Post #497     RESISTING CARESS *

During this period of health-related, inhibition of personal contact, it might be timely and useful, to examine the topic of societal interaction, as it occurs, in the normal setting. We have elected to focus on the thought-provoking, subjects of the ability to accurately and fully express thoughts, and the arguably, related, topic, the varied capacity for overt expression of love and affection.

It would appear, that the degree of individual skill, in accurately expressing intended thoughts and information, is demonstrably variable. Too often, there is a marked difference between a speaker’s own perception and implicit assumptions, and that of his actual statement, as heard. Some individuals are fortunate in their ability to clearly, accurately, and fully express their intended message, but too many are not. Thus a party to a conversation, may be well aware of what he intends to say, and wrongfully, assume that he has expressed, that intention; however, from the listener’s experience, the intended thought was neither expressed nor heard. The most understanding and attentively willing listener, cannot apprehend a non-expressed, intended message of a speaker. In the special case of a party who is familiar with the nuanced speech of a challenged speaker, it may be less problematic to convey his intended message.

A problem also is seen in the case of a listener, whose fixed, rigid assumptions, about the world in general, or the particular subject of the conversation, prevent him from hearing the speaker’s words, nor apprehending his point of view, because he sifts the speaker’s words through his subjective filter, to accord with his intransigent views.

A third, unfortunate roadblock, to meaningful communication and, sad to say, a veritable parody of its dynamic, is the occasion of two parties to a conversation, each, so absorbed in his own personal thoughts and issues, as not to hear the other’s words. While, in reality, thoughts are mutually expressed, they are independent of any subject other than each party’s, self-absorbed and persevered thought. In reality, the parties have not spoken to each other. The sole “benefit” of such an interaction may be the possible sense of relief, derived from the verbal, venting of one’s private thoughts. Such feeling of relief, at the conclusion of the “non-conversation,” may well be, mutually, rewarded by the (hilarious) retrospective comment, “Good talk.”

Our fourth, and final, example of a “non-conversation” is the matter of the individual, who refrains from discussion with another party, particularly, on a contentious subject, upon his assumption, right or wrong, that he “knows” what the other is apt to say. This travesty in interpersonal interaction, we have disparagingly labeled, “solitaire interaction.”

We have noted that it is preferable, in the few moments, prior to a conversation, that one have his thoughts sorted out, in order to construe a clear idea of what he intends to convey. It is equally necessary, to pay thoughtful attention to a speaker’s exact words, in full, prior to the conception of a reply. Clear and non-ambiguous conversation, is emotionally satisfying, fulfilling, and, avoids misunderstandings, and conceivable dispute.

We earnestly consider, the topic of lovemaking, and expressions of affection, in general, (albeit more sensitive and personally, nuanced) as being a dynamic, analogous to conversation, but completely uncharted. In conversation, we have at minimum, a shared language, with uniformly accepted, and objectively documented rules. While the factor of persona does play a noticeable role in the dynamics of conversation, it is of considerably more significance in this entirely subjective context.

The expression of affection, on all levels is, fundamentally, a form of communication, whose grammar is ultimately, dependent upon a combination of two emotional vocabularies. The parties to an affectionate relationship, are wise to consider the joint experience as, independently mutual, with each party, possessing a separate, personal and nuanced reaction to the specific words used or actions displayed.

In this acutely more sensitive area of communication, one must understand that, for various reasons, some people are naturally and comfortably demonstrable and others, contrariwise, subtler or even, repressed, in their expression of, or response to, words or acts, of affection. It is not unlike the divide, between individuals who have the natural skill to express their thoughts, and those who do not; there are some people who are, naturally, warm and cuddly, while others are less demonstrative, or as “cuddly as a cactus.” In the situation of a recently, introduced person, one is unaware of the other’s responsive expectations or comfort zone, and need be flexible in their expectations as to response.

Unlike conversational communication, which, does, on occasion, manifest nuanced style, the expression of love and affection, often, is normally affected by certain contextual phenomena. These include setting, acts, tone, emphasis, timing, and, nuanced, sometimes unknown, expectations. In a settled relationship or marriage, each partner is, or should become aware of, the specific perception and context of the other’s emotional syntax lest he suffer the effects of the ignominious crime of “resisting caress.”

In the context of the communication of affection often, non-verbal communication is the most articulate, candid, and expressive message, and, as well, one least likely to be misunderstood. A soft and loving tone, a tender look or gentle touch, have their own grammar, and inarguably, are the sincerest, and most articulate form of communication. There are no words as truly articulate as a tender touch or a soft smile. There are many people who instinctively find it somewhat difficult, to express their love in the form of words, or overtly, like “cuddling,” but do so, in their loving and attentive acts and gestures. These spontaneous evidences of feeling, albeit, non-verbal, articulate tenderness and love, in their perceived effect, which, conceivably, may not attainable with vocabulary, nor even, romantic poetry.

* ADDENDUM: No educational, other expertise is asserted, regarding the above writing, which, for what it is worth, is based solely, upon our observation and experience.


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Retired from the practice of law'; former Editor in Chief of Law Review; Phi Beta Kappa; Poet. Essayist Literature Student and enthusiast.

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