Do any of us truly know how to love unconditionally? I don’t know that humans are capable. Love requires selfless action. It requires us to give to others a piece of ourselves through empathy, honesty, forgiveness, patience etc. Our experiences, beliefs and biases prevent us from loving whole heartedly. That is why relying on a source greater than us to teach us through life’s journey how to be a better lover should be a personal mission for us all. The damages of judging friends, loved ones and even strangers, because of your unmet expectations is harmful–not only to them, but it hardens your heart and creates those barriers that show up in ways of discrimination, comparison, jealousy, unforgiveness, etc. (more on the harms of unmet expectations) Want to be a step closer to being a better lover? Here are 5 ways to do it.
1. Listen More, Talk Less
So whenever your friend reaches out to you to talk, maybe they’re suffering heartbreak, grief or just had a long day at work and needs someone to vent to. Instead of listening to empathize, you’ve grown a habit of telling your friend what they should’ve or shouldn’t have done instead. Responding with logic is okay, but can cause you to grow a hard heart. Logical answers are neccesary, but a lack of compassion can do a lot of harm in the long run. Understand there is a time for every response, and you don’t always have to have an answer. Just an ear.
2. Don’t Project Your Version of Potential
Often times we create visions of our loved ones of who we want them to be. This is not always positive. We can encourage them by speaking affirmations over their lives, giving advice when asked or simply living by example. But do not manipulate loved ones with your ideologies of potential. If those expectations are not met do not judge, instead listen. What is best for you may not be what’s is best for them.
3. Be Selfless
Love is a selfless act and is much harder than we think– especially to love someone who thinks different from you or lives different from you. When we wake up each morning our mission should be, How can I be a better lover today. If love was easy, this world would be a utopia. But loving others can be hard. We often bring our own biases, experiences, hurts, emotions and prejudices into situations that keep us from empathizing with others or simply taking action. I know I am guilty. Challenge yourself to remove you from the equation, when you are given the opportunity to love someone that is different.
4. Understand Love Is Not Always Feeling
I cannot stress enough, love is not a feeling. Although emotions can be involved, love is an action. You may not always feel like doing the right thing, but love often comes with a level of discomfort. The expecation that you must feel something to love is a misconception. Love is a lifestyle and mindset that must be practiced. Some elements of love may be easier for you and harder for others and vis versa. That’s why you must make it your mission to understand where are the areas where you lack love and begin to challenge yourself to grow in that area, by practicing love.
5. Practice Empathy
All of the points to a degree are ways to practice empathy. Empathy is love. If you can place yourself in someone else’s shoes you are creating a place of safety and connection. When we know someone else is hurting with us as a source of comfort, trust is strengthened and healing occurs. Dare to empathize with a loved one or friend who is in emotional pain. It will make you a better lover.
6. Let Go of Fear
I learned recently that the areas where I struggled with understanding, empathizing or where I felt jealous, if I dig deep enough, I’d also find fear. Consider the extremes, racism or homophobia, and any other prejudice, somewhere there is fear. When you listen to understand, remove yourself from the situation and let go of fear, your heart is open. This is where love begins.
Photo by Rochelle Brown
If you like this post you may love my post on the 5 Love Languages.
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