Mindful in love

CONNECTING WITH OUR LOVED ONES

Neha Somani

Organizational & Counselling Psychologist

" Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean that they don’t love you "

Togetherness is a beautiful union of physical and mental harmony. One of the most important spheres of human existence is the relations that we cultivate, especially the ones we establish with our partners. The love, intimacy, and friendship that fosters between couples go beyond superficial and mundane conversations.

By identifying and opening up to different emotional states, one begins to become more mindful and empathetic. By switching to the emotional state of our partner, we can establish better channels of communication and understanding. Couples should invest time to strengthen their emotional bond.

Sometimes we are so caught up in our ideas, beliefs, and imaginations about love, that we forget to think about the other person’s way of looking at love.

True love requires understanding our partner's love language.

By any means, I am not telling you to compromise on what you deserve, but all I am telling you is when you find out, “the right one” for you, give them the space to love, the way they love.

Trying to force partners to love the way we want them to may cripple an intimate relationship into an enforced one. We may be having a hard time appreciating how our partner expresses their love and yielding to the love they have to offer.

We can feel deprived when our partners fail to demonstrate their love the way we want them to. Maybe they don’t remember our anniversary or bring us flowers or cook us our favorite meal or say nice things just for the heck of it. Would it be so hard for them to just do the things we want?

Maybe it would be hard for them, though I’m not saying they shouldn’t try. But if we are constantly complaining about what we are not getting, we close our eyes to appreciate what we do receive, we are rejecting a very personal part of them. And we don’t want to reject them! We love them. We love that they love us. We just want them to express their love differently — the way we want it.

Our Fantasies about Love

We grow up with fantasies of what it will be like to find our life partner. These ideas or fantasies about love are often based on our experiences with love growing up in our families and culture.

Starting in infancy, deep interactions with our families, and how we are loved by our caretakers lay the foundation for our sense of ourselves in relation to others — how we feel loved. As we grow up, we watch how our parents love each other; this provides us with our first model of intimate, romantic love. Later, we are flooded with cultural representations of love: love songs, TV shows, Bollywood movies, and a lot of things that aid us define what love is to us.

But since every person has a different journey from childhood to adulthood, every person has their own idea about love and everyone has their own way to love

When the reality of our relationship doesn’t match our fantasies, we can become disappointed. We might assume that we are with the wrong person. Or we might doubt whether they love us at all — after all, if they really loved us, they would have brought us flowers on our birthday, or written a long essay about how much they love you.

There is always an element of fantasy in romantic relationships. Romance engages us at the core of our being, reaching all the way back to infancy, so it is going to awaken some pretty irrational stuff.

But if we want true intimate love, it won’t be found with someone who fulfils our fantasies or fits into our ideas of an “ideal” partner. True intimacy requires recognition of another person with their own thoughts, feelings, desires — and ways of demonstrating love.

Riya and Rohan

Let’s consider a scenario

Riya, a girl, who belongs to a very expressive family, where everyone is really expressive and believes in displaying affection through constant gestures of love, surprises on birthdays, parties for any achievements, celebrating little things, she has grown up watching Bollywood movies and thinks about love as a fairy tale.

As a young girl, she imagined being showered with the kind and thoughtful words from her partner that she grew up hearing from her parents, but this time from a charming man. Her family demonstrated their love with words.

Now Riya complains that Rohan doesn’t show love to her. Riya agrees that she can always count on him, but insists that he never tells her how amazing she is and how he admires her. Riya finds herself with a man who is not a big talker — he prefers to demonstrate his love through actions. When questioned, Riya readily agrees that she is loved by Jake, but she still feels this niggling absence that makes her question whether Jake is the right guy for her.

Riya always gets disappointed when Rohan doesn’t do something big to surprise her on her birthdays or fails to celebrate any achievements lavishly, she feels like she is not important enough to him.

And Rohan's way of loving is different, a bit subtle we can say. He never fails to support Riya in anything that she does, he is there with her, even in the middle of a night when she is burning the midnight oil, he believes in encouraging and supporting her and does little gestures of love, like supporting Riya, giving her the space and independence to pursue all her dreams, cooks for her on her bad days, sits by with her when she is sad or sick, he believes in sticking by in the tough times, rather than being superficial and celebrating good times, but at times Riya fails to understand these gestures and understand love through Rohan's perspective.

If one practices identifying one’s emotions as well as those of the partner, emotions will become the anchor offering strength and stability. This is how we can fortify our bond and make everyday living a joy.

This is an exercise to be done with one’s partner. We can also do it with a parent, sibling or best friend.

a. We can start by identifying how we feel when we sit in front of them. Observe our body language. Are we dwindling our thumbs, playing with our fingers or shaking our legs involuntarily?

b. How do we feel? We can identify and zero down on the emotion. Are we happy, elated, confused, excited, puzzled, pleased, excited, curious, embarrassed, confident, bored, sad, unhappy or anxious? We need to dig in deep and consciously stay in the moment.

c. Do we feel any kind of discomfort or any unpleasantness in our abdomen? Does our heart skip a beat when we look into the eyes of the person we love? Do we feel love filling our hearts or a lump in the throat when we look at our parents? We may tune in to any subtle changes that are happening in the body.

d. We can relate the emotion to our partner by asking them how they feel. What is the primary emotion they are going through? What are the other emotions we find connected to it?

e. We can try to feel what our partner is feeling.

Surrender to Love

Surrendering to how a partner loves us means that we value their viewpoint — we must honour the legitimacy of how they intend their actions or words to be received. Anyone can send us flowers or give us a compliment without loving us. In love, it is the intention behind the act that matters.

When we understand our partner’s perspective of love, trying to find it as valid as our own, we expand our sense of what is acceptable — we change. The more we learn about our partner and value how they see things, the more we take them in and the greater our sense of intimacy. Surrendering to how our partner loves does not diminish us; we don’t abandon our own perspective. Love is additive — we experience growth by expanding our sense of what it means to be loved. Give your partner space to love you the way they love and enjoy being in love. Maybe, it’s different from what you want, but if you have found the right one, it’s surely worth it.

View more content by Neha Somani

Discussion Board

Do you think cinema portrays the right image of how relationships should be?