Monday, May 23, 2011

When a Gift is Not a Gift

Today, I was reminded of the importance of listening. A friend of mine was going to the store and asked me if I wanted anything. I asked him to being me a Coke™. He returned with a non-carbonated lemon "beverage", stating that it was better for me than soda. I thanked him and went on about my day, placing the 20 oz. bottle in the refrigerator. It needed to cool, and so did I. For the life of me I cannot figure why friends do this to each other. Tempting as it is, I try my best to give people what they tell me they want; not what I believe they need.

The actions of this friend point to one of a thousand reasons that I am no longer married, and why I refer to some of my post-divorce relationships in the past tense. Too often someone tried to give me what they thought I needed, rather than what I asked for, insisting that somewhere in there was proof of their love for me.

Once, someone arrived at my home and proudly presented me a gift just because they had been thinking about me. The gift was a sleeve of powdered donuts. Never mind that I had just lost 50 pounds and had become very conscious of everything I ate; never mind  that in the fifteen years that I’d know this person  I had never expressed any interest in powdered donuts. If he had really been thinking of me, he would have brought me a Krispy Kreme™…glazed and cold; and the reward for his deed would have been erotically appropriate (I do believe in rewarding good behavior).  Another time, following an additional 20 pound loss, I was gifted with Turtles™; again, a candy in which I had never expressed any interest (I don’t like my candy); I would have properly compensated him had he given me a Milky Way™; a Barnes and Noble gift card would have got him "the works"!

The psychology behind the actions of this person is ample and subject to interpretation. When I reduce it to the lowest denominator, I can only conclude that his actions, while rooted in simple acts of kindness, were evidence that he was incapable of loving me the way I wanted to be loved. He had not listened; therefore he had not loved.

Love, as I have come to understand it, means meeting and accepting people where they are. It means knowing the “love language” of your amore; the words and actions that are their internal measure of genuine understanding, care and concern.

Conversely, you must know your own language and be able to clearly communicate your needs to those who want to love you. True love will not only learn your love language; it will master your dialect.

If a person’s current position or language is unreasonable, uncomfortable, or unacceptable, then you owe them the courtesy of not wasting their time.

You will never know where another person is by referring to your own GPS.