There are so many songs, poems, movies, and books telling us how wonderful it is to be in love. And, yes, being in love is wonderful! But, many of us are under the impression that love is mostly about receiving– attention, support, care, love. While others believe that love is only about giving and sacrificing. Both concepts are wrong. Love is not selfish but is not selfless either.
I do not know much about love, but I have understood that there needs to be a balance. Either selfishness or selflessness can create roadblocks in a relationship.
Although being selfless in a relationship may seem like an idyllic expression of love, it places strain on the relationship and makes it difficult for your partner to know and understand your emotional needs. It also hinders intimacy and can make your partner feel that their efforts to show love are not enough.
Knowing that pushing away other people’s love can harm our relationships, why do we still find it difficult to accept love? In Randi Gunther’s article, “Why Can’t I Let Love In?” she outlines a few reasons why it may be hard for some people to accept love. A common explanation is childhood development.
Childhood trauma and parent-attachment can influence how you develop relationships as an adult. So, as you enter a relationship, you may dole out the love you did not receive as a child but always feel skeptical about the love your partner bestows you.
So, how can you open yourself to receive love?
- Learn to manage why you reject love
I believe that this is the first step to learning to receive love– learning why you run away from it. Your rejection of love may be caused by childhood trauma, feelings of poor self-worth, or something else. Whatever the reason, it is best to identify it and learn to manage it. This step may not be the easiest one, and you will most likely need assistance. In that case, seek out the help of a licensed therapist who can help you deal with them.
- Figure out your love language
There are five different forms of expressing and experiencing love. For some, Acts of Service may be the way to go. Others may prefer Words of Affirmation or Physical Touch. There are exams online that can help you determine how you like to be loved.
- Learn your partner’s love language
Although you may be more comfortable giving out love, there could be a chance that you are not showing your partner that you love them in the way they would like. For example, your partner perceives the Act of Service as love, but you spend most of the time giving them gifts. They might be grateful for the gifts, but they may not understand that you are trying to show them how much they mean to you.
Relationships are reciprocal. Hence, your emotional, mental, physical needs are valid too. But, your partner is not a mind-reader, so do not assume that they automatically know what you want. Learn how to create a space for yourself and voice your needs to your partner. If they care for you, they will acknowledge, respect, and strive to meet your needs.
But, before you learn to communicate your needs, be self-aware. Spend time discovering what you want in a relationship.
- Accept that you are worthy.
Accepting that we are worthy of love can sometimes be harder than giving it. Years of self-rejection and a negative inner voice berating you can make it difficult to see yourself as someone worthy of love. At first, it may be difficult to accept your self-worth. You will want to shy away from it or disavow it. Don’t! You are worthy of so much love.
In the moments when you begin to listen to your inner critic and feel that you are not worthy of the loving relationship that you are in or dreaming about, take a step back. Observe. Notice how you feel when you are receiving love and why it is making you feel uncomfortable. Recognize them but do not believe them. Instead, challenge them with reasons why you are worthy.
- Be vulnerable
Sometimes the fear of vulnerability can make you lose out on having a great relationship. It may be scary to open up to others and to allow them to see you.
The harsh and bitter winds we encounter in our life lead us to build up walls, and walls protect us. They prevent others from taking advantage and hurting us. So, we run away from intimacy. We run from anyone who wants to play an active role in our lives. We have superficial relationships that lack depth and often feel more lonely with others than when we are alone.
In our efforts of self-preservation, we renounce the opportunity to form meaningful connections. We resign on love.
I know that showing your true self can be daunting. “What if they reject me,” is a frequent question. But, what if they don’t?
I cannot tell you what love is or how it should be, but I can tell you that it should be shared. You should receive love as much as you give it.
Family Care Center. (2020, January 31). 5 Different Ways to Show Love and Improve Your Relationship. The Family Centre. https://www.familycentre.org/news/post/5-different-ways-to-show-love-and-improve-your-relationship.
Gunther, R. (2014, March 10). Why Can’t I Let Love In? Psychology Today. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/rediscovering-love/201403/why-cant-i-let-love-in.
Mead, K. (2015, January 11). Learning to Receive: 5 Steps to Opening Up. Tiny Buddha. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/learning-to-receive-5-steps-to-opening-up. https://tinybuddha.com/blog/learning-to-receive-5-steps-to-opening-up/
Rose, E. (2020, June 7). The Art of Receiving Love. Medium. https://medium.com/hello-love/the-art-of-receiving-love-592c566e3d5b.