Do you know someone that does not know how to show their love? You may know they love you but you may not feel loved by them. Is it because they can’t show love or are they too selfish or narcissistic to be able to love someone else?
This blog is also not about how to change someone else. We have no control over someone else’s actions. As they say, we can only control our own actions and reactions. Therefore, if you answered yes to the first question above, then consider the possibility that you’re not seeing the love that is being offered.
It’s difficult to control our reactions when we’re upset. We also can’t, and should not try, to control our feelings. We should respect our feelings. But we don’t have to cave into them. Instead, perhaps we can get some emotional distance on the subject so that we may evaluate our feelings and reactions. We may feel very strongly that we’re being ignored or mistreated, but it is also possible that we are creating a problem that isn’t there. Every disagreement has two sides. It is easy to see our own side of an argument; much more difficult is seeing someone else’s.
If we can find some emotional distance, we can decide that we don’t have to believe our interpretation of events. Our emotional reaction is based on what kind of value judgments we apply to what was said or done. But most events have multiple interpretations. We don’t have to choose the interpretation that is hurtful to us or concludes the other is a cad or a bad person. After all, don’t we hope our partner would give us the same benefit of the doubt when we do something that’s completely innocent (see our Self-(un)fulfilling Reality)?
It is also helpful to remember that each of us communicate in a love language that may differ from our loved ones’. For example, I like to be loved with time together and touch, but I prefer to show love with time and service (doing things for the other). To complicate matters, if my partner shows love with gifts but likes to receive love as verbal affirmations, then we are potentially communicating our love in completely different languages. We may both feel unloved even though we are both putting a lot of effort into trying to make the other feel loved. It’s no wonder that loving each other can be so darn complicated and that it is easy to conclude that someone else doesn’t know how to show love (see Love the One You’re With).
So, before you dismiss someone else as unable to love or show their love, reconsider what your role is in this dynamic. Maybe you’re misinterpreting or not seeing the love that is being offered to you. Also consider that approximately 50% of the fault is yours, no matter how sure you are that you’re completely innocent. Ask yourself, and answer honestly how you might be mistreating your partner by choosing the hurtful interpretation (see Making the Change). What would you need to do to “fix” your half? How would that change the dynamic? How will the other person respond if you change your behavior? How can you convert a negative emotion or response into something positive? Aside from a little pride, what do you have to lose?