Saturday, March 05, 2005

‘Styles’ of loving

‘Styles’ of loving

By Bob Garon
TODAY Newspaper
Saturday, March 5, 2005 3:10 AM

One of the more confusing aspects of loving is style. Not fashion, but styles of loving. Each of us has his/her own ideas about how we should love and be loved. Aside from some of the more obvious male-female differences, we all have some very specific concepts of loving.

The researcher John Lee observed that there are different styles of loving common to man-woman relationships.

“Whereas some individuals plunge into relationships with intense passion and intimacy, others desire to let relationships develop more gradually. Some persons have trouble putting their feelings into words and prefer to express their love in overt actions. But others may express their emotions more readily in words, while hesitating to become involved physically. Also, some individuals pay more attention to the balance of payoffs in their relationships, while others are more intuitive and generous in their love.”

By observation, we know this to be true, but this does not make it any easier to accept. Old habits and familiar ways of thinking die hard. Often they refuse to die and get in the way of effective loving.

There are lovers who are fond of touching and do not hesitate to openly show signs of affection. That is well and good if the partner feels likewise, but sometimes the very thing that one wishes to use to express love is that which turns off the partner.

I have a dear friend who shows a great deal of affection by hugging and kissing his wife. Problem is that, for some reason or another, she thinks he’s too much and gets irritated with him when he displays his style of loving. He, on the other hand, finds it difficult to handle her “coldness.”

Our respective styles of loving come from our past experiences. It can be very tough to adjust to the limitations of our partners. If the beloved doesn’t measure up to what we are convinced is the way (our way) of loving, then we grumble and are dissatisfied. The ability to adjust is critical if both partners are to feel and be free to express themselves and their style of loving. If things are relatively good and the relationship is reasonably well-balanced, then both partners will be able to keep much of their styles of loving after negotiating away what is unacceptable.

In short, when you truly love a person, it may be difficult to live with a different style of loving, but because your love is so great you willingly accept it as part of the overall package.

We never get all the things we want in life. We live in an imperfect world and therefore the perfect match does not exist. Even the most solid, ideal relationships have their imperfections. What makes them so good, so inspiring isn’t so much the match as the total acceptance of the differences. It is the adjustment to these differences, made possible by deep love, that is so striking.


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