Learn to be disciplined and control your urge to be tied to your phone, to dive into ice cream when you’re not happy, or to do anything without really thinking about it. It’s about doing the “tough” things, like sitting with your feelings, going to the gym, or eating healthy. Spend some time each day thinking about your impulses and mindless behaviors. and ways in which you can improve your self-control and self-discipline. Quiet time each day is so important to building a healthy life. Try to stretch it out. Set goals for building the amount of time you can spend every day in quiet meditation and purposeful action (and purposeful inaction). Having a say in everything you do and everything you don’t do is important to being healthy and being capable of giving and receiving real love. (It is also important, when you’re in a relationship, to continue to cultivate this practice and to have your own “me time” and alone time every day.)
8. Know that real love does not hurt.
Yes, there are misunderstandings and upsets and disappointments in every relationship, but in healthy relationships, they are not a regular happening. Real love and really loving relationships are consistent. They are not always easy, but they tend to run smoothly because everyone works at it. Love is what helps you deal with the curves that life throws at you—not what makes things more difficult. Love, real love, is support in a difficult world, not something that makes your life even harder. Real love gives each other the benefit of the doubt without being foolish about it. Pick your battles, and don’t fight over everything. Don’t be with people who turn everything into an argument or a challenge. It’s exhausting and doesn’t need to be that way. Healthy people refuse to live that way.
9. Real love does not ask us to sacrifice that which we love.
Not our interests, not our hobbies, not our friends and family. If someone is asking you to do that, it’s not healthy and not good for you. If you’re willing to do that without even being asked, it’s even worse. It’s normal to cocoon in a new relationship but after a time, you have to get back to the things and the people you love. Keep your life balanced; if you give up what you love and the people you love, you will look around one day and realize you can’t leave your relationship because you have nothing else. You may need to rework the ratios of how much time you give to each of your interests and loved ones, but it’s important that nothing (and no one) is treated as an afterthought.
10. The most important thing to know about real love is that love is an action from you and to you.
Act it and insist on it. Every single day, whether in a relationship or not, you must affirm that love is what you do, not what you say, and you must insist upon it with everyone in your life. If it’s a “non-love” relationship (i.e. professional), respect is the action and you must be treated with respect in all your relationships.
If people understood what real love entailed they would be less inclined to go in and out of relationships in which they know they will experience anything but love. Use your time out of a relationship wisely, to build what you need to be in a healthy relationship. And then, go out and build it.
Written by Susan J Elliott JD, M.Ed.
This article was originally published in Psychology Today
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