- Sep 3, 2008
We are limited to words, gestures, actions, to express our whole range of feelings to one another.
A smile, a cringe, expressions are largely universal. But we are quite able to misunderstand each others communication, both verbal and non-verbal, and do so all the time.
Of course the words alone ("I love you"), with no action to support them will not be convincing...though the words are a vital addition for some). The range of potential actions is enormous.
If we go about acting on feeling without really thinking, our own most natural expression of deeply felt love can come across as meaningless.
What matters is not if you find unexpected flowers to be romantic, but if your partner does.
Our choice of method to express our care for another may be dependent largely on how it was expressed to us.
Maybe I was not shown much affection growing up, but much emphasis was placed on my health, well being, and nutrition. Maybe my partner’s experiences were just the opposite. When I cook her healthy meals it feels to me like she takes this expression of love for granted. She does take it for granted, since she never considered meal preparation an act of love. Her parents never cooked, and she would be just as happy eating out. She assumes I cook for her just because I enjoy cooking.
When she gives me a hug it feels hollow to me. I don't associate physical affection with love very strongly. She feels the lack of response on my part, and takes it to mean I don't feel strongly about her, when really I just don't feel strongly about the method of expression. We don't understand each other, but we can't explain - we may not even understand the reasons behind our own feelings.
It isn't so much selfishness as ignorance, immaturity.
Its only natural that one would assume that what makes them feel loved is what would make others feel loved, and would therefore express their own in the same way they would like to receive it. After all, we are reminded to treat others the way we would like to be treated. The golden rule is unfortunately a bit of an oversimplification, for perhaps I appreciate surprise guests and my neighbor appreciates being left alone and as we each try to be especially kind to each other by doing what we would want them to do our displeasure only grows.
Truly caring about someone, we have to look at them a little closer, and to learn to channel our expression of love in such a way that it is understood.
If you don't know what would make the most meaningful expression to your partner, probably a good clue would be whatever things they do to attempt to express it to you!
Perhaps many of us never really thought about it. Now you have no excuse.