It would seem to be a fundamental aspect of human nature that we do not communicate positive thoughts and emotions very easily, nor often. Anger? Yes. Frustration, annoyance, displeasure? Yes, yes, yes. Love? Um... not so much. Affection, appreciation? Ditto. Even in the absence of conveying negativity, we tend to let positivity fall to the wayside. Would you agree? Why is this, do you think?
Have you ever watched a movie? Silly question, of course you have. How about a romantic comedy? Once again, of course.... (even the straight men out there). If anything drives home the lack of clear, deep, open and honest communication in our society, it's a romantic comedy. People in such movies will make proclamations to one another about how they really feel. It's wonderful. It's touching. It makes you a little misty-eyed.
This doesn't happen in real life. I mean, really, has anyone ever given (or been given) the kind of speech that Billy Crystal gives to Meg Ryan toward the end of When Harry Met Sally?
I love that you get cold when it's 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle above your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend the day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve.
We aren't limited to romantic films with this sort of thing. One of my favorite television programs, As Time Goes By, is about a couple in a long-term relationship. During one particular episode, Jean is telling Lionel how insecure she feels with her daughter and younger co-worker living in the house after Lionel accidentally saw one of them naked. What follows begins with Lionel telling Jean, "I think you're beautiful," and a very honest, heartfelt, realistic speech about love and aging. What was special about the words were that they were spoken while the couple had been together for a number of years. This wasn't during the throes of new love's flames. It arrived during the embers.
And, of course, words of affection and appreciation are -- and always have been -- alive and well in the written word. Whether it be poetry or prose, we've never shied away from writing and reading about how we really feel about one another. Novelists such as Jane Austen cornered the market on this, as did playwrights like Shakespeare and, albeit to a more populist extent, modern writer E.L. James. Yet, the ability to actually say these things would seem to elude most of us.
I've learned that, when it comes to positive thoughts and emotions that are felt toward others, our best bet is not to expect some sort of verbal declaration, but simply to pay attention to a person's physical cues. In essence, are they there for you? Are they a part of your life? Do they sometimes do nice things for you? Do they seem to appreciate your thoughts, your humor, your temperament, your company? If so, then that is often what should satisfy us.