It feels so good to receive love. So, why is it so difficult sometimes to do so?
Try an experiment; out of the blue, come up with a list of things you love about your partner and share them with her. Say to her when she’s least expecting it, “Have I told you how much I love you lately?” And don’t stop there, go on to say, “And these are the reasons why I love you so…”
This experiment will give you an idea about how comfortable your partner is with receiving your love. She may respond by jokingly saying, “What do you want from me?” Or s/he may respond by minimizing or negating your comments, “I’m not always
caring” or “Well then you are the only one who thinks I’m beautiful…” Or s/he may even be so uncomfortable s/he attempts to provoke a fight by saying something like “Why are you just now telling me this? It’s been months since you’ve said anything nice to me.”
If you do try this experiment, be sure to express completely genuine feelings, do not fabricate compliments or exaggerate your feelings—be honest and authentic. If your partner seems to be able to receive your love in this exercise, ask her how it felt to hear your words. Ask her what was most difficult to accept or embrace about what you shared.
When we learn the areas in which we reject love, we are closer to understanding what we need to work on to feel lovable and receive love.
A whole host of reasons may underline the fact that you or your partner might resist love. One of the most common obstacles to receiving love occurs when you do not have receptors for it. You create receptors by first loving your self.
If someone told me my skin was purple, I would reject that observation. When I look at my skin, I see white—pale white, actually. So the notion that my skin is purple doesn’t attach to anything inside of me because I don’t have a receptor for it. Perhaps, if twenty different people from various parts of my life made this same observation, I may begin to develop a receptor for it.
Likewise, if you do not feel attractive, generous, caring, honest, loving, sexy, smart, creative, or whatever else your partner may see in you, you do not have a receptor to receive the love your partner feels about those aspects of who you are. Therefore, if you convince yourself that you are unlovable or unworthy, you can not trust or believe when someone says, “I love you,” that they mean it.
In other cases, you may not be able to receive love because of messages you received from important people in your life. Perhaps you were neglected, abused or otherwise mistreated as a child, and left with the feeling that you must be unlovable. Or maybe you realized early in life that you are gay, and as you grew older you picked up messages everywhere you turned that being gay is bad and wrong. Many lesbians have internalized the messages that are prevalent in our culture that being gay is “bad,” “wrong,” and that as a result you are broken, sinful or unworthy. When you buy into this thinking, you prevent yourself from receiving love.
Another major obstacle with receiving love is the fear of losing it. Perhaps this fear is in place because you have a history of feeling unloved, rejected, or having had experiences in getting your heart broken.
If you have difficulty receiving your partner’s love you are rejecting the greatest gift he or she has to give. It is your responsibility to develop the receptors so that you can have a mutual exchange of love in your relationship. Ways to begin that process may include reading self-help books, deepening your spiritual connections, journal writing, talking with friends about your feelings, or seeking the guidance of a professional. To learn more about Receiving Love, Harville Hendricks has a book by this title.
If you have difficulty trusting or believing that you are loveable, you must begin putting energy into healing these wounds before you can expect to feel loved by a partner. It is not your partner’s job to convince you that you are loveable. It is up to you to develop self-love. When you do, your partner’s gifts can flow freely and you can find yourself in a happy relationship where love can move easily within and between you.