Love is the most important part of any relationship. However, relationships require hard work, commitment, and effort. All of these are the building blocks of a happy relationship.
Romantic Love & Companionship
Romantic love can be defined as an emotional feeling of love characterized by attraction towards another person. It is also associated with sexual attraction, physical consummation, and the expression of feelings and emotions. Love is a powerful tool that can bring positive energy, and heal pain, sadness, or suffering. It is one of the essential aspects of any relationship whether it is platonic or romantic. A platonic love encourages honesty, respects boundaries, and has no expectations. Whereas romantic love involves effortless attraction, mutual respect, acceptance, trust, companionship, and expectation. A 2016 study 1 found that romantic love happens at least once to everyone and has a great impact on our lives. A 2002 study 2 also pointed out that love is associated with positive emotions such as euphoria and romantic relationships enhance happiness and life satisfaction.
As human beings, our natural instinct is to seek companionship from other people. Building healthy relationships requires effort and love. A good relationship requires teamwork and knowing when to take control and when to back off and have faith in your partner. When two people are in a relationship, they tend to combine their strengths to work as a team. There are several people who struggle to communicate their feelings with their partners. Mostly it is their ego that usually comes in between which doesn’t allow them to express themselves. A 2004 study 3 pointed out that love that is associated with stress, jealousy, and romantic breakups usually result in sadness or shame. In a loving relationship, both partners can communicate with each other by setting their egos aside. Understanding your partner and communicating honestly is the foundation of true love. Companionship is also an essential part of a relationship. It involves being with someone who you can travel with, share your secrets, fool around and grow old. Companionship means paying attention to the one you love and growing together as a couple.
Trust is also an essential part of relationships. Trust and loyalty are the two pillars of relationships. It helps to bring emotional stability. When two people love and trust each other, there is no fear of getting hurt. However, in order to sustain true love, mutual respect is important. A loving relationship also involves feeling safe with your partner. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe with your partner, then it is essential to recognize and rectify it.
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Toxic Relationships And Love
Toxic relationships are characterized by a partner who is emotionally unavailable, damages your self-esteem, and drains your energy. In most cases, it is characterized by a lack of love, among other things such as trust and respect, in the relationship. Some of the signs of toxic relationships:
- Lack of support
- Negative financial behaviors
- Toxic communication
- Lack of self-care
Toxic relationships can be saved if both partners are willing to put in the effort and time to fix them. Both partners must take responsibility for their actions and nurture self-awareness in their relationships. It is essential to develop mutual respect and understanding between each other to heal your toxic relationship. However, this isn’t always the case. If one partner wants to build healthier patterns, conversely, the other partner may not want to. In fact, one 1996 study 4 found that emotional abuse is used as a powerful control tool in toxic relationships.
Loneliness In Relationships
Adolescence and emerging adulthood are stages wherein romantic relationships play a major role in the development of the individual. It can also be a source of both well-being and negative outcomes. A 1995 study 5 pointed out that the desire for interpersonal attachment is a fundamental human motivation, especially in romantic relationships. Despite being in love, many people may feel lonely while being in a relationship. One of the main reasons one may feel lonely in a relationship can be because the relationship isn’t working out the way you had hoped it to be. A 2018 study found that 28% of people who are dissatisfied with their family lives feel lonely all or most of the time. An individual can be in a relationship and still feel lonely. Another 2020 study 6 pointed out that partner relationships have been found to be the most protective factor against loneliness.
Some of the signs that you feel lonely in your relationship are as follows:
- Unwilling to share details about your day
- Avoid spending time with your partner
- Feeling lonely even when you are in the same room
- Lack of physical intimacy
- Feeling unwanted in the relationship
- Being with the wrong person
- Lack of quality time together
It is essential to address your feelings to your partner. During the conversation, if your partner says that they have tried several ways to try to make you feel emotionally fulfilled, then its origin may be related to something internal.
Expression Of Love In Relationships
Love may be expressed in several ways. But most people seek its expression in a romantic relationship with a compatible partner. A 2009 study 7 found that romantic relationships are typically defined as “mutually acknowledged ongoing voluntary interactions”. These are characterized by a particular intensity, specific expressions of affection, and initiation in erotic sexual encounters. Maintaining a healthy relationship requires communication and attention along with the intensity of feelings and affection. It requires you to be at par with your inner self. We feel afraid of loneliness when we don’t enjoy our own company. Practicing mindfulness and doing what you love can help you to understand the things you love and enjoy. This will ultimately help you to curb your feelings of loneliness.
Self-love is also an essential part of having fulfilling relationships with other people. A 1988 study 8 pointed out that self-love is found to be a key component of healthy psychological functioning, including self-esteem, motivation, and determination. Another 2010 study 9 found that lack of self-love may contribute to mood and anxiety disorders. Self-love is an effective and important tool because it allows you to be your authentic self with your partner. When you allow yourself to be your authentic self around others, you will find more genuine and fulfilling relationships. It is also essential to make sure you are with the correct partner. A loving relationship allows you to be vulnerable and accepts you despite the imperfections and flaws. Determine what you want from your relationship. Don’t be in a rush to choose a partner. It is essential to assess the potential partner according to the standards you have in your head. One of the ways to ascertain whether you are with a correct partner is by being emotionally present with them and sharing your feelings. When you share a story about yourself, it combats the feelings of loneliness.
In relationships, it is important to not assume that you are understood. It is essential to convey what you need from your partner in a gentle and loving way. Pushing your partner away because they are unable to understand your feelings will only make matters worse.
The Definition Of Love
Great relationships do not happen overnight. They require love, commitment, compromise, forgiveness, and effort. The definition of love and relationships is different for different individuals. For some, love is practical and can be expressed by supportive gestures while for others, it is more materialistic.References:
- Langeslag, S. J., & van Strien, J. W. (2016). Regulation of Romantic Love Feelings: Preconceptions, Strategies, and Feasibility. PloS one, 11(8), e0161087. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0161087
- Fisher, H. E., Aron, A., Mashek, D., Li, H., & Brown, L. L. (2002). Defining the brain systems of lust, romantic attraction, and attachment. Archives of sexual behavior, 31(5), 413–419. https://doi.org/10.1023/a:1019888024255
- Marazziti, D., & Canale, D. (2004). Hormonal changes when falling in love. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29(7), 931–936. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2003.08.006
- Jacobson, N. S., Gottman, J. M., Gortner, E., Berns, S., & Shortt, J. W. (1996). Psychological factors in the longitudinal course of battering: when do the couples split up? When does the abuse decrease?. Violence and victims, 11(4), 371–392.
- Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological bulletin, 117(3), 497–529.
- Mund, M., Johnson, M.D. Lonely Me, Lonely You: Loneliness and the Longitudinal Course of Relationship Satisfaction. J Happiness Stud 22, 575–597 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-020-00241-9
- Collins, W. A., Welsh, D. P., & Furman, W. (2009). Adolescent romantic relationships. Annual review of psychology, 60, 631–652. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.60.110707.163459
- Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: a social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological bulletin, 103(2), 193–210.
- Shestyuk, A. Y., & Deldin, P. J. (2010). Automatic and strategic representation of the self in major depression: trait and state abnormalities. The American journal of psychiatry, 167(5), 536–544. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.06091444