Ah, I can see it now. The age-old scene from one of those cheesy rom-coms where the well-build heartthrob male character does something stupid, yet agreeably well-intentioned, and the beautiful female character gets angry and leaves him. But why would she do that? Can’t she see what a sweetheart he was trying to be?
Sadly, this scene is not far from the truth. Humans, in their most basic form, are inherently selfish creatures, and it creates scenes like this: A misunderstanding when no party is really at fault. We often struggle to see the world from other peoples perspectives, and it can create a sense of dissonance in our relationships, specifically the romantic ones. Our poor male lead from the paragraph above might not understand what his gorgeous love interest was feeling, and in turn, get angry at her as well, for not understanding his intentions.
Real-life is nothing like a rom-com. At the end of this hypothetical movie, our lovers will most likely realize their mistakes and makeup, then float off in the distance living a happily ever after together. In real life, without substantial effort to attempt to understand your partner’s perspective, that “happily ever after” is much harder to replicate. It takes work, determination, commitment, and most of all, an out of body perspective.
Different Styles of love
Each person has a different way of expressing love, and in turn, each person also has a different way they receive love.
For example, Mark could feel like he is killing it with expressing love to his wife, Jane. He cooks her breakfast, gets all the chores done, and makes her tea at the end of the day. “She must feel like a queen,” Mark thinks. But, maybe she doesn’t? Maybe all she really wanted was a hug?
Then, at the end of the day, right before Mark turns off the light to go to sleep, feeling like he’s the best husband in the world, Jane stops him and says, “I’m sad because I don’t feel like you love me anymore.”Mark is blind-sided. But he did all that work for her? He made it very apparent that he does love her. How could she feel that way after all he’s done?
Odds are, Mark and Jane’s style of expressing and receiving love is very different from each other’s. Everyone is different. Every person has their own definition and experience when it comes to feeling loved. One key difference is whether we experience our feelings internally or externally. Pay attention to which one you might be. The only way we can truly connect with one another is to learn about our own and our partner’s specific style of love.
Learning Your Partner’s Style
The simplest way to get inside our partner’s head in order to figure out how they want to be loved is to pay attention to their actions. They probably express their love to you the way they want you to express it to them.
Everyone does this. We believe that our own perspective in the correct perspective, and we don’t stop to think that, maybe there are other ways that people think or feel. First and for most when trying to figure out your partner’s style of love, you must watch and listen. What excites them? When do they genuinely smile at you? What things do they do for you? When do they get upset with you? Why do they get upset with you? Odds are, you will start to see a pattern.
Next, ask them. Have a heart to heart with your partner about thing they love, things they crave, and things they fear. If they don’t know, encourage them to start paying more attention to themselves so they can figure it out. There will be a pattern that corresponds to how they want to receive love. Often time, this pattern will be different from your own.
Learning Your Own Style
A relationship is a two way street. Not only do you need to worry about your partner, you need to worry about yourself too. If you focus too much on your partner’s needs, you’ll only end up feeling abandoned and unimportant. It takes a team to create a successful relationship. That means knowing yourself just as much as you know your partner. As yourself these questions:
What excites you? What makes you genuinely smile? What things would make you feel important? When do you get upset? Why do you get upset?
Next, once you start to see a pattern in your own behavior, communicate that to your partner. Both good and bad.
“I hate it when you’re late to our date nights.”
“I love it when you bring me flowers on a special occasion”
Make it a habit to communicate all the details of your feelings to your partner, and encourage them to do the same. Consistently. Throughout your entire life.
Important Take Aways
If you read nothing else in this article, read this.
The key to a successful relationship includes three things: Understanding yourself, understanding your partner, and communication.
It might be hard, it might be work that never stop, but in then end, working toward a better understanding of each other is totally worth it.
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