Being in love with someone is not just about having warm, fuzzy feelings for him or her. We tend to think of love as a feeling when it really is a relationship.
It is easier to describe a good love relationship than it is to define what love is. So let’s talk about what has to be present in a love relationship in order to make it a good one:
EXCLUSIVITY: Exclusivity in a love relationship means someone is your “one and only,” and that you are their “one and only.” Each lover would be very upset and feel betrayed if the other person had the same sort of relationship with another person.
ENJOYMENT: If two people have a love relationship, they enjoy each other’s company. In fact, they enjoy being together so much that they look for opportunities to be together. And when they cannot be together, they wish they were. They like each other and have fun together.
ADVOCATE/CHAMPION: Each person in a love relationship advocates or champions the other’s interests. This means you know each other well enough to know each other’s interests. You encourage and protect each other’s interests. You put each other’s interests first often enough to let each other know that he/she is very special, and, if you violate the other’s interests, you have a very good reason for doing so.
GIVING THE UTMOST: In a love relationship, couples give to each other in many ways and at many times. Friends also give to each other in times of need, but couples are prepared to go beyond the giving of friendship. Friends are not generally expected to make the kinds of sacrifices for each other that couples do. It has an “I’ll be there for you no matter what” sort of tone.
ACCEPTANCE & AUTHENTICITY: Each person accepts the other as they are without being inclined to make the other over. I want this person just as he or she is. Furthermore, I know that I can safely be myself with this person. There is no need for masks, facades, playing a role, or otherwise inhibiting expressions of who I really am. For acceptance to be meaningful, each has to know who the other is as fully as possible.
RESPECT: This means you trust your lover’s judgments and decisions even when you do not fully understand them. You take it that he/she has a good reason for what he/she is doing, even when you do not know what they are. It also means that you give the other person the freedom to exercise his/her judgment, and that you do not degrade his/her decisions even though you may not fully agree with them.
UNDERSTANDING: Understanding goes with respect. It means that you not only know the facts about the other person, but also why he/she does what he/she does.
FASCINATION: Fascination means we want to be with the other person even when we should be engaged in other activities. We want to be with them, see them, touch them, talk to them, etc.
INTIMACY: This means a deep level of sharing in which you build a history together. Sharing can include both doing activities together and confiding in each other. You end up with a person who knows you better than anyone else in the world. Intimacy can include sexual intimacy, but is not limited to that.
COMMITMENT: Being in love involves a permanent commitment based on the certainty that this is the right person to spend my life loving and being loved by. Notice how strange how it would sound to say, “I will be in love with you for six months.”
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