Love Flourishes When..

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentines Day! Another day to celebrate the privilege to love and be loved. Another day to express gratitude to our loved ones.
In the image here are five lessons on the topic of love that life has taught me (so far 🙂).

I have come to think of love in a certain way and I am sharing the same here.

My first biggest discovery was that each person prefers to be loved in some ways more than others. Gary Chapman in his book ‘The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate’ outlines five general ways that romantic partners express and experience love. Chapman calls these the love languages. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch. Chapman’s thesis is that each person has one primary and one secondary love language in which he or she expresses and received love. An example of ‘acts of service’ can be that your partner loves to do things to help like cooking, laundry, joining you for shopping, helping with your office work and so on. This can be one’s primary language of expressing love or preferred way of receiving love.

Chapman suggests that to discover another person’s love language, one must observe the way they express love to others, and analyze what they complain about most often and what they request from their significant other most often. I know now by experience that this is quite how it works in reality and so it is important to choose the right languages to express love.

Expressing and Receiving Love

The next lesson I learned was about expectations. I observed that when I love someone, I set expectations from the person, lay certain conditions. The more the love, the higher the expectations and more are the conditions.  This expectation from the other person could be in the form of gratitude, loyalty,  commitment, appreciation or simply that he or she thinks well of me or sees me in a better light. However, very soon I realized this doesn’t work. With higher and higher expectations comes the risk of higher and higher disappointment too. Because love is very subjective and is received and expressed differently by different people. Not just that I also start setting higher expectations for myself, wanting to raise the bar every time. So the next time around I tried to make a more grand, more refined, more emotionally elevating expression of love, even to the extent that I  may not be genuinely expressing it. So you see? Setting expectations in return for love, loving another with conditions is like a double-edged sword and it can cause damage either way. And so I am learning to separate love completely from expectations.

Sometimes, I have been to lengths that I can’t afford to express love. This is unnecessary and gives more pain in retrospect. It is better to give what you can and what you can afford than to make gifts or promises you don’t have the means to fulfil or that you can fulfil only with compromises in other areas of life.

Then the question arises why love at all. To which the answer is: because it is in our nature to want to love. It makes us happy and it is perfectly normal and human to do so. To need to love and the need to be beloved comes to us quite naturally.

To love is a privilege and so is to be loved. So, learn to be grateful for whatever love comes your way. Do not hanker for it if you think you don’t have enough of it and do not cling to it when you think you have enough. Learn to let go when it is time and be content with what life has given you. Don’t get stuck in your life journey for love. While it is an important need, it is not the only need.  It is more important to have a direction, a purpose for living. Love to the best of your capacity and keep moving forward.

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