“The only thing we never get enough of is love; and the only thing we never give enough of is love”.
― Henry Miller
It has been my experience over these last 25 years that when you give love you get love. It’s like a transaction based system. I can give you a hug but I expect a hug in return. I can run that errand for you but I’m going to keep track of the next time I need an errand ran for me. But there is enough transactions in our life without having to also swipe our “love cards”.
We should give love freely to whomever we can. The people you pass when walking? Smile at them. The receptionist at work? Maybe bring her a coffee to brighten her day. Your mom who only wants to get a call from you every once in awhile? Go and see her instead. We all have the ability to give and receive love. But not all of us choose to just give our love with no strings attached.
If you’ve ever read the “5 Love Languages” you’ll know in what way you feel loved and probably how you actually give love. But here’s a run down for those who haven’t:
There are 5 love languages and out of those there are usually 1 or 2 that you use to show love and how you interpret love.
- Words of Affirmation: According to Dr. Chapman, this is the love language that can hear “I love you” or “you look beautiful” and feel touched, moved, and loved. Words of negativity can cut deep though and are hard to be forgiven.
- Quality Time: This is the language of having your loved one’s undivided attention on you. When they listen you feel most important and loved. When they don’t listen or their attention is divided this is what hurts you the most.
- Receiving Gifts: This is just like what it sounds – your partner comes home at night with a random and thoughtful gift at the end of the day. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just a way of saying “I was thinking about you”.
- Acts of Service: Actions speak louder than words for these people. The act of something is really what makes you feel loved. It’s late and time for bed, but your SO goes out to water the flowers for you so you don’t have to. It drives you nuts when people are lazy though and you don’t tolerate it long.
- Physical Touch: The act of touching. Get your minds out of the gutter! It’s not just intimate touch that these people thrive on, but the little touches. The hand holding, kisses in passing, or a shoulder touch as their loved one walks by. Touching makes you feel safe and loved. Any form of physical abuse is completely out the window.
There’s a test you can take to determine how you feel and show love. Based on your SO’s assessment you would then attempt to show them love the way they feel it. I have 2 love languages – they came in so closely that I can’t ignore the other. First and foremost, I’m a very touchy person so physical touch is my first one. Words of affirmation is my close second. Kyle’s on the other hand is quality time and acts of service.
The idea seems simple enough – I focus all my attention on him so he gets that quality time that he needs. I also try to do things for him, like taking the trash out or locking the door after he leaves in the morning so he doesn’t have to. As easy as it sounds, it’s completely the opposite… There are times when I will send my love to him in the ways I show it, but I also try to send it in his ways as well. When I don’t feel like he’s reciprocating, it makes it me want to stop showing him love. And that is my point – we feel entitled to being shown love that we don’t give unless we receive.
In an adult relationship, there’s an expectation that both people put in work and they absolutely should. It can be hard to give love and not receive any in return. Having been married to an alcoholic that didn’t seem to even have a love language I am a huge advocate for a 2 lane relationship (equal effort relationship). Sometimes though, and especially with people we don’t know – it’s our job to show them love so that maybe then they turn around and show someone else love.
Sometimes, helping someone carry groceries to their car (Only if they’re a little old lady or you’re extremely capable, please!), telling someone how cute their effort is, or laying a comforting hand on someone’s shoulder through a hard time, can create a ripple effect. That person that we showed love to will then turn around and maybe spread that love. and then that love is spread and the next thing we know, everyone is receiving this unexpected love that they didn’t know they needed, and it all started with you. It all started with a smile.