Do you love how he loves you?

Do you know how you want to be loved? What if a man loves you, but not quite the way you want to be loved? Will you stick with him, thinking that you can teach him how you want to be loved? Has that worked?

I’ve been fortunate enough in my 2.5 years of dating to have a few men fall for me. While I was fond of them and loved elements of each one, I was not in love. As that old adage goes, “Love is not enough.” We know that can mean lots of things, but let’s take just one element — being loved is not enough. You have to feel loved —  loved in a way that feels like love to you. How someone expresses his love for you may not feel like love to you. I know, this seems convoluted.

Let me elaborate.

Early on in my marriage, my then-hubby and I would design a quarterly relationship retreat — just him and me. We’d drive to a hotel for the weekend and part of the activities included working on our relationship. (Too bad we didn’t keep up this practice for the next 20 years!) One of the most memorable exercises was this simple one. We each silently wrote our responses to these two questions:

  1. Here’s what I do that I believe shows my love for you
  2. Here’s what you do that I feel shows your love for me

After writing our responses, we shared. The answers were astonishing to each of us.

vodka and tonicMy answer to question 1 included:

  • I take care of our bill paying
  • I prepare home-cooked meals that I know you like
  • I have your vodka and tonic chilled and waiting for you when you arrive home

It turns out none of these things — and many of the others I listed — were significant to him. So I was busting my tush to go out of my way to do these things to show him I loved him, and they didn’t show up as love at all to him!

On his list of how he felt I showed him I loved him was one I would have never guessed:

You come out of your office and give me a hug soon after I announce I’m home.

I worked from home, so I was often in my office when he arrived home. I’d just call out “hello” in response to his “I’m home.” It turned out that he wanted a physical connection — a hug and kiss — when he arrived home. He was a kinesthetic type and touch was very important to him to feel connected. When I learned this, I nearly always made sure to hug him hello. If I was on the phone when he came in and forgot to hug him, we noticed we were more on edge with each other that evening.

proteaWhen he learned that his periodic gift of flowers felt like love to me, he increased his frequency. He also asked about my favorite flowers, and began to select dual-toned, unusual ones, rather than just daisies, carnations and red roses. I was feeling more loved as he was going out of his way to learn what I liked and give it to me.

This exercise taught us to talk about what the other did that felt like love. And it allowed us to see if what we were doing was showing up as an expression of love to the other. And when it didn’t, we could ditch it or do it if we wanted, but not to expect the other would feel warm and tingly because of it. It also headed off those resentful arguments, like, “But I spend hours fixing dinner for you each night” when the other would just as soon open a can of soup or have take out.

It would be great if the guy you’re dating intuitively knew how you like to be loved, but the recipe for each person is different. For some women, regular calls, sweet emails, occasional flowers and cards signify love. For others, none of that is important. The key is to know what exemplifies love to you, and be willing to do the exercise above when you’ve been dating a guy for a while. You will both clarify how to show the other you care, and refine your love strategies.

And of course, be appreciative of whatever he does to show his fondness toward you. Also, both parties need to be open to refinements.

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9 responses to “Do you love how he loves you?”

  1. cupertino Avatar

    Gary Chapman’s book “The Five Love Languages” offers a number of insights into discovering which of five “love languages” — words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch — are most important to us and to our partners, so that we can better make an effort to meet each other’s needs.

  2. Greg Avatar

    Cupertino’s suggestion is a good one. My (now ex) wife and I read it at the suggestion of a counselor, and had we read it 5 (or 20) years earlier, we would likely still be married. Communication is key, and guys, don’t assume the ladies will do all the work in that regard, some don’t.

  3. Bookyone Avatar

    Hi DG,

    What a great idea! If I ever get involved with anyone again I’m definitely going to use this exercise to strengthen our bond.

    Per the five types, I think I am a verbal type, (or whatever the experts call someone who needs to hear positive affirmations from the other person on a regular basis). Thoughtful actions are always nice, but unless I hear positive affirmations, I don’t always recognize the thoughts behind the actions. I wonder if this is a gender thing or just a booky thing? 🙂

    Best wishes from bookyone 🙂

  4. Aggressively Single Avatar
    Aggressively Single

    This is a really great idea, great exercise, and will save couples a lot of hurt feelings and wasted efforts. And as I embark on falling in love, its fun to be aware of just what it is that feels like love to me. Cupertino, thanks for the book suggestion, and DG, thanks for keeping us on track

  5. Fred G Avatar
    Fred G

    OK, this is going in my bag of tricks when that significant other is there. And I will check out that book as well.

    Thanks for the posting.

  6. NYSharon Avatar

    Good post. Made me reflect on my marriage too. One of the things I wanted was for my husband (now ex) to bring me a cup of coffee in the shower or bed in the morning to help me get started. He was up first and getting his own. He refused to do this for me and it seems silly now but his defiance was symbolic of all the others needs I expressed and he either couldn’t or wouldn’t try to meet. Sometimes we let pride get the better of us. It creates distance in a relationship. Communicating is the first step, the parties have to make an effort to do those things after for it to be complete.

  7. Gatti Avatar

    My guy thanks me for small treats or favours, notices what I’m wearing, pays me compliments, remembers things I’ve said I liked. It’s wonderful.

    I know he is moved by my thoughtful gestures (towards himself and, especially and surprisingly, those I do towards others), little touches and signs of affection, and when I’m calm and happy. This is a big inducement to remain calm and happy!

    “Mindfulness” is what I call paying attention to these things.

  8. […] what motivates them, what their wounds and triggers are, and what actions show you care. In “Do you love how he loves you?” we explored how to discuss how you show and feel love. When you “get” someone […]

  9. […] what motivates them, what their wounds and triggers are, and what actions show you care. In “Do you love how he loves you?” we explored how to discuss how you show and feel love. When you “get” someone […]