There are four questions that we’re all unconsciously asking the people we love all the time. The four questions rarely get asked with words, just as they're rarely answered with words. They're almost always silent questions.
When the silent answer to each of the four silent questions is a definitive YES, the love in the relationship becomes more palpable and is in turn immediately felt.
When the questions go unanswered, the person unconsciously asking them becomes increasingly distant, grows restless in the relationship, and often starts seeking drama and distraction to get attention and feel more alive.
Mainly because I couldn't think of how else to phrase the title, these questions are being presented in the context of a romantic relationship. The reality is that it doesn't matter what type of relationship it is. As long as there is love, these four questions will continually be asked:
- Do you see me?
- Do you care that I’m here?
- Am I enough for you, or do you need me to be better in some way?
- Can I tell that I’m special to you by the way that you look at me?
When someone feels deeply loved by you, it’s because you love them in such a way that affirmatively answers each question pretty consistently.
One reason why some people love dogs so much? Dogs answer the four questions with a big, “Yes!” near constantly. Those furry little spiritual masters are always in the present moment, so their quality of connection is always heightened (subsequently, so is the level of palpable love they emit).
Unlike our K-9 counterparts, we regularly slip out of the present moment and go somewhere else. It at least makes more sense when we evade the present moment during ostensibly mundane activities, like an unnecessary meeting, doing laundry, our commute, etc. But invariably, this habit spills over into the moments we really mean to be present for:
- The love of your life walks into the room before bed and you barely look up from your phone.
- You meet your best friend for brunch and go through the motions of the hug, the ‘you look so cute’ and the ‘it took forever to get here!’ without actually feeling much.
- You’re tying your daughter’s shoe and when you’re done, you get up to reach for her packed lunch and hand it to her while you’re simultaneously grabbing your bag and keys, all without ever looking at her.
We all do this. We blaze through darling moments every single day. Sometimes we don’t really remember much about our week because we just weren’t fully there.
But how do we answer these questions constantly? That sounds exhausting and doesn’t fit with the practicalities of life. Not to be whatever, but I don't really want another thing to do.
I’m not encouraging some intense stare down that would burn through your beloved's puffy coat, but what I do hear so often in my work is this:
She’s looking at me, but it’s like she’s looking past me.
I know he cares and I objectively know he loves me more than anything, but he’s so checked out.
I just want to shake him sometimes like, wake up!
If you love someone, show some love. Literally. Let the love you feel show on your face, in your eyes and in your quality of presence. Connect.
Connection is not based on how much time we spend with someone or what we do with them, connection is always based on quality of presence. We fall in love with people who make us feel alive, because on some level, we're all desperate to be more present.
Being present doesn’t require meditation, deep breaths, or anything like that. It’s just a one second decision, “Ok, I’m gonna be present now.” It’s not a decision you make in the morning because of a quote you saw on Pinterest and then never have to think about again, it’s a decision you make over and over and over again throughout the day. Ooops, wandered away from the present moment? No probs. The return flight is one second long.
The four questions are impossible for you to answer unless you’re present.
If you’re at all interested in experimenting with the idea that people are always asking the four questions, for one week, use an image of the number “4” as the wallpaper on your phone. Let the number be a cue to help you remember to answer the questions anytime you see someone you love, not out loud, but on your face, in your touch, in your eyes, with the quality of your presence.
It doesn't have to be constant to be successful (i.e. to make an impact on the quality of connection between you and your partner or whomever you love). Just do it as you remember to, do it as you please, and that will be enough.