I have always been a giver in my relationships. I loved to give, whether it was through communicating with my partner throughout the day or putting in the effort to do something special for them. Giving love is second nature to me.
I didn’t have to think about it. If I loved someone I gave.
But, at the same time, receiving love made me uncomfortable.
If my partner did something for me, my immediate reaction was, “Oh! You didn’t have to do that”.
You didn’t have to come all the way just to pick me up.
You didn’t have to reply if you were busy.
I can do it myself you don’t have to help.
When that relationship ended, I had no idea why. I had put in so much effort, but it wasn’t enough. It was only months later that I came across the term-receiving love. And it was such an eye-opener.
Suddenly the failure of my previous relationship became clear to me. I gave love but resisted receiving it.
It was easy to buy gifts, compliment him or give focused attention, but when he gave it to me, I didn’t know how to respond.
Why is receiving love so much more difficult?
Many of us find receiving love much more challenging than giving. This is because our ego thinks we are unworthy. It wakes up that part of our inner self, which believes that we are not good enough or that we don’t deserve this attention/ love. It feels selfish to receive love, and being selfish is bad.
“There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: Receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it.
This goes way back to our childhood. Many of us cannot receive love because, as children, we didn’t receive unconditional love. We grow up learning in some way or form that we are unworthy of it.
According to the authors of ‘Receiving Love’ Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, the root of the problem is self-rejection, which begins in childhood.
We end up rejecting in ourselves what our parents or caretakers rejected in us. This manifests in our adult relationships, making it impossible to let in the love we want or need, even when our partners offer it to us. So we dismiss compliments or minimize gestures and create blocks to true intimacy.
How can we receive love?
Once I realized how I was blocking love subconsciously, I was able to transform myself and get better at it.
Learn your love language: Every person has a unique language for expressing and experiencing love broadly categorized as Physical Touch, Words of Affirmations, Quality Time, Acts of Service, and Receiving Gifts. If you know what makes you feel loved, you can teach your partner how to love you. It helps you communicate what is important to meet your emotional needs.
Learn your partner’s love language: Most people love others in the same way they want to be loved. Knowing your partner’s love language will help you recognize when they are giving you love in their own way.
Be a little selfish: Many of us have a negative emotion associated with being selfish. Selflessness is considered a virtue, so being selfish can bring up feelings of shame. But being selfless all the time will lead to your needs being unmet and ultimately develop into resentment. Develop a healthy balance between the two.
Practice communicating your needs: Do not assume that if your partner loves you, they can automatically understand how you feel. Be self-aware and understand your own needs first. Then practice communicating them whenever necessary.
Accept that you are worthy: This is probably the toughest thing to do. It is not easy to change your inner voice when that is what you have believed all your life. Take a step back and observe your emotions when receiving love makes you feel uncomfortable. Understand them and tell yourself that you are worthy of this love.
Open yourself to vulnerability: Most of us have a deep fear of intimacy. Due to past trauma, we put up walls around us to protect ourselves. These walls keep us from receiving love by blocking true intimacy. Showing your true self to someone else is terrifying, but it is also worth it. Vulnerability helps us to accept each other fully and brings us so much closer.
Learning how I was blocking myself from being loved set me free. It changed my way of thinking about love in my relationships with those closest to me.
Most people are not aware of their negative emotions towards receiving love. Recognizing and practicing to receive rather than just giving can lead to a much more satisfying and fulfilling relationship, not just with your partner but also with yourself.