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  • Emma Nichols

I Love You. Why are words not enough?

Perhaps Love…

Some say love is holding on, some say letting go

Some say love is everything, some say they don’t know

Perhaps love is like the ocean full of conflict, full of pain

Many have written about love. Many songs have love (and the absence of it) as their central theme. Where would we be without love? Placido Domingo and John Denver summed it up with the lyrics in their beautiful song, Perhaps Love.

Love is as mysterious as the universe and as complex as our brain. It is not an emotion. It doesn’t behave like an emotion. Love is not attachment either, though attachment is a very strong feeling that can mask itself as love. Love is a constant, it doesn’t wax and wane depending which side of the bed we got out of. It’s pervasive. When we feel it, there’s no turning it off, no matter what happens between us and them. There is no opposite to love – no, hate is not its opposite. Hate is an intense feeling of dislike, which involves a judgement of some kind. Love does not judge in this way.

So, we cannot go from loving someone to hating them; we just didn’t realise, we didn’t love them. That doesn’t mean we don’t feel the pain and hurt of rejection, but those feelings come as a result of something other than love. Betrayal? Anger? Rejection? Love is the calm water that lies beneath the raging tides. When these other emotions have gone, love, if it was ever present, remains.

You can’t buy love… but you can feel loved by being bought gifts? Now that’s confusing. Saying, I love you doesn’t work! Really?

Find out why these two statements are true:

1. Have you ever felt misunderstood when it comes to demonstrating that you love your partner? They just don’t believe you.

2. Have you ever felt unloved even though your partner expresses their undying love for you?

Apparently, there are 5 Languages of Love, according to Gary Chapman. We should know these!

The five ways we express and experience love between romantic partners isn’t gender related. We all feel loved differently, and if we are not getting what we need from our partners, if we don’t feel loved by them, then our relationships will suffer. So, what are the 5 languages?

1. Words of Affirmation. This isn’t just about saying, I love you. Affirmation is to give a verbal compliment, such as saying how great someone looks or how much you enjoy their company. Negative comments for this person will be more deeply felt and they may not get over it easily either!

2. Acts of Service. Doing something that helps the person. This is about giving your time with love and joy. Doing things (taking action) that requires your thought and effort. If you do things in a huff or resent doing them, then watch out. That bites!

3. Receiving Gifts. Anyone who sells stuff for Valentine’s Day is loving this one. Buying a gift needs to be meaningful and thoughtful but doesn’t have to be expensive. That is a different issue altogether!

4. Quality Time. If this is important to someone, they will need your undivided and genuinely enthusiastic attention for them to feel loved by you. Anything less just isn’t going to cut it.

5. Physical Touch. This isn’t just about sex, folks. It’s about all physical contact and here’s the tricky bit. It has to feel right. All the gifts and time in the world aren’t going to make a dent on someone who’s primary strategy for feeling loved is meaningful physical touch.

Here’s the rub!

Chances are, we run different love strategies from our partner(s). But we didn’t know that when we first met them, because in those heady first throes of lust-love all five strategies were being played out – by us both. Now, with time under our belts, love feels like a minefield and we may even find our partner’s needs unrelatable. Unfulfilled needs will subtly destroy our relationship though, so it’s worth finding out what makes them tick before the clock chimes midnight and we have to run home lest we should turn into a pumpkin.

One of the challenges is, what happens when these love strategies are negatively anchored? In other words, the person who wants physical touch to feel loved has too many negative experiences of physical touch! Or, the person who feels loved through acts of service has too many acts of service lodged in their noggin that have been undertaken through veiled resentment. There’s a double whammy if ever there was one. Damn this love thing!

Negative anchors are one of the primary causes of breakdown in relationships and need resolving. Fact.

This is all great, but what about self-love I hear you say?

It is said (and I agree), that if you don’t love yourself you are unable to accept love from another, even if it is given in the way that you like to receive it. This makes perfect sense because to feel loved you have to be open to the fact that you are worthy of being loved. Love is a feeling that comes from within you toward another. I have experienced this problem and I have seen it playing out in many relationships. If you do not love yourself, you will project self-hate/self-loathing/self-detest/self-resentment.

You cannot see and feel what you cannot conceive.

Are you attracted to someone who finds themselves unattractive to others? If you like rescuing people as lots of us do, then maybe that works. We can sweep them away and show them that they are truly loved and worthy of love. Many people have made that strategy work, for sure. But if the rescuer in you isn’t that strong, attraction will be short lived.

As we develop our relationships beyond the hazy, glitzy, squishy, all-consuming blindness that afflicts us in the early days and as the pressures of life build (cohabiting, children, pets and other normal stresses, plus the fast ball scenarios that demand our time and attention) the waters in which we are swimming together can become cold and murky. Lust becomes lack-lustre. Love turns to unfulfilled wishes and desires – which can lead to resentment in a flash. Misunderstanding becomes the norm and winning the argument the prize. Life becomes the battle of right and wrong. This is not love.

Whether the language of love is about love, or whether it is about feeling secure, feeling protected, feeling valued, who knows; it doesn’t really matter. If we know what makes each other tick, maybe we have half a chance of keeping our heads above the tides of life as they flow in our direction. At worst, we would have a strong chance of evolving together in a loving, caring relationship that we enjoy.

In my mind love is too complex to be simplified in categories such as these and strategies also have a place for our understanding. The language of love blending with self-love may be a marriage made in heaven. One without the other, well I’ll let you decide how that works out. But as for true love? Maybe, we either love someone or we don’t and anything less than being all-in isn’t love at all. Can we half-love someone? I don’t think so. But let’s not forget, loving someone doesn’t immunise us from being irritated by their behaviours! If love dies when a problem arises, maybe it wasn’t love at all?

Perhaps love… is simply what it is for you?

May you feel the love that you are and stay open to receive the love that surrounds you, even if the one you love doesn’t quite get your strategies for feeling loved!


Emma x

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