There are a lot of ways to show love. We all have our favorite ways to both show it and feel it. That’s one of the things about love that is so amazing – it is so multifaceted. It comes in so many ways…big and small, showy and simple, practical and extravagant.
I encourage you to think about it in your relationships. Do you appreciate the way your partner loves you even if it isn’t exactly the way you’d like it? And do you know how your partner most feels loved? Try putting that into practice and see if you don’t start reaping the rewards.
But sometimes that variety is exactly what get’s us in trouble. What happens with one person’s favorite way of showing love isn’t another person’s favorite way of feeling it? Unfortunately you can get statements like this – “They don’t make me feel loved in the ways I want to feel loved.” or “They don’t accept my love in the way I want to give it. They should want my love the way I want to deliver it.”
I’ve run into this situation multiple times. It is an interesting one. What isn’t at dispute is if one person loves another. It is simply about the delivery mechanism. This isn’t about “they don’t love me” but “they send/receive it incorrectly.” What is even more surprising is how inflexible people can be on the issue.
I’ve heard both of these statements at one time or another. “I deserve to be with someone that appreciates being loved the way I want to give love.” and “I deserve to be loved the way I want to be loved.” And too often, the individuals involved see this as strictly an either/or situation. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, I’d argue that it shouldn’t be.
Healthy relationships aren’t one sided. They are a balance of appreciating and being appreciated. They are give and take. They are compromise. And so it should be with love.
If we truly love someone, why wouldn’t you want to show them love in a way that makes them happy? Is it more important to do things the way you want than it is that your partner feels the full impact of them?
Let’s face it. If you wanted to make a special dinner for your partner you wouldn’t knowingly make a dish they don’t enjoy, even if it is your specialty. You’d want them to feel the full impact, to savor every bite. Demanding that they appreciate the taste of food they don’t like is telling them that their taste preferences are wrong…not different, wrong.
Having said that, the opposite is true as well. We don’t have to prefer the way our partner show’s love to appreciate it. We can embrace intent as much as we embrace outcome. We do it all of the time. We are really good at viewing it from the outside. How often have you given credit to someone for trying hard. You see a friend try to impress a partner and feel how much that person tried even if the effort didn’t exactly hit the target. But we often seem a lot less willing to do that with our own partners.
And of course, as is so often the case, the answer lies in the middle. We deserve to be loved the way we want to be loved AND appreciated for the way we love.
The trick comes when you put two people together. It is no longer just a case of one person having it the way they want. The sentence changes a bit. It becomes “I deserve to be appreciated for the ways I show love AND I can learn to show love in the ways my partner appreciates.” If both partners embrace this approach then everyone gets what they want. Because all possible combinations occur. Love and appreciation are flowing both ways.
Think about how much more powerful of a combination that is. It changes the the dynamic from what you aren’t getting to how much everyone is getting. Give it a try. I bet you’ll feel the rewards.