According to a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships Americans say controlling or possessive behaviors such as someone wanting to know where you are at all times makes them feel not loved.
“We were curious about whether the majority of Americans could agree about what makes people feel loved on a daily basis, or if it was a more personal thing. Our results show that people do agree, and the top scenarios that came back weren’t necessarily romantic. So it is possible for people to feel loved in simple, everyday scenarios. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top gestures”, said Saeideh Heshmati, a postdoctoral research scholar in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development.
The researchers recruited 495 American adults to answer a questionnaire about whether or not they thought most people would feel loved in 60 different scenarios.
In general, results show that behavioural actions where there’s more authenticity — rather than purely verbal expressions — triggered more consensus as indicators of love.
Small, non-romantic gestures — like someone showing compassion or snuggling with a child — topped the list of what makes people feel loved.
Meanwhile, controlling behaviours — like someone wanting to know where they were at all times ranked among the least loving actions.
“This could be a cultural difference, though. There’s research showing that in more communal societies, these types of controlling behaviors may be seen as affection. But here in America we don’t see it as loving “, Heshmati said.
The researchers also found that American men tended to know less about what the majority of the American culture deems loving. Additionally, people in a relationship and people with agreeable or neurotic personality traits tended to know more about the cultural consensus.
Heshmati said that even though the results may reflect how the American culture in general feels about love, individuals still can and do have their own personal feelings about what makes them feel loved.
“It may not be wise to go into a relationship assuming that both of you know the same things about feeling loved or that all of the same things will make you feel loved,” Heshmati said. “I think it’s important to communicate these things to each other, which can assist in being more in tune with each other and feeling loved in the relationship.”