Love involves looking at someone subjectively instead of objectively. It asks of me to give my heart to another regardless of whether that person has earned it. In fact, I become willing to overlook the negatives about someone in order to be smitten. I give my heart because I want to be attached to that person. I want to belong to (and with) that individual, and I want that individual to belong to (and with) me.
This love could be romantic and passionate (such as between spouses and lovers). It could be that I have your best interests at heart, treat you lovingly, help you learn and grow, and I protect you to the best of my ability (such as with a child). It could be that I take a great interest and pleasure in nurturing and caring for you, and being good to you (such as with a pet or a friend).
If I say I love you, you can assume that I am saying that I will be attentive to you, interested in how you feel, and that your happiness is important to me. If I say I love you, that implies that I will care for you, treat you well, listen to you and think highly of you. If I say I love you, I might occasionally create surprises or special experiences that are meant to enrich or delight you, and I will feel a deep affection toward you. Words that are readily associated with love are: warmth, tenderness, fondness, attachment, devotion, compassion, caring and endearing.
So if I treat you as if I’m indifferent to how you feel, or if I’m critical and I communicate that I do not think highly of you; if I don’t consistently treat you as if I value you, or if I focus more on your negative than your positive qualities; if I lose affection for you, or I don’t treat you as a high priority in my life, you could reasonably conclude that I no longer love you. I might communicate all of this even though I still may love you, because I am no longer infatuated with you. This is what often happens to couples who start out deeply in love. You get disappointed; you see behaviors that were once hidden from you; what you once thought interesting or exciting you now think of as lame or boring, and you fall out of love—and quit giving your heart to the other person.
Another factor has to do with what happens to love over time. Couples that have been together for many years report that it is hard to sustain passion and eroticism over the years, and some conclude that the passion is therefore gone, so it’s time to move on to someone else. But passion wanes in every relationship given time, and that means you will forever be ending your relationships and searching for another. It therefore becomes important for every one of us to actively put effort into keeping romance and passion alive, because the wild passionate feelings often morph into such things as friendship, companionship, shared identity, family and a shared vision for the future.
What does all of this say about you? What does this imply regarding how well you give love, and how open you are to receiving love? How well do you communicate that you love someone? Do you love, but are afraid to show it? Do you not let yourself love for very long before you turn judgmental, critical, busy, preoccupied or aloof? Do you allow yourself to love freely, or are you quick to put your guard up? Who do you love, and how well are you showing it? Do you think those that you love feel loved by you?
We’ve all heard the expression “Once burned, twice shy.” It refers to getting hurt in love, and vowing to never let yourself get that hurt again. Almost every adult has had some experience with getting hurt in love, and many us have been hurt many times. Does this interfere with your ability or willingness to love freely and uninhibitedly? If so, what would you like to do about this? Do you love the way you are wanting to love? Do you consistently show love the way you think you should?
Here’s what you could do if you wanted to love better than you currently do. You could overlook the negatives about your partner to allow yourself to feel smitten by him/her once again. You could act attentive, interested and empathetic toward how s/he feels. You could change being critical and instead consistently communicate what you like, love, admire, respect and appreciate about him/her. You could yet again offer your heart regardless of whether your partner/spouse has earned it. And you could act warm, tender, attached, devoted, caring and endearing again, because you are wanting to regain those magical feelings of being in love.
“You will be loved the day when you will be able to show your weakness without the other person using it to assert his strength.” —Cesare Pavese