January 31, 2011

A Message from Dr. Bean - Teaching People How To Love You

I often hear from men and women, “he does not show me he care”, “she is not understanding”, “he is not romantic”, “she is always fussing”, “he does not understand me”, “she does not get it”. Regardless of the specific wording; it mostly centers on loving and feeling loved.

I think people forget that when you are in a relationship (friends, romantic, marriage, etc.) you have to teach people how to love you. Teach them how to show you they care. I believe people just assume that others should know what they like and need. I am not sure if that is always reasonable logic. I don’t know if it is reasonable to just assume that people will know how we like to be treated. It is reasonable to assume that people want to be treated well; however, it then becomes unreasonable to assume that one knows what that looks like.

An example that a friend of mine uses is sharing with her husband how much it means to her when he makes her transitions and chores in the home easier. Not the flowers, candy, or material things. But things that makes her life easier. One snowy morning, she got up to get her daughter to school and remembered that the car seat was in another car (anyone who has dealt with car seats can empathize with this experience). When she went out to switch the car seat, she realized her husband had already put the seat in her car along with their childs bags – before he went to work. This was a demonstration of love that she had to teach him. Waiting for him to figure these things out will only lead to frustration and problems for both of them.

Vice versa, I am aware of men who had to teach their wives ideal times for conversation. I know men who say that during sports or as soon as they come home from work are not the best times for conversation. They had to teach their partners better times for conversation. She may feel that she is showing love by communicating and engaging her partner, regardless of the time. However, he feels as if she has no regard for his free time or his need to relax.

You have to communicate how you want to be treated. You have to share with your friends what you need from friendships. You have to share with your family what you need from them to know you are valued as a family member. You have to communicate with your partner what makes you feel loved and cared for. People grow up with their own general understanding of love and what it should look like – that is specific to THEM – not OTHERS. It may serve as a disservice to assume that their experiences will translate to your life in a manner that meets your needs.

Therefore, avoid waiting for your love needs to get met by trial and error and begin to actively communicate these needs. This will hopefully allow you to get more fulfillment out of your relationship, as well as, creating a more harmonious relationship.

Dr. Keisha L. Bean is a Licensed Psychologist in Nashville, Tn and is a monthly contributor on the blog! Be sure to check out her website here & blog and connect with her on Linked in! To view previous posts from Dr. Bean here, here, here & here.

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