There is a difference between liking your partner and loving your partner. In most vows I’ve written and heard, rarely do we discuss liking a partner. Instead, we commit to loving and honoring the person until death or some other ridiculous notion. Since nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, we should change the vows to until the death of the marriage or my beloved, whichever comes first. I’m really not trying to be cynical here.
While love tends to be the focus and ultimate goal of most relationships, liking should be the first priority in all relationships. Don’t believe me? Have you had an experience where you loved your child, but didn’t like him or her? My mom is flailing her raised hand about now.
I’m sure you’ve had the same experience with your favorite type of food.
For example, I love Mexican food, but I’ve had plenty of experiences with Mexican food I didn’t like.
If we don’t like something, it can put us in a bad mood. If we don’t love something, we tend to walk away. Liking takes effort.
Further, love doesn’t just magically happen. Love takes time, effort, and commitment. Love also takes a lot of liking. According to Dr. Robert Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love, consummate love takes plenty of passion, intimacy and commitment. If the physical connection is horrible, you can’t have the ultimate love. If you cannot connect emotionally, no great love. How are you going to commit to a relationship if you don’t like the person? Love requires a series of likes.
Unfortunately, too many people focus on love as a relationship goal when love is not a tangible thing. Instead, we must focus on liking each other. Imagine working on liking your partner every day. Liking your partner requires you to be respectful, gracious, caring, accepting, empathetic, generous, and compassionate. It requires you to listen and connect emotionally and spiritually. Liking requires you to be an active participant in your relationship instead of a passive bystander.
Since I’m a relationship coach, I want to take this notion of liking one step further. How will you ever love yourself if you don’t like yourself? If you can’t love yourself (or like yourself), how do you expect others to love and like you? We invite people to treat us the way we treat ourselves.
Before you attempt to love yourself or another person, start by liking yourself. Be respectful. Be gracious. Be caring and accepting. Be generous, kind, and compassionate. Laugh. Cry. Honor your preciousness.
Most of all, hug yourself and the ones you like. If you are having a hard time, reach out to me. I have a bear hug waiting to show you that I like you.