Tell me the first word that comes to your mind when you hear the word Love? Is it: romance; passion; understanding; respect; trust or security? Love means different things to different people. So is there a right answer? Absolutely not! The key is to simply ask yourself the question; what does love mean to me? How do I define it? Maybe some of the words described above will be the answer or maybe it’s more complicated than just one word. Many of us are in search of love but haven’t taken the time to figure out how we define it and how we like to give and receive love. Once you figure out how you define love; then you must communicate it! What do I mean by that? It’s the process of assessing if the elements that you use to describe love are present in your current relationship. For example, if love means trust and intimacy; and you find out that there are plenty of trust but little intimacy; then you focus on addressing the intimacy. In any couple’s relationship, it is crucial to voice our needs and wants but also know when we need to re-assess and re-negotiate. Re-assessing and re-negotiating mean taking the time to communicate whether your needs are being met. If you decide to improve the intimacy in your relationship, after making some changes, you want to check in with your partner and communicate if the new actions you two have taken are working. On Valentine’s day and throughout the year, love not only be celebrated but also explored, communicated and worked on!
When you first thought of what love is, how quickly did you think of the question in relation to another person? Since we are wired for social connection, it’s very common to explore your definition of love in context of a romantic relationship. However when we jump right into thinking of it in context of a relationship with a partner, we miss a very crucial step: the Self-Love. One thing that is well known and agreed upon is that you can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself first. Now let’s think about how you define love in context of you! What are the words that come to your mind when you hear “Self-Love;” is it authenticity; self-identity; compassion; boundaries or respect? Do the words change or remain the same when you think of self-love vs. love for someone else? Self-love is not different in that when we define what it means for us, we also need to practice it. Maintaining healthy boundaries and a stable balance in our lives are just some ways we can maintain self-love. How do you practice elements of love for yourself? How do you engage in self-respect or self-compassion? What about honesty with one self? If any of these questions gets you thinking, then therapy might be the right place for you to explore more.