Perhaps what surprises you the most about this title is the conception of love as something that can be learned, but can you learn to love someone? Wasn’t love something you felt and that’s it? Love is an abstract, utopian, idealistic concept…, a feeling that each one feels in her own way, but loving, as a verb that it is, is an action. An action so important, that has such a high impact, that it can change both your life and that of others. Loving is fundamental, therefore, in this Psychology-Online article we are going to discuss how to learn to love.
You learn to love
The verb to love comes from the idea of love, which is something very abstract and difficult to define. Loving is something you think, feel and do: “I love you”, how do you know? “because I am sorry”. Loving is something that ends up being expressed in small behaviors: you think about that person, you worry about them, you take care of them, you pamper them, etc. And like all behavior that goes beyond mere survival, it is learned.
We learn to love from a young age, having our family as a general model, but also movies, drawings, stories, series, etc. All of them show us how to love through the type of relationships they establish, how they interact, how they treat each other, how they talk to each other, how they react, etc., and they also contribute to our values and beliefs and to the very concept of love. Some of these beliefs help us to develop healthy relationships and others make this work difficult for us, which is why our role models and learning to love well are so important (which we will talk about later).
How to learn to love without attachments
Attachment is an inherent ingredient of love, therefore it is impossible to learn to love without attachments. Loving a person is one of the consequences of having previously established a bond with them. That bond is attachment, and there are different types.
The type of attachment is very important because it determines how we love. Mary Ainsworth (a Canadian psychologist widely recognized for her contribution to attachment theory) argued that attachment is defined through the relationship with parents and that, later, it conditions the types of relationships we establish. He differentiated four types of attachment:
- Secure attachment.
- Avoidant attachment.
- Ambivalent attachment.
- Disorganized attachment.
The first, secure attachment, is what allows us to establish healthy relationships and the others lead us to establish dysfunctional relationships. By detecting toxic behaviors in the relationship, we can avoid them and try to love better.
How to learn to love yourself
The first thing to be able to love others is to love yourself, learn to love your body and mind. If you don’t love yourself well, you won’t be able to love others well, but you will establish patterns of dependency or other toxic behaviors. And to love yourself well, aspects such as learning to love loneliness, being well and at peace with yourself, liking yourself both physically and in your way of being, knowing how to be alone, not getting bored, etc. are essential. How to achieve all this? You can follow some of the following tips to love yourself:
- Work on your self-esteem by following the tips that we explain in the following article: How to improve self-esteem.
- Find parts of your body that you like and highlight them.
- Exercise, contribute to your emotional well-being, your health, and your physique.
- Sleep well. Sleeping well also helps regulate your emotional state.
- Find positive aspects of yourself, your personality, your way of doing and thinking, etc., and enhance them.
- Change those aspects that you really don’t like or cause you distress. At this point, you can always ask a professional for help.
- Feed your mind. Read, explore, watch documentaries, experiment, find out about what interests you the most, etc.
- Do things that you like. Spend time on your favorite hobbies and explore new ones.
- Pamper yourself Treat yourself, do something for yourself, or even ask others to do something for you.
- Don’t be so picky about yourself. Perfection does not exist, and that is something to keep in mind when the fact of demanding too much reaches the point that it does not even let you live.
- Express yourself. Not every day is good nor can we always be in a good mood, allow ourselves to be bad, and give ourselves your time.
- You can see more useful tips in the article How to love yourself.
How to learn to love well
In order to love well, apart from loving yourself, it is also important to have been loved well, to have had a secure attachment and examples of healthy relationships. To be able to love well it is necessary:
- Get rid of romantic ideals. The romantic model of the perfect couple is instilled in us since we were little, it seems beautiful, but in reality, it is plagued with toxic beliefs that must be eradicated (here are some, but there are many more): there are no half oranges, no one completes your self , but you are already a complete being and other people will be sources of reinforcement or susceptible to receive your love, you do not need the other person to be happy, your happiness does not depend on anyone, jealousy is not a sign of love, it is A sign of possessiveness and insecurity, love cannot do everything, nor is it an excuse to put up with intolerable attitudes or unnecessary suffering, the myth of exclusivity (loving a person does not mean that you cannot like others or feel attracted to them) .
- Get to know yourself. It is important to know yourself well, as well as to love yourself, to know what you want, what you like and what you don’t, how you react, how you think, how you feel, etc., to be able to express it and that others can also know you.
- Be true to what you think and feel. You should not abide by what is established because yes, there are many types of relationships, and having one or the other does not mean that you love more or less, or better or worse. You must know yourself, know what your limits are, and establish the relationship with which you feel most comfortable.
- Wanting to meet the other person. Have a genuine interest in her and really know her, learn from her and with her.
- Set limits. Limits are important in any relationship, both to preserve your life and not fall into dependency or harassment dynamics, and to keep the relationship healthy.
- Respect the other. Respect her limits, her wishes, her feelings, her freedom, treat her well, and respect her as a person.
- To love is not to possess. Nobody belongs to you and you don’t belong to anybody. We should all be free people who choose to be free together.
- To love is not to depend. And if you find signs of dependency, it is important to start by going back to the point of loving yourself.
This article is merely informative, in Psychology-Online we do not have the power to make a diagnosis or recommend treatment. We invite you to go to a psychologist to treat your particular case.