Tossing out Memes. The Elements of Healthy Love.

relationship-sure-there-are-plenty-of-other-fish-in-the-seaThere are a lot of relationship paradigms being offered out there and even more quotes and advice offerings on what relationship success looks like and how to attain it. The latest is to share them as social media memes. Many of these espouse ideas of true love conquering all, enduring all, being all. Accepting another faults completely and without question with an ideal of compromise, hard work, and enduring all to achieve the end goal. And while these concepts are noble and true, between the beautiful and the cliche, they are only applicable in the right relationship.

In the wrong relationships, these same concepts are being used as reasons to stay because we still want to believe that love is enough all by itself. What we know is that love, in and of itself, is not enough. The wrong relationship can take these qualities that would make the right relationship thrive and endure and instead make excuses for our own, or our partner’s lack of health, toxic markers and red flags. I am seeing a lot of do’s and don’ts, quotas and restrictions,and not a lot of concepts of what health in love and relationships might look like in the first place.

To put the cart back behind the horse… Healthy relationships and enduring love come from two healthy, whole people that in all their imperfect humanness are compatible with each other, have trust and friendship at their core, and show communication styles and conflict resolution that work together. A relationship cannot be healthy if you or your partner is not. Much of relationship work these days is trying to make things work in a relationship that is not working by dealing with surface issues and ignoring what’s underneath causing them.

Healthy Love is  not exempt from challenge, effort, compassion, and compromise, but it’s characteristics do set it apart.

  • Healthy love is not deficit based. It is not two halves making a whole, one person satisfying another’s needs, one completing another.  It is two healthy, whole people that come together to give out of overflowing cups of wellness as opposed to need fulfilment that comes with expectation. There isn’t obligation or demand – it’s a mutual balancing of give and take out of fullness, not lack.
  • Healthy love holds personal accountability at its core. There is stability in a match of two people that have done their own work. You take care of yourself and your health in all ways – body, mind and soul and so does your partner. When you really practice self care and are accountable for being your best, you are in a better position to give to another. It’s the old airplane oxygen mask analogy. This is true in relationships as well. The only work you can control is the work you do on yourself. if you want a healthy relationship you must begin by being healthy yourself and doing whatever healing of your past that is necessary. When you feel whole, complete and in love with who you are becoming every day you will attract healthier people into your life and come into a relationship as the most grounded and truest version of yourself.

    Part of taking care of yourself is that you do your own work from the past, in the present. We all have history from our family of origin and previous relationships. If we didn’t have good examples or experiences, we often bring those scabby wounds with us to be reopened by the next relationship. Look for patterns in your life, acknolwedge your own baggage, do your own work so that you aren’t bringing your own toxins into the relationship.

  • Healthy love isn’t about perfection.There isn’t always a utopian equal compromise where everyone is happy and satisfied. You won’t always get what you want when you want it, but that’s kind of the point. We grow in acceptance and love not just when things are perfect and your needs are met – we grow more in these areas when they are not. It shouldn’t be quite so conditional – not if the goal is long term happiness where character is more important than ego. Healthy love includes that no one is perfect but assumes that no one is toxic. It isn’t about taking major hits or allowing unacceptable behaviour, conduct, and attitudes to continue as a trade off for love.
  •  Healthy love has compatibility. Beyond chemistry, seek compatibilty and you will end up with both. Look for this in key areas –  communication styles, conflict resolution, overall resiliency, values, temperaments. If you have too much imbalance and diversity you don’t end up tempering your partner, you end up driving each other further to your extremes. Certainly relationships can be work… but I think that we’ve bought into this idea that they should be hard a lot of the time including early on. The idea that constant chaos and negotiating and drama is a normal part that we just need to work through because we are in love is not only untrue but damaging. How much work is your relationship and for how long? The best relationships have a strong base in compatibility that makes dealing with inevitable ups and downs easier and changes the ratio of work to joy.

Look at your relationship, it’s history, your own. The love within it is not irrelevant, but have the courage to assume love is a given and offer your relationship an honest health assessment. What’s there already? What’s missing? What work is still yours to do? Toss out the abundance of shared memes and relationship to do lists…at least until you and your partner are independently healthy and whole and are bringing that into the relationship so that your love is healthy too.

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