Showing love may be more difficult than you imagined or it may be a no brainer. Your way of showing love is what you want from the other person, but not what he needs from you. The different ways you can show love will apply to a spouse, a friend a parent or child. Each person needs love, but receives it differently and shows it differently. Sometimes that depends on past abuse.
The best thing you can show a child is unconditional love. That is the only way he will believe he has value and grow up with a healthy attitude about himself and his world. That doesn't mean no discipline. It means accepting him as he is. Look at the DISC Personalities. His may be different than yours. That doesn't make him wrong. It makes him different.
Below are five ways that people need love. See which applies to you. Then find out how the other person needs you to show love. If you don't know, ask him. (From "The Five Languages of Love" by Dr. Gary Chapman.)
1. Offer words of encouragement, praise and recognition. Give compliments based on a specific achievement the person has done or characteristic of that person.
2. Show acts of service. Do something that you may not want to do, like take out the garbage. Do something that takes up your time when you are pressed for time like visit someone who is sick or help without being asked.
3. Give an unplanned gift. It shows that you are thinking of the other person.
4. Spend time with the person. Listen to the person but also do things together and talk to each other.
5. Touch physically and show intimate closeness. Hold hands or massage the other person. Stand close to them. It may mean just being in the same room or the same house with the other person. Talking is not necessary.
"When we love someone our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion -- through the fact that for that someone...we take an extra step or walk an extra mile. Love is not effortless. To the contrary, love is effortful." -M. Scott Peck
We can look at the DISC personality styles to get more information about how people accept love. One person may see loyalty as an intense form of love. Another may see valuing their opinion as a form of love.
The D - Direct person needs to feel that he has control over his ability to reach his goals. Helping him meet his goals will make him feel loved and appreciated. Allowing him to go his own way without your nagging him is also appreciated. He needs freedom. He is a doer, not an observer. Let him do whatever it is he is involved in. He needs to talk about his goals and what he is doing. Listen to him. He is driven. Keep him healthy without annoying him. He likes to solve problems. Let him. Take care of the details that he hates so much. If you argue, use facts. Confront him if he needs it. He will respect you for it.
He may not want to be touched.
The I - Influential person also needs freedom. He is spontaneous and lives in the moment. You can crush him with a negative word or anything he views as rejection. He needs to talk about himself. Listen to him. He needs to discuss his feelings. Never embarrass him, but laugh at his jokes. He is people oriented. He needs to socialize.
Be enthusiastic and upbeat. Give him praise in front of others. Listen to his feelings and ideas. Help him by completing all the details he doesn't seem to have time for. When he explodes, don't hold a grudge. He will forget about it in a few hours. Don't take it personally.
He may love to be touched.
The S - Steady person needs an informed plan without any complications. He needs you to solve his problems and encourage him. He needs to ask questions and feel that any changes are understandable and safe. He needs you to be strong for him. Encourage him. Be positive and don't argue with him. He sees that as confrontational.
He likes to be around a friend or two, not too many people. He doesn't want to participate unless he feels comfortable. He may want to be by himself. Don't push him. He likes to take things slowly and methodically. Don't rush him. He uses up a lot of energy fighting the world. He has hidden fears. Allow him time to recuperate. Compliment him often, especially about how reliable he is.
He may want you to just be with him.
The C - Cautious person needs a clear idea of what is going on. Don't just tell him the results and expect him to accept them. He wants to know everything. Answer all his questions. Be factual. When he asks all his questions, and wants to explain, let him explain until he is sure you understand. He takes time to think things through. Give him time. Don't take his isolation personally. He needs to be away from distractions and think.
He is task oriented. He may procrastinate until he is sure the preparation is enough to make him comfortable. Compliment him on the perfect job he is doing.
He may want your patience and to just accept him and his idiosyncrasies.
Women need to talk about their feelings and men need to not talk about their feelings. Children need discipline and boundaries to feel safe and that you love them along with large amounts of touching and holding.
As you can see, different people need different things. Above all, they need you to accept them for who they are and love them even when they are difficult to be with and different than you.
Ask your loved ones what they want from you, how you can show them love. Then, consider how you want to be loved. What can the people around you do to show you that they care? Don't be afraid to tell them. They aren't mind readers. Give them the opportunity to show you love.
"Flatter me, and I may not believe you. Criticize me, and I may not like you. Ignore me, and I may not forgive you. Encourage me, and I will not forget you. love me, and I may be forced to love you." -William Arthur Ward
Photo : caroline-hernandez-177784-unsplash
Copyright LifeSkills International 2004
Sign up to get our latest newsletter to learn about abuse and narcissism.