Everyone wants to feel loved. So, why is it that so many couples struggle with that exact thing? LOVE. We are all born into different families that express love differently or some that actually don’t express it much at all. Then, we grow up and get married hoping our partners know how to speak to our heart. We expect them to know how to meet our needs. To know what to say and do to make us feel loved. To make us feel seen and heard. When you think about it, we expect them to basically save us instead of us actually taking the time to first save ourselves. It’s no surprise that so many couples walk around each day feeling defeated trying to constantly scramble their way out of unnecessary miscommunication.
Little girls are taught to play dolls and “house” at a very young age. They watch TV shows and movies that romanticize the perfect love story. They’re taught that the end goal is to marry a wonderful man, have children and live happily ever after. But, are they ever actually taught how to love or be loved? No, instead the way they are taught is only by the way they were loved as a child. They’re functioning on auto-pilot and don’t even realize they have a specific way of feeling and receiving love. Then, they enter into relationships expecting to feel loved the same way it was shown to them in childhood. Being continuously frustrated with feeling unseen, unheard and insignificant, many couples feel they will never get their needs met and part ways only to enter into another relationship where they end up eventually feeling frustrated and disconnected too.
When you think about it, it’s human nature to automatically give love the same way you receive it. You function off of what you know unless you interrupt the automatic conditioning you’ve been programmed with in childhood. You do this by creating true intimacy and being vulnerable by communicating with your partner. But first it is so important to understand how you receive love yourself. When I say “receive love”, think about it in terms of how you interpret a partner’s actions. Their actions will either speak to your heart and allow you to feel close to them or they’ll go right over your head leading to emptiness and sadness.
They’re taught that the end goal is to marry a wonderful man, have children and live happily ever after. But, are they ever actually taught how to love or be loved?
I once worked with a woman who felt frustrated with constantly needing reassurance from her boyfriend that he loved her. Her boyfriend was baffled as to why he constantly had to make her feel that he loved her because he truly adored her. He thought that by spending time with her and traveling to see her spoke volumes. She felt like he didn’t compliment her enough or verbalize his love for her so it left her often feeling insecure about their relationship. It was finally discovered that the way she felt loved was through words of affirmation. He felt loved through quality time together because that’s how he always connected with his family growing up. They didn’t speak it as much as they showed it. So, he was just showering her with love the way he received loved, while she needed him to just say it more in order for her to feel truly connected. They were each giving love by speaking their own love language to each other, which was causing a miscommunication. Once they realized this, he began to verbalize his love more through compliments and speaking it, which required extreme vulnerability on his part. This allowed him to disrupt his normal conditioning, step outside his comfort zone and retrain his brain to begin to show love differently for her. When communicating with your partner like this, you strengthen your connection, become a team and allow each other to feel seen, heard, and ultimately loved.
According to author Gary Chapman of the famous well-known book, The 5 Love Languages, there are five different love languages that explain how people give and receive love. When these love languages are met by your partner, it allows you to feel connected. But, when you first understand your own, it allows you to feel connected to yourself first and foremost. If you are single and learning to meet your needs, this is a great place to start. The 5 Love Languages are:
Growing up my parents would buy me things as a way to express their love. I would get special surprises, be taken out to dinner, or go to the store for my favorite toy unexpectedly. When I got older and was married, I constantly felt frustrated because my ex wouldn’t often surprise me with things that were little tokens to say he was thinking about me. Instead, he would constantly do things for me because that is how he felt loved. So, he did what he knew about love by showing me love through his own love language instead of what I needed to feel loved through my love language. He constantly used acts of service to try to meet my love language of receiving gifts. It continuously created a disconnect. Today, in my current relationship my partner will surprise me in all different ways. He’ll leave little love notes, buy me flowers, and surprise me with things I said I wanted and forgot about myself! It creates an instant connection for me and it allows my man to feel like he makes me the happiest woman on earth, which is ultimately what all men like to feel. Well, all good men anyway!
When I was single, I took the Love Language test to understand how to meet my own needs. I learned I loved receiving gifts and quality time. So, instead of waiting for a man to come along to give myself these things, I began to give them to myself. I started to buy myself things and treat myself to little surprises like flowers, clothes, candles and massages. I began to spend time with myself without feeling lonely. I took myself on dates and had movie and wine nights in, while also cuddling up with a good book. When my partner came along, we both took the test again so that we could learn how to meet each other’s needs and speak each other’s love languages and holy crap has this been a game changer! Whether you are in a relationship now or single, it is life-changing to take this test to begin learning how to meet your own needs and/or your partner’s needs.
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