Loving somebody takes knowledge and understanding. As a result, we experience love when we practise vulnerability, compassion and empathy, so to love is giving. We actively choose not to let fear dominate.

Love, the feeling and verb, takes investment. We have to be willing to be emotionally giving but also open to knowing and being known further. Emotional generosity only occurs when we practise compassion and empathy. We strive to be kind, patient, tolerant and to not assume shady motives when our partner doesn’t meet our every expectation. We’re emotionally generous with ourselves, too, instead of being self-critical and withholding.

Loving someone with emotional generosity, the giving, requires empathy. We must be capable of recognising another person’s position (feelings, behaviour, where they might be coming from) without taking ownership of it. This means that when we love, we’re not making our partner’s every feeling and behaviour about us. We have healthy boundaries and try to notice where our people pleasing shows up so that we connect more authentically and intimately.

When we’re in a mutually fulfilling loving relationship, we are part of a team. Their high is our high and their low is ours, and vice versa. We share the load, aren’t competing or battling, and aren’t threatened by their growth nor they by ours. We honour the separateness and so we’re a team but we also know where each of us ends and the other begins.

Compassion and empathy are full-circle actions. We are only truly practising these when we give these to ourselves too.

For more on authentic, loving relationships, check out my book Love, Care, Trust and Respect.

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