I was thinking about Love and healthy relationships a lot in the past few months. I always ended up with the wrong person which alway lead to a heartbreak. I don’t want to make the same mistakes again, so I started to define what I consider love and the foundation of a healthy relationship.
What is NOT love?
When you are looking for your other half
I often hear from people: “I am so happy I found my other half.” And the point to their partner. “I wish I would find someone who completes me.” When I hear this on a date it is always a huge red flag and I close the date within an hour.
I consider this a toxic approach for relationship. As far as I see all relationship when one or both person consider their partner the other half, or someone who completes them fails miserably sooner or later.
If you feel you are not complete alone, you need someone who completes you. You need some time to work on yourself first. You are far to be ready for a healthy relationship. If you are looking for someone unconsciously who can solve your problems, it is not healthy. This problem could be anything, from the anxiety of being alone, feeling not loved, lonely to any other issues. You should never put this weight to another person’s shoulders. They won’t fix your problems and they shouldn’t even try it. It’s not their job. Once the euforia is over after a few months or weeks, you’ll realise you still have problems, and you’ll start to blame others for not fixing it. It leads to thoughts maybe he/she is not the one. You are wrong! You are the one who has to face with your problems, solve it and start a relationship after.
Dependency is NOT love
When you are depending on your spouse in any way, emotionally, financially or any other possible way. It is not love. People often interpret this as love, but it is leads to a toxic relationship which will almost always end. You should never put your wellbeing into the hands of external things — other people. You should fix your life first, be independent individual. See the previous point one.
Take responsibility for your own life and understand that it’s not your partner’s job to entertain you.
Attraction is NOT love
People are attracted to others. It is a fact and you have to accept it. Attraction will happen even if you are in a long term relationship, marriage or single. I attracted to many people for many reasons. I liked the way they laughed, I liked their humor, their mindset, the way they lived their life. Attraction could be, but not always sexual. I found people sexy because the way they smelled, the way they walked or talked or the way they were thinking. Many people tend to think attraction is love, but it is not. Attraction is magic. Attraction is based on completely inexplicable reasons. You don’t control this initial attraction. This is true for many of us. The problem is, most of us sink too much importance in attraction and, worse, they tend to mix it up with love. And while you don’t control who you’re attracted to, you do, however, control where you invest ourselves — time, energy, and emotion.
Wanting to be together or text all the time is not love. Wanting constant reassurance is not love. These are weak and toxic demonstrations of affection and insecurity. Love is never a give or take, it is never about keeping score, it is never about wanting and expecting.
Everything you see on TV it is NOT love
What is communicated in the media and in the movies is not love. You see love in an amorph bastardized way. That deep romantic visualisation of love simply does not exists. It is not possible to live in constant happiness, full of passion for years over years. Love and relationship is full of ups and downs. People fall in and out of love with the same person, and if you are lucky you and your spouse never fall out of love at the same time. If you are chasing what you see in the movies, you are chasing a shadow.
When we chase romance and excitement, we do to love what porn does to sex
What is love?
Love is a choice
Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. You don’t make this choice once at the beginning of the relationship. You have to make this choice every single day. Good love is the way you love them. It’s you loving their being, you loving their essence, you loving their ups and downs and imperfections and dumb complaints and irritations and short-comings and differences, you loving their decisions — each day. And you have to make this choice each day.
Love is friendship
Love should be based on true deep friendship. Friendship should be based on high level of mutual respect. When your friends visits you and breaks your mug, you say it’s ok, i’ll buy a new one. When your spouse does the same you starc screaming. Why don’t you treat your spouse as you friend? Friendship means caring for each other, be there is the other needs you. Respect the other as an individual with an own personality, own goals in life. You never treat your friends as an object, or your belonging. It is based on mutual respect. Love is teamwork. You have to formulate a strong team with your spouse. You two have to be stronger together than as individuals. You have to work to fulfill your dreams, reach common goals, support each other in the hard times, or just work together simple tasks every single day, like the housework.
Love is commitment
You can see in many blog posts the key of a long lasting relationship is communication. It’s not true in my opinion. There is no doubt it is important, but commitment is has a greater factor. You have to commit every single day to your partner. You have to commit even when you are not feeling it. When you have some downs. Or even when you are attracted to someone else. Love is not a feeling. If you define love as a feeling in which you fall in, eventually you’ll fall out at some point. Because feelings change. And people change. And it is normal! If you want to stay together you have to commit even when you are not feeling it.
Love is consistency
You show love and respect for your spouse consistently. Of course there are ups and downs, there are fights and arguments. But you consistently have to let the other feel loved, and safe. Consistency creates safety. Safety creates peace. Peace creates stability.
Love is change
You have to accept the fact people change over time. You cannot stop it. You change too. You shouldn’t try to date with the person your partner was X years ago, you should date with the person they grow in years. As your partner changes, you have to accept, encourage, appreciate and fall in love with the person they become.
Most people think about love it is something just happens to them, or something they are in. They mistakenly think attraction or dependency is love, or they just want to be with someone for the wrong reason. They think it is something just happens to them. They do not realise mature, grown up love is an investment, they have to invest time, energy, work in it.
Love is a decision, a choice and work, it is not magic, it is not something superficial, not something you can’t control. It’s about choosing and committing every single day, it’s and act, it is work.
What Love Is And Is NOT was originally published in The Ascent on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.