Are You Shoving Love?
Love is a two way street. It is meant to be given, and received. How you give love is probably very much connected to how you long to receive it, but the exchange is not always so linear. Everyone defines and receives love differently. You might receive love in the form of gifts, in the written word, or through sex. Or you may be someone who receives love in the form of being supported, complemented or taken care of financially. As a giver of love you may assume that doing your partners laundry, providing financially or taking out the trash are expressions of love. There is no doubt about it, you have made presumptions about your partners love needs based on your own. The truth is that the human heart is a receptacle for receiving love, but it can also be closed off if the love coming in doesn't fit.
This is when you fall into the trap of shoving love.
Jennifer was moving into a new house and her boyfriend wanted to be supportive. He showed up her first night in the house with a bottle of champagne and some food from the local market, but Jennifer felt disappointed and unsupported with this gesture. She thought about what she would have done for her boyfriend if he had moved into a new place, which was to go to the market and fill up his refrigerator with all of the kitchen essentials and food for the week. She couldn't believe that he didn't do this for her. When she raised it as an issue, her boyfriend was shocked and said, fill your refrigerator with food, what are you talking about? It never occurred to him to do this, and it was never something he would have expected from Jennifer. Jennifer's heart was not open to receiving the love her boyfriend was showing her because it didn't fit in her own repertoire of expressing love.
This is a perfect example of an unbalanced love exchange. Both partners were only aware of how they would feel loved, not about the actual person receiving the love. You may have never learned your own true authentic ideas about love. Throughout life we come to learn from our early experiences what it means to give and receive love. If love came in the form of grandiose gifts and fancy vacations, this is what will be meaningful to you. If love came with conditions and at the expense of your own sense of self, then you may have come to become untrustworthy of love and that it can come and go like the seasons. Sadly, you may have even learned that the only way to get love is to literally fight for it. You may provoke your partner into showing you love by being demanding, withdrawing or shutting down. You may also be a bottomless pit receiver of love. Nothing is enough, and you feel chronically deprived and empty. Lastly, you may sexualize love and can only receive love in the form of sex or other intimate acts. As you can see, giving and receiving love is complicated and the package it comes in can be very heavy.
One of the most fundamental conversations for any couple is about how each person feels loved. Have you ever asked your partner the simple question of how do you feel loved? Sometimes this is hard to answer, especially if deep down one of you doesn't feel deserving of love. It's still an important place to begin if you want to find the capacity to give and receive what the other experiences as real love.
Put it into practice
How do you feel loved?
How do you show your love?
What kind of love are you closed off to receiving?
How can you begin to let more love in?