Social Question

jordym84's avatar

How do you let your loved ones know that you care about them?

Asked by jordym84 (4742 points ) November 30th, 2012

One of my Facebook friends just posted this on her wall and after reading some of the stories, it really got me thinking about this question…

I’m not very good at expressing my emotions with words and even though I don’t say it to them often, I truly love and care about the people in my life as I’ve been very fortunate to have some of the most amazing human beings one could ask for be a part of it, family and friends included.

Most of the important people in my life live in other countries, including my mom whom I only get to see periodically, and my father and two younger siblings live many states away from me. My best friends from childhood, whom I’ve known since we were 3 years of age, also live in other countries where they are studying and the only way we get to see each other is if we all happen to be back in our home country at the same time (they go back more often than I do because they still live there, whereas I have been living in the US since my second year of high school). I’ve also had the pleasure of making some amazing friends both from the US and from other countries during my travels and while doing internships for school, but I don’t get to see them either because we all ended up returning home at the end of our internships. Even though I’m so far from everyone and alone most of the time (save for two of my good friends who also happen to be my flat mates) I rarely feel lonely because I know there are people in my life who are genuinely supportive and are always rooting for me because they want to see me do well. But thanks to technological advancements (Skype, Facebook, Whatsapp, etc) we can easily stay in touch.

Although I’m not good at expressing myself with words (I can barely even say “I love you” to my own parents and siblings even though I love them more than life itself), I always do everything for them – as well as for my friends – without hesitation and without expecting or asking for anything in return.

I know that words can be powerful, but I myself don’t put much weight to them, especially if one’s actions don’t match up, so I guess that’s why I rather show than tell how I feel. Additionally, the few disappointments I’ve had in my life have come from people who were all talk and no action, which has made me even more skeptical of people’s words.

What about you? How do you express yourself to the people in your life? Do you think your way is effective, that they know that you truly care about them? And how do you gauge others’ feelings for you? Do you prefer words or actions, or a mix of both? Do you have any stories in particular you’d like to share?

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19 Answers

Shippy's avatar

I wish I knew, I feel the same way. In fact I am sitting here at 3.30am feeling miserable simply because of this. I wish I knew for sure that for example, my son knew how much I care. How much I love him. Words seem cheap. Also he is an hours drive away and I can’t drive there.

Someone once told me, it’s not the proclamations, or big actions it’s the soft gentle rain, constant that changes things. Like consistently sending a little message, and just loving that person. Doing the things you say will do, being available to that person.

gailcalled's avatar

I hug them. I say “I love you.” It seems very straightforward. I send unbirthday gifts when I find something appropriate.

chyna's avatar

Spend time with them.
Don’t regret the things you could have done with them but didn’t.

Bellatrix's avatar

By letting them know – even implicitly – that I am there for them and on their side, in their corner. We hug, we talk, I let them know I value their company. I try to be ‘present’ when we talk about serious things that matter to them. I am often so busy and preoccupied by doing three or four things at once – I feel it’s important when they want to talk to me about something serious that I try to totally focus in on them. I organise special things for us to do as a family. I invite them to do things with me when I see something they might like.

I think giving the gift of your time is one of the most loving things you can do. I don’t always do this as much as I would like but I was talking to a friend about this just yesterday. That rather than anything else what we want from those we love is their attentive time, even just a little bit of it.

starsofeight's avatar

I do not see the expressions of caring and love as particularly charged, or even emotional. My understanding of love is different from the mainstream. I tell my loved ones I love them, and little do they realize where I am coming from. They would understand even less if I tried to explain.

My inclination is toward actions rather than words, but a proper mix of the two is—proper. I tell my wife that I love her and I care for her. I expect her to be awash wish the usual warm fuzzy undefined feelings that are the norm for her. In case that is ever not enough, I suppose I can remind her that I am working myself to death to pay bills, and taxes, buy groceries and keep the insurance paid.

My brother calls from Oregon. I end our conversations with ” I love you Bro”, as does he. I send him an email that ends, generally, with “love and respect from the older Bro”. However, many of the more subtle expressions of love and caring are lost on some, like: “I’ll keep you in my prayers”. Actions of love and caring can, likewise, be subtle, like just being relaxed enough in their company to kid around and laugh.

Words are not cheap. The things we communicate are a part of who we are. My departed Dad taught me a lot of things. Now, those things are a part of who I am. Those things he communicated were him saying, “I love you”.

It never hurts to remind your loved ones why your actions are what they are. I remind my wife every morning when I go to work. I say, “I love you”.

harple's avatar

Sorry, not answering your question I know, but just wanted to thank you for sharing that link, I’ve just been in floods of tears reading them!

Coloma's avatar

I am comfortable using both verbal and non-verbal expression.
Words, food, gifts. I have been really sick the last few days and a friend dropped in last night with a bunch of goodies for me. She is less for words but very demonstrative with her help.
All expressions are of equal value IMO.

hearkat's avatar

By being forthright and genuine. Tomorrow is guaranteed to no one, and I have seen too many people ruin their todays with regret over what they did or didn’t do yesterday. So I treasure the time I have with them and express myself through words and actions that I value their presence in my life, and am gratefully that they choose to include me in theirs.

gailcalled's avatar

^^^Well-said and bears repeating.

We had a sudden and shocking death in our family on Thurs. What was supposed to have been routine surgery on Tues. wasn’t. The man was 64. thin, trim, calm, content and successful by any measure. He had had no medical issues since he had his tonsils removed as a kid.

Two months ago he was diagnosed with treatable lymphoma and then discovered he had an Ashkenazi Jewish non-clotting gene which caused his spleen to triple in size. Remove the spleen? No problem. Hugs and kisses…“See you in a few hours, dad/luv.”

Throw off the chains of inhibition. Kiss anyone who matters today, even the frog that you’re only marginally fond of.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@gailcalled I’m so so sorry. Great advice.

jordym84's avatar

Wow thank you all who responded and thank you for sharing your stories. I must admit, this has been kind of an eye-opener for me, especially @gailcalled‘s story (I’m terribly sorry for your loss!! =/ I hope you and your loved ones are doing well while coping with the sudden loss. I’m keeping you all in my thoughts).

I don’t really know why, but I just can’t seem to get the words out, especially “I love you.” I have an uncontrollable urge to run and hide whenever the thought of saying it comes to mind. For example, I talk to my dad on the phone almost every day and at the end of every conversation, when we’re about to hang up, he always says “I love you” and all I can say is “ok, talk to you later.” He asked me a few years ago why I never say it back and I can’t recall what my response was, but he hasn’t asked me again since. Does anyone have any idea why this is?

gailcalled's avatar

@jordym84: No, we are not doing well. That’s why it is important to deal with the living while they are still alive.

Coloma's avatar

@gailcalled I’m so sorry. One day at a time my friend.

jordym84's avatar

@gailcalled I’m so so so sorry :( I wish there was something I could say to help ease the pain, but I know time is the only thing that’ll help.

I know you’re right, and for the past few months I have been trying to teach myself to use my words more often. I know I’ve still got a long way to go, but I’m sure I’ll get there eventually.

gailcalled's avatar

Start simply by saying, “I.” After a hundred times, perhaps you can add “I love..” It is still non-specific. Consider it, perhaps, an elocution lesson rather than an emotional leap forward.

jordym84's avatar

I think you just hit the nail right on the head for me: when it comes to this sort of thing, instead of doing things little by little, I usually try to go in head-first and expect to see results right away and when that doesn’t happen, I get frustrated and go back to my old self. Maybe (read: most likely) that’s where I’ve been going wrong. I’m going to try your method and see how it goes. Thank you!

gailcalled's avatar

^^^ You’re wel….

hearkat's avatar

@jordym84 – It’s interesting that you are reluctant to say it when you claim that you do feel it. I have no problem saying it to those for whom I genuinely feel it. But my childhood was abusive and my family relationships are strained… so I don’t say it to those with whom I am not close. Do you have difficulty saying “I love you” to romantic partners, as well? Perhaps, along the same vein as @gailcalled‘s suggestion, you could say you could reply, “You too” then work up “Love you too” in response to someone who’s said to to you. Eventually, you might offer a lighthearted, “Love you” or, “Love ya, man,” rather than a more somber, “I love you”.

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