What is the deciding factor in relationships that go the distance and those that don’t? No matter what status you would file your relationship under, ‘happy’ , ‘okay’, ‘on the rocks’ or ‘its complicated’, you can build a partnership that is no just surviving, but THRIVING and one that can truly go the distance. Even the happiest of partnerships, require sustained effort in order to stay that way.
“Do unto others as you would have done unto you.”
Ah yes, this time worn rule.
It’s pretty much the oldest rule in the book.
And in general it’s a gem in living a kind, contribution focused life HOWEVER here’s why, it doesn’t always apply to love and your relationship.
So many couples, follow this advice to the point of absolute frustration and detriment to their own well-being and relationship’s happiness.
When we follow the “do unto others as you would have done to yourself’ when it comes to giving and receiving love, we are missing an incredibly vital trick. How I experience, understand and feel love, is often different to someone else. Depending on my unique upbringing, my hard-won journey to maturity, my personality type and my emotional values.
Today, I am offering up a peep hole line of sight into major categories of how, most human beings, understand and confirm love.
If I am a tactile person, signs of physical affection via touch is EVERYTHING to me. You can say you love me a thousand times, but nothing… NOTHING makes my heart sing, like a tender cuddle. Our act of hand holding, the way you randomly tussle my hair whilst I'm brushing my teeth, cradling my face in your hands before a kiss, is a transference and acknowledgment of love I value deeply. It's this act of touch, that drive home the accompanied statement of I Love you, that seals the deal for me.
Likewise, if I am an oratory by nature, the caresses and embraces are nice and all, but until you say those three words, until you declare verbally and in great detail why you love me… I feel unsure of your committeemen to our union. Those whispered promises of love, the enthusiastic compliments, the midday random 'love u' text messages...they send me to the moon and back.
For some of us, environment is where it’s at. When our partners create a thoughtful, safe environment that is trimmed with acts and notices of love, we get the assurances and love we need. This can range from when our partners frame and tenderly hang pictures our shared adventures on the living room wall, to when we walk in from a long day at the office to a warm meal and a smile, that we know our partner did just because they knew we were having a shitty day. Believe it or not, when we go out of our way to cater to our partners likes and needs to ensure they are comfortable in our homes, at parties, on holidays...these acts of staging the surroundings to accommodate and acknowledge them, show that we love them more than any flowers or heartfelt card every could. For the environmentalist, its these moments that our heart swells as the carefully and lovingly curated environment reminds us at every turn, that we are loved.
Similarly, there are those of us that require visual acts of love.
If we can see it, we can believe it.
The way our partner looks at us, the level of eye contact, the softness of the gaze sends shivers down our spine. Beyond eye contact (cause oh yes, for the visual lovers, there's more!) if it’s written or a visual token of your affections, like those flowers, cards , we will relish in this act of love like no other. Many more typically environmental acts, such as the elaborate Pinterest worthy couples picture display you did in the living room? We almost died, from the mega burst of love that sent us and it works like a charm every time we 'see' it!
Where many of us go wrong, is we expect our partners to register love on our personal terms. We show them love, the way we would know we were loved. And we expect them to show us love, in terms we can understand even when we don’t communicate what that really means.
The first hurtle is assumption. I assume, that if this format is how I know I am best loved, then surely you are the same. Chances are, they’re not.
In Gary Chapmans book, ‘The 5 Languages of Love’ he touches on these cornerstones of how we give and receive love.
Discovering our own language of love and our partners, is the start to casting away the non functional rule book of “Do unto others…”.
In my work with private clients, I always start with ensuring that each individual knows how they identifies and accepts love best. A lot of us don’t know our own truly preferred method of receiving love!
We are bombarded daily, by TV shows, movies, internet Top 10 lists, magazines and good ol’ compare and despair, of friends and family with what love ‘should’ look like, smell like and taste like.
Only you, can answer this for you.
This act of self- discovery, is the first step in establishing what forms of love are most meaningful and authentic to you.
If you have saved every card past lovers have given you, if you have been known to dry out valentines roses… if when thinking back to your earlier stages of your current relationship, the moments that stand out, the moments ‘you knew he/she loved you’ are memories of catching them looking at you with pride, your eyes connecting in silence while a firework finale was going off in your heart… you might just be a visual lover.
Of course, starting by taking a look at how we show love, is always a fierce indicator for how we want to receive it. If you find yourself being the one who bought that digital frame filled with all of your holiday pics with your partner for your office desk, or find yourselfplanning the perfect weekend getaway at the golfing resort that also has a killer spa that your partner will LOVE, you might just be on team environment!
If you’re making the effort to show love to your partner, IN ANY FORMAT, you are already on the winning team HOWEVER if you can shift that to showing love in a way that truly resonates with them, to the format they recognize and appreciate most… BOOM! Most valuable player award goes to….
If you are frustrated, and starting to worry that your partnership is in trouble and are questioning if this person loves you anymore because it sure doesn’t look, sound or feel like it? This work is EPIC!
Once you know what you NEED to feel loved, you can communicate that clearly, instead of just throwing spaghetti at the wall with your requests i.e. “Janet's husband did this, why don’t you ever do that?” Or sighing deeply, during that rom-com in hopes he/she picks up on the clue that they should be doing what the main characters are doing? Which by the way, is setting your partner on a seemingly endless, triathlon without a map AND they’re probably feeling so lost and overwhelmed, they may have even given up on trying to ‘get it right’, cause even when they do what you ask, it still is never enough!
Most importantly, once you are on the up and up with what makes your partners heart tick, and they yours, loving each other becomes a much easier task.
AHHHHH yes, please! let’s get back to those days!
Are you a visual lovah?? Enviromental?? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!