Everyone Gives and Receives Love in Different Ways
Everyone gives and receives love in different ways.*** Some ways are better than others, but some are simply translations, like two people speaking two different languages. Becoming aware of different ways, regardless of whatever categories you use, increases your capacity to give and receive the underlying love, regardless of the form it takes.
Reframe: Sometimes the Ways People Express Care Are Surprising
One of my aunts is a lawyer, and a few years ago we started having heated debates at our family gatherings.
At first I was surprised, but I quickly saw that we both enjoyed the arguments. She had grown to respect my opinion enough to challenge it. We grew closer to each other knowing that we could disagree on important issues, learn from each other, and still express a lot of love for each other.
Check-In: Sometimes the Way You Want to Express Care Is Not Welcome
One of the communities I spend time with in Austin is very touchy-feely. They like to hangout in “cuddle-puddles” and hugs can easily last for thirty seconds at a time. For most of them, it is a way to share intimacy.
Yet for this very reason, one of my good friends does not want to be touchy-feely with them. She loves physical contact, but only with people she already feels very close with. To join a cuddle-puddle of acquaintances would be breaking her integrity. She feels most appreciative when they do not assume she wants the same level of physical contact that they do.
Patience and Kindness
Over time, you may learn to understand how the people around you receive love best. In the meantime, be patient, gentle, and kind to them and yourself as you acknowledge that misunderstandings happen.
***One theory championed by counselor Gary Chapman identifies five “love languages” of gifts, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch.