What is love? How do you describe it? Would you say it feels “warm”? Do you talk about how it’s “tender”? Or maybe how it means the same thing as “great affection and caring.”
Have you ever thought about just how many ways there are to describe love? About a billion, if not more. And have you ever considered the fact that none of the definitions, descriptions, love songs, poems, or stories truly capture the real and genuine essence that IS love? Not one of them do it. And that’s why there are so, so, so many. The ways to describe love (or any emotion for that matter) are literally endless and are as unique to the individual as the individual is unique in the world.
And have you ever thought about just how many ways there are to communicate love to someone? About a billion, if not more. Do you tell the person? Maybe buy him/her gifts? Do chores or run errands? Hold their hand?
Now, what if the way you describe love and the way you communicate love are different than the person you are communicating with? What if you show your love buy doing the laundry but they FEEL your love by you texting them throughout the day? It’s almost like someone trying to tell you that they love you in Russian only you speak French. You will keep missing one another’s message.
See, there is no one right way to express love. Nope, not just one, not by a long shot. And what complicates things even more is that just because YOU feel loved in one way does not mean that your partner shows love in that SAME way. They can be vastly different. But this also does not mean that just because you and your partner (romantic, parent, child, best friend, etc) show/receive love in different ways that you can’t learn how to communicate your love effectively with one another.
So how do we fix this? How do we ensure that those that we love know that we love them?
We listen. We ask. And we pay attention. If they do not respond well to us getting their oil changed for them and they do not recognize this as an act of love, try something else. If they do not respond well to sweet little text messages throughout the day and they do not recognize this as an act of love, try something different. If they do not see that us trying to snuggle or get physically close is the same thing as saying “I love you, you mean the world to me,” make a change.
Communicate with your partner. Pay attention to their subtle (or not so subtle) queues. And DO NOT LET YOUR EGO GET IN THE WAY. Relationships are about coming together, not about being right all the time. They are about compromise and being open to someone else’s way of existing in the world. And about feeling safe enough to share your ways of existing in the world back.
So not only on Valentine’s Day, but also every single day you take a breath, notice and pay attention to the people you love. And show them that you love them in a way that they will hear and recognize. And do this for no other reason than it feels good to share love.