To love someone involves meeting them where they’re at without losing yourself.

Love is loving, caring for, trusting and respecting all of the person not just focusing on the good points. You let go of hidden agendas about what you want to ‘get’ from them (or avoid).

You love this person while simultaneously loving yourself enough to reveal more than what you perceive to be your ‘good’ parts. It’s about allowing each of you to be seen and heard—and being open to how each of you evolve. It’s a willingness to know more instead of wanting to decide who they are up front.

Love is so much more than a feeling. The action of loving means continuously returning to vulnerability. In this way, you let go of any hidden agenda. This includes inadvertently or even consciously engaging with them as if they’re a parental or sibling replacement. You also honour the separateness in your relationship with healthy boundaries that distinguish your feelings, thoughts, body, actions and stuff from theirs.

Pain and patterns are complicated, not least because they bust boundaries. Genuine love and intimacy are easeful because they create healthy boundaries.

In loving relationships of all kinds, you know where you end and the other person begins—and you keep remembering and valuing that separateness.

Questioning complicated ideas, assumptions and patterns about relationships is necessary. You don’t need to fit a loving relationship into whatever prescriptive idea of relationships you’ve internalised. Like when you’ve had a ’type’ or had relationship habits that involved being with emotionally unavailable or shady people. These are examples of programming, not your personal preferences.

Relationships are co-created.

Once you try to shove a relationship into a ‘box’ to make you feel in control or validated, you begin smothering the essence of the relationship and catering to old patterns. You lose the intimacy and curiosity needed for the relationship to take off to a good place.

Co-create relationships on the basis that you will become more of who you really are—and will allow others to as well.

In loving relationships that continue to prosper through all seasons and conditions, each party has figured out the language of the relationship. They’ve figured out (and continue to learn) what’s true and right for each of them respectively and the relationship.

Even in a loving relationship, you will each get on each other’s tits at times. Stone cold facts.

You will be able to love the person and also be annoyed and upset with them. Conflict and the like won’t be an automatic signal to call the relationship into question or put it in jeopardy. There will be, even though it might be further down the road, an element of humour about it. As conflict is a part of intimacy, you will each learn from these experiences.

In loving relationships, sometimes you will disappoint or frustrate each other. And you will navigate it. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that it’s only ‘love’ or ‘right’ if everything’s ‘perfect’. In those instances, you either don’t know the person well enough or you don’t want to. Loving relationships have a whole backdrop and foundation of consistently showing up for each other and being authentic. As a result, when you disappoint and frustrate each other, you won’t make it about your characters. It won’t be about how much you trust each other.

There’s also a strong element of grace in loving relationships.

No, you’re not wearing rose-tinted glasses and bullshitting yourself, but you don’t assume the worst of the people within your loving relationships because to have loved them in the first place means that you know and understand them.

You’ll notice, also, that when you truly love somebody, you can’t break them down into their ‘good’ and ‘bad’ points; they’re the person you love, care for, trust and respect. And when you remember that this is how you view certain people in your life, you will hopefully extend that grace and love to yourself too.

Are you ready to stop silencing and hiding yourself in an attempt to ‘please’ or protect yourself from others? My book, The Joy of Saying No: A Simple Plan to Stop People Pleasing, Reclaim Boundaries, and Say Yes to the Life You Want (Harper Horizon), is out now.

The Joy of Saying No by Natalie Lue book cover. Subtitle: A simple plan to stop people pleasing, reclaim boundaries, and say yes to the life you want.
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