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What is Love?

In my practice, this is the one thing that surprises me most. Oh, the question rarely actually gets asked, but the belief and definition are pretty clear based on the nature of the discussion. There is so much confusion about what love between two people should look like.

Infatuation seems to be the word that best describes what I hear. Magic is a close second. People often complain that they don't have the same feelings of Infatuation and magic that they did at the beginning of their relationship. Or they hop from relationship to relationship in search of that magical feeling of Infatuation. Unfortunately, these people never find true love because their expectations is too shallow.

Certainly these things are part of love, but they fall far short of any serious, comprehensive definition of love. Butterflies in the stomach and physical attraction are only a part of love. Face the facts, we all live, grow, mature, change, and get old. What turned you on about another person as a teen, or in their twenties, will surely be gone in their 40s, 50s and beyond. If you want your relationship to last, you had better look for things of more substance in the other person.

In my experience, many great relationships either start with friendship or include friendship as a major element. Friendships, and therefore love, include deeper elements. Supporting the other person in good times and bad. It includes sharing those things that matter with each other. Good lovers, like good friends have many interests in common. And to add some variety, they learn to like things that the other person likes. Trust keep friendships together, and two people in love trust each other. Real love is long lasting between people who are in it for the long haul.The partners in a relationship are there to help and support each other when needed. Finally, people who are friends, and people in love are unselfish -- always regarding the needs and desires of the other person before their own.

Love is worth working for. Two people in a loving relationship don't give up on each other. They care enough to put in the hard work of looking out for the other person, for thinking of them first, of putting the other person first, and of getting to know everything there is to know about what the other person cares about. The irony is that, although I call it work, when the love is deep and mature it doesn't seem like work at all.

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