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The Difference Between Loving and Being Loved

Learn the distinction between loving and feeling loved, and how to connect through love languages and intentional, heartfelt actions.

  • Ebube Okereke
  • 3rd July 2024

Love is a word with many layers, often spoken but not always felt. You say you love me, and I believe you. Yet, as time passes, that love doesn’t reach my heart. It’s an empty, inexplicable feeling to know you are loved but not to feel loved. This disconnect can be deeply unsettling. For most of us there are many distinctions between words, loving each other and feeling loved. That is a chasm visible in relationships that ignites confusion, aggravation and tears. Someone loves you like hell and still, it feels that hollow inside. Sometimes, the difference between loving and being loved lies in just how you give – or receive- love. Recognizing this difference is fundamental in making stronger, happier relationships.




Words vs. Actions


Just saying words is easy, but actions should speak louder. Words are useless when actions aren’t seen and felt. Your love should feel like home, a light in the dark, but instead, it often feels like stars in the Nigerian sky, almost invisible and certainly unreachable. People crave the warmth of their partner’s presence, the assurance that love is more than just a phrase. Too often, they are left with cold echoes of expectations. Love is more than declarations and promises. 




The Role of Love Languages


Many couples experience a hollow space between declarations of love and the actual feeling of being loved. It’s like being told you’re in the sun while standing in the shade. Everyone wants to feel love deeply, to be enveloped by its warmth and certainty. Understanding and speaking each other’s love languages is crucial to feeling loved, according to Dr. Gary Chapman’s concept of love languages. These include words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, and physical touch.



Love Languages by Gary Chapman





The Disconnect in Love Languages


This difference can create a disconnect. One partner might think they are showing love through their actions, but if those actions are not in the other’s primary love language, it might not be perceived as love. For instance, if one partner’s love language is quality time and the other is constantly busy, even if they’re working hard to provide, the partner needing quality time might feel neglected rather than loved. To simplify the concept, let’s use the analogy of a book.


– Words of Affirmation: A heartfelt message inside a book can be incredibly meaningful for someone who values words of affirmation. Compliments, words of appreciation, and verbal expressions of love help this person feel valued and cherished. 


– Acts of Service: For those who appreciate acts of service, giving a book might include setting up a cozy reading nook for them. The effort taken to create a relaxing environment for reading shows love through thoughtful actions. 


– Receiving Gifts: A book as a gift resonates strongly with those whose love language is receiving gifts. The key is in the selection of the book, showing the thought and care behind the gesture.


– Quality Time: Giving a book can be paired with reading together. Setting aside time to discuss the book and share thoughts fosters a deep connection.


– Physical Touch: Incorporating physical touch into the act of giving can be significant. Sitting close together while reading or holding hands while discussing the book can create a sense of closeness and intimacy.





Miscommunication and Misinterpretation


Miscommunication often arises from this disconnect in love languages. One partner might believe they are showing their love in significant ways, but those actions might not resonate with the other. It’s like speaking different languages without understanding each other’s words. The intention is there, but the impact is completely lost in translation. To bridge this gap, it’s essential to learn and understand each other’s love languages.


As people often say, “Make sure you can speak the language you crave.” This mutual understanding can transform the way partners show and receive love, ensuring that actions align with emotional needs. Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean you feel loved by them. Love should be a source of strength, a balm for the soul, not a perpetual question mark hanging over one’s heart. To feel truly loved, people need to experience love in ways that resonate with them.





The Journey to Feeling Loved


Communicating openly about needs and expectations is the first step. Discussing love languages and finding ways to incorporate them into daily interactions can create a stronger emotional connection. It’s about making conscious efforts to show love in ways that the other person can see, feel, and understand deeply. The journey to feeling loved involves understanding and embracing each other’s love languages. It’s about recognizing that love is more than just a word; it’s an action, a commitment, and a deep connection that needs to be nurtured and understood.


By learning to speak each other’s love languages, couples can bridge the gap between loving and feeling loved. This journey requires patience, empathy, and a willingness to grow together. The reward is a profound, enduring love that can weather any storm. At the end of the day, the difference between loving and being loved lies in understanding and fulfilling each other’s emotional needs. Through consistent, meaningful actions and a deep understanding of love languages, partners can ensure that their love is felt in every fiber of their being, creating a lasting, heartfelt connection.


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