I smile and laugh and playfully enjoy the company of others.
I cringe at some of the things that just pop out of my mouth when I’m too at ease in conversation. I buckle under lonely, heartbroken legs when I feel isolated and not cared for by friends.
I shine and come alive in the presence of people who matter in my life.
Yet when I’m sick and not feeling like my sunshiny self, I pull back—I crawl back into my active imagination and, like a sensitive child on a rain-drenched day, I curl up inside of my lonesomeness rather than seeking playmates.
So what should we do when those we love don’t return phone calls or texts?
What should we do when we want to give someone we care for space while still making them feel loved and supported?
We do this:
1. Call me and text me, but don’t take it personally if you don’t hear back quickly.
2. Make sure to tell me that you adore my company, even when I’m gloomy.
3. Understand that, though extroverted, I’m a whole person and I am okay on my own, just like someone who is deeply introverted. While I might garner energy from spending time with others, I too enjoy and need my alone time in order to be a healthy individual.
4. Ask me what I need. Don’t assume that I want to be left alone. Don’t assume that I want to be bothered either. I’m human and my needs vary, so don’t be afraid to ask me what exactly it is that I need from you.
5. Understand that simple interactions are meaningful. That hug you gave me; the smile from your eyes to mine; the text that succinctly said “I love you”—all of these made me feel supported and loved when I also felt under the weather.
6. Don’t hold back. You’re in my life as a friend or partner because I’ve chosen you to be there; I’ve trusted your judgment as a person and I respect and value the way that you decide to react in situations. In other words, follow your own instinct in our relationship too.
And as the days go by and I return to my more typically joyful self, I’ll remember who it was that held my heart up high for me when I wasn’t up to it—and I’ll thank you with love in return when these tables are reversed.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Flickr/Plum leaves