Intimate love — 29 October 2003
Are you feeling loved? The magic of reciprocity

Love is a curious emotion. It is highly sought by people, but hard to
define. It may “make the world go round”, but in unclear ways. It is a
very strong emotion, yet hard to express. Everyone wants to be loved;
yet few can find the way to achieve it. So why is this central emotion
so hard to feel and transmit?

Love is considered to be an essential basic requirement of romantic

relationships. People struggle to prove its existence and quantify its
intensity. “You do not love me -if you could do this to me”. “How can I
know if you really love me?” “Do you love me more than you loved her?”
These questions address the need for and difficulty of assessing love.

Being loved validates our worth. Emotional security comes, in part, from
believing that being loved will assure our emotional safety, and the
stability and continuity of our relationship.

Many partners report that they “know” they are loved, but they do not
“feel” loved by their mates. The “knowing” often comes from the
partner’s words, and his or her basic loyalty and commitment to the
marriage. “Feeling” loved comes from a deeper sense of appreciation.
Partners who feel loved report that their mates recognize their worth,
their needs, and make them feel accepted, respected and cherished. These
partners hear and heed their opinions, wishes and concerns. They are
also invested in their happiness and well being. “He will not only do
anything for me, but he anticipates my needs and provides them, without
me ever asking for them.”

Anyone who is a parent knows what true love is. It is the way parents
feel about their children, which is-unconditional love. Children “know
“and “feel” that they are loved.

Though love between adults is not unconditional- it can be profoundly
deep. It takes empathy and loving concern to be able to comprehend your
partner’s needs and attempt to accommodate them.

To achieve a mutually loving union, partners must decide to keep their
partner’s preferences, needs and wants, uppermost in their minds. If you
spend most of your relationship energy thinking about your mate’s
desires, he or she would feel loved and will most likely reciprocate in

Many partners spend time lamenting about all that is lacking in their
marriage. They can easily recite all their partners_ offenses and how
unappreciated they feel in their home life. If, instead, they
concentrated on pleasing their mates, they may discover the magic of
reciprocity of love. They may also see their own needs met and the
tenderness in the relationship heightened.

Why do we yearn for love?
In infancy, the baby is held closely by his or her mother. The mother
feeds, lulls, talks and looks at her infant with admiration and awe. The
warmth of the physical closeness, the pleasure of being fed, the
tenderness of caring, and the deep adulation the mother conveys to her
infant _ are profoundly satisfying. Mother and baby share a physical and
emotional intimacy.

The infant is not required to earn the mother’s appreciation, joy and
love, – it is provided freely and authentically. The infant feels deeply
loved, and whole.

People throughout their lives yearn for that same, often irreproducible
bliss. The person most likely to help recreate this intimacy is the partner. “If I could have my wife look at me, even for a moment, the way my
mother looks at me- I will be the happiest man alive.”

In order to attain this deep intimacy, couples need to follow a simple
formula- please your partner and both of you will have your needs fulfilled.

The delight, reverence, appreciation and tenderness will be created by
the focused attention each of you will give to the other. Those emotions
approximate unconditional love and the experience of profound intimacy.

The steps to helping your mate feel loved:

® Recognize that your partner is a special being whom you love.
® Decide to convey your love so that your partner will feel it deeply.
® Place all your attention on pleasing your mate, think less about your
own needs.
® Observe how with time, your needs will be met without request.
® Notice the happiness, serenity and kindness of your loved partner.
® Lavish in the blessing of your intimate love.
® Feeling loved is the most satisfying feeling- leading to wholeness and
even greatness.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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