Learning how to receive love—and the myth of the giver.
Okay, here we go.
Why, oh, why do we need to learn how to receive love?
For starters, this step is just as important as—if not more important than—learning how to give love, and the reason is simple:
It’s true that we need to love ourselves in order to love one another—we become better equipped to form and maintain healthy relationships—and all the rewards that come with them—when we allow ourselves to be recipients of both kindness and others’ giving.
Let’s look at a few key pieces to this love-receiving puzzle:
There’s often a stereotype that people are givers or…not. And people who classify themselves as “givers” are often implying—however unintentionally or subconsciously—that this is better than being a…well…taker.
Yet here’s the reality: we all give and receive love, just in different ways, and we also flip-flop between these roles throughout our relationship cycles and day-to-day needs.
Learning to view ourselves as both givers and receivers of love is a skill that enables us to also look at others as both givers and receivers—and this makes us better able to see how those around us are trying to give love, even when it’s not obvious to us.
For example, my husband shows me love by taking care of me and doing small things around the house. And while I can certainly choose to view, say, his working on my car as not spending time with me, I would be doing us both a disservice by failing to acknowledge that he’s trying to show me love through his actions—not show me neglect.
In short, we need to be open to other means of giving love besides the ones we are used to or preferential to.
Then we need to…
This is huge.
If my husband likes to be shown love through snuggles and kisses and I like to show him love through my words, then neither of us will feel satisfied because my way of giving love isn’t being appreciated and he winds up feeling unloved while I’m actually working hard to care for him.
Before we communicate how we want love displayed to us, though, we need to get in touch with what our needs actually are.
Introverted sorts might consider journaling their wishes, hopes and desires, while extroverted types might want to have a verbal discussion with their mate or a friend. Either way, once we’ve done some digging, it’s then up to us to let others clearly know what we’re looking for.
After all, people aren’t mind readers and, more often than we realize, we’re wanting to be told how to make the people in our lives happy—and they want to be told too.
If we truly want to be “givers” then we need to absolutely consider that opening ourselves up to receiving love is a gift in and of itself—we are allowing other people to enjoy giving by being receptive.
Often, it’s actually easier to give instead of being given to because, first, we are cushioning ourselves from the possible blow of disappointment—by not being given anything, we can’t be let down; secondly, we can critique those who don’t re-gift us with love and, by default, declare ourselves better lovers because, thirdly, this protects us from having to work on our own love-giving deficits.
In other words, we’re harming others by not letting them give to us and, further, we’re creating a false sense of a security in a relationship by, essentially, setting others up for failure and, most importantly, we don’t have to look in the mirror at ourselves and all that entails, good and bad—flaws, faults, and even that we are good enough to deserve love just as we already are.
Yet that’s also kind of the point: we build these (phony) walls of self-protection under the guise of being a giver.
We’re actually blocking the love we seek from our lives—and from our hearts—with this delusional concept that being a love recipient—as opposed to a giver—is negative and not an act of love—and this is wrong.
If we want more love in our lives, then we have to accept it and invite it in—we have to learn how to get love.
And sometimes, when we take chances, we do fall—but we’ll never, ever fly if we don’t first take the leap.
“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.”
~ Neil Gaiman
Photo: Author’s own.
This article was first published on elephant journal.