Love Is Love When Expressed

Expressing love is as important as loving itself.
Love should be expressed the way your loved one likes, not the way you like.

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Love takes the most important part of our life. It is not too much to say that love is the essence of life. However, love cannot be seen, smelled, or touched. Therefore, you cannot physically take your love out of your heart and show it to your loved one, or put it nicely in a gift box and hand it to them. Then, when do we feel loved, and how can we convey our love?

The formula for love is “heart × expressing.” When love is expressed, it comes to the surface and becomes amazing medicine that changes the world. Although love is a hundred, if its expression is zero, it is useless. No matter how close you are to someone, they cannot completely know what is in your heart because they are not you.

Dogs wag their tails to people they like, making eye contact with them. Whales sing, and monkeys groom other monkeys they like. Penguins bring pebbles to the penguins they like. Thus, animals too express their love in their own ways.

We easily express our anger or disappointment to others. However, we often do not express our love, thinking, ‘It’s the heart that is important. Do I really have to express it for them to know?’ ‘I’m sure they know although I don’t express it,’ ‘I’m not used to expressing it,’ etc. However, it gets even more important to express it when it is a good feeling. Unexpressed love is like a seed sitting in the dirt; nothing happens unless it is accompanied with an action such as watering it or letting it receive the sunlight.

The More You Express Love, the More You Can Love

In the U.K., neglecting a child without giving them love is considered a crime even though there is no physical abuse. It is to prevent any possible bigger issues that can be caused by the parents’ indifference and the lack of love. The parents’ love and care are the biggest psychological desire of the child. Therefore, if that is not satisfied, the child can become hyperactive or extra dependent, and sometimes they even show regression in their development. However, if a child grows up, receiving sufficient love, it is more likely that they are emotionally stable and their character and sociality are formed in a positive way.

This also applies to adults, who are able to solve food, clothing, and shelter problems on their own. When they feel loved, they have positive aspects of themselves and gain confidence. People who are loved by their parents, spouse, and children feel relaxed and lively and have will to live. If a child does not receive enough affection, they show some symptoms from the lack of affection. It is the same for the grownups; they try to control others, or react emotionally, or have strong victim mentality, or easily become anxious or stressed out. These symptoms cause conflicts with other people.

Even a married couple, who loved each other, are apt to become obligatory to each other while living busy lives at work, at home, and raising children; it is difficult to do something out of obligation. On the other hand, if you express your love from the bottom of your heart, you can give great happiness and joy to others and overcome conflicts without difficulty. Some say that preparing meals and making money for their family are because they love their family. Nevertheless, if you do not express, your love cannot be fully conveyed to them.

Daryl Bem, a psychologist, suggested the self-perception theory, which asserts that people develop their attitudes by observing their own behavior. For example, you can take an action for someone because you love them, but reversely you can be aware that you love someone through your actions such as saying “I love you” or buying flowers for them. In other words, if you express your love with kind words and actions, you can have more positive feelings towards others and have deeper affection for them. This is why the families that profusely express love are happier and have stronger unity than the families that don’t.

Love Should Be Expressed Correctly

Not all actions are right just because they come from love. Even an action that comes out, wishing another person well or with love for them, can bring about negative results. Excessive materialistic compensation, obsession, praising or neglecting wrong behavior, pointing out weak points and forcing them to change, blaming and comparing with others under the excuse of discipline are all wrong ways of expressing love; it is better not to express than to express in these ways. The emotion of loving someone and its correct expression are two separate matters.

One Korean marriage company had a survey targeting 412 men and women on the type of expressing love that they want the most. No. 1 was “affectionate words.” People say the expression “I love you” is very common, but it definitely resounds through the heart of the one who hears it. The expression “I love you” is not the only way to express love. “Mommy made this snack for you because I love you so much,” “Thank you for spending time with me,” “Daddy loves you,” “I’m happy that you are with me,” etc. Let your family members hear your sweet voice with a message of appreciation, compliment, encouragement, or apology with your affectionate eyes.

Love is conveyed through language, but it can have a true effect when accompanied with action. Love expressed only by lips, without action, cannot move the other person. In particular, infants and toddlers feel love more strongly through skin contact than language. Therefore, the time spent hugging and playing while making skin contact is essential. Soft skin contact gives people a feeling that they are intimately connected and help release their stress. Above all, love is strengthened when you spend time together, give ear to the other person and understand how they feel, and act willingly to give help when they need help. When people spend much time together laughing, each other’s satisfaction goes up and their good relationship can continue.

Love should be expressed unconditionally and consistently. However, if you express your love only when someone makes you happy—such as when your child does something deserving a compliment, when your spouse supports your opinion, when your parents give you something—or if your attitude toward the other person changes, depending on how you are feeling, it is hard to keep a healthy relationship. You need to show that you love them no matter what. Only then can they feel confident in your love.

Love equals love!
Listening well, being respectful, offering to help out,
tenderness and intimacy. The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

To Love the Way the Other Person Likes

There is a short story for kids, “Love of the Cow and the Lion.” A cow and a lion loved each other and got married. The cow served the lion grass every day, and the lion served the cow hunted meat every day. Eventually, they ended up splitting. This funny but sad story happens often in our real life. Quite often, we express our love the way we please, and feel disappointed if the other person doesn’t appreciate it or feel moved.

There are no set rules on how to express love, so everybody’s way of expressing love is different. Even though there is a way to express love, which many people empathize with, it may not touch some people’s hearts; and the same expression of love can be accepted differently by people. Most people tend to express love the way they want to receive love.

Although the cow and the lion gave each other what they cared for and liked, they ended up hurting each other. Likewise, although you take an action from love, if they don’t feel happy, it is not a good way. Only when they feel loved, it is the right way to express love. Instead of insisting on your own way, saying, “I’m doing this because I love you,” or hoping that they will get used to your expression, you need to know when they feel happy. What is important is to put aside your standards and put yourself in their shoes and deliver your love the way they please.

It is good to express your love the way they want, but it doesn’t mean that you can ask them to show you their love the way you want, ignoring their way of expression. Giving love to receive it back makes the love fade. Everybody has a different concept of love and a different expression of it, based on different experiences with love. For example, some people find it hard to say “I love you,” and some people are not used to being considerate of others. Let’s acknowledge each person’s way of expressing love by understanding that the ways they got used to, while growing in each different environment, cannot change at once.

If someone doesn’t like the way you express love, it means that you don’t have full understandings of that person. Try to see the other person’s reaction to what you say and do, and try to say and do more things that they accept positively. If you still don’t understand the right way of expressing love for them, you could ask them when they feel loved. Finding the way both you and your loved one feel satisfied and adjusting to that way is also another way of expressing love.

Erich Fromm, a renowned social psychologist, suggested that “love is not a sentiment, but an action.” Psychologist George W. Crane gave a similar suggestion by saying, “Love is nurtured by being expressed and put into action.” Love is like a flower that needs much care for it to bloom. Nothing can be done without efforts. The same is true for love. If love is expressed properly in family, big and small problems in life are solved by themselves.

Time doesn’t wait for us. The moment might come when you cannot express your love anymore even though you want to. Examine whether or not your way of expressing love is appropriate, and express your unconditional and sincere love to your family. Love is like a spring that never dries up no matter how much it gives out water. There is one more thing to keep in mind: You don’t need to express your love only in a special way at a special moment. When you express your love in your daily life, every day will be a special day.