4. True love means goals and desires, both yours and as a couple.
Figure out what you’ve always wanted to do—and do it. Find out what your partner wants in and out of life and support it. Decide, early on, if you can and will support each other. You want to be happy, you want your partner to be happy, and you want to be happy together. Get to this early or you will be disappointed, and disillusioned. You do only live once, so make the most of it.
5. Be proactive in all your relationships.
Make choices about relationships and friendships—even those with relatives—and don’t let friendships or professional connections just happen, or continue if they no longer meet your needs or violate your boundaries. Be with those who are loving, respectful, honest, and open. Choose people who know that trust is earned and that once broken, it can be impossible to get back. Those who keep you guessing about how they feel about you do not feed your soul, they deplete it.
6. You are not a victim.
You have control over your life. People stuck in unhealthy relationship dynamics—including me when I was—are stuck in denial, and rationalization. Call yourself on your excuses. Stop believing them. Disengage from a need to be pitied. Are you telling yourself or other stories about being taken advantage of trying to generate sympathy? Stop. Victimhood is not attractive to healthy people. Not only that, you are not a victim. You are in control. Take it.
7. Live with purpose.
Spend quiet time alone each day, without interruption. Think about what you need in life to feel better, or do better. What is missing for you? You don’t have to officially meditate unless you want to, but be still and quiet. Go inward without distraction. You can be a person who makes things happen or a person to whom things happen. Which do you want?
Living with purpose is about doing the tough things, and then reaping the rewards. When you sit with your feelings instead of eating them, or watching mindless TV, or drinking five beers, you can get past them, understand them, and process them. When you go to the gym to re-energize, relieve anxiety, and get strong, you give yourself an immeasurable gift. When you eat healthy to fuel your body you can be present in mind, body, and spirit for your family, friends, partner, and yourself.
It is also important, when you’re in a relationship, to maintain this practice, as tempting as it may be to spend all your time with your new love. We all need me time. You’ll find you have more to give to your partner when you also give to yourself.
8. True love does not hurt.
Loving relationships are consistent. There will always be times of inadvertent hurt or disappointment, even with those who truly love you. That’s life; no one can meet your every need. A comment may be taken the wrong way, your partner may be struggling with something—there are a myriad of reasons for a minor hiccup. It’s not always smooth, but if you work at it, it works. True love helps you with life, it’s not what makes life more difficult. Love is support in a difficult world. Everything in life is not an argument or a challenge. Emotionally healthy people don’t live that way.
9. True love loves us as we are, and wants us as we are.
If someone asks you to give up interests, hobbies, friends, a job, or anything that makes you who you are, that’s not true love. And, it’s not healthy. To nest in a new relationship is normal, but after a time, you settle in and get back to your routine. Life is about balance. Because life is busy, you may adjust how much time you give your interests and loved ones, but it’s important to maintain the fullness of who you are, just as your partner does the same. One plus one equals two, not one.