“We’re really just trying to help people learn to love each other better, right?” asked a student in the back of the room at a Team One Love club meeting last fall. The simplicity of his question struck us in a really powerful way, reflecting both the aspirational energy that drives our work and the powerful way young people are engaging with our program and our call to action. The comment made us think, and has proved to be the spark that is behind a new campaign that we will launch this Valentine’s Day…but let me tell you first how we got there.
Since our national campaign to educate young people about the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships launched in early 2015, One Love has focused on ensuring that the next generation understands the signs of unhealthy and abusive relationships that Yeardley Love and so many others have missed. Our Escalation Workshop and our #ThatsNotLove campaign are designed for exactly this, and we are thrilled to see the positive response from young people in every community that uses our tools. Over and over, we hear how relatable our content is, and we hear young people ask for advice on how they can help their friends. These issues are more relevant than they ever realized and once exposed to knowledge, they want to make sure their friends have it too. Young people are stepping up and leading this discussion, and we know their efforts are not just building stronger communities, they are saving lives. In just 3 years, we have educated 200,000 people in person and over 85 million online, spreading critical information and advice that we know could have saved Yeardley’s life and that is helping – and yes, even saving – others every day.
Over and over again, though, as we do our work, young people ask a follow-on question that we know is equally important to answer: What does healthy look like? Understanding now that so much of what they see in their lives and in the media is unhealthy, they are eager to build their knowledge about what healthy is and to pursue healthier relationships in their lives. They are as eager to share this information with their friends and communities as they are to share the message about unhealthy, and that is where #LoveBetter comes in.
The #LoveBetter campaign is designed to help each of us learn more about healthy relationship behaviors and commit to being healthier in our relationships with the people we love. It reflects the reality that while not all of us experience abuse, 100% of us will be in unhealthy relationships or do unhealthy things in our lifetimes. Why? Well to state the obvious, relationships are complicated and none of us are perfect! The truth is though, that none of us have ever been taught about healthy relationships and maybe – just maybe – that can be part of the answer.
So, what’s the goal of the #LoveBetter campaign? Improve our knowledge about healthy relationships, and enhance our ability to bring healthy behaviors to our relationships with the people we love – not just our romantic partners, but our friends and family too. Our team at One Love is so excited about the potential of #LoveBetter because as people who do this work every day, we are incredibly cognizant of how increasing our focus on relationship health has improved each and every one of our lives.
#LoveBetter is a campaign designed to make us more mindful and intentional. It is a campaign designed to inspire each of us to be better and to insist on better from our partners. It is a campaign that suggests that two partners committed to bringing healthier behaviors into their relationship can make major strides forward in ways that significantly impact their lives. Imagine if we all took this challenge on, how much better the world could be. And as a launching pad for this new campaign, we wanted to do something unexpected and disruptive to bring awareness to the ways in which we can all #LoveBetter, so we set out to create a Valentine’s Day #LoveBetter store. This experiential popup shop will not only bring to light some of the most common unhealthy relationship habits, but also provide a clear pathway for anyone to turn these unhealthy behaviors into healthy.
As important as understanding what #LoveBetter is, though, is understanding what it isn’t. #LoveBetter is not a campaign that proposes that if you are in an unhealthy or abusive relationship that by somehow loving better you can fix it. It is not a campaign intended to blame someone for their partner’s own unhealthy and abusive behavior, a common tactic called gaslighting. It is not a campaign designed to oversimplify the complexities of an unhealthy and abusive relationship. We hope it is a campaign that will make you think twice about the behaviors you see in your relationships and reach out to us or others if you need help.
If you see the value in these approaches, please join us in learning more and being part of this campaign. You can sign the #LoveBetter Pledge or visit our Take Action page to learn more about the Escalation Workshop and the #ThatsNotLove campaign. Unhealthy and abusive behaviors have become so normalized in our world today, and we believe strongly that each one of us has a role to play in changing these norms, and ultimately, the stats around abuse forever.
CEO, One Love Foundation