4 Ways to Feel More LovedThe most important thing in this world is to learn to give out love and let it come in. ~Morrie Schwartz
Every school day, mere seconds after the lunch bell would ring, my peers and I would pile into long tables in the cafeteria and eagerly examine the contents of our lunch boxes. Aside from the much anticipated fifteen minutes of recess that would follow, most saw it as the most exciting part of the day.
Not for me.
I already knew what was in my bag, seeing as how I was the one who packed it. And, starting from the young age of six, my main goal in packing my lunch had more to do with speed then creating a culinary masterpiece.
My mom wouldn’t spend an extra five minutes cutting off the crusts of my PB&J or writing me a note on a napkin reminding me to have a great day. That just wasn’t her thing.
Instead, she poured her energy into:
- Talking me through the endless list of issues I encountered throughout my adolescence
- Editing every essay I wrote from age ten to 22
- Carting me from gymnastics to art class to dance class depending on what I was currently into
- Sharing my accomplishments in mass emails sent to friends
- Always, always showing up when I needed her
Unique Displays of Love
She had her own unique way of showing me that she loved me deeply, and it didn’t involve batches of chicken noodle soup when I was sick or pre-planned birthday parties.
But it was the absence of those small things that I paid attention to for years. At the time, I didn’t stop to think that everyone has their own way of expressing and accepting love.
This realization, while already floating around somewhere in my subconscious, came to the surface again just the other day.
Social media has a way of painting the lives of our peers in a rosy light, only exposing the highlights that they want us to see:
- The engagements
- The birthday parties
- The big vacations
- The fairytale romances
Most don’t take to Facebook to share photos of themselves signing divorce papers or to give a play-by-play of their totally average day. Yet, it’s easy to forget that we never see the complete picture.
So, at the time, I was swimming in thoughts of “Why doesn’t my relationship look like that?” and, “Why doesn’t he ever do any grand gestures for me?”
Easy to Overlook
Then, out of the blue, he asked for my car keys and brought my car back, scrubbed, vacuumed and just like new.
Later in the week he plowed through the pile of laundry that had been accumulating and finished every last sock.
Two days ago he agreed to make homemade spaghetti for my dad’s 60th birthday while the rest of the family enjoyed the festivities.
He was showing me that he cared by making my life easier, taking over tasks I was dreading — all without being pushed or prodded to do so. The normalcy of the gestures made them easy to overlook, but the thought and the love behind them made them extremely significant if I was willing to notice.
The truth is, those around us don’t need to communicate their love exactly like we do. We can still feel the connection if we are willing to take stock of their love language — how they express and take in love.
Here are four ways that you can proactively notice and create more love in your life.
1. Notice the Details
While grand gestures can do wonders in making us feel special, sometimes love resides in the little things that we don’t normally associate with love — your partner changing the windshield wipers on your car, your friend tagging along to an work event you couldn’t stomach alone.
It’s the intention — not always the action or end result — that can say love.
2. Make Note of What You Can Do
It may seem counter-intuitive, but sometimes we aren’t feeling love because we aren’t expressing love — yes, they work hand in hand.
Doing things for others — the things you wish they would do for you — can put your relationship in a more loving space, encouraging a kind of reciprocal exchange. Not to mention the act of expressing love can create a lightness in your mood and your life.
I notice at times that the things I wish my partner would do to show he cares are the very things I have a hard time doing myself. I can’t blame him for the effort I’m not willing to put in.
3. Treat Each Relationship Differently
I have one friend who is extremely generous with her money, picking up the tab and buying tickets to events before I can even pull out my wallet. Another friend, despite months of not talking, would sit on the phone with me for hours while I hash out the issues I’m currently experiencing in my life.
Both are expressing love in their own unique way, based on a variety of factors:
- Their personality
- Their upbringing
- The state of their own lives
I wouldn’t expect either one to express their care in a different way; all I need to know is that they are expressing it.
4. Ask for What’s Important to You
Sometimes those around us don’t know how to show that they care because we don’t share what’s important to us.
My boyfriend is constantly trying to buy me gifts, but being the money-conscious person I am, I would rather not have him spend money on me in that way. He never understood why I would tell him not to buy me things until I explained that that simply wasn’t my love language.
It meant more to me to have him go to the art show he wasn’t entirely enthusiastic about, or drop everything to jump start my car when I absentmindedly left it running for three hours. Those were the things that told me he was in my corner.
But he didn’t know that until I told him. Communication is key.
Often times we are surrounded by love that goes unnoticed. Take stock of what you have right now in this moment — chances are, it’s more than you think.