I want to love you (without overwhelming you)

how to show love without smotheringThe real power of love…well, if you’ve ever experienced it, I don’t need to explain. Inside, it can feel like you have discovered a well of eternal joy.

Giving expression to that love can feel like the purpose of your life. You feel a powerful desire to actively love. It’s selfless and pure.

But how do you express love of this intensity without giving him relationship vertigo? No matter how powerful the feeling inside, you can never fully express it in the pure form you find within.

I saw this quote on Pinterest and it made me think of some of my relationship coaching clients:

“I show affection for my pets by holding them against me and whispering, “I love you,” repeatedly while they struggle to break free.”

How can you express your passion without overwhelming your man or causing him to question your sanity?

Here are a few ideas I’ve picked up from various people over the years. There are many more, but these are a few I like in particular.

Make every kiss count. The key here is quality not quantity. Make sure the kisses you exchange are memorable and meaningful.

You can express deep affection by letting a kiss linger longer. The key is slowing down at the end of the kiss when you are parting. It’s the opposite of the quick peck on the cheek with no eye contact as you rush out the door for an appointment.

Alternatively, kiss him again right after you’ve just finished kissing. A smile right after a kiss sends a really warm message too.

Mind your posture. When you’re trying to make a good impression, you stand tall and hold a good posture. As we get comfortable with someone, we tend to slouch without realizing it. Not only does this make us look less attractive, it sends a subtle message of decreased interest. Be relaxed, but stand tall.

While spontaneous touching and purposefully standing inside his personal space can be endearing, those kinds of expressions of love can also be a bit overwhelming. Instead, focus on things like really deep listening and giving very meaningful gifts out of the blue. These are not overwhelming gestures and they are universally well accepted (even from friends).

There’s a tendency for us to be so overwhelmed with our own feelings of love that our listening skills actually decline in the presence of someone we are intensely interested in. Channel that powerful love toward hearing the unspoken needs, desires, wishes, and hopes hidden in the context of what he actually says.

You want him to be able to taste your love, feel it, and be inspired by it. I want that to happen to, but you have to remember much of the feeling you have inside gets lost in translation.

how to show love without smotheringIn addition to the three tips I gave you above, always remember the powerful impact of the respect principle. Men are deeply impacted by the subtle indications of respect they sense in your mutual interactions.

P.S. If you have your own favorite ways to show affection without smothering, share them in the comments below for everyone’s benefit.

James


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37 thoughts on “I want to love you (without overwhelming you)

  1. susan said:

    Just leave affection notes here and there

    • Susie said:

      Also random acts of kindness and respect that were not expected.

  2. Sandy said:

    A smile across a crowded room.

  3. Victoria Fabling said:

    Holding a pet while they struggle to break free brings up memories of being unheard and disrespected as a child – so with respect – just sharing another perspective. If someone is backing off, let them and reach them via a poem or a surprise gift of a flower or a sandwich, and don’t show that you are offended by the backing off. I back off – and I have my reasons which are nothing to do with lack of affection.

    • caroline said:

      Victoria I also was unheard and disrespected and other aspects that I could add. Like you it brings up memories for me. I am now aware of my tendencies to go for the cold distant sort so I can try to retrieve that love I never got.
      Now as a mature woman I am with someone who is unable to show love or be loved, yes his mother was cold so he has grown without it.
      He is funny and good to me but I need affection so I finished it. Now he tells me he will go for counseling with me. He says he is willing to be more affectionate but he is uncomfortable really.
      I was particularly interested in what you say, because I have been showing my sadness, could you express to me why not to show I am offended.

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        Caroline,
        See Sara’s entry below and James’ reply. If your man is willing to talk and have counselling, you are already winning the battle. Maybe you need to count your blessings and just be grateful that you have a funny, caring, attentive man in your life. I have been divorced recently after almost 40 years of marriage, and let me tell you it is not a nice place to be. Alone. I would not want to put anyone through that – it is agony, and at 66 I do not think I will ever recover, or indeed my three lovely daughters, who are also devastated. Our family unit is completely shattered. SO – learn to be grateful for what you HAVE, instead of concentratng on what you DO NOT have, and mourning your loss – be positive. All is not lost. And, if you continue to show him affection, who knows, he may actually enjoy it, even if he can’t articulate it. You do not say how long you have been together. I wish you love and joy. Lorna

  4. Sara said:

    What if the partner isn’t used on words and gestures of love and affection and he literally stiffenes if I express my feelings to him, never mind if with words, gestures, gifts or just kisses? He never got much love from his parents and their marriage was lacking of love and affection, so he isn’t used to espress and show his emotions. He shows me his love on very subtle way, like being attentive and to remember small things I like and then surprise me with unexpected gifts, or sending me sweet texts via Iphone ( but he would never say those words to me whole looking into my eyes). My nature is quite passionate and extroverted, so I show my love very clearly and intense, but I feel that I’m scaring him. I’m having a problem with accepting that we express our affection in very different way and that he will probably never show his love so obviously like I would like to. So I don’t know if I should control myself and keep my overwhelming feeling under control and stop expecting from me to express his feelings more openly..

    • James Bauer said:

      That does sound like a difficult combination of needs between the two of you, Sara.

      Good relationships should strive for compromise when there are areas of impasse that weaken an otherwise strong relationship.

      So it’s probably best to talk about it as a couple and discuss whether you are both on board with trying your hardest to reach toward a middle ground, even while knowing you’ll never perfectly meet in the middle. Striving toward ways of meeting each other’s needs (him being more affectionate and you being a little less overtly affectionate) will allow you to support each other at the same time you reach towards compatibility.

      • Lorna (LaLa) said:

        I agree with you James. Surely the important thing is to talk it through – communicate what you are both comfortable with – compromise, accommodate each other. Talking – it is so important. As you said before, James – don’t hold back!! Lorna

    • Jenny lomas said:

      I.m with a man that doesn’t express his feelings verbally & many a time through our 18 months of seeing each other I’ve thought of giving him up..but I can’t so I’ve battled it but backed off a little now.by not texting him or ringing asking when he’s coming over.asking him to tell me his feelings etc….& by doing this & leaving it up to him I.m totally surprised by the change in him..he sends me lovely messages telling me he,d be hurt & upset if we split up..his messages now are more loving.& the Xmas card has sent me this year says it all…so don’t give up..just back off a little…& good luck.jenny

  5. ceceilia said:

    in love after 4 yrs off and on with a middle eastern man a moselm- iam christian. we are both college educated. how do I reach him on respect issues and disappearing from me without calls or texts?. Then he comes back with sweet words. Its driving me crazy. Dont know what is the correct way to get his affection on a consistent basis?

    • James Bauer said:

      Ceceilia,
      It’s okay to ask someone else to consider how their actions have been disrespectful to your consistent care and attention. Just do it in a way that communicates the only reason you care is because he matters so much to you.

      • Lili said:

        As someone who has had some experience of relationship with partners from different countries or cultures to mine, may I respectfully suggest that Cecelia have a conversation with her guy about standards of courtesy and behavior in his background. There have been times when I was upset by something my person did because I was judging it by U.S. norms, when, according to his culture, he wasn’t doing anything offensive. Once I had calmly explained the effect his behavior had, not just on me, but on anyone from the States, there was much more room for both of us to compare notes and find middle ground.

  6. Kathie said:

    I am involved with a man who is 20 years my junior….we have been good friends for 8 years and now both single and have been “hanging out” for at least 6 months. He has a 4 year old daughter from his previous and has primary custody so I see him every other weekend…..a month or so ago he asked me if he was my number one man…..brought flowers and left them on my doorstep….came over later….I’m really just trying to enjoy his company and our times together, but just don’t even want to ask any “relationship” questions as I’m trying to just let things develop….which is fine with me…although I guess at some point I will just totally back off as he is much younger, but he continues to want to see me…I guess I’m lucky but should I even worry or think about the age difference and just go on?
    Anyway, thanks!

    • James Bauer said:

      Kathie,
      The reason the age discrepancy bothers you is because you’re concerned for his welfare, not your own. Is that correct?

      If so, put the question to him. Ask him if he has considered the impact. This will give you insight regarding the right thing to do next.

  7. Carla said:

    I have read these replies and to my surprise I can see now why you will be successful with your many Insights to what.men really want and coaching others.
    I have been married for 23 years and my marriage is like Humpty Dumpty and for the majority of those years we have been apart. I have never been satisfied and felt inadequate when I reality I was damaged goods, and so was he. We both have been in past relationships that scarred us for life. We fell in love and seem to be toxic when we are together nor don’t last more than a few.months. I believe in being faithful, however he had been in relationships with the same sex and would be angry if I thought that. HE DENIED it and later he admitted it. Our daughter us 21! Well, I could write.a book myself on just that marriage.
    Approximately 3 years ago, I met a tall dark and handsome guy at my daughter’s house and he was flirting with me. I was trying to reconcile with my husband and it did not work again. I thought this guy was playing head games with me. I thought he was older, but definitely younger than I was.
    I went to my daughter’s fiancé house and he answered their door. He Instantly was all smiles and out the door…flirting?! Wow! It was summer, I was sweating, and he was being attracted to me, I assure you. He did.get my number and I felt stupid, scared and yet excited like a school girl heart throb feeling.
    He Began calling, texting, and wanted to meet up with.me. I was scared because I wasn’t sure how old he was. He was asking could I sneat out. Haha! And was I single for real? Well, I told him the truth. He was also telling me how he had been married and his wife cheated, I know for a fact his divorce is almost final.
    I thought we would be friends maybe and after not being with anyone for over a year and vulnerable, as well as making him wait a little..I caved. I found out he was 25! We are 20 years apart. I figured it was a one night stand and I made a huge fool of.myself. I know better than this.
    A strange thing happened we began seeing eachother often. It was new, but he seemed very interested in me..mainly we talked about our marriages that failed, we had deep discussions that were interesting.We share birthdays 1 day apart and oh 20 years! I must be.insane and know this can just be whatever it is. Right?! Wrong!
    How can a guy say to me.No strings attached?
    He didn’t wanted to get feelings because he is scarred and he told.me he has been running wild after she cheate on him with his.best friend! So.my husband is gay and his wife was unfaithful! I now have feelings. I can handle being friends with no intimacy.
    I wish I could replay to that time I caved. I know he and I have shared so.e unusual times. We have watched movies, he has slept over all night. We didn’t cuddle. But he made feel desired and sexy again! I started losing weight. I have been overweight for 13 years..I thought I was stuck like this!
    James, I am not sure if I will ever find true . love. I enjoy spending time with this guy. I not asking for him to fall in love with me.
    I am not sure that is possible. I do want him to remain. Intimate with me and care for me a great deal..not be ashamed of me and possibly even be his girlfriend oneday. I am not asking for forever. I want us to help eachother.
    I may have scared him away. He knows I was a little jealous one night he was with friends and with a girl. I couldn’t really be mad.. we are just friends and so I should just respect his space. I went to lay on his chest and I wanted to snuggle one night. We had been drinking that night. He felt awkward. I know he doesn’t want anyone.close. So, I backed off and he said he didn’t want me to get it twisted. He told me of his wife and what she did and another relationship he just got out of! So, I can empathize with him to some degree.
    James, maybe I am a fool to want to be closer to this guy. I feel we connect and he is I denial or likes me, but may never want anything more. Is it my age? It can’t be my weight, he gives me mixed signals.
    So, I want so badly to text him, even send a smile. I have not texted him since January 6th! He came over on the 9th to finally get the present we had for xmas. He texted me on Christmas and New years, he was calling me and we were not Intimate. The last time was a few days before Thanksgiving. I saw him with the girl the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I asked him Friday did he have a girlfriend now that I understood if he did. He said No way! So, he loved his gift. His.eyes lit up. He told me a coupm of days before Christmas when he pulled up late and called me outside. He just said he wanted to come by for a.minute because he had been so busy. It made me happy. Like I said, he was calling me and I thought we wI’ll hang out soon again.
    He called a day before New Years..so sweet. Well, he said maybe this week we will hang out and he hasn’t called or texted.! HE HAS done this before and I thought he is done, I guess he lost interest and then we talk, or something.
    Sometimes he messages me, bUT I was sending him something to let him know I still think of him.
    Now what?! I want our friendship to develop into a stronger relationship overy time. I want to trust him and him to trust me eventually..even if friendship and a person to Confide in and a love and desire to be around eachother…sex is good and of course I would be all lies if I said I didn’t want that. I have been deprived for so long..I guess he turned something on isnide of me again.
    I feel stupid for allowing that because now I am the type of woman that is faithful to who I am with. I mean I am not his girlfriend..
    I would like to interest him, turn his head and have him desire me. He likes my cooking, appreciates things about me, he is respectful in my house, around my kids. He is.my daughter’s fiancé best friend.
    So now I have so.e feelings, I’d like to know should I just ignore him? How do I send signals that I like him without scaring him away? I want to talk to him, but even more so hope I didn’t lose any chance with him at all. This may sound absurd. I just would like a chance..is there still hope for me? Or should I just not care? So Cono used about him,, he is so hard to read. He is also Argentinian and Italian.

    • Annie said:

      Please walk away and find someone who will truly love and respect you back the way you do to them. He is too young and not in the emotional place to give to you what you need and deserve. It’s not his fault and not yours either. But you both are liking the sex more than a real true relationship. Believe me I know because I also have a 25yr old calling on me I met online but I will not meet him. He can not give emotionally what I’m looking for at my much older age than him. Please just let him go and focus on finding a more truly loving relationship. You are doing this with him because there is no one else right now. But I think you realize if someone better loved you the way you want you wouldn’t think twice about leaving him in the past.

  8. bernadette said:

    James, I have this relationship with a very grounded, hard working man that I met on a dating site. we have a pleasant relationship with mutual respect and keep each other in our daily thoughts and actions. Its the least drama filled relationship I have ever had. We are physically attracted to each other and feel a mutual friendship since meeting one year ago. My wonder is neither one of us feels compelled to say, I love you. Its a slow burn, drama less, yet a comfortable shoe. We do all the suggestions you have made in this article. Is this the way love supposed to be? Love is a verb, maybe it does not have to be said? what are your thoughts.

    • James Bauer said:

      Saying “I love this strawberry pie” doesn’t make me love it. I already loved it before I said that.

      • Annie said:

        I do not understand that reply James?! ?

        • James Bauer said:

          What I mean is this. It’s okay if Bernadette and her boyfriend don’t say “I love you” to each other. Because they show each other their love.

          If I love a strawberry pie, you can tell by watching me eat it even if I don’t tell you I love strawberry pie.

          I’m just saying her slow simmering love is ok…nothing to worry about.

    • Annie said:

      I had a relationship just like that with a very nice man that I met online. He was good he was loving when we were together. There was not a thing wrong with him really but never once did the “I love you” come out of his mouth and I was not going to say it first. He lived 2hrs away and had his kids every other week so I went to visit on him every other week and stayed acouple days or more. I was doing all the traveling and inside I was getting tired of doing all the traveling for someone who did not say I love you or express in words any special affection. It was expressed in love making and cuddling but that was not enough for me. I needed verbal confirmation and wasn’t getting that so I broke off that relationship. I feel there has to more in a relationship emotionally in words and physical actions. I can’t settle for less.

  9. Deborah said:

    Hi James! I met a man recently at a dance class, he is attentive and seems to like me, but he hasn’t asked me out. What should I say to him to let him know I would like to continue seeing him without asking Him out? We are both young and active sixties.

    • James Bauer said:

      If possible, consider asking him for a favor. Men love “helping” and it might be a good excuse to get him over to your house. Then you have a new opportunity to interact when you bring him some cookies (or something that fits your relationship and personalities better) as a way of saying thank you for whatever you asked him to help you with.

      James

    • Lorna (LaLa) said:

      For goodness sake! Just go for it!! What have you got to lose? As long as you are both free agents and no-one else is involved. Ask him if he would like to go to the theatre, or out for a coffee, or whatever. It is 2015 – woman are allowed to make the first moves – especially as we get older. (I am 66, so I do know!) If we wait for the men to get their acts together, we may wait forever. Sometimes older men are shy, especially if they are newly on their own. Gone are the days when we had to drop a hankie! However, do not be too forward. Don’t scare him off. Men still like to make the final conquest, and if he does not follow it up, maybe he is not interested after all. Just give it a go!! Life is definately too short at our age. Believe me, we will not get too many chances. Make the most of it. Best of luck. (Let us know what happens!) Lorna

  10. Belle said:

    Hi James!
    I have been following your newsletter and blog and I am very thankful for your wonderful insights about relationships. However, I have this problem that I believe you can help me with.
    I have this partner for five and a half years now. He is the kind of a workaholic guy. He really has a tough job that demands so much of his time – sometimes, he even misses our quality time together just to catch up for his job. I understand that he loves his job and and his job is really a tough one. I want to support him in his endeavors. But I also want him to show his love for me by making sure he spends quality time with me in spite of his very hectic schedule. I have mentioned to him this need of mine before but he just felt suffocated and pressured. (Actually, that’s the reason for our previous cool off.) My need to connect with him and spend time with him didn’t change but I don’t want to bring up that issue again. I know that I will just receive a negative response.
    Now, I want to ask, is there a way I can motivate him to spend time with me and see me regularly without him feeling being suffocated or pressured?
    I hope you can help me with this one. I am looking forward to your kind response. Thank you in advance!

    Best regards,
    Belle

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Belle. Have you gone through my short course on dating a man who is too busy? If not, I suggest you start there. It’s right here.

      James

  11. victoria said:

    Thanks James for your $9 short courses. Lots is out there to buy but for me poverty equals the inability to buy. Being alone can be a struggle but poverty is isolating. I get excluded as a result of not being to afford things others take for granted. I do read, practice being positive and keeping hope. I hope you might expand on this $9 thing you’ve got going with other topics since I found what you’re doing helpful. Thank you James.

    • James Bauer said:

      I appreciate your positive feedback, Victoria. It is very helpful to know what is most useful to you.

  12. Allie said:

    Hi James –

    I’ve been following your blog and newsletter AND have gone through your respect principle course over the past couple of years and it has been SO helpful for me – and in-line with my core values of how to treat others. This is the first time I’ve commented so bear with me please (if I ramble).
    I’ve been single for about 7 years now and have learned a LOT about myself as a person. I’m turning 30 in less than 2 months and I feel a little pressure subconsciously. To settle down, have kids, and the life that I’ve always wanted. I’ve historically been very picky when it comes to men but also tend to “hold on” to past relationships. About a month ago I chose to stop talking to an ex who I have been talking to (and on rare occasions sleeping with) for the past 8 years. I then threw all my energy into planning a 3 day, 37 mi hiking/backpacking trip. The trip was eye-opening to my inward thoughts and preferences – it’s the most at peace I’ve ever felt with myself and it has maintained since. Needless to say, I’ve been radiating good vibes for the past couple weeks.
    It really was no surprise to me that a day after I returned from my trip, an old crush from 2 years ago found me on FB and started chatting with me. The flirting was immediate and he’s been extremely open with me. He told me from the beginning that he had just broken it off with his fiancé in February and that he had too much baggage to even consider a relationship now. We started hanging out right away and are very intimate with one another. I can tell he lights up when I articulate how honest he is, and how brave he is to share his past with me, etc. I know I make him very happy and a lot of that is (I believe) because I work hard at building up his inner-wealth and also because of how understanding and empathetic I’ve been during this difficult time of his life. So, he acts very much like we’re in some sort of a relationship but, on the other hand, he will all but disappear when something is hard for him. My question for you is, how should I act towards him? I told him I’d give him his space if he needs it but I don’t want to be taken advantage of either. I’m in a really good place in my life and while I can be very supportive and lift his spirits, his sadness is not mine (which I learned from another one of your posts about setting good boundaries!). So, currently I’m itching to spend time with him (we haven’t seen one another in a week) but I’m feeling like I need to give him space and wait for him to ask me to go out (or hang out since I’m a fan of how intimate it is ;)). What should I do? He’s the first guy I’ve really been into in years and I love how I feel when we’re together but I also don’t want to wait around for a long time for him to be ready for a relationship. It’s the very beginning so I’m okay with letting it play out for awhile, BUT it’s already so emotionally intense that I feel like we’re skipping some steps.
    Thanks for taking the time to read this, James, and for any advice you have!

    Warmly,
    Allie

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Allie. Let him come to your rescue. Sometimes it helps to give a guy something besides himself to focus on (when he’s wallowing in sorrow). Let him be your hero for a change.

      He knows you enjoy spending time with him. But does he know you’re feeling lonely right now? Would that spark a desire to “rescue” you? Only you know him well enough to say whether that’s going too far, or if it might be just right.

      If it’s going too far, consider calling him just ask for some advice (or his opinion) about something. It could be something as simple as what birthday present to buy for your dad, or whether it really does help have the engine flushed on occasion when changing the oil in your car.

      When he thinks of you, he feels something special. You can magnify that appeal if you give him a problem he can easily solve (like showing up at your doorstep).

      Thanks for being a faithful reader!

      James

  13. Sue said:

    This might be lengthy … I will be 63 in August…have purchased downloads from you about a year ago. Been seeing same man for almost 3 years…..tried to try everything!! I’ve been married and divorced 3 times “same man”, he also been married and divorced 3!! Last one cleaned him out while he was at work…he says he will never get attached to another woman…we do great for awhile then he drops off the face of the earth for awhile …I mean I wish I had meant this man years ago. EVERYTHING is great!! I’m committed to just him, do not believe in sleeping around!! I can feel he cares then he backs off. It’s like he catches himself getting attached??? I’m too old to play games and I REALLY CARE FOR HIM!!!! HELP ??

    • James Bauer said:

      Hi Sue. This one might be a good question for a private consultation email. There are too many background details needed to offer you a meaningful response.

      James

  14. jas said:

    maybe giving someone their own personal time.. try not to be demanding about something like replying to your messages immediately. or don’t even flood him with your messages.

  15. Janice said:

    Give without expecting anything in return.

  16. Linda said:

    Hi, i met a guy online. He’s divorced. He said his wife cheated on him and his marriage was loveless for a long time. I’m going through a divorce, my soon to be ex and I both still live in the same house and my guy knows that. So I’m sure he’s ok with it and he know there is nothing left there and that there is no chance for any reconciliation. My soon to be ex also cheated on me.
    My guy told me during making love about a month ago that he has feelings for me, said he was falling for me and said quote “I’m going to tell you one day that I love you”. I said “one day?” And he said he didn’t want to scare me off. I told him I don’t scare easily. Then he said he was falling for me. Then a week later during making love he said he was falling in love with me (very quietly). I didn’t say anything back to him. I do like him alot and we even said I love you to each other once in a text. When we were together one time about two weeks ago I asked him what he was looking for and he said he wanted a relationship with one person. He said he was tired of going on dating site dates. And said he really likes me. So this all tells me he really wants to be with me. A while back I caught him on match.com and confronted him. He said
    he was only on it because I was too. Then he realized my acct was deactivated so he deactivated him. I had s POF acct that I rarely ever went on. He saw it and messaged me. I told him I don’t use it any more. I told him if he wanted to date other people that was fine that I could not stop him but he said no he liked me. I told him all I wanted was to know if he
    was because we are being intimate. And his response was that he liked me.
    Here is the problem. We met on match.com. He said about a month after
    we met that he was deactivating his match acct. I did the same. The other day his phone was dinging and I looked at it
    and 4 match.com notifications popped up. But his acct was deactivated. So I went on match and found that he activated another new profile. And he is on it every day all day long. There were
    also a couple of nights the past month that he went MIA and made some poor lame excuses of what happened that I did not believe. I know he was out on match.com dates so my question is what
    is his motive? Why does he say these
    things to me yet continue to be on
    match.com? I’m thinking that he is just leading me on until someone better
    comes along? If so then why would he go out of his way to telling me these feeling
    he has for me if he still looking on the dating sites. Do I confront him again? What is his motive and how do I handle this relationship? Please help.

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