Perhaps there is someone new in your life. You want to let them know you are falling in love with them but not sure how. Maybe you have been seeing someone for a little while now. You realize that you are ready to deepen the bond or take things to a new level but you don’t want to screw it up. Perhaps there is someone special who has been in your life for a very long time. You are seeking fresh new ways to demonstrate your love and affection, but are drawing a blank. When it comes to communicating love, a generic one size fits all approach simply will not do. People respond best to a personal touch. If you want someone’s heart to melt, you need to show them that you listen to what they say, see who they are, notice what they like and pay attention to what matters most to them. Demonstrations of love are most affective when they are custom tailored to the individual.
The same core principle that applies to a new love, also hold true for a connection that has endured the test of time. I read something the other day that reminded me of an important point. We should never assume that our partner knows how we feel about them. Sometimes people appear to forget that we need to keep love fresh and alive. Perhaps they think that because they proclaimed their love once many years ago, and made a lifelong commitment to their partner, that until they say otherwise, that the on-going love is just implied. Some may believe they already are showing their love every day because they work hard to earn a living to support the family, provide a nice home, cook meals, keep the home running smoothly, and come home at night. These wonderful behaviors do go a long way to foster a sense of security and stability, but they may not be all we need to feel loved on a more personal level. It is part of our human nature to crave love and intimacy with our beloved. We need to experience not only a physical connection but an emotional connection that is alive and ongoing. Even the toughest, most independent, and self sufficient among us needs to feel loved every day.
Sometimes we may think that it is all about the big grand gestures, and hold back from demonstrating our love until we can offer something spectacular. Perhaps we are saving up our money for an expensive gift, waiting for the perfect moment or a special occasion to show our love. But I feel that this approach is an all too common mistake that overlooks the importance of the little day to day things. The point is to communicate love, not to showing off how grand we are.
There are simple little ways that we can show that we love our partners every single day. The good news is that most of them cost nothing and are not difficult. We can show our love with a passionate kiss on the way out the door, with a thoughtful gesture that brightens our partner’s day, with a kind word, a love note hidden in the lunch box, brief case or a short little romantic text during the day. We can make plans to do something together (preferably something that we know our partner would enjoy). Our partner will feel loved; especially when we do little things that show we are paying attention to our partner, and doing the things that what makes them light up.
The most important secret here is to figure out what our partner needs to feel loved. A common mistake we make is simply to assume that our partner is just like us. We are unique individuals. We are not all wired in the exact same way. There are many wonderful ways to express love and experience love. How we naturally express love, and what makes us feel loved varies from person to person depending upon our personality.
Relationships are living breathing things, a little like plants in a way. In order for a love relationship to germinate, grow, bloom and continue to flourish, we need to continue to care for it. Generally there is a magic combination of the right amount of sun, water and nutrients as well as the right type of soil to consider. In order to do a good job tending our love relationship, it is crucial to get to know more than a thing or two about this unique individual that is the object of our affection. Even if you have never been much of a gardener, you probably are aware that different plants have different specific ways they need to be cared for to thrive. You can’t care for an African violet the same way you would treat a sun flower, and get the best possible results. So why should we assume that expressing love for a unique human being would be any simpler than taking care of a plant?
Perhaps you really want to show your love, but don't know where to begin. You may have genuinely tried to show your love in the past, but have gotten shot down. It is discouraging when our efforts to show love get rejected, go unnoticed or under appreciated. It can be hard, even for the most romantic at heart, to continue the pursuit when their arrows of love seem to be missing the target. Sometimes we give up too quickly because we assume it is too hard to figure out how to give our partners what they need from us. Don't lose heart. There may be a better way.
Perhaps it is time for an upgrade from gold to platinum. No, I am not talking about buying your partner expensive jewelry. I am talking about expanding our awareness of showing true love, not only following the principles of the “Golden rule” but adding the wisdom of the “Platinum rule” as well. Most people have heard of the golden rule which advises us to treat others the way we would like others to treat us. I believe this is a good rule because it reminds us to step out of our potentially self-centered perspective. To follow the Golden Rule, we must first notice that other people want to be treated well, just as we want to be treated well, and then take action by doing something loving. The Platinum Rule takes this concept one stop further and advices us to treat others the way they like to be treated. This "rule" was initiated by Dr. Tony Alessandra, and is associated with the Jung Personality Traits. The basic theory is that there are four different personalities. If you can find out which one your partner is, then you can have a long lasting relationship with them.
Another concept that I think goes hand and hand with the Platinum Rule is to recognize our partner’s primary love language. According to Gary Chapman who wrote the book about this concept, there are 5 Love Languages; words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time and physical touch. All five are valid ways of expressing and experiencing love, and we may enjoy all of them at times, but we all seem to have a favorite or primary way that makes us feel especially loved. I think it is important to understanding both our own love language as well as our partner’s love language to effectively communicate and express love.
The bottom line, pay attention! Get to know your partner, how they experience love, and what makes them light up. The most effective expressions of love are ones that show you listen to what they say, see who they are, notice what they like and pay attention to what matters most to them. Once you are aware of how your partner likes to be treated, then you can communicate true love.