I was talking to someone late last year, and I asked them the question, “have you ever asked [insert so and so's name] how they want to be loved?” That inquiry gave me pause, as I realized I need to be asking myself that question. How do I want to be loved?
Usually, what we think is for others, is usually what we need to tell or ask ourselves. That was one of those moments. So, I’ve been asking myself how I want to be loved in 2023, or just in general moving forward.
I thought speaking it out loud would help to hold myself more accountable. To not only seek this but embody it myself. My word of the year is privacy, so I’m sharing this with the understanding that I’m not fully sharing the entirety of my list, just what I think is appropriate for public consumption. Though that tends to always be TMI anyway. That’s to be expected when you do professional work around topics like shame, vulnerability, and transparency.
Here’s what I have so far:
I want to be loved gently, with tenderness and patience.
There’s lots of “soft life” discourse going on right now. I’m not entirely sure what that definition is, who introduced it, or how we’ve come to understand it. We kind of get what we mean by “hard,” so maybe its assumed what soft means in this context. I tend to be both soft and hard at the same time, at least when it comes to emotional intelligence/ways of being and emoting. I wouldn’t say I’m looking to be loved softly, more so gentle and tender, which may be synonymous all the same.
I grew up with a lot of tough love where discipline and punishment were viewed as loving, including verbal, emotional, and physical harm or abuse that were viewed as correction, which was an extension of care and love. Abuse here defined as I’ve seen others do, meaning repeated harm over and over. Harm is not the same as abuse. But when harm is inflicted over and over, without apology, reprimand, or change, then we’re bordering abuse. I’m taking these definitions from Transformative Justice advocates like Mariame Kaba.
I’ve given tough love to others. I still do sometimes. So, I’m not knocking it, nor do I want to create or feed into a binary. Soft love can look tough. Tough love can be soft. I know that. But I’m looking to be more tender, with myself and others. Unless I ask for roughness or “tough love,” I want a gentle love. That means being spoken to gently and patiently. Not with raised voices or activated tones. You know, how you would talk to a human being you loved and respected. Or should I say, a pet you love and respect, because sometimes we’re gentler and patient with animals than we are with other humans.
I’m not talking about being condescending. I’m not asking to be treated like a child. But rather, with care and respect. (I want to pause here and say I’m speaking specifically on how I want to be loved by those close to me that I’m seeking to build connection, belonging, and community with. I’m not talking about how I want strangers or colleagues or random outsiders to necessarily treat me, though if you don’t generally treat your co-workers or random strangers with care and respect, then why are you even alive?)
This means being intentional about how we approach one another. That might mean a little bit more work, more dialogue, more of the things that we typically shy away from. I had a conversation with someone earlier today that modeled what I’m looking for. We were able to have tough and difficult conversations but held respect, compassion, and understanding for one another. We both went into the conversation intentional about what the challenges were, and were committed to finding resolve, not necessarily trying to be right, or to win, or to outdo the other. Coming out on top is not my intention anymore, it once was in some dynamics. The need to have the last say, to be most right, that’s not the goal anymore. Is this loving? Does this feel good? Are we being fair with one another? That’s more what I’m interested in.
2. I want to be considered and thought of when I ask & even without asking
I’m realizing I could do much better with my communication, and that is a core theme I’m working on in 2023. To voice myself more. To say, no, this hurts, this doesn’t feel good, can we do different, can we pivot, I thought I wanted this, but I change my mind, etc.
I tend to be a deep over-thinker. I’m always thinking about others and considering their needs. I want that too. For people to think about and consider my needs that I’ve shared. But also, when I don’t share. There are some things that are just common decency and common courtesy.
3. I want to be heard and seen
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to feel emotionally naked with people, I promise, we will not get along. Because I tend to have x-ray vision. I can see through a lot that people mask. Mostly because I mask a lot myself, and also, because I’m a highly extra sensory person who just sometimes gets random information about people that they don’t tell me. I’m not psychic or anything, but the downloads match up at times. It can be hard to build with someone like me if you aren’t comfortable seeing yourself in your entirely, especially the not so good parts of yourself. If you shy away from being honest about your “shadow,” the parts of yourself you don’t like, then I might not be the best person to be around, because I’m very comfortable with the icks of life. Or more so than most.
So when I say I want to be seen and heard, that means those parts, but also the great and beautiful parts too. This means active listening. This means accepting me for all of who I am, and being able to voice the parts of me that are incongruent to who and how you are. Understanding we won’t always align or get it right, but I’m not trying to have my being dismissed or diminished. I don’t want to be around people who constantly put me down, even if they think its joking. Why do you need to be mean in your jokes all the time? I was like that once, and the answer is because I was insecure. Putting others down, even if as a joke made me feel better about myself.
I want to call in more secure relationships. Where we’re both more secure in ourselves that we aren’t threatened by others enough to see and hear them, even if they counter our own belief systems. I want to be seen and heard to the point where if you’re not vibing with me, you see and hear me enough to say, no, this no longer is working, I cannot agree to disagree with you, I bow out now. In any case, even if that means exiting my life and setting new boundaries with me, at least it’s done from a place of really seeing and hearing me, not you projecting who you think I should be based on what makes you most comfortable.
4. I want to be loved openly and not hidden in shame
Self-explanatory. You know when people will love you behind closed doors, but hide their affection for you publicly because they are ashamed to be seen loving you. I don’t want that anymore. It’s an experience I know. I’ve heard some trans women speaking of also knowing this experience, and it’s awful. We engage sometimes because we love the people that are afraid or ashamed to love us. We accept it sometimes because we think its all we can get. But I’m trusting that those meant for me won’t be ashamed of me. I’m less ashamed of myself, so having people around me who are ashamed of me won’t work going forward. Take your shame elsewhere, there is no home for it here.
5. I want more physical touch in 2023.
I want love that touches me often, with consent. I’m getting this need met currently with the pets I sit for. I’m loving the cuddles they provide me. That I can pet on them and get physical touch is the best. I want that more with other humans, consensually. That means a love that is affectionate.
6. I want spiritual love that is on purpose.
Pillow talks where we check in about our days. I’ve always asked intimate partners to tell me a story at night. I was made to feel like I was asking for too much. Then last week, I listened to the Happiness Lab podcast with Dr. Laurie Santos, and she shared that her husband reads to her at night, likely as part of their routine with their child or children. I want that. To tell stories and to have stories told to me. Where I can pray with others. Set intentions with them. Do gratitude practice together. Set goals. Check in emotionally. Pour into and receive from. A supportive love that doesn’t laugh at my dreams or put me down. I want to be heard and not discouraged. Anapologetic and unafraid of getting it wrong, always still willing to try to make it work. Uplifted and believed. Dotted on and spoiled. To spend quality time. Love that is not intimidated, that let’s me psychoanalyze without offense. Does deep soul work. Asks the tough questions. Sits in the discomfort.
Being this for myself and others
I recognize that finding this love in anyone, especially men might be hard, if not impossible for those who believe in a certain type of masculinity. Cool cool. We don’t match. No need to force anything with one another. The types of men and people who think that its not important to show up at their children’s recitals will not know how to give this love I’m asking for. Mostly because they never got it, but also because they don’t value it. If you don’t read to your kids at night, it will absolutely sound ubsurd that a grown woman wants you to read to them at night. If no one has poured into you in that way, you will be resentful if asked to pour in that way. I get it. We simply aren’t each other’s people. No need to change one another. No need to force anything.
But there are those out there who also want to be loved this way, who have been loved this way, who know how to love this way, and who are looking to love someone this way. I’m trusting they will find me.
I also need to embody these qualities more for myself. I’m learning to meet my own needs and how to communicate my needs more. I’m working on not talking to myself any type of way. Because it can be so easy to beat myself up, be negative and really awful internally, then get offended when I get that same energy from someone else. None of it is okay in 2023. I deserve to be treated well. Deserve is not even the word, because goodness should flow naturally to all of us.
This question of how I want to be loved was really challenging to answer, mostly because I realize that what I’m asking for, I wasn’t giving myself. It’s been eye-opening to see what I want, what I currently have, where I was accepting the bare minimum, what I thought was unrealistic or high expectations, and seeing that others ask for more, and receive more too.
How do you want to be loved in 2023? Have you thought about the question? Do you think it’s a silly inquiry? Do you assume everyone knows how to love you? How do you love you? Are there ways you wanted to be loved in the past that no longer work for you? Have you ever communicated with another person how you want to be loved? Do you know your love languages? Have you done the erotic blueprints quiz? What does love mean to you? How do you want to be loved?
Until next time, in solidarity.