What's it like to feel loved?
November 12, 2007 7:04 PM   Subscribe

What's it like to feel loved? I don't mean what does it feel like to be in love with someone - that I know. I'm asking for what makes you feel loved by someone else?

I was asked recently about what made me feel loved in the past, and I couldn't come up with anything.

Maybe I've never been loved; maybe I just never FELT like I was loved. The people who have said the words have all gone on to treat me quite badly or with indifference; making me feel like it's just something meaningless that people say, or that the people who have said it didn't mean it. But there must be something to it, because people with love in their lives seem to have a confidence and feeling of security that comes from knowing that they're loved - something that I've never had.

So maybe I'm just not getting something I need, or not recognizing it. Either way, I don't think I have an experience of something that made me feel like I was loved or worth loving.

Please help by telling me about experiences you have had where someone did or said something that made you feel you were loved.

Again, not "...and that's when I knew I loved X" moments - I'm looking for what would have made you say "and when X , I knew they loved me."
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (68 answers total) 143 users marked this as a favorite
When she made me realize that my happiness was worth more than anything else in the world to her, I knew she loved me.
posted by CwgrlUp at 7:07 PM on November 12, 2007

When he saw me at my absolute lowest and didn't go away.
posted by ferociouskitty at 7:11 PM on November 12, 2007 [9 favorites]

I once saw a poster in somebody's office that said 'A friend is someone who knows everything about you and likes you anyway.'

That says it all, for friends and lovers.
posted by jonmc at 7:14 PM on November 12, 2007 [16 favorites]

When he went out of his way to plan and accompany me to an event that he had zero interest in, just because I wanted to go, I knew he liked me. And when he was enthusiastic about it and really wanted to go solely because he wanted to make me happy, I knew he loved me.
posted by christinetheslp at 7:18 PM on November 12, 2007

When it was obvious I was her favorite person to talk to and to be around. And that wouldn't change on a day to day basis.
posted by Defenestrator at 7:21 PM on November 12, 2007

I have a couple close friends who, every once in a while, go out of their way to do something small for me "just because they were thinking about me". It could be just a phone call, a gift left on my doorstep, or calling to invite me to something they know I would enjoy, or just simply wanting to come hang out with me. (my family never does these things, and they wonder why I'd rather spend holidays with my friends)
posted by jmnugent at 7:21 PM on November 12, 2007

Love is when you know that someone is there for you through good or bad, particularly your good and your bad moments. They care about the best for you, you care about the best for them, almost if not as much as you care about the best for yourselves.

You know when you were a kid and your dad or mom said that they would die to save your life and you thought they were just kidding? They weren't. That is love.

(It might not be that deep with spouses, gf, bf etc. though)
posted by caddis at 7:22 PM on November 12, 2007

It's partly what ferociouskitty and jonmc say.

I think it's the security of knowing that someone out there cares about what you did that day. It's the feeling of knowing that someone will be waiting for you no matter how much you've screwed. It's knowing that you can utterly and completely trust a person with your innermost thoughts. Finally, it's knowing that no matter what you do, that person will support you.

That's what it feels like to be loved.
posted by reenum at 7:22 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


In the worst hour of the worst season
of the worst year of a whole people
a man set out from the workhouse with his wife.
He was walking-they were both walking-north.

She was sick with famine fever and could not keep up.
He lifted her and put her on his back.
He walked like that west and north.
Until at nightfall under freezing stars they arrived.

In the morning they were both found dead.
Of cold. Of hunger. Of the toxins of a whole history.
But her feet were held against his breastbone.
The last heat of his flesh was his last gift to her.

Let no love poem ever come to this threshold.
There is no place here for the inexact
praise of the easy graces and sensuality of the body.
There is only time for this merciless inventory:

Their death together in the winter of 1847.
Also what they suffered. How they lived.
And what there is between a man and a woman.
And in which darkness it can best be proved.

Eavan Boland
posted by klanawa at 7:26 PM on November 12, 2007 [49 favorites]

I guess here are some specific examples:

When I kept turning down his invitations to (friendly) dinners and he'd say OK then ask me again a few day/a week later, and this was when I was extremely, suicidally depressed.

When he drove my friend to the emergency room because she was having a brain hemorrhage in the middle of a huge 2000+ people New Years party.

When 2 days later after the emergency room visit, I was a wreck and hadn't slept since, he brought me dinner on a tray w/ garlic bread and Parmesan cheese stuffed in his pocket, with two cupcakes from my favorite bakery. In the rain. Ate with me, then left so I could finally sleep.

*sigh* I could go on. I'm very lucky.

He never imposed on me but was always there when I needed him most.
posted by lannanh at 7:32 PM on November 12, 2007 [5 favorites]

When the thought of you makes them feel good, makes them smile.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 7:37 PM on November 12, 2007

I feel loved when someone contacts me just to say hi. I feel double loved if they try to make a plan to do something.

I feel deeply loved when someone asks me about something I'm upset about and keeps listening for a long time.

It's just about spending time and energy on me I guess.
posted by MiffyCLB at 7:53 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

Very great description lannanh. You got it. I know. Thanks for writing as you did.
posted by JayRwv at 7:58 PM on November 12, 2007

You know, people can do things that make you feel loved, and then stop loving you sometime in the future.

I used to work with a woman who really, truly felt loved by her husband, and probably was. She told me the story of *when* she knew that her husband really loved her.

She was horribly, horribly sick with salmonella poisoning, and she was too weak to answer her phone. Her then boyfriend got worried and used his key to get into her apartment, where he found her semi-conscious in the bathroom. She was covered head to toe in vomit and shit. He called an ambulance and washed off all of the muck in the meantime. After she was set up in the hospital, he went back to her apartment and cleaned her bathroom until it was spotless.

It wasn't the way he spent hours scrubbing diarrhea out of the grout that made her know that he loved her; it was that he saw her in that state and still found her ravishing.

They married, grew apart, divorced. They were truly in love, but neither of them were at a place in their lives that could sustain love long-term.

She's moved on, and I hope that he has too. Love isn't a constant.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 8:01 PM on November 12, 2007 [24 favorites]

I was sick as a dog--looked awful, felt worse. Couldn't sleep. He came into the t.v. room of our dorm and sat by me, late at night. Stroked my hair. Walked me up to my room and put me to bed. Just that he stayed by me--I felt less alone, and being that sick can make you feel like you're trapped on an island in the middle of the ocean.

Over a decade later, he looked me up and got in touch and helped me remember all of this--and knowing that he felt the same.
posted by gsh at 8:13 PM on November 12, 2007

He smiles every time he sees me. Every time he gets something for himself, he gets me a little something too.

He is always there to comfort me, or talk me down from the metaphorical ledge or stroke my back until I fall back asleep because I'm feeling anxious or restless.
posted by sutel at 8:18 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

Knowing that if you really need them and will really admit it and ask them for their help, it will be forthcoming.

Knowing that if you are honest about what you need and where you are, they will probably work as hard as you to keep a channel open.
posted by Miko at 8:28 PM on November 12, 2007

Going with the mother theme: Once in college, I caught a cold that developed into a nasty sinus infection. I went to the student health clinic and got antibiotics, but either I was allergic to them or they were ineffective. For two days I laid on my couch, puking, unable to eat. I wanted my mother more than anything, but I was a grown-up, right? I thought I could take care of myself. Finally I broke down and called my Mom in tears, and she dropped everything to drive all the way there to take care of me. She took me to the emergency room and held my hand and made everything better. I felt so safe and relieved and grateful that to know that I would always be her child and she'd always come running when I needed her. (And now I'm thousands of miles away and, dammit, I'm all teary...)
posted by web-goddess at 8:34 PM on November 12, 2007 [7 favorites]

Several years ago I was on this business trip with a married pal of mine. Can't remember why but I was ragging on him about how, seeing as how I was single and all, I could stay out all night any time I wanted, could do whatever I wanted, never had to answer to anybody, blah blah blah ...

He lets me ramble on and on until I'm done, and then he just says something like, "You know how yesterday afternoon we were knocking ourselves out trying to make our flight? I was dragging my heavy-ass suitcase for what felt like miles - but I knew someone was thinking about me every step of the way. And you know how crappy that meeting was this morning? Through all the headaches and all the arguments - I knew someone was thinking about me. And even now while we're here drinking ourselves silly - right now, someone is thinking about me and missing me."

I wish I could do it justice, there was just something about how my friend said it that gave me goosebumps. To know you -exist- in someone's life and are important even when you're not there - and to feel the same way about them ... That still strikes me as a deeply -good- way to feel loved.
posted by zeph at 8:37 PM on November 12, 2007 [23 favorites]

Whether it's a romantic partner, a friend, or a family member, I know they love me when:

-I am comfortable being myself around them. I am not afraid to be afraid, I can be angry, I can disagree, I can do something colossally stupid or put my foot in my mouth, I can cry for an hour straight for no reason at all... and they don't think I'm crazy for it.

-I know that they know who I am. They don't idealize or idolize me. They value me in a clear-eyed, straightforward way.

-They don't stop thinking about me when one of us leaves the room. They remember the details about me, they want to hear how I'm doing, they do nice things for me "just because." They do not consider what's in this for them.

-They can look at dorky, awkward, flawed ol' me, and say with a straight face that they got the better deal. ;)
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:37 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

When he looks at you from across the room just to know you are there.
When he smiles at you from across that room and he knows what you are thinking.
When he crosses the room to put his arms around you.
When he holds you a little longer than a hug.
When you sleep next to him, he can't fall asleep unless at least a small part of him is touching you.
When you wake up and the first thing you see is him smiling at you.
When he goes away, and cries every time he comes back because he's so happy to see you.

When he can't let you go, even if he is unhappy.

Until he can let you go, because he is unhappy.
posted by greta simone at 8:43 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

A couple of years ago, I was away on a work trip.

I'd had sunstroke the day before, and I had planned to go home that day, but the trip got extended, so I was stressed out of my mind, stuck in a place I'd already been ill at, feeling generally downtrodden, and missing my husband like a physical ache. I needed a hug so badly. I cried on the phone to him in the elevator up to my room.

I got up to my (rebooked) room, and there was this huge bunch of flowers. It took me utterly by suprise - flowers just don't happen that often. I felt so touched, and loved, and thought of in that moment.

This happens every once in a while - I'll be excessively down in the dumps, and my husband will do something suprising and sweet and romantic. A few weeks ago, it was dressing up and taking me out to a new fancy resturant. A couple of months ago, it was a bar of really marvelous chocolate on my pillow. Much earlier this year, it was picking me up from work in a sportscar and whisking me off to a romantic weekend away, and doing all the organising so that I didn't have to worry about it.

He smiles when he looks at me, he hugs me a lot, he sends me little messages saying '<3>
There are thousands of little things that he does that make me feel he loves me. And a few big things, now and again :)
posted by ysabet at 9:05 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

This question is so sad. Anonymous, I hope someday you will feel loved.

I''ll second what zeph said above: To know you -exist- in someone's life and are important even when you're not there - and to feel the same way about them ... That still strikes me as a deeply -good- way to feel loved.

To feel loved is to feel wanted and accepted for you who are.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:13 PM on November 12, 2007 [1 favorite]

My personal anecdote goes something like this:

I'm one of those "late bloomers" who didn't quite make it back to college until recently. My SO and I had just moved in together when I was accepted into my program. I explained to him that from the minute I started school, I would have time for very little else. I could no longer attend to the minutae of life and an evening alone with me would be a rare thing. He unflinchingly accepted.

Almost 2 years later, he has continued to hold up his end of the bargain. He packs my lunches, reminds me of important dates and people, assists me on big shoots, does the cleaning, takes care of our pups, etc. All this while still holding down a very full-time job himself. Best of all, he does it without complaint!

There are times when I feel very guilty for not contributing financially and for being so conspicuously absent in our daily lives. It's around then that he comes and gives me a little pep talk. He lets me know that what I'm doing is right and that he is behind me 150%.

It is then, ladies and germs, that I realize just how much this man loves me....
posted by arishaun at 9:13 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

He helped me break through 20+ years of pain, telling me along the way that he was there, appreciating me, calling me a diamond in the rough when I couldn't see enough positive things about myself to imagine just why someone was so persistent with me.Then he told me my home was with him, and he challenged me enough to help bring out the best in me and I became a better person. He saw some of the very worst of me, yet still saw me before I could really see me.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:55 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

One of your tags is love from mothers...
Love from mothers isn't like romantic love. Your mother might not fall in love with you like some mothers do, but she (or others who cared for you when you were young and helpless) loved you enough that you exist in the world.

You are worth loving. Treat yourself as you would another that you love, and you will come to love yourself.
posted by yohko at 10:02 PM on November 12, 2007

Similar to what web-goddess said:

During finals week (right before Christmas break) of my sophomore year of college, I got incredibly sick. It started out as the flu, then some other virus moved in while my immune system wasn't looking. I've never felt more awful in my life - I couldn't get out of bed, couldn't even hold down water, would hallucinate instead of sleep, the whole nine yards. I eventually realized that I really needed to go to the hospital.

None of my friends would take me, or go with me. "It's finals week, man - I'm sorry, but I just can't leave." I called the nurse on campus, she came by to check on me, and, surprised that no one would drive me, ended up calling an ambulance to take me to the ER to get some liquids in me.

The ER was crowded, so I had to lie down in a bed in the hallway; I didn't even get my own room. The IV hurt so badly going in, and they had run out of pillows so all I had propping my head up was a scratchy, folded-up blanket. I honestly could not have felt worse, and for about an hour I just steeped in my misery.

Then, I heard a voice, and looked over at the doorway. Yes, that's right: none of my friends who lived in the same dorm as me would go with me to the hospital, but my mom left work early and drove three hours to be with me.

I burst into tears, and didn't stop for a long time.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 10:06 PM on November 12, 2007 [16 favorites]

FYI, the tag is "love from Others" NOT "love from Mothers"

Only one "M" in there.
posted by lannanh at 10:14 PM on November 12, 2007

My BF tried to get the birth control device that was stuck in me OUT, with no hesitation and no weirdness, and then I knew he really loved me.
posted by tristeza at 10:18 PM on November 12, 2007

I was thirsty in the middle of one night, so I got up to get myself a drink. I came back to bed with a glass of water. Husband rolled over sleepily, asked if I was OK, and then noticed the water. "Are we out of pop?" he asked. "Yes," I replied, "I get some tomorrow when I'm at the store." He got out of bed and got dressed, grabbed his car keys. "Where are you going?" I asked. "You don't like water, I'll go get you some Diet Pepsi, I'll be right back." And off he went at 3AM, just because he knows I prefer pop.
posted by Oriole Adams at 10:32 PM on November 12, 2007 [3 favorites]

When I mentioned to his mom how much it touched me that he will spontaneously hold my hand or caress my shoulder - not all the time (because neither of us is much the lovey-dovey gooey PDA sort) - but it's always somehow when I most appreciate and/or need it. She looked a bit startled, then said something to the effect of how she never pictured him as "the hand-holding sort". Wasn't one of those defensive mom-reaction kind of jibes (she's a wonderful woman and totally not territorial or snarky like that), but she was genuinely impressed.

So it's kind of hard for me to articulate, but what I'm saying is the fact that it's my hand that my cool, logical, introverted and non-demonstrative mister feels like holding, out of all the girls he's ever met? That, in specific, is what makes me feel loved.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:47 PM on November 12, 2007 [2 favorites]

How I knew I was loved by a friend...
When I told her about a bad choice I'd made and that I'd lied to her about it... she cried with me over my pain, and never judged me.
posted by clh at 10:57 PM on November 12, 2007 [4 favorites]

She looked up at me and told me that I was her hero. That's when I knew.
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:07 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

And from those wiser than myself:

We like because, we love although.

The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved -- loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.
-- Victor Hugo

When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you're scared they won't love you anymore. But then you get surprised because, not only do they still love you, they love you even more. -- Child's answer to the question, "What is love?"
posted by allkindsoftime at 12:12 AM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

When she made me lunch including a bowl of homemade soup, and we sat at her kitchen table eating and talking and laughing.
posted by richg at 12:28 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I was asked recently about what made me feel loved in the past, and I couldn't come up with anything.

Start by looking at incidents of kindness in your life. Even basic courtesy comes from the same spirit as love.

Buddhist meditation on loving-kindness might be a good way to come at the question, too.
posted by Coventry at 3:26 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

Well, it often comes from the same spirit as love. Much of the time, of course, it's just going through the motions.
posted by Coventry at 3:27 AM on November 13, 2007

i don't think there's a benchmark. i think it happens whenever you don't have to ask anymore.

but a good clue is when a person knows you well enough to know how to offer the kindness you need without being asked.

the other night i got a little overdrunk because i didn't realize that alcohol reacted with the prescription i was taking (bad pharmacist, by the way!). i passed out on his sofa, and in the middle of the night woke up to find that he'd put a blanket, pillow, pajamas, and a toothbrush on the table next to me.

i don't know if it was love, but i'd kind of like it to be.
posted by thinkingwoman at 4:21 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

My parets were inept and selfish people. I have no love for my mother and a casually strained relationship with my father. I have always had a hard time feeling confident in my personal relationships because I never felt as though I knew what it was to be loved in a healthy way. As a result I have gone on way too long in way too many relationships with fatally flawed or damaged people. It's been tremendously dissappointing.

Then, when I was 35, I met the most amazing woman I have ever known. She loves me and I love her and it's all cherubs and happy little birds.

That same niggling fear was always there, though, and I felt that I should always be ready to ditch at the slightest provocation. A few small incidents seemed to strengthen my feelings toward her, but it wasn't until she and I were going to the Indian market to pick up some Hob-Nobs and Typhoo on a cold day that I knew for sure that she loved me.

I was riding her on the back of my motorcycle; her arms were around my waist. I had forgotten to zip up my hoody and the cold air was biting at my chest. I thought to myself, "Dang. I wish I had zpped up my hoody." Just then, her hands felt my chest, found my zipper open and zipped it up for me. Then she patted my chest and resumed her grip around my waist.

It's true, love isn't necessarily permanent; but while it's near me it's selfless, thoughtful things like that that allow me to feel it the most. I started to notice that she and I do things like that for each other all the time; getting the other person's socks for them though they haven't asked, making the bed how they like it though you do not, going with them to things they enjoy and being enthusiastic about it because their excitement makes you happy. Love is selflessness, happiness, concern. It may not always be forever, but even this short taste of real, healthy love has been endlessly reassuring to me.
posted by Pecinpah at 5:04 AM on November 13, 2007 [22 favorites]

It's knowing that she's thinking of me, that she's there for me both on ordinary days and those when I need her most. It's an amazing feeling of emotional security that I've never felt before.
posted by bassjump at 6:23 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Everyone deserves love, and everyone has the potential to give it, but many of us are so anxious and self-involved that it's hard to separate from ourselves long enough to provide unselfish love to another person more than occasionally, if that. If people who are close to you haven't made you feel loved, it's because they didn't have the capacity to do it, or perhaps because you were too wrapped up in your own problems to notice it happening at the time, but certainly not because of some flaw in you.
posted by teleskiving at 6:36 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

My guess is you maybe you don't believe yourself worthy of love, so you can't believe in it when signs come from other people. That 'confidence and security' you mention comes from self acceptance, only then can you see your lovable reflection in other eyes
posted by Marzipan at 6:54 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I agree with Marzipan. Love comes from you first. If you don't love yourself you can't believe that other people love you no matter what they say or do.

The things about loving yourself is that its not about thinking you are wonderful. The funny thing is you are the person that knows yourself best, and in some ways that makes it apparently hardest as you know all the ways you screw up and don't live up to your ideals and all the other reasons you have for thinking you are wrong. There is the catch, loving yourself is actually being aware of what you do like and of all these failings you have, and with all of that loving yourself anyway, just because you can and choose to. Its up to you.
posted by blueyellow at 7:34 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

For a more systematic look at what makes people feel loved you can check out one of the Five Love Languages books by Gary Chapman. Warning: they are a bit Jesusy.
posted by nooneyouknow at 9:16 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you don't love yourself you can't believe that other people love you no matter what they say or do.

I disagree with this. I think one of the ways I know I'm loved is how much the people who love me seem puzzled and hurt when I don't love myself. A person can be very depressed and self-hating and still love others and be loved. Sometimes that love is all that keeps you holding on.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 9:18 AM on November 13, 2007 [10 favorites]

I knew my dad really loved me when he decided he had the gonads to go to a therapist with me, and really hear what I had to say about him. And when he opened up enough to keep getting something out of continued therapy. He was terrified of going the first time, and the only reason he did it was that I told him if he wanted a place in my life, he had to.

That therapist suggested to my dad, and I agree with this, that full-blooming love is consistently expressed in three dimensions: 1. words, 2. private behaviour, 3. public behaviour. Dad's working on integrating all three into his interactions with me. It's the hardest work he's ever done, and for the first time in my life, I can trust that he loves me, and is not just mouthing the words or aping caring behaviour to look good in public.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 9:23 AM on November 13, 2007 [11 favorites]

Knowing you love someone is to have a little "heart-jump" when you hear their voice, or feel their touch - be it friend/family/lover. It's also knowing your soul cringes everytime the other is faced with something horrible, and then diving in to support in any way. Knowing your soul sings when they achieve, and wanting the world to see them as the special person you know they are. And, always wanting to find what's right for them, regardless of how it impacts you.

Feeling loved is knowing that, likewise, someone else puts you first. It's knowing they think of you in the big, insignificant, tiny portions of the day. But, more, it's feeling so connected that you can sense the other, even when far away. It's the sense that before you pick up the phone, the loving person is on the other end of the line - both literally and figuratively.
posted by mightshould at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Another emergency room story: when I was in an accident and woke up in the emergency room, the first thing I saw was my dad's face, looking absolutely terrified, and asking if I needed anything. The very next second, the nurse removed the catheter the EMTs had inserted, and my dad held my hand while the nurse quickly spread my legs and did what she needed to do without caring who was watching. My very reserved, very private dad did not get embarassed, and he stayed, I think because he knew I felt completely alone and very, very confused (I had a concussion after a seizure, and I didn't remember what year it was, and not much of anything else.)

A couple years later, when I was on bedrest in the hospital and trying not to have my baby too early, my dad came and sat with me in my hospital room every single day I was there. He talked with me about the most mundane things, stuff he'd seen on the news, or what his neighbor was doing, anything to keep me from thinking about a stressful situation that I couldn't do anything about, and it was the best thing anyone could have done.

I never doubted that my dad loved me, but those two things really cemented it for me.

I think that the everyday things mean a lot more than you may realize at the time, and that sometimes you don't appreciate the depth of someone's feelings for you until you're in their exact situation. I hope that you recognize someone in your life who does have love for you, no matter what type of love it is, and that it's what you're looking for.
posted by mitzyjalapeno at 9:55 AM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

There are many, many little moments of kindness and caring and thoughtfulness that make up a loving relationship -- but I would have to say that the major, absolute, sky-breaking moment for me came when my mother had a major health crisis that was precipitated by her own poor choices, was the last in a series of serious crises over several years, completely overturned our lives for the next year-plus and cost us tens of thousands of dollars. My husband was always always ALWAYS on my side. In the whole huge mess, he was the one person I could rely upon to take the burden on with me, to not put his own stress and guilt on me, to prop me up when I was exhausted or frustrated or scared. My family was useless, my friends didn't know what to do, and he and I took on the whole thing. Together. We were in it together no matter what, and we went through it all as a team -- it was a huge, unasked for emotional, practical, and financial burden, and he never hesitated to do "the right thing" or resented me for it. He always made me feel that no matter what was going on, I could rely upon him to stand by me. That was when, despite already being married for several years, I think I finally truly grasped what it meant to be loved and how much strength can really be put behind those mere words.
posted by tigerbelly at 10:12 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

For me, I've known I've been loved in a number of ways.

Romantically there are a lot of things.

-When the mister and I got into a car accident and even though he broke his arm and I was fine he freaked out and the only time I've seen him cry.
-When he's seen all the bad things and has never run away from them.
-When I get sick and he goes and buys me stupid little things like those smiles potatoes or goldfish crackers because he knows they cheer me up.
-When despite how much we are invested and how unhappy it would make him, he knows there's the selfish option and the selfless option and supports me in planning to leave to feel more fulfilled, even though that means plunging again at least temporarily into a long distance relationship.

And then the more obvious things, affection, joking, feeling comfortable.

With friends, I know I've been loved when they keep writing me, keep calling even when I am not good on following up, when they drop postcards in the mail and tell me that they have dreams about me, when I get random care packages and they write emails telling me that they miss me or that they and a fellow friend are 'campaigning' to bring me closer to them. The constancy of them caring and missing me despite the long distances and my somewhat retarded attempts of friendship, that's how I know.

Basically when the people I know do anything that makes me laugh and feel a warm fluttering thing in my chest and temporarily makes me think less about how cold my fingers and toes are or how neurotic I feel or how much money I have in the bank and just more about that nice feeling, that's how I know I'm loved.
posted by actionpact at 10:18 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

So maybe I'm just not getting something I need, or not recognizing it. Either way, I don't think I have an experience of something that made me feel like I was loved or worth loving.

A good way to learn how this feels is to get a dog. Seriously. My dog helped to pull me out of some of the blackest days of my life. No matter how worthless I felt, she was always delighted to see me. If I stayed in bed all day, she stayed with me. I couldn't completely abandon myself because I knew she needed me.

I've been very fortunate in my life to have a very loving family and a wonderful husband. But at that time in my life, I couldn't accept love from anyone. But I could accept it from my dog.
posted by happyturtle at 10:56 AM on November 13, 2007 [16 favorites]

Coming tardy to the party. Here's my contribution. My late boyfriend told me that he knew he loved me when ...

... his 17-year-old son had got himself in a bit of trouble. Nothing bad, just small-town kid boredom things - driving with no license (several times) and a couple of pot busts. Probation wasn't working so he was given 30 days in Juvenile Hall. George was only allowed to visit on Saturday, between 2-4pm.

This coincided with one of my visits to Ohio. The Saturday I arrived, not a problem, my flight landed in the evening. The middle Saturday, we drove down to Athens, George dropped me in town, I did some shopping and he picked me up on the way back.

But on my final Saturday, my flight out of Columbus was in the afternoon. George wouldn't have had time to get me up to Columbus (50 miles north of him) and then drive back down to the detention centre, (which was 50 miles south of him) and still get there within visiting hours.

I knew how much he missed having his boy around and how much the visits meant to both of them. So although I wanted to spend every single moment I could with George, I told him to drop me at the airport at noon, so he'd have plenty of time to drive down to Athens to visit his son.

He told me afterwards that as he drove away from the airport, he realised how much I loved him, that I would sacrifice time I really, really wanted to spend with him so he could see his son.
posted by essexjan at 11:32 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I knew I was loved when someone else forgave me for doing something I couldn't felt like I couldn't forgive myself for...

When someone sees you at your worst and treats you like they do when you are at your best, and you are awed by it, that's generally how it feels to be loved.

My boyfriend doesn't like dance music, but he smiles when he sees me dancing because he knows I am at my happiest. Seeing me in that state makes him happy, even if he doesn't feel what I feel.

It feels like complete acceptance without judgment and shared joy in the smallest things; all your burdens are halved and your blisses are doubled because they are shared.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:48 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

My late boyfriend told me that he knew he loved me

I meant "... that he knew I loved him ..."
posted by essexjan at 12:35 PM on November 13, 2007

essexjan: I know it's pretty close to 2 years after George died. I still remember that thread and it still makes me cry to read it. Sending warm thoughts to you, especially around this time of year.
posted by barnone at 2:15 PM on November 13, 2007

When I was living with my now-ex-boyfriend, I came home from my tedious grocery store job one day, to find that he had detatched the volume control knob from my computer's speakers, and carefully glued it to the bottom right underside of my monitor. So I could control my volume with ultimate ease.

I don't think he ever knew how much that tickled me, and how well it demonstrated that he not only loved me, but really knew me.

That was the first thing I thought of when I read your question.
posted by Coatlicue at 5:30 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I concur with WCityMike.

And as to the original question... when the other person can't bear to see you unhappy, when they will rack their brains trying to find a way to cheer you up and continue trying even when they have no idea what to do, when your pain hurts them more than it hurts you.
posted by Phire at 7:15 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

He read A Handmaid's Tale aloud to me in bed because my eyes were hurting and tearing up, but I didn't want to put it down. It was a gift of himself that took him outside of his comfort zone, and I felt loved.
posted by SMP at 7:55 PM on November 13, 2007

One boyfriend knew that I really liked to eat fresh fruit and yogurt in the morning. We hadn't necessarily talked about it, it wast just something he noticed. Well, one morning he noticed that we were all out and he also knew that I'd be working long hours that day. So he stopped at the store and bought some fruit and yogurt (and my favorite, kind of expensive brand, too). He didn't need anything at the store; he just stopped for my stuff. And he didn't make a big deal out of it. In fact, I don't think it was a big deal in his mind. He thought about things that made me happy and took the opportunities to do what he could to make them happen.

It seems so simple, and I suppose it is, but walking into the kitchen late at night after work and finding fresh fruit and yogurt when I knew we should be out is what feeling loved feels like to me.
posted by mosessis at 8:03 PM on November 13, 2007

The little things do let you know you are loved. My girlfriend and I didn’t cook much our apartment, and when we did, it wasn’t anything complicated. But, I had a bad day and she knew, so she made a big, home-cooked meal before I ever got to her. That’s part of it, the little things at just the right time.

The fact she makes me feel more comfortable then anyone or anything else ever could, or that I could say anything to her, and she could say anything to me. Even that she sees more potential in me then I do, but she can make me see it too. But that’s not all of it.

There will be some night and something will happen, it will be a low point for the two of you. That’s the real test. If you can look threw the bad times and still see the love; you have it, and you know it, and it’s wonderful.

My girlfriend and I were having a bad fight. I had misspoken in a hurtful way. The whole thing was my fault…and now I can’t even remember what it was.

The absolute pain I felt right then, when I could see how much she was hurt by me…she was hurt the way only someone you love can hurt you. I was in pain because she was hurt, and I felt guilty because I did it.

In all the pain, I didn’t realize that I was apparently very sick. I had a very high fever. We found out the next morning when I was shivering under the blankets. I was going to go to the doctors via way of my family. And that’s when the thing that really did it for me Happened. It wasn’t just the pain we both shared, or that she wanted to get me to a Doctor quickly…it was her hat.

This all took place in the middle of a New England winter, and she took the hat off her head, and put it on mine because I didn’t have one. She was still mad at me cause of the argument, but she was worried about how cold I was. I knew I loved her well before that, but it was never tested, we had never had a fight before and this was a real one. This would have ended a normal relationship. But I knew it was going to be ok cause of that damn hat…and it was better a little bit later.

I wouldn’t say that was when I knew I was loved, I knew well before that, but I felt like that was a test, and we passed.
posted by JustAGuy at 10:01 PM on November 13, 2007 [3 favorites]

What's it like to feel loved?

It's baffling; I know I'm loved but have yet to understand why anyone would love me.
posted by deborah at 11:41 PM on November 13, 2007 [8 favorites]

One friday afternoon, my boyfriend was super motivated to do housecleaning. I was really grateful, and helped out a bit. Then, my two best friends showed up. They had driven 5 hours to give me an early birthday surprise, and he was in on it. They brought a pinata. I felt pretty loved then.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:23 AM on November 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

I guess you are not specifically referring to romantic love. One disguised form of love is when someone shows an interest in your decisions, future and well-being and tells you "what you are doing is no good", "do it this way". Sometimes it may sound offensive, but if I had such people around me, then I would consider myself lucky.
posted by randomDirtPattern at 11:20 AM on November 14, 2007

Oddly enough, I just wrote about the moment when I learned that I was truly loved. It was less a feeling than an idea, a realization:
I don't know when it happened, but it dates with my earliest memories. The cat, the old gray cat I barely remember, scratched me, and my mother and I both remonstrated in our way. I shook a pudgy finger at him and scolded. "Bad cat!"

Gently my mother corrected me. "He's not a bad cat. He's a good cat and we love him, even though he did a bad thing."

Even at the time, I took a larger message away from that moment. I knew that even when I was bad --- even when I squealed and whined, even when I jumped on the bed, even when my sister and I invaded my father's study (most forbidden in itself) and used his permanent markers to draw all over each other's limbs and torsos --- that my parents would love me.
But I credit my partner with teaching me to recognize what unconditional love really feels like. He always believes in me, in my strength and my wit, in my capacity for kindness and decency. He believes in me even when my own belief in myself is stretched and strained.

He's on my team. We're a team. Without intending to, he taught me the very feeling of "team" --- I really understand now that there is someone standing beside me who trusts me and values me, always.

Now that I know that feeling in the center of my being, I can look back over my life and see people in my past who offered the same kind of love, though I couldn't see it then. I'm sad that I could never see or accept what they offered, but immeasurably grateful that I can see it now.
posted by Elsa at 3:06 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

When someone sees you at your worst and still wants you above all others.
posted by scarabic at 7:30 PM on November 14, 2007 [3 favorites]

My two-and-a-half year old niece was sitting on my lap one day and we were watching Dora together. She had her head on my shoulder and was snuggled in really close. She looked up at me and said, "You're my best friend ever." I felt pretty loved right then.
posted by whatideserve at 8:06 PM on November 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Not disagreeing with what's been written above, but it's curious just how many people have answered the question with stories of epiphanic realisations, often centering around thoughtful sacrifices & support in painful times.

To try & make this a bit cheerier, I'd like to add the following kinds of things, that don't require pain & sacrifice:

When you can feel a change in their energy, just because you're around - it might become more calm & content, bubbly, dreamy, electric or just plain radiant - or any combination of those kinds of things, and more. Don't ask me how you can tell that they're not like that all the time, around others, but you just can.

When they are insatiably curious about minutiae of your life. It's as if there is no part of you or your history that isn't endlessly fascinating. "Did you ever break an arm or leg when you were a kid?" is not just idle smalltalk - they really want to recreate in their mind what kind of child you were, how you grew up, as if in an attempt to have been invisibly by your side all those years until you met.

When you respond to a small act of kindness & once again, you can just see that inner glow about them, from having pleased you. It can be the tiniest little thing, but the fact that it made you happy bounces back upon them and makes them twice as happy as you, which makes you twice as happy again, because, of course, you're feeling all these exact same things in return, or else it doesn't actually work in the first place.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:29 PM on November 14, 2007 [13 favorites]

An afterthought:

They pick up on & store away all kinds of things you might say in an offhanded manner, not for the purposes of catching you out in an argument, but because those things are obviously seen as some kind of windows onto your soul, and may have been taken away & mulled over without you knowing it:

"Oh, it's funny that you think Canada might be an OK place to live for a while, because, y'know, you said that you never made it very far travelling around Scotland because it was too cold...", which you completely forgot saying, but which may have been parsed & recorded as "aw, he doesn't like the really cold weather; how good is that? Because I'm an outdoorsy type & couldn't stand living anywhere other than a warm climate..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:49 PM on November 15, 2007 [7 favorites]

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