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How Do You Show You Care? (or What's Your Love Language?)

jleeb05

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
My roommate was in a bad mood today. I think my dog might have noticed and brought her a toy. My roommate responded by repeatedly kicking the toys and fussing at my dog for having toys all around the kitchen.

Now, I am slow to anger but don't pick on my dog. I told my roommate to stop and asked her why she was in such a bad mood. She responded, "Why do you care? You never have before." Maybe this was said in frustration and she really didn't mean it but this statement absolutely floored (and hurt) me because I feel I've done so much for my roommate, including:

  • Changing the cat's litter and buying a new litter box because she complained about the smell
  • Taking out the trash because she doesn't want to
  • Paying $400 more in rent, despite having less space
  • Not moving out on my own because I worried that this would put a financial strain on her
  • Adding lights/project/screen/soundbar/fountains to our back porch because she wanted to sit out there
  • Giving her access to my Netflix/Amazon Prime accounts, etc.
  • Representing her in her divorce for free
  • Letting her use my credit card when she didn't have enough money to fix her car
  • Offering to put the title for a new car in my name because she was unable to do so
  • Offering to front the money for a $3,000 machine to help with her business
We've lived together for almost nine years so the list goes on and on. It seems like she thinks that because I don't always ask how she's doing, that I don't care. If she seems upset, I typically give her space. While it's true, I may not always do something proactive like knocking on her door and asking her how she's feeling or what's wrong, I'm always willing to listen when she needs to talk and offer help whenever I can.

I don't know if this has to do with autism but it occurs to me that people on the spectrum, may not express care/love for others in ways that neurotypical people appreciate. I guess I usually show I care through acts of service...but at least in the case of my roommate, these don't seem appreciated. I'm curious how others show their care/love and whether it's appreciated.

 
I don't know if this has to do with autism but it occurs to me that people on the spectrum, may not express care/love for others in ways that neurotypical people appreciate.

It's a prime consideration for the failure some of my relationships with NT women. Sadly though something I figured out many years later in hindsight as years ago I had no idea I could be on the spectrum.
 
Omg. Do you have a brother? Lol

This roommate makes it seem that nothing will ever be good enough. The litter box is always empty, not even half full.
 
Listening. It's amazing how many people just need somebody to talk at. I get to hear about many cool interests and life happenings this way and it shows I care.

If I find memes or videos or things of that sort that remind me of people I love I will send it to them. This also goes for conferences, books,music.

I will make playlists! I love music and for the people in my life we exchange music.

I don't love hugs but I will give them to my parents because I know they like them. I like when they put their hands on my head or face or I will hug their arms or almost nuzzle them like a cat. They mostly put up with it cus they love me.

If I want to spend time around another (doing different things) I love them.

Me and my mother watch tv shows together but since I tend to blurt out or talk at bad times we watch shows she has seen. But she will watch a show 10 times over and still like it so it works out. I have never watched gilmore girls once but she has seen it probably 7 times.
 
Seems like you're 'paying for a friendship'. But 9 years is old acquaintance, I guess you like having her around, but the COST is HIGH. Co-dependancy?

I found if I was generous or kind to people they had contempt for me, so I mostly stopped. Autistics can be too helpful.
 
My love language is words of affirmation! I enjoy being encouraged and being reminded of how much I am loved, and likewise I enjoy telling people these things. I'm much more verbal than I am physical when it comes to intimate feelings.
 
Seems like you're 'paying for a friendship'. But 9 years is old acquaintance, I guess you like having her around, but the COST is HIGH. Co-dependancy?

I found if I was generous or kind to people they had contempt for me, so I mostly stopped. Autistics can be too helpful.

Yes, I won't deny it haha. The clinician doing my assessment said the same thing. I can be too generous. My family lives in another state so my roommate is the closest thing to family I have here.

I'm not consciously trying to buy someone's affection but I guess part of the problem is that I tend to assume people are asking for help when they're not. So if my roommate says, "It'd be nice to have XYZ for the apartment but I can't afford it" I hear that as, "You should get XYZ for me since you can afford it now." Most of my acts of service have been financial but not all. I'm not faulting her for accepting my help. I definitely don't think she's using me but I'm just surprised and dismayed that she doesn't seem to appreciate all the help I've given her and doesn't think I care about her well-being.
 
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My love language is words of affirmation! I enjoy being encouraged and being reminded of how much I am loved, and likewise I enjoy telling people these things. I'm much more verbal than I am physical when it comes to intimate feelings.

That's interesting! So you don't have trouble expressing affection? I feel that I can be very eloquent and heartfelt but I almost never tell someone I love them directly. I'll say, "I love you too" but I don't know that I've ever said it first. I've actually had some friends tell me they love me and I've responded with the very awkward, "Thank you." (Like Han Solo, if you've ever seen Star Wars). For some reason, it feels weird. That said, I definitely like hearing that I'm cared for and appreciated.
 
That's interesting! So you don't have trouble expressing affection? I feel that I can be very eloquent and heartfelt but I almost never tell someone I love them directly. I'll say, "I love you too" but I don't know that I've ever said it first. I've actually had some friends tell me they love me and I've responded with the very awkward, "Thank you." (Like Han Solo, if you've ever seen Star Wars). For some reason, it feels weird. That said, I definitely like hearing that I'm cared for and appreciated.

Expressing affection through physical means (hugging or kissing for example) is hard for me to do and I've heard that I just don't seem interested when it happens. Verbally expressing my affection is very easy and I enjoy doing it because I want people I'm close with to know I'm there for them!
 
You ca
Yes, I won't deny it haha. The clinician doing my assessment said the same thing. I can be too generous. My family lives in another state so my roommate is the closest thing to family I have here.

I'm not consciously trying to buy someone's affection but I guess part of the problem is that I tend to assume people are asking for help when they're not. So if my roommate says, "It'd be nice to have XYZ for the apartment but I can't afford it" I hear that as, "You should get XYZ for me since you can afford it now." Most of my acts of service have been financial but not all. I'm not faulting her for accepting my help. I definitely don't think she's using me but I'm just surprised and dismayed that she doesn't seem to appreciate all the help I've given her and doesn't think I care about her well-being.

You can't buy it. You can tell they have it for you or they don't.

Helping means that they look at you as a simply that.

When l was in my 20's a guy told me he filed bankruptcy because of helping me. Then l felt horrible like a piece of #@$%%. I had no idea. I would give this guy my last dollar today. Rich ( his name) - l am so sorry. He probably was on the spectrum.
 
@jleeb05, my take on your story is that your roommate was pissed off and still processing her anger. She snapped at you just because you were an easy target. I don't think she really meant her words. She simply does not have the emotional maturity to keep her base emotions in check. It's not you, it's her.

For myself, how I express my affection is per recipient. My husband and son recieve my most open expressions of affection. I have no problem telling them "I love you" or giving or recieving a hug with them. These are the two people I trust most.
 
I give them my honesty no matter how much it may hurt. I owe them that. If they lite up my life- l give you my honesty. I am a python but with my friends l am a kitten. And the men l am with are similar.
 
The autistic overhelpful, too kind thing is directly linked to our poor abilitiy to ask for help, well, in acted out/theatre/subtle ways, ways that actually work. when we do ask it's just too direct, too naked, so (talking about myself really). When I used to formerly pay into people with help/rides/money/whatever, I felt I was banking future help - couldn't have been more wrong. No-one I ever helped has ever helped me, that I know of, it's all take take take.

Learning to say NO is an important life skill. How much does your roomie help you?

It's more about dropping hints, plant a seed, which is something you've indicated your roomie does, yeh? and you respond accordingly, so take a leaf out of her book - she's a living example of how other people extract goods/money/help, you may as well study it, but seems like you don't have the correct lenses to see it. which is sorta how it is in autism, we're all around it, but we don't see it.
 
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Was this a one time thing or an ongoing accusation? If it was a one time thing let it go. If it is ongoing I would have a conversation with her and ask her why she said what she did. Ask what her expectations are. Making assumptions and guessing is not the way to settle problems.
 
Sounds like you’re being take advantage of, financially and otherwise, so beware of that, though it may not be intentional.

perhaps you can ask your roommate what would make them feel like you care more? Honesty is really important, especially for us on the spectrum, though most others struggle with it.
 
Lots of excellent points here.

Here's what I'm thinking (and yes, some inevitable overlap)

1. Yes, autistic individuals tend to express care and concern differently. Quite often, it's by doing favours or giving things rather than through words or actions of affection (by the latter, I mean a hug, or lending a shoulder to cry on, etc.). This can result in misunderstandings.

2. Doing too much for someone can lead you to be taken for granted. This applies to all relationships, personal, work, or otherwise. Whatever you give becomes the new baseline for what is expected from you. If you normally give 150% and today you gave 120% and someone who normally gives 10% gives 100%, that other person is a saint and you're the jerk notwithstanding you're still giving more than the other person, irregardless of your respective norms. It is totally unfair, but that's the way it is.

3. Karmic and/or religious expectations. This may sound weird, but permit me to explain. Some people wear glasses that are heavily tinted by their past experiences. One such situation is where someone has had bad luck, and they'll take good luck without thanks simply because they believe that they're due for it. A variation is, especially for someone who is religious, is that they pray for divine intercession, and that they believe that you are an angel sent to help them, so they need not give thanks to you as you're just doing your job (and perhaps not to satisfactorily, to which their response is to pray more).

And somewhat specific to you...

4. Please don't take this the wrong way, but with all due respect, it seems that one or both of you are treating the relationship more as a spousal one than a roommate one.
 
Do each of you have relationships with others? That tends to make the position clearer. It's nice to live with someone, there are lots of benefits, like you say, it's like having family. But from what you have said here, she sounds a tad grumpy. Like, princessy. And you sound like you feel you should 'look after' her. Is there a reason?

Power differences can be tricky. You maybe have helped her to the point that she feels indebted and resentful? Maybe she feels she has little to offer? Or, maybe she feels entitled?

I'm quite generous too, and I tend to think I have been fortunate and appreciate that many others have tougher lives. I definitely do less around the house than my partner, I can always find something better to do than housework, but I pay more bills. Also they are super tidy and I am not . It works OK though.

I don't have any trouble saying I love you to my partner. However I have never said that to a flatmate.
 
I need skin contact. But, only with people I trust. It helps me be sure there not figments of my mind. And the tension in the hug tells me if their truthful or not. Words are nice. But, I likely won't trust them. Personal gifts are wonderful and unexpected. Favorite food, drink, or something I really wanted.
 
This is hard. The person l care about can get overwhelmed if l don't check my emotions. But l try to be supportive. He prefers distance so l always feel a little outside and really don't know where l am allowed to show caring. Because l don't want to be clingy or co-dependent. So it's a careful waltz of is it okay to do this? I showed caring by living closer but that fell thru. He is an emotionally sophisticated man and l appreciate all these aspects. Think our ages make it tough for us to completely open up but we are better about this. Showing you care is being honest with what's going down with you personally.

Being there for them, as they make life changes, yet not in their face. You must respect them at all times and give them space. I am learning this as l go along. This is the most honest relationship l have ever experienced.
 

  • 4. Please don't take this the wrong way, but with all due respect, it seems that one or both of you are treating the relationship more as a spousal one than a roommate one.

    It's funny you say that. My therapist said something similar recently. I definitely tend to shower my romantic interests with gifts/acts of service. I didn't realize I treated my roommate similarly. But I behave like this with family as well. My Mom's only source of income is Social security. She recently told me that she is careful about saying she needs/wants something because she knows I'll try to get it for her.

    I come from a working-class family. I remember asking for a ton of Christmas presents as a child. My Mom told me we couldn't afford them and when I pointed out I was asking Santa Claus, not her, she told me that families had to pay Santa for the gifts. So growing up, I was very aware of my poverty and the fact that I had to go without while less deserving kids got whatever they wanted.

    So simply put, it's hard for me to see a loved one not able to afford things they need/want when I know I have the means to help them.

    Do each of you have relationships with others? That tends to make the position clearer. It's nice to live with someone, there are lots of benefits, like you say, it's like having family.
    My Roommate is in a long-distance relationship. I think this is why she was in a bad mood. Her partner was supposed to visit but canceled at the very last minute.

    But from what you have said here, she sounds a tad grumpy. Like, princessy. And you sound like you feel you should 'look after' her. Is there a reason?

    Power differences can be tricky. You maybe have helped her to the point that she feels indebted and resentful? Maybe she feels she has little to offer? Or, maybe she feels entitled?
This is actually very perceptive. My roommate is from Europe. I've always chalked up her grumpiness/bluntness to cultural differences. She moved to the United States and got married but her husband left her before she was able to get permanent residency. This makes it difficult for her to find employment. As a European, she also has no credit history here so she can't apply for loans/credit cards, etc. This would make it very difficult for her to find housing with me.

So I have felt the need to "look after" her for that reason but this has caused a power imbalance. I think you're right that she feels indebted and resentful. When I asked how why she would say I didn't care given all that I do for her she accused me of throwing it in her face and said, "Have you ever considered how it makes me feel when you buy something that I can't?"

I thought I was helping but I guess for her it's a reminder of her situation.
 
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