Each of us has different ways of expressing love to those around us. And when someone is showing us they love us in a certain way, we need to let them do it in the way that works best for them, which is not necessarily the way we would like to receive it. So how do you become a good receiver of love? That’s what we are talking about on this week’s episode.
I talk a lot on this podcast about loving others unconditionally. Having curiosity and compassion for who they are, what they are dealing with, and what they are capable of offering. And maybe you are awesome at showing love to others, but today I want to talk about what it means to receive love.
What does it mean to receive love? We’ve talked a lot about how we create our emotions by the thoughts that we think. We can feel something, we can feel love for someone, and that feeling doesn’t just jump from our body into theirs. So when someone loves us, they feel that. We don’t. It doesn’t jump from their body into ours. So how do we know when someone loves us? How are we at receiving that love that someone is trying to show us.
When we feel a feeling, we somehow act on it. How do we act when we love someone? We are kind. We are compassionate. We give them the benefit of the doubt. We do kind things for them because we want to, and not out of obligation or resentment. We spend time with them. We let them know how we feel and tell them they are important to us. Maybe we buy them things. According to Gary Chapman, there are the 5 love languages.
- Words of Affirmation
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
We do what we can to show them that we love them, right? So when someone loves us, how do they show us? Each of us has different ways of expressing love to those around us. And when someone is showing us they love is in a certain way, we need to let them do it in the way that works best for them, which is not necessarily the way we would like to receive it.
For example – for those who love to show their love with physical touch, they may want to hold hands, kiss, hug, give a massage, snuggle, or have sex. This is what feels like to them the BEST way to show the person they love how much they care.
But, if you are person who doesn’t care as much about physical touch, you might have thoughts about them being so physical that don’t make you feel love. You might feel like they are overbearing or not caring about your well being and just want sex for themselves. But I just want you to NOTICE what thoughts your brain is offering to you about what they are doing. Are you having thoughts like
- This is so nice
- They love me so much
- They love me and want to be near me
- They love me and want to show it to me in this way
or are you having thoughts like
- Why are they so needy?
- Why do they have to touch me all the time?
- The only reason they are touching me is because they want sex.
- This is about them and it’s not about me
See how those different thoughts can completely change the way you are feeling about the person showing love to you? It’s all about your thoughts and perceptions about what they are doing.
Let me share with you another example.
What if your spouse’s primary love language is acts of service. They are constantly helping you around the house, helping with the kids, offering to give you a massage.
You could have thoughts like
- They are so kind
- What a great spouse to be so helpful after everything else they do
- He’s such a great dad
- Wow, he really loves me
or you could have thoughts like
- He doesn’t trust me to do it right
- He thinks I’m not capable
- He doesn’t want me to have a good relationship with the kids
Do you see the difference? It’s all in your perception and the thoughts you choose to think.
I think a lot of us find it is lot harder to be a good receiver than it is to be a good giver. It’s hard to receive an authentic compliment. It’s hard to receive an hour-long massage. It’s hard to receive focused sexual attention. It’s hard to receive these things without the need to immediately reciprocate.
Why is this so challenging?
Why Receiving Love Is More Challenging Than Giving It
We often find it to be more challenging to receive love than to give it because it rubs up against our innate sense of unworthiness. That little voice in the back of our minds that tells us that we aren’t good enough.
Often when our spouse is doing something to show love towards us we can’t that little voice in our head that says “I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve this. This is being selfish.”
Any of that sound familiar to you? We all have that little voice inside our heads. It’s not just you. I promise. But it’s important that we become good receivers of love, just as it’s important that we are good givers.
How to be a good receiver
So how do you be a good receiver of love?
- Know that you are 100% worthy of being loved.
If you feel like you aren’t worthy of being loved, you aren’t going to receive your partners attempts at showing you love very well. Like in the example of the husband being helpful around the house. If you are questioning your own abilities and questioning his intentions because of that, you aren’t being a good receiver of love. Understanding that you, with all of your flaws and in all of your humanness are exactly as you are supposed to be, and that you are 100% worthy of being loved makes it much easier for you to receive that love when someone is offering it to you.
And, if you are feeling unworthy of that time, love, and attention, maybe ask your partner to voice what they are feeling right now and why they are doing what they are doing so you can hear it and help quiet those thoughts in your brain.
- Accept love when it is offered
In order to be a good receiver, you need to accept those offerings for what they are and not be constantly rejecting them or thinking that there are ulterior motives involved.
This also means understanding that your husband may offer you tokens of his love that are not what you would want but accept them for what they are. Maybe your husband likes to buy you gifts as a token of his love, and you think that him spending money is frivolous. By seeing that this is HIS way of showing love, and accepting that makes you a good receiver.
- Ask for what you want
You may have very different ideas of what love looks like. For you it might mean quality time and for him it might mean bringing home flowers. It is totally ok to ask him for what you want. Just don’t expect it. And you can’t be mad about what you are unwilling to ask for. Your spouse isn’t a mind reader. They don’t “just know” what you are thinking and feeling. They only know what they think and feel. So if you want to spend a night out, just the two of you, ask for it. Let your spouse know that you appreciate how they show you love, but let them know how you feel it best. They may not always follow or do what you want, but then they may also surprise you!
I would encourage you to share this episode with your partner. I hope it has enlightened you to what might be going on in your own brain, but you could also find it to be a different way at looking at your spouse. Maybe your spouse is the one who has a hard time receiving love, and by trying to understand what it going on in their brain helps you have more love and compassion for them.
Remember…out of all the emotions you can choose to feel, love is always an option.