Non-Verbal Affection

Sometimes I am so exhausted that my over-taxed brain just cannot pull it together to work with my mouth to produce words that make any sense. And often when this happens I’m in a situation where I cannot escape into a quiet room all by myself, and sometimes there’s someone with me I care very much about who wants attention and affection.

So I’m learning how to communicate non-verbally. Being present with another person, showing them I care about them, without talking. Here’s how:

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Twice as Inefficient

I love efficiency. I love getting things checked off my to-do list, and the more things I check off (and the more quickly I do that), the more accomplished I feel. And subsequently, the more happy.

So when I got married and acquired twice as many to-do’s and a to-do partner who doesn’t value efficiency as much as I do, I became twice as inefficient. And I got a little depressed. I mean, who was I if I wasn’t being super-productive??

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Sensitive and Single

I belonged to a group of single working women at my church a few years back. We met occasionally to discuss the blessings and challenges of being single, pray for the desires of our hearts (which included much more than catching a man!), and form friendships with other young women who were in a similar stage of life. Our meetings were something we all looked forward to very much.

Each time we gathered, our leader (a kind woman our mothers’ age who was living a different type of singleness having been both married and divorced) gave us a handful of thoughtful questions to discuss. One particular gathering she posed the question, “What do you wish others who are not in your situation could understand about you?”

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Mind Reader

I have always fancied myself pretty good at reading other people’s minds. It comes from my tendency to over-analyze small details: the micro-actions or inactions of someone I’m familiar with. It’s a self-preservation tool to try to be prepared to respond in any situation. I’m always thinking about what other people are thinking about.

And I’ve been told (by someone I love and trust) that I’m not as good at it as I fancy I am.

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God Told Me We’re Getting Married

I used to think that people who claimed God had spoken to them were crazy. With some people, I still do, depending on what they claim they’re hearing. But over the years I’ve rubbed shoulders with all sorts of Christians and gleaned from them what makes their faith so vibrant and relevant. Those whose faith I came to respect the most are the ones who both speak to and hear from God on a regular basis. And so, taking many of my cues from these spiritual mentors, I tried learning how to cultivate that ability to hear the voice of God.

Early on in this process I learned that extra wisdom and caution is necessary in the areas of romance, money, and power. When we want one of these things we tend to want it so badly that we can easily superimpose that desire over what God is actually saying. The desire itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but a misinterpretation of God’s will regarding that desire can lead someone to do or say something really stupid. That’s why sometimes a random guy will walk up to a girl he doesn’t know claiming that God just told him that she is his future wife. I mean, some girls go for that, but most rational women will object. One of my favorite responses I’ve heard to that line is, “Well, he hasn’t mentioned you to me!”

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Getting Over My Imperfect Wedding

Long before I got married I was skeptical, to say the least, of the following ideas people had about weddings:

  1. The wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life (that’s way too much pressure for one day to carry, and what— is it all downhill from there??)
  2. It’s all about the bride and what she wants (hello, this is the groom’s wedding too, and if he cares about how things are done, then he gets equal say)
  3. The invitation list (and who accepts and declines) makes and breaks friendships (sometimes the budget prevents inviting everyone you love, sometimes life circumstances prevent someone coming who is really important to you, and true friendships will survive these limitations)

And don’t get me started on the Wedding Industrial Complex that ropes couples into stopping at nothing to realize all their Pinterest-perfect dreams to have the most unique, most memorable, most envied wedding of all time.

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How to Write Your Online Dating Profile

When I was venturing into the online dating world, I found this Ted talk by Amy Webb really entertaining and helpful in preparing my online profile. In the second half of the video she describes her unconventional way to find out what kinds of profiles attracted the kind of men she was interested in dating, and how she adjusted her profile in order to be more approachable and get her foot in the door with some of these men.

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Online Dating Your Way

I met my husband on Match.com. It feels so weird to admit that, even though the stigma about online dating has decreased over the years. It doesn’t help that Match doesn’t have the shiniest of reputations when you put it up against eHarmony’s long and trusted compatibility process. But hey, eHarmony was more expensive, it took a lot longer before they let you communicate with potential dates, and my original goal was not yet to fall in love but to go on as many dates as I could to practice dating before upgrading to finding true love on eHarmony. I never actually got that far, though. I ironically found my Love on the website with a hook-up reputation.

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Introverted Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve used to help me get in the habit of being introverted in the company of others without losing the ability to be friendly:

1. Learn to smile warmly (and not creepily) without showing your teeth, or just show a glimpse of them. Exaggerated facial expressions like full toothy smiles tend to tire introverts out faster.

2. Smile warmly (and hug if it’s that kind of relationship) when greeting someone, but don’t exaggerate your volume, pitch, or speed of talking.

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