One of the biggest mistakes that I see us make when it comes to relationships is loving other people the way we want and need to be loved, rather than loving them in the way they want and need to be loved. And I don't just mean romantic relationships; this mistake applies to all our relationships from family to friends to colleagues.
Each of us has priorities and preferences when it comes to what we like to eat, what kind of music we like to listen to, our hobbies and so on. Similarly, we also have priorities and preferences when it comes to how we give and receive love. There are certain things we do to express our love to others and certain ways we'd like others to express their love to us. We make the mistake of giving the kind of love to someone else according to our own priorities and preferences. And we expect to receive that same kind of love back.
This becomes a major problem because we are so busy loving others the way we want to be loved -- and they are loving us the way they want to be loved -- and so no one feels loved the way they truly want and need!
I have a few easy fixes to this love mismatch.
First, investigate how the people you love truly feel loved and express love. You may be surprised at how there are super simple things you could do that will fill their love tank. It's equally important to learn how they give love because they may be doing things to express their love for you that you may be missing, since you are only looking for love in the form you give it! Asking anyone you love these simple questions will totally uplevel your connection with them:
1. How do you feel loved by me? What are the things I do that make you feel loved? What are the things I say?
2. Is there anything you'd like from me that would reassure you and make you feel even more loved by me?
3. What are your favorite ways to express your love to me? What kind of things do you feel most inspired to do or say?
Next, I highly recommend the work of the Five Love Languages, which says there are five ways that we feel love and all of us have one or two that we are most "fluent" in. The five love languages are:
1. Words of Affirmation: Receiving verbal acknowledgment, affirmation, validation; spoken expressions of feelings
2. Receiving Gifts: Getting physical things from loved ones
3. Acts of Service: Love is felt when someone does something for us
4. Affection: Feel most connected with physical touch and adoration
5. Quality time: Spending uninterrupted, focused time with loved ones
Our particular love language also tends to be the way we express love. For instance, one of my top two love languages is Acts of Service, so I often show my love for others by doing things for them. Which is great, unless the person I am doing something for has a love language of receiving gifts or affection. If I am consistently doing things rather than buying them gifts or giving them hugs, they will not feel as loved.
That is why it is crucial to learn what love language those whom you love speak. If you go to "The 5 Love Languages" you can take the free quiz to find out your love language (don't assume you know what it is without taking the quiz). Then I highly encourage you send the link to your loved ones and ask them to take the quiz as well. Share your results with them and ask they share theirs with you.
Don't make any assumptions when it comes to love.
You can get the love you want, but not by expecting others to be mind-readers.
And you can give the love others need by being willing to adjust to their love language.
The more willing you are to communicate and adjust, the more love you will feel all around you.
Your most loved relationships are worth the effort, aren't they?
And you are worth all the love you desire, too!