For some people, love can be used to describe almost anything. OMG, I love this iced latte! This sweater is amazing, I love it. But, what about romantic relationships? For couples in long-term relationships, love means loyalty and commitment but for college students in the center of their first real relationship, love may feel messy and complicated.
It doesn’t matter where you fall on the spectrum, whether your love life is blissful or nonexistent, it’s clear that everyone has an opinion on love and what it means in a healthy relationship.
In the hopes of coming to a more collective understanding of love, we asked 10 people in different stages of their relationship to explain what love means to them. Here’s what they had to say (their answers may surprise you).
For People That Are Not in a Relationship, Love is:
Love is Security
“For me, love is the most secure feeling. Love is having a companion, best friend, lover, partner, sounding board, cheerleader, advisor, and cuddle buddy through every avenue in the journey of life.”
– Ash D.
Love is Indescribable
“Love is a sentiment not able to be characterized by words.”
– Kurt S.
Love is About Give-and-Take
“Completely opening up and sharing your feelings and life with them daily, that’s what constitutes a healthy relationship. But, it must be mutual. If a particular area is lacking on either side of the relationship, it makes it unideal and unhealthy.”
– Dylan P.
Love is Respect
“To me, a healthy relationship is built on respect for one another. Each person understands the commitment they are making to the other person.”
– Skylar M.
Love is Being In-Sync
“A healthy relationship could describe a plethora of different types of relationships, but the most important aspect of being in a relationship is being in-sync. Whether you both talk through every hour of your waking day, or whether you agree that you’re both busy and you’ll just talk on the phone at the end of every day, as long as you both are in agreement, that is what’s important.”
– Zane P.
Love is Commitment
“The key to success in a healthy relationship with someone is actually the terrifying but necessary effort of commitment. Being there for someone is what a real relationship needs. When we neglect to put in the effort is when things don’t work out with someone that could have been perfect for us. If you put in that extra effort for someone that can reciprocate it, love can be the greatest feeling one can ever feel.”
– Adam B.
For Couples That Have Been Together For One Year or More, Love is:
Love is Vulnerability
“Because love is scary, it’s basically giving someone a map of all your flaws and imperfections and putting faith in them to not abuse that power. And that can be so beautiful; it makes you do the hardest thing a human could ever do, be vulnerable.”
– Alex G.
Love is “Growing Together”
“Things won’t always be great. Your partner may do things that will make you angry, but if you are willing to not look at it as obstacles, but rather as opportunities for growth, then you are truly in love.”
– Jared B.
Love is Knowing Your S.O.’s Love Language
“Loving better comes from knowing what makes the other person happy. For him its back scratches and hugs. For me, it’s a verbal “I appreciate you” or “You look pretty.” No matter what it is, we’ve learned to love each other better because we know what makes each other happy, and we make the effort to find new ways to make each other happy.”
– Vanessa S.
Love is Healthy Communication
“When I say communicate, I don’t mean text. I mean calling and Facetiming. From experience, text creates so many opportunities for misunderstanding, and ultimately, unnecessary conflicts and trust issues. So, if I have anything to say about healthy relationships, it is to trust and communicate.”
– Vanessa S.
Love is Equality
“A healthy relationship, in my eyes, is when two people are equal in a relationship. We equally love, we equally respect, and we equally care.”
– Amber H.
For Couples in Long-Term Relationships, Love is:
Love is Accepting their Flaws
We’re human beings, we’re never going to be the same, but being patient and accepting each other’s flaws is something that never stops us from growing with one another.”
– Sasha M.
Love is Patience
We aren’t always going to agree. Testing each other’s patience and still coming home to love, kindness, and respect is a feeling I never want to disappear.”
– Preston N.