If you’re anything like me, you love to love people, but when you communicate with your loved ones, you tend to throw up every emotion you have all over them. Or, maybe you’re one of those people who can’t put a finger on love, and you think it’s forever elusive, never to be found. Either way, we all need to learn how to love better and communicate with our loved ones in a way that facilitates growth and connection in our relationships.
A Harvard study conducted over nearly 80 years, found that close relationships, more than money or fame, are what keep people happy throughout their lives.
In my quest to heal and be happy, I finally asked: is there a right way to love someone? A way that would satisfy my unrelenting need to shower people with love while increasing my ability to communicate my needs and understand my loved one’s needs in turn. To find the answer, I’d have to go through some serious drama and severe trauma, but it was worth it.
I’ve had relationships with the cold-hearted, the narcissist, the highly sensitive, and every type of emotional style indexed in psychology today. Albeit extremely painful, my experiences with such a diverse range of personalities helped me to become highly adept in vetting out what love means to my loved one, how much love they really want and need, accepting my loved one’s love style, and confident I can communicate well.
As a result, I now enjoy many wonderful relationships that make me full of joy because I really wanted to learn how to love better and communicate effectively. So, here are a few tips to help you learn how to love better and communicate effectively with your loved ones.
First – It’s not safe to assume that love means the same to your loved one as it does to you. Even our closest of kin have different definitions of love. For some, it involves very high levels of trust without a lot of physical contact like hugging. For others, love might mean long term commitment, regardless of what transpires in the relationship. Yet still, for some of us, love means absolutely everything because we feel that it’s all there is. Trust, commitment, loyalty, and physical attention all play a massive part in how we define love, and if that’s not understood, we might completely fall apart.
Asking your loved one how they define love is the first step in understanding how they need to be loved and how much love they really need. Over the years, I’ve found that most people have no idea how much love their loved one needs, nor do they understand how they need to be loved, especially their spouses and children. Working with an inordinate amount of women who suffer through a divorce, I consistently find that marriages break down because neither party ever learned how the other needs to be loved. So, how can they expect to love each other in the way each other needs? In the same way, I see parents’ relationships with their children grow very tense and fill with drama because they assume, just because the person they are dealing with is their closet of kin born from their loins, they know how their child needs and wants to be loved. But, this is a dangerous assumption that can lead to a lot of pain for both parent and child- regardless of the child’s age.
And, to make matters a bit more complicated, a person’s definition of love and need for love changes over the years. As we age and move through the seasons of our lives, our world view shifts, and so does our definition and need for love. When we are living purposefully and expressing ourselves through the applications of our gifts and talents, we tend to define love on a more global level of being accepted, and we need less love because we feel a sense of validation. But on the off years, when we don’t have as much purpose and don’t feel widely accepted, our definition of love can change dramatically, and our need for love may soar. Either way you look at it, love is a moving target.
But, by consistently learning how to love better, we open the door to effective communication.
When someone feels loved, they feel safe, and when they feel safe, they’re more comfortable to express themselves truthfully and honestly. In truth and honesty is clarity and clarity breeds relationship mastery.
As you get curious about how your loved one needs and wants to be loved, you can take it a step further by asking yourself: How do I need and want to be loved? Without understanding your own wants and needs, you can’t possibly expect your loved one to understand and be in service to you. And, when we don’t understand one another, communication breaks down and gets messy.
Being upfront and honest with your loved one about how you define love and how much of that love you desire gives you both the opportunity to determine how much service you can provide each other. Sometimes, our loved ones can’t satisfy our needs exactly the way we want because they have a particular love style that doesn’t lend to our exact definition of love. It also works the other way around or, vice versa. Sometimes we have a certain way of loving that doesn’t match our loved one’s exact need. So, you see why learning how to love better based on your’s and your loved one’s definition of love and how much each of you wants or needs is so critically important?
I’ve found that if you can communicate about love, you can communicate about anything. Because, once again, when you understand how someone needs and wants to be loved and you’re willing to act on those wants and needs, you’ll make that person feel safe. In a safe place, they’ll be more likely to be truthful and honest, leading to more clarity, better communication, and ultimately relationship mastery. But in the end, the most important thing to remember is that the more you understand yourself and love who you are – the easier it will be to love another and communicate effectively.
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