Healthy Love, Real Love, & Living in a Healthy World
Love is a broad group of emotions and behaviours often characterized by intense intimacy, commitment, passion, and emotional care. It involves emotional connection, intimacy, trust, romance, caring, emotional proximity, compassion, and sharing. Love is the desire to be loved, nurtured, supported, and allowed to be yourself. The ways we show our love vary tremendously depending on how we are feeling, what is happening, and what we think about in that moment. While love can occur between people who do not even know each other, it often occurs when one or both of the people are closely attached to one another.
How do we describe love? We can use several labels, or just describe what it is like to be loved. This may be a description of a relationship we are feeling, or it might be a description of the feeling in our own heart when another person is compassionate with us, supportive, loving, attentive, helpful, appreciative, responsible, and enthusiastic about something that we are involved with. These are just some examples to help explain love.
If you are in a long term, committed relationship it might be easier to talk about your feelings towards the other person in terms of being in love or being in the process of loving someone. Some examples to help describe this would be: being in love with my partner, being in love with my children, loving a friend, or loving myself. Sometimes it is important to talk about how you feel when another person does something nice for you, such as giving you a gift, being kind to you, helping you through a difficult time, appreciating you, being respectful of you, appreciating or acknowledging your expression of love, etc. When describing the thoughts and feelings you have for another it can be helpful to bring them into the light of the emotions, such as joy, sadness, anger, frustration, happiness, disappointment, longing, ecstasy, sorrow, longing, anticipation, calmness, etc. For the person in a committed relationship this would also include the experiences of having hurt someone, being betrayed, having an affair, living with fear, loving someone who is sick, a death, or losing a loved one.
It is important to note that unconditional love for another person is not the same thing as love for one self. Unconditional love for one self comes from the confidence that you have within yourself that “you are love”, “that person is love”, or “we are love”. In a healthy relationship this love will be reciprocal and will come without any effort on the part of either person in a relationship. However, in a unhealthy or negative relationship this love will often be based upon fear, pain, or jealousy and will be not be healthy.
All of the above descriptions are from the Christian perspective and they describe the three components of love which are the compassion, empathy, and loyalty. The above are all expressions of love and support and most people feel these deeply during a relationship. But if you do not experience deep affection, support, or understanding from your significant other how do you expect them to? The answer really is very difficult to find in a world where we are conditioned from birth by societal conditioning to believe that one person – the “leader” in any relationship – must be better than all the others.
The bottom line is that everyone needs love. In a healthy relationship you are likely to experience deep feelings of love from your spouse, but you are likely to also have love and support from your friends and family. This is what it means to have a “healthy relationship” and “real love” and it is the basis for any real long lasting meaningful relationship.