I was recently moved to reflect on the phenomenon that is love, and the transformational, motivational, and influential force that is it is, regardless of the form that it takes or the relationship it takes place in. In my opinion, love is perhaps the most powerful force in the entire universe. Just think of the impact that its presence and absence has had on your life.

…As you reflect on what this means to you personally, you will likely come to the realization that not only is love a feeling, but it is also a behavior.

With this thought in mind, consider the following behaviors of love, and think about how they have been manifested in your own life, remembering that love, like life, is a practice…

Respect: True love, no matter the form in takes, does not exist without respect. This includes honoring and valuing your loved one, treating them as equal, being considerate, and communicating, verbally and nonverbally, with love and respect in mind.

Kindness: Kindness, of course, takes many forms. It includes, but is not limited to, warmth, helpfulness, comfort, and well-wishes. It involves thoughtfulness, reaching out, and extending oneself with another in mind.

Empathy: Empathy involves demonstrating sensitivity and understanding, and showing an attempt to see things from your loved one’s perspective. It does not equate agreeing with them or relating to them, but having the willingness to considering and validating their experience.

Interest/Connection: Taking to connect, inquire, and share interests is important, as it is an act of bonding, and attending to the innermost aspects of an individual.

Compassion: Compassion, like empathy, conveys sensitivity and understanding and the importance of a loved one’s experience. Compassion is supportive, soothing, and helpful.

Self-control: As humans, we may be tempted to act on our emotions, even when it is in the interest of our relationships not to. This involves the avoidance of taking things out on loved ones, controlling behaviors, speaking mindfully, and acting out of love, rather than getting carried away by other temporary feelings.

Appreciation: It is so important to show that we have appreciation and gratitude for those that we love and all that we do.

Tolerance of Differences: We are all different. We like different things. We do things in different ways. This is okay, and as such, it should be tolerated and respected, at the very least. The melding of two different worlds may take tolerance and balance, but it can most certainly be done so without judgment and hard feelings.

Forgiveness: Forgiveness is a difficult process, as it involves letting go and working through difficult feelings. Yet it is important, as it allows for humility, growth, and progression. Without forgiveness, a relationship is stagnant.

Integrity: Live in accordance with your values, and you will modellove and everything else that you hold to the highest esteem. When you compromise your integrity, you compromise yourself.

Set yourself aside: Love involves us. But it is not always about us. Rather, it is a melding of individuality and togetherness. As such, it is important to know what is your “me stuff” and what is your “we stuff”. This means checking your ego, insecurities, and hard feelings.

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