Betty Everette famously sang that “if you want to know if he loves you so, it’s in his kiss.” But, although it can seem hard to tell sometimes, this really isn’t the only way to know if a man loves you. It is true, however, that men and women often show love differently and this can leave many women feeling confused and wrongly assuming their men don’t love them when they actually do. So, what do women need to know about how men show love?
Unfortunately, men have largely been conditioned to believe that direct displays of, or conversations about, their feelings are a show of weakness. Add to that a natural difference in communication styles – think Mars vs. Venus – and you create a hazardous emotional environment with enormous potential for misunderstanding and unnecessary pain. But understanding more about how men show love can go a long way toward alleviating those potential pitfalls.
Differences Between Showing Love And Showing Affection
Let’s start by making a couple of important distinctions.
First, women and men generally use a different playbook when it comes to demonstrating love. So, what you do to show love may mean something different when you’re your man does it. For instance, a woman may show her love by complimenting her partner and working to making him feel good. Men on the other hand may do this just because and with no intention of conveying love. In other words, the effort on his part may not mean the same thing as the effort on yours.
Second, many of us also often mistake affection, lust, or passion for love. Although those things can be intertwined with love, those things can also stand on their own without love being a factor.
Dr. Kurt works with couples all the time who are struggling with expressions and interpretations of love. When asked about the differences between women and men and how they show love, he had this to say,
Much too often love gets mixed up with sex. Many men believe that sexual intimacy shows love, when it obviously doesn't automatically. And women can tend to use sex to measure the love in the relationship. 'If he'll have sex with me he must love me, right?' Not necessarily. She may ask him, 'Do you love me?' And he may answer, 'I married you didn't I.' These not so uncommon interactions show the complexity of expressing and feeling loved. Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a best selling book titled, The 5 Love Languages which describes 5 ways we all can show our love. How do men show love? It can be in one of the ways Chapman identified - physical touch, acts of service, gifts, words of affirmation or quality time. A big key to understanding how your man shows you his love is understanding that it's going to be in his love language, not yours."
Love is something that goes much deeper than sex, kind gestures or having a good time together. Just because you have good chemistry and enjoy each other’s company doesn’t mean you have developed a strong love for one another. This can be particularly hard for women to understand when it comes to sex and intimacy. For many women a sexual relationship goes hand-on-hand with being in love. For men though, this isn’t always the case. This is one of the reasons many women assume that men are only interested in sex and not love or a relationship.
Similarly, women often want to interpret the behaviors we value in a partner – admiration, interest, financial care, and physical attraction – as signs of love. The truth is these things can exist between people without love. Knowing when these things are part of an expression of love or just part of how you and another person are relating to each other can be very tricky. It requires that you be very honest with yourself, and that you understand the person you are involved with and their personality.
Interpreting Your Man’s Actions – Is It Love?
Real love goes deeper than those superficial displays. Sadly, the inability to understand this and recognize how a man shows love can be a huge problem for many couples. The assumption that he doesn’t love you anymore, or that the love is gone is one of the big reasons couples seek counseling.
It’s not unusual for women to think that their man has become love deaf as their relationship has aged and that he no longer loves them. But many men will tell you that they do love their partners and are equally as frustrated that their partners can’t see that. So, let’s take a look at some of the ways men show love.
- He takes care of your family. Family comes with all kinds of joys and frustrations. And if it’s your partner’s family this can be doubly true. But a man who endures your crazy family and their weird idiosyncrasies in a caring and involved manner is showing his love for you. After all, if it weren’t for you he probably wouldn’t be as invested in dealing with them. So, if he’s helping Aunt Myrna move, or puts up your parents Christmas tree every year, it’s his way of showing love.
- He does the chores you hate. He knows you hate emptying the dishwasher, or cleaning up after the dog, so he does it. It may not feel the same as saying, "I love you," but to him it is.
- He’s patient when you’re crazy. You can be irritating, infuriating, and a class-A b*#ch sometimes, right? Yep, we call can. Yet, he still finds reasons to put up with you and smile at you. In fact, in your craziest moments, he’s the one who’s there talking you down and making you feel safe. The fact that he can put up with you when you’re a little nuts is one way your man is showing that he loves you. If he didn’t, he probably wouldn’t stick around.
- He is protective of your feelings. Whether it’s an insult from someone, or pressure you’re putting on yourself, his concern for your feelings is a sign of love. He doesn’t want you to feel sad, or bad about yourself and works to make you feel better and see the bright side – his effort and investment in your happiness is love.
- He does things he hates – but that you enjoy. You like karaoke, going to dog shows, or eating Indian food, and he doesn’t. Yet he still goes with you to do these things. These selfless efforts are part of how he shows his love for you. Be careful not to take advantage of this though, and to reciprocate when the opportunity is there. The give and take should go both ways.
- He thinks of you first when planning. Men can be a bit dense when it comes to the interests of their mates. Really, sitting at the bar drinking beer and watching the game isn’t the best idea for date night? But when a man loves you he will often have your interests in mind when making plans. This may be in planning a trip, a night out, or which movie you’re going to watch. If your partner is making a point to think of you and your enjoyment, it’s very likely he’s showing his love for you.
- He makes you feel safe. Although it may seem antiquated, there is a lot to be said for the feeling of physical and emotional safety that a man can offer to his partner. His ability and willingness to do this is part of how he shows his love for you. Your willingness to accept it is a different story.
Why Real Love Is Shown And Not Spoken
We’ve all heard the term "talk is cheap." This is extremely true when it comes to love, and especially the love a man shows to his partner. Men more than women often subscribe to the show me don’t tell me philosophy of love.
When a man - or woman for that matter - goes out of their way to make their partner feel valued, appreciated, and respected this a show of love that goes far beyond the three words. And as a relationship grows we need to look for these signs when in doubt. Relationships change over time and the lust, vigor and romance can take a back seat to the more practical aspects of life. This doesn’t mean the love is gone, just that you have to be able to see it expressed in the less obvious ways.
Men, this isn’t to say you get a pass on ditching the romance though. Although it can seem to fade in importance, romance shouldn’t be forgotten. It’s a bit of a balancing act, however, and many couples struggle to strike it effectively.
But there is hope. If we as women are willing to learn a bit more about how men show love in general, and men in turn are willing to recognize the importance of showing love in romantic ways occasionally, both partners can find satisfaction and happiness.
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- I'm Desperate To Get My Wife Back - What Should I Do?
- I Think We Need Marriage Counseling Help - He Doesn't
- Help! My Partner Smokes And Doesn't Think I Know
- Get More Help Understanding Men