The old saying that actions speak louder than words, holds true when it comes to expressing the love we feel for others. This may come easy to you or you may struggle with showing your love, and if this is the case, you are not alone. Previous hurts, relationship experiences, and past patterns of how love was modeled to you as a child, all play a role in how you express love to those you care about The good news is, by giving love you receive it back in ways you never expected.
Rather than focusing on how much you are loved, shift your awareness to how much you express love. This is not to say that you neglect yourself, it is rather like looking at the glass half full or half empty. Try looking at the ways people express their love to you. A kind word, patience when you are frustrated, listening when you are happy or sad. In other words, being there for you. Use these to express your love back to them. Then try cultivating appreciation for the small things instead of expecting grandiose gifts as a token of someone’s love. Not that gifts are inherently loving or unloving they are merely objects, that over time fade or lose their appeal. Love that is sincere gives you fond memories and strength.
Show your love by expression. Let loved ones know you are thinking about them, not just on special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries, holidays). Text, write a letter, send a card, call simply to tell them you miss them, or love them or was hoping their day was going well. It is the little thoughtful things that can reassure the people you love. If you are in a long- term relationship or marriage, buy a random card, cook a dinner complete with candlelight. Take the kids for an afternoon so your partner can have some needed alone time. Take the time to think of the needs of those you love. This doesn’t mean that you can fulfill their every whim or desire, you can show your concern for another without it being unhealthy, manipulative, or co-dependent.
Ask them about their day, their desires, their pain, their passions, and then sit back and listen. A big part of showing love is listening to your beloved. Think of how you feel when you are not heard. You may feel neglected, ignored, unimportant, these are not positive feelings that nurture a loving relationship. When you listen with your heart, you hear with your heart. You begin to understand more fully. Ask what you can do to help. More than likely, knowing that you are there to support through active listening is enough.
If you have a concern or a hurt feeling, express yourself. Bottling up your emotions will only lead to resentment, which will not help you show love. If you are fearful about something, be honest, let go of your pride and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. When you are transparent with your emotions, it is a living breathing way of showing the person you love that you trust them with your heart. You trust them with your fears, your dreams, your disappointments. And it is a powerful example that your loved one can reciprocate, letting go of pretenses and being real. This is the fertile ground for growing love.
Let your loved one know when you miss them, whether it is physical yearning (maybe one of you has been traveling for work or you live apart from each other) or something more ethereal. Maybe you miss laughing with this person, or riding bikes together or having sex, let them know what it is that you miss and not in an accusatory way. Simply say, I miss…
Tell people you love you are grateful for them. Whether this is a sibling, a parent, a lover, let them know you appreciate them and why. Be sincere and truthful. “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” – John F. Kennedy