Dr. Steve dissects the mysteries of how to be love able. It is easier, and harder, than you think.
Are you love able? Of course, you exclaim . . . or not. But really, what does being love able mean?
There are four parts as I see it. One, being able to love another, two, being able to love yourself, three, being able to receive love and four, being loveable to others.
In his book Loveability, Robert Holden says that we are hard-wired for love. We are genetically endowed with the ability to love others and receive love from others. This is not something we have to learn but, for some of us, it may be something we have to re-learn.
Why or how have they become hidden? Take your pick: bad role models in childhood, cultural conditioning, painful dating experiences, debilitating marriages. Any of these negative life experiences can make you protect yourself at the cost of a healthy and satisfying relationship.
Let’s examine the four abilities identified.
1. Being able to love another.
This can be tricky as there are two aspects of this experience to examine. One is the felt sense you have of loving the other, and the second is the expression of that felt sense.
In an intimate relationship, it does you no good to feel love for another but be unable to express or communicate that love. It even gets more challenging. Sometimes we are expressing our love but not in a way the object of our affection can experience it.
In Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages, he talks about how we have preferences in identifying what love looks like. It could be:
- Words of affirmation
- Quality time
- Receiving gifts
- Acts of service
- Physical touch
If you are expressing your love through acts of service but your partner identifies love as words of affirmation, your act of love falls on deaf ears. Obviously, knowing your partner’s preferred way of experiencing love is advantageous.
Going back to the first point of being able to express your love, this is an assessment each of us has to make. Is it easy for me to express love, how do I do it, when do I do it, and how often do I do it are all important questions?
2. Being able to love yourself.
Being able to love yourself is no easy chore for most of us. Indeed, it may be the most difficult thing to do. What does loving oneself look like? What helps me with this question is mirroring what I would do for a person I love and then giving that to myself.
I would say positive things to myself, spend quality time with myself (reading, prayer, meditation, walks in the woods), give myself gifts, do things for myself (acts of service, for example, clean my office, take care of my health with regular dental and medical check-ups, etc.) and touch myself.
Hmmnn, what does “touching myself” mean? For me, it is about sensing my body. When I go to a massage therapist I become intimately connected to both the pleasure and pain within my body.
I am most in touch with my body when exercising. Each form of exercise feels different. Running feels different from swimming which feels different from lifting weights or doing yoga.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include the obvious – masturbation. A very physical form of self-love.
3. Being able to receive love.
Ah, many of my clients trip over this one. They may be great at giving love but being able to receive love is a challenge. When you give love, who is in control? You are. On the other hand, to open oneself to receiving love is to let down the barriers of self-protection. To be vulnerable is to let go of control. This is not easy.
Furthermore, it is hard to receive love if you don’t think you deserve it. If you question your love ability, think back to when you were a child. All children are deserving of love. When you were a child, you reached out knowing that you wanted love and never questioned whether you deserved it or not. It was part of who you were.
If you have lost touch with that legacy, now is the time to recapture your love ability. Seeing yourself as love able makes you open to receiving love as you are both projecting your love ability and expecting to be loved. You are attractive in your eyes and in the eyes of others.
4. Being seen as loveable.
If you want to be loved by others, don’t wait, love them. By loving them you demonstrate openness, vulnerability, gentleness, compassion, caring, and patience, to name a few qualities of a loving nature. These are the deeper qualities that make you loveable.
Being love able is a conscious choice if you have lost touch with this natural way of being. Practicing loving yourself, others, your partner if you have one, and working on your lovability is an ongoing discipline.
As Lau Tzu said, “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” And it takes courage to cook up a personality and set of behaviors that make you love able.
Like any good recipe, it is important to have the right ingredients and to combine them in the right order. Cooking the love able pie is unique to each individual as you will have more of some ingredients and less of others. You will have to decide what needs enhancing and in what order your ingredients need to be combined.
Then you mix it all together and bake it in the oven of life. Taste the result, if a little bitter add more sugar. Mix and repeat until you get the desired results.
I can assure you, when your pie is fully risen, you will be, and be seen by others, as someone who can have a successful relationship because you are LOVE ABLE.