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The Five Essential
Messages of Love

by Paul and Patricia Richards

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Everybody needs positive messages, and no living creature possessing a personality can escape this fact any more than a sentient being living in a human body can deny that body's need for physical food. Each person must receive at least five key kinds of positive messages every day. In addition, the genders each have their own set of message requirements. They are vital to the creation of powerful intimacy and are just one of many vastly underestimated stumbling blocks relating to need on the path to great intimacy.
Despite the fact that these messages are obviously and desperately needed by everyone, our culture at present shows little consciousness of this basic fact of human life, and most people deliver only a fraction of the number of messages truly called for. We would do well to be sending positive messages to everyone around us, and especially to our mates, whenever such messages are true.
The necessary five messages tend to build on one another in a hierarchical way--for example, most people need to feel seen before they can really hear an apology. That said, each message is a stand-alone, and all are equally important.

1) I see you.
Tell your lover, and everyone else in your life, that you see them fully and completely. Then tell them exactly what you really do see. Let them know that you really are seeing them by paying careful attention and delving into detail beyond what they might expect. Tell them your impression of their hopes and fears, their special talents, and, when appropriate, their deeper feelings.

2) I regret your suffering.
Tell your lover, and anyone else you care about, that you regret their misfortunes and sufferings. You can apologize for anyone, for anything, without taking the guilt or blame on yourself, and your apology will have value. Think of apology as the expression of regret rather than acceptance of blame. Remember that only about one out of every thousand needed apologies is ever conveyed in our world.

3) You are loved and a part of the pack.
Third is the message of unconditional love. I always think of this message in concrete terms. I want people to know that if I were the helmsman of a crowded lifeboat in frothy green stormy seas, and if they were to fall over board, I would go back for them. This third message is, therefore, a lifeboat message for me, rather than a syrupy declaration of emotion. The message you give your lover is an ultimate version of this message; it is both beyond gender and highly sexualized, and the pack is the couple itself. When expressed to the rest of the world, the message is free of gender context, and the pack is the fellowship of human beings everywhere.

4) I appreciate your contributions & achievements.
People need to hear that they are appreciated for their contributions, achievements, and victories. Here too, people rarely receive the messages that they have earned. Moreover, most of the incredible feats achieved by human beings are internal. People suffer in silence, they struggle internally, they face demons and dig deep inside for hidden resources, and it is almost all hidden from view. Great things happen inside the human heart. Look there and don't hold back when you perceive something wonderful or amazing in your fellow creatures.

5) You are safe with me and from me.
Finally, people need to hear that they are safe, really safe. Watch over them, and tell them that you are doing so. Most people believe only in degrees of jeopardy and live in degrees of greater or lesser anxiety, but never in true relaxation. The assurance of safety is a vital and wonderful resource that we need to share with one another.

Knowledge of the messages and their role in human life is one of the simplest and most precious things to have come my way in a lifetime on this path. It is the most needed idea about need. I hope it gets passed along.

Excerpted with permission from Wild Attraction: A Ruthlessly Practical Guide to Extraordinary Relationship ©2009 by Paul & Patricia Richards, published by Chelsion Press.

Related Info:
John Gray on relationships
Kathlyn & Gay Hendricks on healing relationships
Love is a Mystery, Not a Problem to be Solved
Authenticity, Key to Transformation
Daring to Know What You Want
John Bradshaw on emotional health & therapy
Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., on emotions and your health

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