Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How do you show, "I love you"?

Shelle asked a question in What Would You Rather: Episode 14. “Would you rather your significant other tell you they love you with words or never saying it but showing it with their actions?”

My experienced self is here to tell you that both are important, but maybe not in the way you think. Do you know how your mate responds to words? to actions? Do you know which actions and words mean the most to her? Do you even know what means the most to you?

I love you” is the standard example for words you use to tell someone you love them, and there is a lot of different variety to that, but there are thousands of different ways to show your mate you love them, using actions. I’ve learned that discovering the actions that your lover appreciates the most is one of the most complicated aspects of a relationship. Mixed in with that are the words. People react differently to “I love you.”

I can’t imagine any relationship where either mate would prefer words and no actions, or vice versa, but those are the extremes. There is a huge variety of combinations between them and any one of us could land at any point along the scale. I firmly believe that discovering where your lover lands is crucial to a fulfilling relationship.

This complicated discovery process is something that my ex and I (of a 10 yr marriage) failed miserably at. Neither of us made any attempt at actually learning how the other saw love. Until it was too late, that is. Did she see love as a series of selfless acts, regardless of what I said? Did I see words as being as important as actions, if not more?

From my perspective (which is biased, I know) I thought I did ok at saying “I love you” on a regular basis. On the flip side, I didn’t spend the time discovering what actions meant the most to her. I was lazy about it and expected her to tell me what she wanted. Fail.

From her is was just as bad, if not worse. I could count one hand how many times she actually said the words, “I love you.” That hurt. A lot. More than I ever imagined actually. On top of that were her actions. She thought she was acting in a way that showed me love. Well, hate that it happened, but whatever she was doing was lost on me. There at the end she explained to me what she did to show me love. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t imagine anyone seeing what she did as being ‘acts of love’. My conclusion was that she just has a warped sense of reality, but maybe not? There might be someone out there that thinks her ‘protecting’ them would be seen as love? ...maybe not.

That was the one and only serious relationship I’ve ever had and I’m still not sure what kind of love I would really respond to. I know words are important to me, but what kind of actions? I hope someone takes the time to find out someday. I’d love to do that for them too.

How about you? In what ways to you appreciate being loved? Do you know what your mate likes?



April said...

Both words and actions are equally important to me. However, both the words and the actions have to be done or said like the person means it. Without meaning, the words and actions are empty.

I really love when out of nowhere, my fiance will say, "I love you." We could be in 2 separate rooms of the house and I'll hear him say, "Babe!" I say, "Yeah?" He'll say, "I love you." I reply with, "I love you, too." as I have a big smile on my face.

I feel that an action of love is when he stops at the wine store on his way home just to pick me up my favorite wine, without me asking him to do it. It's the little sticky notes I'll find in my clothes drawers with sweet words written on them. It's how the first thing he has to do when he gets home from work is give me a big kiss. It's clearing the ice from my windshield when I haven't asked him to. It's the random text message saying how lucky he is to have me. It's rubbing my tummy when I'm having horrible cramps.

I know that my first response was that actions are more important, but I don't know how I'd feel if I didn't hear the words as well.

Snooty Primadona said...

I'm totally with April. Both are important, but it's different for everyone.

I do feel that if you start out in a relationship as friends AND lovers, you just naturally fall into the patterns of a loving relationship with all the little things.

If you start out in a relationship that doesn't have both components, then you've got farther to go & might never really reach your relationship goals. If some small details drive you crazy about someone, that's not going to change. It only gets worse & can often drive that person away. If someone doesn't love in the way you do before marriage, it's not going to improve after tying the knot.

Just be sure you have the same *style* of loving before getting married. We all know most people won't change just because we want them to, so be sure the one you love only needs a little tweaking.

Back when the hubby & I married, he seriously thought once we said "I do." he didn't need to say it again. Once I set him straight & told him I needed more, he jumped right on board & never looked back. But, I think most of us (being the insecure humans that we are) need constant reassurance. We need to hear those words as long as they aren't empty words...

UP said...

"Do, or do not. There is no try." Yoda!


Not So Simply Single said...

I know that all of us, both men and women, view love completely different. Duh! you say! But the truth of the matter is, unless we ASK our partner what love looks like for them, we will endlessly try to hit the target in a dark room.

I have learned that to communicate what I need is a HUGE part of my relationship, with ANYONE. Male or female. In a love relationship, I really must state my needs, not only by the spoken word, but sometimes the best communication is written. Yup. We all hear things differently and I have learned most men don't like women's high pitched voice (especially when we are mad) and they tune us out. (how dare them) So when I communicate by a written letter, he has time to savor every word, and not go into his cave when I am ranting and raving.

Okay, kick me off my soap box...enough out of me!


DCHY said...

My wife would complain to me that I never show love through touching. I try to touch her whenever I can. Me? Either way works. I'm a simple creature. ;)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

Sorry, I was so so so sick yesterday and the day before really... and still kinda today, but I wanted to say that I think you are right on.

We love differently and we show love how WE would want to see it or feel it or hear it... totally forgetting that we should learn how THEY (our spouse or significant other) love.

If we do that... love only gets better.