We see it over and over again on the big screen. One person meets the other and just like that, they fall in love. This may appeal for entertainment purposes but passive love at first sight is more often a sign of infatuation or strong attraction. The common story is that love and romance will sweep us off our feet and create happiness within. But this inflated pop-culture definition consists of an unrealistic portrayal of love.
True love, however, is another story.
For love to remain strong and in order to stand the test of time, the passive, romantic approach doesn’t work. To get love and keep love we must re-define the meaning of the word love. Viewing love as an action rather than just a strong emotion or feeling is key. The action of love is, in part, made up of compassionate and thoughtful giving to others and ourselves. And loving unconditionally is to accept the other just as they are. It is to see them through no filter of wanting or needing anything from them or of them. It is to abandon your agenda of how they should or shouldn’t be.
In his book The Art of Loving, Erich Fromm, a well known German psychologist, describes four elements of love: caring, understanding, knowledge and respect. He posits that true love is fostered from creative action between two people. Fromm also suggests that it is wise to drop our high expectations of our beloved and of love itself: “There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love,” he affirmed.
In her study of real-life successful marriages, Judith Wallerstein, who wrote The Good Marriage: How and Why Love Lasts, observed that those who were most successful in love placed a high value on their partner’s moral qualities. The attachment or bond that resulted from witnessing the good in another person and appreciating this person and their choices was a clear sign of a successful relationship.
Although attraction, an engaging personality, and other positive qualities may count for a strong initial connection, to form a deeper bond, here is a list of what matters most when creating and maintaining a healthy and successful relationship.
- An appreciation of your partner’s essential goodness, values and ethics.
- Respect for ourselves and our partner and allowing one another time to pursue and engage in outside interests as well as spending ample time as a couple.
- Nurturing ourselves as well as giving to others is essential in any relationship.
- Recognizing that relationships are not ever perfect and require lots of “work” or attention and a willingness to resolve conflict with clear communication.
- Staying committed and sticking it out during the hard and mundane times.
These are the ingredients that solidify us on the path to true love.
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We see it over and over again on the big screen. One person meets the other and just like that, they fall in love. This may appeal for entertainment purposes but passive love at first sight is more often a sign of infatuation or strong attraction.