Someone asked me recently about my love life. It was someone I don’t know well, yet I found myself admitting that I prefer to be adored, but in the way a cat prefers to be adored: when I want it, sometimes from afar, and with a fair amount of space to do my own thing.
My friend replied that I seemed rather worthy of adoration and naturally I agreed, saying maybe that’s why I had chosen the single life for so long.
But it got me to thinking: How do I need to be loved?
I have fallen in love a few times in my life, of course, and I’ve been infatuated even more times than that. Interestingly, a few of the men I have fallen for maintained a bit of indifference towards me throughout the relationship (excepting my last boyfriend who was so crazy about me he would literally sweep me off my feet when he would see me. In hindsight, I don’t recommend that kind of feet sweeping. It does not last…)
We have all been guilty of getting caught up in that one guy or girl that makes us swoon, where the chemistry is off the charts, but who, alas, we can’t quite get. Chemistry is important, sure, but chemistry alone isn’t always the best predictor of a sustainable union. However, chemistry with someone who thinks you’re the bees knees just might be the magic mix. (READ: it’s a given that you must adore this person right back. Duh.)
I realize now that any time I have fallen for a man, I was actually kinda falling in love with ME. Stay with me here…see, the more he fell for me, the more I fell for him because I was ALSO falling in love with myself as I saw me the way he saw me. Obviously I am not suggesting that JUST because a man fell for me I automatically fell for him in return. There’s just something intoxicating when you’re seeing yourself reflected in another’s eyes. Feeling adored and cherished for who you are makes you sort of go, “You know what? I AM a total bad ass and who WOULDN’T love me??” ~ while at the same time you are looking at him thinking, “Oh sweet Jesus – he’s so cute when he’s looking at me thinking I’m so cute!”
That’s some love potion.
So, moving forward into the rocky terrain of potentially falling in love and partnership again, I am thinking about what makes me feel *most* loved. How does someone earn my love, make me feel loved and adored, and inspire me to fall for the both of us? How do you love me???
By the way, there is a whole book about this called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. (Learn more about that here). But this is my own personal list (informed in part by reading said book)..
Tell me. Words, words, words! This is not to say I want someone constantly fawning all over me, telling me how spectacular and marvelous I am. Going back to the cat theory, I am likely to get a little annoyed over too much doting, particularly if it’s disingenuous. On some level, someone who is too effusive is hard to believe. But to be told occasionally, and in as many words, what makes me special in his eyes…well, it’s like an elixir. If he shows appreciation for what I bring to his life, and tells me, that makes me feel recognized, special, like I matter. And feeling that way makes me a better partner in return.
Touch me. One thing I know I need is to be touched affectionately. I mean, think about it…what feels better than not being able to keep your hands off each other? If he reaches out to brush my hair out of my eyes, reaches for my hand when we walk down the street, comes up behind me, moves my hair off my neck and kisses me like he means it….Meeeeow!!! I think it’s just the simple act of “reaching for me” that makes me feel loved. Reach for me, grab me, love me! Can’t get enough of me? Tell me, and then – Don’t get enough of me!! Love me up, and let me love you up, Mister!
Protect me. I think most women want to feel safe in partnership. I’m not really talking about protecting me in the physical sense, although it is nice to feel like your man could fight off say, a bear maybe, if you happened to be attacked while camping or something. No, I’ve been on my own a while and I don’t need a savior. I want a man who cares that I am well-nurtured, loved and looked after, and I need a partner who looks out for me because what matters to me matters to him. I will protect him right back, natch.
Hear me. You know when you get the feeling that someone isn’t really listening to you? And so you sort of keep rambling, because maybe what you’re saying doesn’t really matter to them, so you get in this loop of just talking and talking because you’re sort of embarrassed that they aren’t really listening but you can’t shut up for some reason? Yeah, that won’t work for me. I want to be heard, I want to be listened to, I want to be treated like what I say matters to him most of all. When a man says, “I remember you told me that,” or shows up with the type of cookies I mentioned casually as being my favorite, he is showing that he is listening. That counts. Big time.
Know me. I think what all of us really, truly want out of partnership is to be known. Truly, deeply, intimately known. Those nights you stay up til 3 am sharing secrets and being vulnerable, feeling safe enough to admit you’re afraid of being bad at something, or revealing old hurts and letting them go with each other…these are the moments that make you a “couple”. To know and be known in a way that you share with no one else, to feel like you’re known and loved for exactly who you are. Exactly. Flaws and all. Perhaps this is the most important part of feeling loved and adored. Belonging to each other by choice. Yes.
Love and partnership isn’t easy. We find someone we like, we start spending time together, and then if that goes well, we start thinking about merging lives. But then most of us, we just sort of *expect* our partner to know how to love us. Really, that’s kind of asking a lot, you guys. I think “do we have what it takes to create a sustainable partnership” should be part of the discussion.
I shared this list with one of my closest girl friends and I asked her, “So, how do you love you?” And you know, she needed to think about it, just like I did. Maybe knowing how you like to be loved is an important element of entering into partnership. If you don’t know, how can you expect someone else to know? That shit doesn’t come in a manual! (Well, unless you count The Five Love Languages, then yeah, it kind of does…and you can take a little quiz here if you want to find out).
So. Let me ask you. How do you love YOU?