instructions for use

because my friends say I think too much about how best to love another, and not enough about how I wish to be loved


A. Mind

  • to have my intelligence reckoned with, to not feel that I have to dumb myself down or hold my opinions back so as not to bruise another’s ego; to have my inner scatterbrain occasionally go out and loll around
  • to be engaged in conversation about topics of interest, from music, art, and philosophy to literature and languages, to politics and economics to nature and culture to travel to fitness to technology, sociology, psychology, geology, biology, even astrology—to feel my education broadening everyday
  • to have my beliefs both respected and critically interrogated or corrected with kindness and curiosity

B. Heart

  • to feel listened to, with attention, sincerity, and empathy
  • to be held close when I feel most insignificant, senseless, and alone
  • to be told that I am appreciated and loved, in the language of words, of gestures, of effort and time

C. Body

  • to be touched much and in many places
  • to be accompanied on long walks
  • to be joined in running, hiking, camping, dragonboat paddling, or in meditation and yoga practice, to be taught how to swim, bike, surf, rock/wall-climb, or fight in self-defense

D. Accounts

  • to not be made to feel guilty when I spend on things and experiences I appreciate: books, movies, food, coffee and tea, travel, yoga and other classes, yet
  • to be encouraged in being money-wise and living well within my means, to be shown the way how
  • to be treated with graciousness and generosity by one who knows how to handle a woman who likes to pay for one and the other every so often

E. Communications

  • to be greeted good morning and good night, to be asked if I got home safely
  • to be told what one is feeling, thinking, or doing, to be confided in, to be consulted when in doubt
  • to always get an answer when I ask a question, to be thanked when I extend help, grant a favor, or voice concern, to be reassured when I express anxiety or longing, to be affectionately poked fun at and made to laugh

F. Warnings

  • I do not strive to cultivate myself and my life only to have it all amount to somebody’s backlog or distraction.
  • I use my talents and resources to enrich the life of the person I love; I expect a relationship to similarly add value to mine, and help me hone my character and attain my goals.
  • I choose to love with intelligence, to use my mind so I can live with heart, and to forego useless suffering. I am training in the art of letting go.

2 thoughts on “instructions for use

    • But what if your love languages are different?

      Alain de Botton says that “Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate difference that is the true marker of the ‘right’ person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it shouldn’t be its precondition.” So for that to happen, partners must be willing to articulate how they wish to be loved, and meet each other halfway.


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