Love vs. a healthy relationship (there’s a difference!)

Are you looking for love or a Healthy Relationship, because let me tell you, these are two totally different things!

One of the hardest things I ever learned was that “Love” was not all I needed, and that “Love” didn’t save the day. And, dare I say it, “Love” was not the answer. A kid thinks that. Not an adult. An adult knows better. And here’s the difference:

Love is an emotion. It is spurred on by chemicals, feelings, or circumstances. It is JUST an emotion, just like hate, anger, joy, sadness, etc. It can last a lifetime, just like depression. It can be something you carry with you and give to others, and it can be a quality you seek in a mate. But it is singular, meaning it comes by itself. Love is love. Period.

A Healthy Relationship is multi-faceted. It is a WHOLE PACKAGE. It has many, many components to it: love, respect, trust, comittment, kindness, friendship, humor, seriousness, strong communication, an ability to compromise, patience, care, chemistry, compatibility, security, and shared values (probably the most important part of a healthy relationship).

Love addicts (like teenagers) tend to seek the emotion. They tend to look only for LOVE when they go out in the world to find a mate. It doesn’t matter if the person is available, or not, neglecting or present, good or bad. What matters is the intensity of love. As long as LOVE is the encompassing emotion love addicts will overlook a host of red flags, because, as long as they feel LOVE, what else is there?

This narrow-minded belief comes from childhood. Most likely you were raised in a household that did not exhibit adult, healthy behavior. When this occurs, we learn a very child-like version of a relationship. We don’t learn about the whole picture and all the components that go into a healthy relationship, we simply learn the Disney version of two people coming together.  There may be abuse, neglect, addiction, avoidance or cheating, but if there is “Love,” and if the parents stay together in spite of all those other things, we learn that love is the higher good.

“Why do you stay, mom, when daddy hurts you so badly?”

“Because I love him.”

If there is divorce or separation or simply a lack of love between the parents, and we never see our parents love or have a healthy relationship, this is also detrimental to our education about what is “healthy.” We tend to learn about love and relationship on the street, so to speak. From our friends, or worse…from Hollywood, which tends to send incredibly bad, wrong messages about what a healthy relationship is (Twilight, The LIttle Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Notebook, Titanic, The Body Guard, The Wedding Planner, Brigid Jones’ Diary, and on and on). In his article in Cracked, about how movies influence you, David Wong writes:

The reality is that vast piles of facts that you have crammed into your brain basement were picked up from pop culture, and for the most part, you don’t realize that’s where the information came from. This is called source amnesia, and I’ve talked about it before — you know that giraffes sleep standing up, but you’ve long forgotten whether you heard that fact in school or in a tour at the zoo, or saw it in a cartoon. Either way, you will treat that fact as true until something comes along to counter it

When parents don’t teach us to have healthy relationships, we fill that void by getting our information elsewhere. And when we depend on pop culture as our teacher, we fail to learn an essential truth: that love isn’t the end all and be all to life, that it doesn’t save the day and that it isn’t the only thing necessary for marriage, dating, making babies, growing old together or existing. Yes, psychologists and biologist say we need “love” to survive, but there is no professional, anthropological or biological study that states that that love must be romantic love.

I was lucky. I realized this truth by seeing it in my mother’s second marriage to a wonderful man. Her first marriage was fraught with pain and suffering. When she decided she was more important than the relationship itself and that she needed to get out to save herself and her children (we were in physical danger), she left. She always loved my father. But there was a huge disconnect between the love she felt in her heart, and the life she was living in pain. When she went back out into the world to date, at that point, she believed she was important and should be treated well. She did not look someone that ONLY made her feel love. She looked beyond that. Was he a good man, was he good to his children, would he be good to her children, was he fair, trustworthy, respecting, kind, could he financially support himself, did he have good values?

You see what else she looked for? She looked for those things because she believed she was worth those things.

When we start to want better things for ourselves and realize that we are TEMPLES, we begin to understand how limited the concept of Love can be. We are SACRED and anything we do to ourselves and anyone we come in contact with needs to respect that we are sacred. Love ,as delicious as it is, doesn’t always show respect. It isn’t capable of being kind or caring. Love can be downright painful and poisonous. And it certainly doesn’t protect us.

But a healthy relationship, by virtue of the word “healthy” encompasses all that is good and worthy AND it protects us. The other person in the healthy relationship doesn’t protect us, WE PROTECT OURSELVES by seeking out healthy people who treat us well. And only people who ALSO recognize their sacredness will understand this and seek out the same.

SO…maybe it’s time to change your paradigm. Maybe it’s time to redefine what you want. DO you want LOVE, or a HEALTHY RELATIONSHIP, which encompasses so much more and tends to meet more of your needs.


6 thoughts on “Love vs. a healthy relationship (there’s a difference!)

  1. One of the reasons I have been so willing to have “love” without the healthy relationship is the direct message I received over and over from my mother when I was growing up: I love you, but I don’t like you.

    What else would I expect from anyone else, if this was what I received from my primary relationship?

    It’s a tough message to unlearn, but therapy, literature, and this blog are helping immensely.

    If you don’t like me, I don’t have time to waste trying to convince you otherwise. I have shit to do.


    1. Good progress! The messages we receive as kids are so tough to break. But what can be learned, can be unlearned. You’re not a kid anymore. Your in charge of finding people who love you the way you need and want to be loved.


      1. Exactly. It’s amazing how quickly progress can come once you fit together those first really challenging pieces of the puzzle. Suddenly you see the bigger picture and it just seems to flow. Thank you again for your contribution to that process.


  2. Great information!! I am in love with a guy who is very avoidant. I love him, he loves me….he doesn’t give me what I need to feel secure in the relationship. There is no physical relationship. I know there is a difference between love and a healthy relationship…this explains it so well and really hits home. I just have to somehow find a way to move forward. It is so very difficult but I know I’m worth it and I deserve a healthy relationship…as well as love. Thank you so much!


    1. I feel like I have the opposite! I am in a relationship with a guy who is very available and bends over backwards to please me. He has been manipulative and deceitful at times so that I don’t “pull my love away.” So I’m guarded and hesitant which makes him even more insecure. It’s a cycle that I feel I can break if I “let go.” But I just can’t trust him completely. I know that we both deserve a healthier relationship.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s