What is love?

This is a question I have often thought about. More than a million songs about love have been recorded over the years. We all need love. Love is associated with feelings of positivity, warmth and protectiveness. Feeling love from another person plays a positive role in our general well-being.

What is love by Helen Ross 1

Love is a human response to another person where there is a mutual feeling of respect, and where that person doesn’t feel judged for who she or he is.

So why is “love” a reason to stay in a clearly toxic relationship?

In my private practice I regularly see couples who stay together because they “love” each other when clearly the relationship is not working for either. Blaming each other for the relationship not working is common: “you spend too much time at work” or “you never help with the children/ housework”.

Quite often there is a real fear of being alone, with thoughts such as “if I am not with this person, I will be alone and no one else will want to be with me, therefore the relationship I have is better that no relationship”. And as we see the real person reveal themselves, instead of reconsidering whether we accept them and respect them for all that they prove to be, we often keep trying to force them to fit the mould, persuading them to give up this or that, be more or less this or that, so that our personal fantasy can continue. Because if that can’t continue, what else is there. The fairy tale didn’t have an alternative ending. But love can’t be forced, can’t be designed or remoulded. Love accepts. In deeds as well as words.

Unconditional relationships are the only relationships that work. No one is perfect. It is not about status, money or appearance. It is about mutual empathy. Only when you have this ingredient can you be in a relationship where the true sense of love can be nurtured.

This for me sums up love:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth”.

Helen Ross