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Everyone’s definition of love will be different, meaning there’s really no single answer to the question ‘what is aroha (love)?’.
Our definitions of love are influenced by what we see and are told by the media, our culture, our friends and whānau, and religion.
While we all have different ideas about aroha (love), and different ways to show it, there are some key ingredients we need for ‘healthy love’. Check out what these are below:
Freedom to be yourself, do the things you love, and spend time away from your relationship with your friends and whānau.
The ability to be open with your partner/s and talk about all sorts of different things. You trust one another and don't feel the need to hide things.
You share a strong bond and feel as though you’re on the same wavelength. This is likely to be more of a deeper, emotional connection than just a physical or sexual one when it comes to love.
Love is about recognising that everybody is different, and respecting people for who they are. Everyone can bring something unique to the table.
While you enjoy spending time with the one/s you love, you also spend time alone or with people outside of your relationship (i.e. with friends and whānau). Love is about maintaining your independence and other support systems too.
You meet each other halfway. You talk things out, negotiate, and come to agreements together. You meet each other halfway. You talk things out, negotiate, and come to agreements together.
Love involves a lot of responsibility. You’re responsible for your own feelings and behaviour, and are also responsible for ensuring you treat your partner/s with care and respect, and consider their needs as well as your own.
Love isn’t always easy. It can involve hard work. Love should always be under construction - this means that people should never stop working at love, talking about love, and changing things up if conflict arises.
Love is all about experiencing pleasure, and not just the sexual kind. Sometimes just being able to sit with your partner/s and share the silence is just as pleasurable as being physically or sexually intimate. It’s about what feels right and most pleasurable for you, and your partner/s.
Love involves commitment. It’s about being committed to the person or people you’re in a relationship with, and being willing to work on things together, particularly when times get tough. Commitment involves being loyal and honest.
Honesty is the foundation of trust. Both of these are essential ingredients for healthy love.
You trust one another. You don’t feel the need to be constantly checking up on each other, or questioning every word or move - in person or online. You let each other spend time with friends and whānau in peace.
Remember! Honesty is the foundation of trust.
You share your highs and lows with one another. You feel comfortable being vulnerable and opening up to each other. You know you will be heard, respected and supported. This may even mean sharing your personal space or your things. In many ways, sharing can help build connection.
Try this! A simple activity to do with your partner/s is to take turns sharing 3 highlights and 3 lowlights from your day. This can be a great way to check in with each other and allow space to share in each other's successes and support one another through more challenging or difficult feelings and emotions.
Communication is KEY. Love is all about open communication. Everyone is given the opportunity to speak and listen in the relationship. Communication is crucial to strengthening connections and overcoming conflict.
Love is about being good mates with our partner/s. Often the best romantic relationships are built on a solid foundation of friendship.
Love is respecting each other’s feelings, boundaries, time, privacy, interests, friends and whānau.
This may seem obvious, but love is caring about the safety and wellbeing of others. It’s also about showing care towards their beliefs and values, and the other important people in their lives.
Remember! Love should always be up for discussion and under construction. Love is complex, so it’s important to be able to talk about it with the people you love. Share with them your thoughts on love and how you expect to receive it, and listen to their ideas too. Love is something people should continue to work on their entire lives.