, this is hard.  I pride myself on being able to take care of myself and take care of my own needs, but I’ve been realizing more and more lately that I can’t do all of that by myself.  And that asking for help is not dependency, that it does not break my self-sufficiency to reach out when I am struggling.  We form relationships because we seek to connect, we see something in the other that we jive with on a deeper level and there is nothing wrong with letting someone in to that deeper level.  Heck, we might even find more to connect about, strengthening the relationship.

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More Than Two 4.6

What makes me feel afraid in relationships? Why?

I feel afraid when I don’t have scheduled time, a plan to schedule time, or a definite continued interest in scheduling time together.  When this drops off, it tends to be the death toll for a relationship, so I get afraid when it happens in relationships that I am emotionally invested in.

I feel afraid when I realize what will break us up.  In the past, this has meant that the relationship has less than 6 months left.  And if I’m still emotionally invested in the relationship, then this is painful to my very core.  Now, I’m not sure whether this is an example of a self-fulfilling prophecy, or just something that happens to happen every time, but it hurts.  To clarify, this is not an “I think this may be the case” or “this may cause a split” because those are usually addressable or short term.  When I have this realization, it has been an ongoing issue that seems irresolvable.

I am afraid when people yell at me or corner me with their bodies, especially men and other folks with deeper voices, even if they have no history of raising a hand against me.  This reduces me to a gibberish mess of crying and defensiveness.  If I’m already feeling vulnerable, I will just curl into a ball and disappear (mentally and emotionally) to protect myself.

I fear being in the position that I have to borrow/take money from my partners.  It took me a lot of time and effort to separate myself from my parents financially and, to me, that marked my final step into adulthood, not being financially dependent on any other adult to make my way in the world.  So to put myself back into the position where I borrow or take money from my partners makes me feel like less of an adult – when I do, I have to set up strict schedules for repayment so I can control some part of the process.  

However, I realize that some of how I choose to live my life depends on other people financially – I live in a house where my rent is income-based, so I depend on people to pay their rent to still have a place to live, and I tend to be the person who pays less often when I go out with my partners because I make less money.  I feel better about these because I know that these are adult transactions and that we all entered into them in full knowledge of what they meant to our lives.  And they can change if they need to.

I am terrified of the idea of the people I love dying.  I already lost Minx and that was devastating to me – there were months where all I could do was just put one foot in front of the other and get through that day.  And the next day.  And so on.

I am scared when people stop talking to me.  I understand and can usually reassure myself if someone just needs some space, but if they just drop off the map or only talk to be about banal things, I feel like I am no longer interesting to them and why are they in a relationship with me if I am no longer interesting to them?  And…brain weasel circus!

I feel afraid when a partners’ other relationships are going poorly or they are having conflict, especially if they are relationships that preceded my relationship with them.  I don’t want to be the cause of any relationship splitting, even if it is really indirect.  And I do tend to personalize this kind of stuff, regardless of whether it makes any sense to do so or not.  Stability tends to be better for everyone’s emotional health and I hate seeing people hurt.

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More Than Two 4.5

What makes me feel cherished, loved and secure?

In no particular order:

Having regular scheduled get togethers with my partners (the more entangled/involved the relationship, the more likely I am to want this to actually be on a given day that is ours.  With my more casual partner, we just see each other when we can, with the understanding that we want to keep doing that, but we’re both fairly busy people.)

Random touch – reach for me when we’re out walking,  give me a hug, cuddle up next to me on the couch, put your head in my lap

Random communication – reach out to me when you’re thinking about me, even if it’s just to check in or share something that you think I would like.

Occasional gifts – whether it be a physical object, time, or service, just giving of yourself to me occasionally makes me feel really loved and cherished

Active/communicative listening – when I say something or share a story, a problem, or a bit of advice, acknowledging that (even if it isn’t anything you’re interested in).  I’m not asking for right away, just at some point.

Tiny celebrations – celebrating the little anniversaries, the little victories in life with me makes me feel like I am important to you

Integration – The one thing that makes me feel the most secure in my relationships is working towards integrating me and our relationship into your everyday life.  There are a number of forms this could take: introducing me to your other partners, introducing me to your friends, taking me to events that matter to you, introducing me to your partners, inviting me to events with my partners, including me in pictures that you keep around, you spending time in my living space and you spending time in mine, opening up lines of communication for me (if/when needed – not a matter of depending on that in the long-term, just mostly as an introductory measure), and spending time with our cule as a group, just as examples.

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More Than Two 4.4

What do I bring to the table for others?

Questions like this require me to promote myself a bit and I am not very good at that, but let me try.

Passion:  If something or someone strikes my fancy, I tend to get very into it/them. I will, at least for awhile, talk to the moon and stars about it/them.  I don’t do things half-heartedly.  This has resulted in a near encyclopedic knowledge of some weird subjects.

Cooking skills:  I am a pretty decent cook/baker.  Tell me your dietary preferences/restrictions and I can make something you’ll probably really enjoy.

Humor:  I have a dry, British sense of humor.  It can verge on dark and sometimes morbid, but I can laugh about it.

Research skills: Tell me what you want to know and I can find it for you.  I am really good at using the resources at my disposal and forming the right questions and keywords to find out basically whatever I want to know.

Emotional awareness: I have a decent understanding of how my emotions manifest in my head and in my body, so I can tell you how something makes me feel.

Loyalty: I am very loyal to my partners.  I will tell you if I think something is a bad idea.  I will support you and your endeavors, even if I disagree with them.  I will talk about your charms to the people I care about.

Openness: I don’t believe in hiding the people I date, from each other or from other people I care about.  The only places I’m closeted are at work (even so, I have a picture of me and my partners at my desk and would be honest if anyone ever asked me about it) and to my extended family (working on that in therapy right now – it is my plan to change that within the next year or so).

Gah, that’s all I can think of for now.  Maybe will edit to add some later.

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More Than Two 4.3

Are there specific kinds of relationships that I know I’m looking for? Kinds that I know I don’t want?

Right now?  Mostly looking for casual dates – once a month, makeout at parties, occasionally go out for drinks kind of dates.  If we have sex, great.  If not, then no big deal.  I could probably manage another kink-only partner, as long as it was not a every week sort of thing (averaging out maybe once a month or so).

I don’t have room in my emotional brain for heavy duty relationships right now – I have three partners who take up most of my head space right now and even that can seem like too much at some times.  If a casual relationship looks like it is heading in that direction I won’t be entirely opposed to it, but I will lay out what my situation is early on and have a heavy discussion should it ever go in that direction.

In general – I don’t tend to like one night stand type of relationships.  It tends to feel less emotionally intimate and that doesn’t really work for me.  But my threshold for emotionally intimate enough is friends and casual dates – people I can trust in general, but specifically to talk to me if something comes up.  Sometimes I will choose to do “pick up” play type things at certain events, but I don’t make a habit out of it, and it tends to be with people that, if I’m not on that level with, then I could find someone who is very easily.