Love is a deeply confusing feeling and emotion, and not one that can be easily put into words or described to other people. Each and every one of us has our own version of love that exists in our own minds and it is difficult to tell another person what our unique idea of love requires and includes. We each have a vision of what love should be, some might be similar, some might be worlds apart. It makes sense to me that you might feel like you don’t know how to love, when in fact you simply haven’t been shown the kind of love you imagine for yourself or given the opportunity to create it.
Sometimes, it can even seem impossible to feel love at all. When we’ve been left heart-broken by people we thought we loved or when we see some of the awful things that are happening in our world today, it can be hard to believe that love exists at all. We tend to close ourselves off so that we can’t be hurt again or because we fear something terrible could happen to us if we open our hearts and make ourselves vulnerable. When you keep yourself and your heart locked down for a long time and build a thick wall of doubts, it can be easy to forget how to love at all when it finally comes looking for you. Knowing love is like building strength in a muscle, you have to keep it active if you want it to stay strong.
It’s okay to feel like you don’t know how to love. So very many of us feel lost on love at times. You are allowed to let things grow on you, you don’t have to be struck down by love in an instant. The idea of “love at first sight” can be harmful and has taught entire generations that if you don’t feel fireworks in your heart and butterflies in your stomach then it’s not really love. I would be willing to bet that you do know how to love, you only doubt yourself because your experience doesn’t match what you dreamed of.
The Science Of Love
The reality is that love is a biological experience, it’s science, and to some that can be easier to understand than the wishy-washy “feelings” approach. It is a natural process that happens in the brain and the body which involves chemicals and true data that can be measured. Love is part of the human experience and although you might not know how to love, the ability is innately inside you somewhere, you just haven’t come across the right triggers. Scientifically, love compels us to procreate and biologically that’s the single most important thing our bodies are designed to do.
Love is part of our biological evolution, so I can assure you that you do know how to love, it’s hidden inside you somewhere.
Studies have shown that love can even be seen and measured, proving that it is a biological reaction that we are naturally programmed for. Just because you don’t feel it yet, there’s nothing to say that you never will or that you can’t.
Types Of Love
If you find yourself feeling lost on love, ask yourself what kind of love you are unsure about. Do you have close friends and family you love? Are you just trying to understand how to love romantically? If you focus too hard on the idea of romantic love being the most important kind of love, then it could be easy to get sucked into the idea that you don’t know how to love if you haven't been romantically successful. Love can happen anywhere and at any time between you and a friend, a parent, a family member or an animal.
Love runs much deeper than romance and if you judge your abilities based on it alone you’re likely to come up feeling like a failure.
There are so many types of love that we experience naturally. There’s parental love, which typically forms naturally when you have a child of your own, or one you take care of closely. Maternal love is very strong and you could ask most Mothers and they would tell you the same thing – the feeling of love is instant. No work needs to be done to make it happen. If you’re not a Mother, this one might not be relatable, but it does serve as a reminder that love is a natural feeling and you won’t need to know how to do it when the time comes.
Platonic love between friends is also very natural. It forms over time when you’re regularly in close proximity to another person, such as at school and work. Without much effort, you find that you have lots in common with other people and you enjoy spending time with them. Over time, these people become confidants and support systems in the face of bad news and your first port of call when you have good news.
You grow to deeply love your friends, and I bet you’re already doing it without even noticing. Loving your friends is simple – do you feel warmly towards them? Do you wish them nothing but positivity and feel joy when they achieve their own dreams? Do you trust them to care for you in the harder moments and feel their reciprocated happiness when you share your good moments? Chances are if you feel this way, you probably love your friends.
Friendship based love involves trust and security and is much stronger and more durable than romantic love. It can be easy to forget that friendship is a legitimate form of love, and should be the first place to check if you think you don’t know how to love.
Romantic love is much harder to define and understand and much harder to be certain in yourself that you feel it. It’s okay not to feel it at all. Some people fall head over heels on every first date and others aren’t certain at all until much further down the line. Everyone develops at their own pace. Don’t rush yourself to “feel it”. Take things at your own pace and I’m sure you’ll see that you do know how to love, you’ve just never been given the chance.
In romantic love, it’s impossible to define one clear “correct” way of going about the relationship. Everyone has a different way of showing love and a different idea of how love should look when it’s given back. This is known as your Love Language and although this theory defines set categories, know that those categories house huge ranges of people. Everyone experiences love differently through their own eyes, so consider the idea that maybe, you simply haven't been shown your version of love yet.
Take a look at this short video to learn about the Love Languages and find out which one fits you best!
Exposure To Love
If you haven’t had many examples of true love in your life, then it can be hard to understand what love really is and what it really looks like. It can even be hard to believe that real love exists if you’ve never seen a loving relationship in action. We tend to learn how love and relationships work from examples, such as our parents and grandparents.
You may not know how to love because you were never exposed to it growing up. For those of us fortunate enough to be surrounded by loving and happy relationships as a child, it’s not difficult to understand how to behave around someone you love and how to show others that you love them. It’s also much easier to understand what it looks like when other people are trying to show love towards you when you’ve seen it before, and therefore it’s easier to reciprocate.
Love can be considered to be a skill, something we have to be exposed to and learn about before we become the expert and are able to give and understand it whenever we please. If you have never seen love, how are you supposed to know when you feel it yourself, or when others are showing it to you?
It’s often said that until you love yourself, you can’t truly love anyone else. If you don’t know how to treat yourself with loving-kindness, then you certainly don’t know how to do that for others.
When we feel afraid that we aren’t good enough to be loved – whether it’s because we aren’t attractive enough, smart enough or fun enough, we instinctively switch the roles and tell ourselves that our partner is the one who isn’t enough and therefore convincing ourselves that we don’t love them.
Picture it this way – let’s say you have one big flaw about yourself that you hate, maybe a scar or a muffin top you can’t get rid of. You loathe it and you can’t help but let it make you feel unworthy. Now imagine you meet someone you quite fancy and they love you no matter what. If you haven’t learned to accept every flaw you have, then you’ll never truly let another person love you, because you don’t believe them. When they say they love you for your flaws and regardless of them, that guard you never learn to dismantle will tell you to push them away.
If you want to learn how to love someone else, you first have to learn to love yourself. Learn how it feels to love unreservedly and then you’ll be able to recreate that feeling wholeheartedly for another person. By practicing self-love, you’ll learn what it is that you want from life, from love, and from others who love you. If you don’t know what it is that you’re looking for, then you’re likely to end up floating between partners, feeling a little unsatisfied and not completely in love. It makes sense that this would make you believe that you don’t know how to love at all, but in fact, you’re just not finding real love. Take some time to think about what it is that you want from life and what you expect from other people. If you know what you deserve, then you’re going to feel love much easier, because you’ll only settle for what you see as real love.
You can’t feel love for another if they don’t make you happy and you can’t be made happy if you don’t know what you want.
You owe it to yourself to explore self-love first. Once you’ve learned how to love yourself properly, you’ll be able to translate that to other people. You’ll see that in order to love, you need to learn to be judgment-free and the best way to do it is to practice with yourself first.
Love is, after all, judgment-free and led by kindness.
Watch this video for more information on what self-love is and how it can influence your relationships.
Fears and Vulnerability
Feeling that you don’t know how to love, or can’t love, can stem from being afraid to love or more accurately, from being afraid to be rejected. When we are afraid of things, we naturally build a barrier against them and even subconsciously push them away from us so we don’t feel threatened by them.
The only way to confront this problem is to let your guard down entirely and feel that love as deeply as you can. The only way to know how to love is to experience it, and though that might leave you open to hurt, it is the only way you can truly enjoy all the benefits that love has to offer. We use all sorts of mechanisms to keep love just out of reach, such as dry humor and sarcasm in moments of true emotional vulnerability. We also stick to our phones and keep our minds and bodies busy to avoid any moments of secluded intimacy with our partners.
When you fear getting hurt, you keep your cards close to your chest and convince yourself you’re doing a relationship the correct way. When you’ve been in a half-hearted relationship for a long time that becomes your only example of how love feels. Let me tell you, if you don’t feel that your whole heart and soul are in the relationship then you aren’t truly experiencing love. If this is your version of love, then there’s no wonder you aren’t sure how to love.
Let yourself fall deeply in love and you’ll very quickly learn how to love.
Love is complex and personal and can’t really be quantified or explained by one person to another. I wish I could tell you how to love like I could tell you how to boil an egg or drive a car, but I can’t. It’s yours to experience and discover and I can only help to guide you in the right direction.
Take some time to learn about love like you would learn about any skill and see that there are so many different types of love you could feel. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, there are so many different versions, just because you don’t feel one kind of love right now, doesn’t mean you can’t feel any.
Understand how your past could be influencing your point of view now.
Use a journey of self-love to learn what love feels like for you. Only you can define what it can feel like for you to be completely accepted and understood.
Confront your fears and let your loved ones into your inner circle. The best feeling in the world is to love and be loved deeply and though the deeper the love the harder the loss could be, to me, that risk is worth it.
I hope this helped you! Let us know if you liked it!