In the first article of this ten-part series, we tackled some basic definitions and concepts that are at the heart of any healthy relationship. In this article we dig into a more in depth examination of love, what it means to us, and how we can nurture it in our lives today. While there is undoubtedly an ongoing work in progress towards redefining love, in the meantime we can examine the many different definitions and understandings that we have for love, as well as some common themes that we can all relate to, regardless of our cultural backgrounds or individual desires for love.
Love encompasses a wide range of positive and intense emotional and spiritual states, from the deepest spiritual virtue or good human trait, to the strongest interpersonal attraction, to the easiest form of joy and delight. It is a state of mind that can be compared to a magnet, which draws to itself or attracts to another thing. Some psychologists define love in more literal terms by defining it as something that brings pleasure or excitement, rather than necessarily physical pleasure or excitement. Regardless of the literal or clinical definition, however, love brings with it a plethora of different and interesting experiences and responses. In fact, one of the most powerful definitions of love is the one that states that it is a “state of harmony and peace”.
It is important to note that the word “love” does not necessarily denote physical attraction, and nor does it always mean physical expression. Love can take on many forms and can even be a state of mind. Indeed, when you are feeling truly connected to another person, it can almost feel like they are able to hear every single detail of your existence and soul. This is true eharmony. Real love will allow people of varying degrees of personalities and talents to work together in meaningful and creative ways, without the struggle of feeling intimidated or pushed aside.
In order for a relationship to develop into true love, there must be some sort of emotional balance present. This balance can come in the form of unconditional love, but it can also stem from a strong sense of faith in your partner and your relationship. People often say that if I can’t love my partner, then I can’t truly love myself. Loving yourself means accepting and loving your partner and the other individual in your relationship. It is impossible to stay in a toxic relationship where there is no room for growth. This is why unconditional love is so important and fundamental to any healthy relationship.
Of course, loving someone also entails being present with them. This is a difficult skill to master, but it is absolutely necessary for anyone who wishes to have romantic love. The act of being present with another person allows you to experience their thoughts, feelings, and also to hear what they are saying. Being present allows you to understand their perspective and learn from them. When you are present with another person, you become more sensitive to their needs, and more responsive to their wants.
Another important thing to remember when it comes to cultivating romantic love is that one person cannot love another person while they are in an unhealthy relationship. While it may be possible for a healthy relationship to include loving actions between partners, healthy love relationships are not possible with unhealthy behavior. A perfect example of this is that one partner cannot love another while they are selfish, controlling, judgmental, resentful, and malicious. Both partners in a relationship need to be willing to work on these behaviors before they can develop true, romantic love. It would be a shame if after loving each other for a long time and having spent many years building a special relationship, one partner felt the need to change and destroy what they had.
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