In many ways, true love is similar to marriageor having children.
We have romantic fantasies — fueled by society — about these life choices. And yet, rarely do we think — what makes themreallywork? Often — more thoughtand expense — are spent on planning the wedding than on planning the marriage. Couples find — once the honeymoon is over — that they know little about each otheror don’t share common values.
Similarly, the idea of having a baby feels like giggles and trips to the park—that dies when you have triplets, your baby has colic, won’t take a bottle, or has special needs. Yet, thisis being a parent. But it's a shock if you don’t think about it and commitin advance.
True love includes both big and small acts. Becauselove isaction, love iswork,and love is adecision.
These life choices—while wonderful—are also work. Most things of value are. Every day, couples get divorced. Every day, fussy babies are ignored orworse, mistreated—because the responsibility inherent inmarriageandparenthoodwasn't appreciated before taking on.
To love and be loved in a positiveand healthy way isn't effortless.
True love means saying “no” to urges. True love means being conscious rather than hurtful, being helpful rather than selfish, acknowledging your partner’s needs, and being faithful. True love includes both big and small acts.
It doesn’t take work to be in a dysfunctional relationship — people do it all the time. Oh, the ennui of taking another emotional hostageor allowing the same for yourself.It may be chaos, drama, and decimation — but it's familiar.
Buttoreallylove someone who really loves you is to be emotionally healthy, supportive, and caring. It's a partnership, compromise, and acceptance.Real, true loveamplifieswhile dysfunctional lovecontracts.And yet, that which amplifies comes with work and responsibility both to self and to each other.
You won't find true love until you accept these 10 things:
1. To find the right person, you need to be the right person
Before a relationship, build your life. Whatwent wrong in your last relationship? What patterns and habits do you need to address?Understand thesebeforeyou get into a new one.
You're bothinor no one is in. If one partner wants to change and the other doesn’t, it's not a relationship anymore.
If you're in a relationship and are both trying to save it, you — both of you — figure it out and heal the wounds. Therapy is a good start. Again, you both are inor no one is in. If one partner wants to change and the other doesn’t, it's not a relationship anymore.
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2. Know your boundaries
Is an affair a deal breaker? What else is a non-starter? Drug abuse? Excessive drinking? Dishonesty? Financial instability? Racial slurs? Emotional, verbal, or any other abuse? Knowbeforeyou go in.
Once you know your deal breakers, be prepared to follow through. This isn't about losing the other person — this is about not losing yourself.And, men and women — emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse is a one-shot deal breaker. A person who will treat you like this isn't likely to change, but rather to ratchet up the abuse. They aren't your problem to solve — move on.
If you stay beyond any of these allowances, you’relyingto yourself. You’ll be stuck again in dysfunction—bargaining to accept less than you wantand certainly less than you deserve.
3.True love is about healthy communication
Do you want to be with someone who calls you names? Or blames you for things andnitpicks at you? I don’t. When you talk with your partner, begin with “I feel” or “I think” statements —and be with those who do the same.
There's game-playing in dysfunctional relationships — healthy relationships aren't games. If you feel like you’re in a game, the way to win is to not play.
4. True love meansgoalsand desires—both yours and as a couple
Figure out what you’ve always wanted to do—and do it. Find out what your partner wants in and out of life and support it. Decide — early on — if you can and will support each other.
You want to be happy, you want your partner to be happy, and you want to be happy together. Get to this early or you'll be disappointedand disillusioned — youonly live once, so make the most of it.
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5. Be proactive in all your relationships
Make choices about relationships and friendships — even those with relatives — and don’t let friendships or professional connections just happenor continue if they no longer meet your needs orviolate your boundaries.
Be with those who are loving, respectful, honest, and open. Choose people whoknowthat trust is earned and that once broken, can be impossible to get back. Those who keep you guessing about how they feel about you don't feed your soul— they deplete it.
6. You aren't a victim
You have control over your life. People stuck in unhealthy relationship dynamics— including me when I was — are stuck in denialand rationalization. Call yourself on your excuses. Stop believing them. Disengage from a need to be pitied.
Are you telling yourself or others stories about being taken advantage of trying to generate sympathy? Stop. Victimizing yourselfisn't attractive to healthy people. Not only that, you aren't a victim — you're in control, so take it.
7. Live with purpose
Spend quiet time alone each day—without interruption. Think about what you need in life to feel betteror do better. What'smissing for you? You don’t have to officially meditate — unless — you want to, but be still and quiet. Go inward without distraction. You can be a person whomakes things happenor a personto whom things happen. Which do you want to be?
Living with purpose is about doing thetoughthingsand then reaping the rewards. When you sit with your feelings instead of eating them — or watching mindless TVor drinking five beers — you can get past them, understand them, and process them. When you go to the gym to re-energize, relieve anxiety, and get strong, you give yourself an immeasurable gift. When you eat healthy to fuel your body, you can be present in mind, body, and spirit for your family, friends, partner, and yourself.
It's also important — when you’re in a relationship — to maintain this practice, as tempting as it may be to spend all your time with your new love. We all needmetime. You’ll find you have more to give to your partnerwhen you also give to yourself.
True love helps you with life — it’s not what makes life more difficult.
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8. True love doesn't hurt
Loving relationships are consistent. There will always be times of inadvertent hurt or disappointment — even with those who truly love you. That’s life — no one can meet your every need. A comment may be taken the wrong way, or your partner may be struggling with something — there is a myriad of reasons for a minor hiccup. It’s not always smooth, but if you work it works.
True love helps you with life — it’s not what makes life more difficult.Love is support in a difficult world.Everything in life is not an argument or a challenge. Emotionally healthy people don’t live that way.
9. True love loves us as we areand wants us as we are
If someone asks you to give up interests, hobbies, friends, a job, or anything that makes you who you are — that’s not true love. And, it’s not healthy.
To nest in a new relationship is normal — but after a time, you settle inand get back to your routine.
Life is about balance. Because life is busy, you may adjust how much time you give your interests and loved ones.But it’s important to maintain the fullness of who you are, just as your partner does the same. One plus one equals two — not one.
10. Finally, true love is an action from you and to you
Act it and insist on it. Every day — whether in a relationship or not — asserts that love is what youdo andnot what yousay. Andrequire it. Fornon-loverelationships — such as those with friends, co-workers, and even acquaintances — respect is the action from youand the action to you. You deserve to be treated with love and respect — in all your relationships.
Real, true love is workand when you understand that, you'll be less likely to go in and out of relationships in which you'll experienceanything but love. Use your timeoutof a relationship wisely. Build what you need to beina healthy relationship. And then, go out and make it. And it will be real,true,and wonderful.
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Jenny Kanevsky is an editorand regular contributor at The Good Men Project. She also writes for Huffington Post. She blogs atIn Other Words.
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This article was originally published at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission from the author.