Giving and Receiving Love

Love we all need it - it is one of the fundamentals of life. Whether we get it from our partner, our friends, our community, or our pets, it is a deeply nurturing necessity of life. Equally, we also need to give love, to care for things. Receiving alone is not enough. Our need to nurture and care bring out the best in us, whether channeled into a family, a garden, our pets or humanity itself.


We are born needing touch, needing love, needing acceptance, and hopefully with a loving parent and family we learn that we are loveable and deserving of love, we accept it as our birthright. At this formative time, we also learn how to give love, and how to show our affection and feelings based on copying our primary caretakers, our family of origin.

"A baby is born with a need to be loved - and never outgrows it."- Frank A. Clark

Now this is all hunky dory, as long as the ways we copied were positive, nurturing and life affirming. Often they were not, life doesn't always work like that. Unconditional love from parent to child is an ideal but not always possible, so we don't always get to realise how loveable and deserving of love we are. Some of us may feel we have to earn love, and when we do get shown love in adult life, we somehow sabotage it, so that we can return to the inbuilt feeling that we are unloved.

"We accept the love we think we deserve." - Stephen Chbosky

So we grow up and get into relationships with others and then perhaps go on to establish our own families too. So why at times does giving and receiving love seem to cause so much trouble?

My theory is, that because of all I mentioned above, we all have different conceptions of love, different ways of showing love and different things that constitute 'being loved' for us.

Here are some examples-
  1. One person is upset about something, their inbuilt need is to be hugged and comforted and reassured that everything is going to be alright. The other person, on seeing that the first is upset, automatically thinks that they need time alone. So respecting what they think is the others need, they retreat. The first, seeing the others retreet, surmises that they don't love them, thinking "how could they walk away when I am obviously upset."

  2. One person is always tending to the others needs, delicious food, cuddles and lots of thoughtful gestures. The other cries secretly because the first never tells them they love them

  3. One person is always buying the other suprise presents, expensive and beautiful items. The other smiles but they mean nothing, they are just longing for a cuddle.

You see with these examples, that people have different ways and ideas of showing love. If we are lucky, we will share a similar expectation as to what constitutes love and we will easily see and understand the way the other gives love, and it will feel comfortable and nurturing to us. In the same way, our expressions of love need to be seen, appreciated and accepted.


As people are often vulnerable with regard to their need for love, they often do not recognise the love that is offered, as it isn't presented in a way they recognise as 'love'. As in example 2 above, where the person is being surrounded with love but because they don't actually hear the words 'I love you' they don't recognise it.

"Just because somebody doesn't love you the way you want them to,
doesn't mean they don't love you with all they have." - Author Unknown

Obviously, if this can be recognised and understood, more of an understanding can be reached. The person who buys his loved ones expensive presents to show love (just as their parents did to them) can learn to give a cuddle to show love instead and in return, the other by recognising how the partner 'expects' love, can buy a suprise present occasionally just to say 'I love you'.

In making an effort to understand each other, it is often helpful to explore how both you and your partners family showed love as you were growing up - what feels natural to you?

By realising that there isn't just one correct way to express and experience love, it can open us up to feeling the love that we may just be missing.

How was love shown when you were growing up?

What do you need to feel loved?

Image - Love Frequency by Susannah Bec


Anonymous said...

Isn't it amazing (and I know you've posted about this before) how the synchronicities pop up... when you most need them? There I was today, writing about being loveable (or not) and stumbled across this. I totally agree with all that you say, Susannah. And often, the problem is that we haven't even explored how we show love, let alone communicated how we would like to receive it...
And yet it's a fundamental... go figure!
What a trip life is. :-)

Susannah said...

It certainly is a trip Alice! This 'being human' lark isn't as easy. lol

I think the reason this subject is so difficult is because it is where we are most vulnerable. Our loveabilty, being loved, are we truly loved. All these things open us up to something very tender within us and discussing it can leave us feeling too exposed.

It is TOO important.

Though I understand this intellectually, I still have trouble sometimes. As I said in the post if you have very different styles of showing or receiving love - or different ideas of what constitutes love, then work is needed! (that is why basic compatibilty of moon signs is important.)

As I have been told before, "you are surrounded with love but you are not seeing it, you are not letting it in"...ouch!

Sagar Murli said...

Beautifully written. You have given me a much clearer view on love. Thank you.

Susannah said...

Thank you for dropping in Sagar, and for your comment. x


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