I initially began to write a piece called, “How to Love a Busy Mother,” but I’ve decided to write this instead.
How to Love Anyone.
Let’s get to it. First, ask her (or him, but I’m a feminist, so we’ll use her) what she wants.
Using actual words.
Ask your lover or prospective lover or friend or sister or, well, anyone, what it is she’s looking for in a relationship, or what she’s seeking from another person in general. I know this sounds simple, but there’s a reason that we don’t do this: It’s intimidating to have such a direct conversation because we might have to face directly our differences.
This eliminates game playing, and if she’s someone who’s turned on by that, it’ll be made obvious by her indirect reply.
But the larger point is this: Speak to her and find out from her own actual words how she wants to be loved rather than from mental speculation, which generally stems from how we want to be loved.
Still, love is complicated for a reason.
For one, our needs change, and, for another, the best parts about love are often not relayed through words and, more, love is equally shown when we don’t have to say exactly what it is that we want.
So, for these times, here are a few more tips:
Occasionally, she might act like you don’t exist. This likely has nothing to do with you. The best partnerships come from two people who are already whole by themselves, which means that sometimes, frankly, she has shit to do.
This doesn’t mean that she is more interested in picking up a dirty house or sending emails than she is cuddling or smooching, but life is made up of responsibilities—and a person who’s responsible in other areas of her life will show more promise with being responsible for another’s heart too.
Read over this list and know that most partners would love for you to do any one of these simple (and free) romantic gestures. Most importantly, remember that romance doesn’t have to be showy, expensive or YouTube worthy.
And the reason is simple: Romance happens when we observe what another person enjoys and desires and we take care to show that we’ve noticed. On top of this, loving someone absolutely involves noting an individual’squirks and eccentricities without judging them.
Love really is acceptance.
If we aren’t willing to accept someone’s lesser qualities, then we don’t deserve to also benefit from the great ones, and much of what’s special about love is understanding a person so well that we see these quirks. Which brings me to…
It doesn’t matter how many gifts we buy a lover if we don’t spend the time to get to know her. Love cannot exist without a patient gestational period. (I made that sound sexy, didn’t I?)
Regardless, it’s true—but we can’t make someone open up to us.
However, we can choose to share and bare ourselves.
Yep, if we want to be able to love anyone, then we have to love ourselves first, which can be a frightening thing to be told when we’re struggling through periods of low self-esteem.
Consider that we can still love ourselves enough to note and attempt to welcome our flaws before we’ve actually fully accepted them (or changed them).
In other words, recognize what makes you you.
Begin here—by honoring self-awareness and individuality.
Because when we figure out who we are, we are then gifted with the potential to like ourselves—as imperfect as we are when compared with some fictitious internal standard of perfection—and once we’ve dug deeply enough to see ourselves clearly, regardless of the assessment, we become hungry to share what we’ve learned with other people and ready to learn about them in return.
And loving anyone, in case this hasn’t been made obvious enough by now, is also about loving ourselves.
We are anyone, and we’re not just anyone—we are beings who want to give and receive love.
Isn’t that amazing?
Sure, we have laundry to do and meetings to attend, but, through it all and over and over again, we want, more than anything, to share love with another soul.
We might hate from time to time; we might be destructive; we might all be imperfect—but one thing that’s not going anywhere anytime soon is our innate thirst for love.
Some people say that we are born alone and we die alone, but a huge part of me disagrees. We are physically separated by others through the cages of our bodies, but we are interconnected by something much more solid than earthly skin.
Love is the way your heartbeat quickens when he walks by.
It’s the flutter in your stomach when he brushes your skin.
Love is touch, yes, but it’s also the invisible string that joins hearts, no matter how many miles or daily chores exist between them. Love is feeling that our feet are rooted even more firmly to the ground because, through another’s eyes, we have learned to see our wings.
And it’s important that we not forget our duties to love amongst our other to-do’s.
Because how, exactly, do we love anyone?
We see where potential weakness can be hidden strengths.
And we remain open to love instead of hardening from pain, and we understand that everyone else out there is trying to move through life too—and that love helps us enjoy the process so much more.
“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Photo: ClickFlashPhotos /Nicki Varkevisser/Flickr.
This article was first published by elephant journal.