How to fall in love:
The Skills You Need to Fall in Love

For me, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of love. I don’t like the fanfare, or the gifts, or even going out to celebrate Valentine’s Day, but I love the meaning behind it all – a day to celebrate love in all its forms, a day to remind us to truly love the people we love for a whole year.

I’m a “how” girl, meaning as much as I love understanding what to do and especially why I’m doing it, I’ve always been drawn to the question, “But how?” Clients ask me this, my children ask me this, and I ask myself this often. The “how’s” of life can be some of the toughest to comprehend, and the how’s of love are no different.

I want to share with you 7 “how’s” of love, and specifically, how we can improve our loving relationships. If there’s anything Valentine’s Day is good for, it’s to remind us, and hopefully teach us a little something about, how to love.

7 Skills for Loving Relationships

1) Love your loved ones.

It sounds basic, and obvious, and it is, but how often do we fail to actually love those we love? I learned this years ago as I heard another psychologist share a story about a mother and son. They were not seeing eye to eye, and the more they talked, the more they just became frustrated with one another. The psychologist stopped the mother at one point and poignantly said, “Stop trying to love your son, and just love your son.” She sat, stunned, for a moment, and then burst into tears and embraced her son. That is loving someone we love.

A favorite family moment, my son getting his mission call to FIJI! Be there for the big moments, and the small, and they’ll feel the love!

2) Practice the skills of communication.

Communication is the number one problem couples are facing when they walk into my office. They may have come in for other reasons, but at the core, there’s almost always a block in communication. It’s tough to comprehend another person in a personal, intimate way, a person with completely different personality traits, background, strengths, and weaknesses. Yet communication is a skill. That means it’s something we must learn and practice and develop; it’s not something we’re just naturally born with. Whether you’re trying to improve your relationship with your significant other, with your child, with a friend, co-worker, or anyone, learning the skills of communication is essential. Visit my post, “Improve Communication = Improve Relationships, Improve Yourself” to get started.

The most adorable card my then-8-year-old daughter gave me out of the blue one day. She knew how to love, and express that love, even then.

3) Learn and use The 5 Love Languages.

If there’s one thing I teach clients all the time about relationships, it’s the importance of comprehending and utilizing The 5 Love Languages. Developed by Dr. Gary Chapman, this is an ingenious way to better understand how we give and receive love, and how our partners, children, friends, and family might give and receive love in different ways. It’s like trying to express your innermost feelings about someone, in English, when the other person only speaks Japanese. Unless one, or even better, both of you learn the other’s language, the love is going to get lost in translation. What are the 5 Love Languages, and how can you start using them today?

4) Build intimacy and romance.

Intimacy isn’t just for romantic relationships. It means much more than most of us believe. Intimacy can include physical and sexual connection, but it actually has more to do with getting to know someone on a deep and personal level, understanding that person’s experience, emotions, and world view, and seeking to meet that person at their own level in order to build a relationship of trust, honesty, integrity, closeness, and yes, love. With children and adults alike, we can build intimacy by spending time, asking about their lives, and being interested in what they have to say. We can show up when they need us, be there when things are rough, and help them understand we’ll always be there. The point of intimacy is to actively build it up. We must actively seek to get to know, spend time with, and understand others if we want to grow closer in love. Notice and pay attention to someone you love today, and actively seek to be interested in whatever is interesting to them. And for more ways to build intimacy,

5) Learn conflict resolution skills to resolve conflict positively.

Research shows its not the fact that couples, or families, experience conflict that’s the problem; the real problem comes when they don’t know how to resolve conflict positively. Like communication, however, conflict resolution is a skill we must purposefully seek to learn, practice, and employ when we need it. Instead of yelling, frustration, and heartache, couples and families can learn to calmly address important issues, respect one another it the process, and withhold hurtful comments or actions by learning how to deal with conflict in positive ways.

6) Let love in.

So often the problem isn’t that we don’t have love coming our way; it’s that we block or refuse or ignore that love. I’ve been guilty of this, usually in times when I’m trying to protect myself, and I can tell you it’s miserable. We eventually realize we could have had love, but we gave it up, and for what? Nothing but self-preservation, fear, and doubt. As important as it is to actively love others, it’s equally important to let their love in, too. Don’t make it hard for others to love you. Choose to soften, open your heart, take a chance, and let yourself bathe in the love that is there from your spouse/partner, from your children, family, friends, acquaintances, and even the person smiling at you on the street.

7) Don’t forget to love yourself.

If there’s anyone who needs your love most, it’s you. Without self-love, we don’t have the confidence, patience, motivation, and ultimately self-worth we need to improve all our relationships. We absoultely MUST learn how to practice self-compassion, self-acceptance, and self-love. If this is your challenge, I invite you to use the following resources to get started. Learning to love yourself will make all the difference, not only for you, but for your ability to love those you love, too.

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