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  • Writer's pictureEdward Dreslinski

These Two Words are Necessary for Any Loving Relationship

Everyone knows that love is complicated: you don't need a therapist or anyone else to tell you that. It doesn't matter what type of love we are talking about- romantic, platonic, family, pets- there are two words that need to be present in any loving relationship: safety & sacrifice. In the context of relationships these words have specific meanings.

Sacrifice means that sometimes you will set aside what you want and need for what the other person wants or needs. The part that people have a hard time remembering is that this has to be reciprocal. In a loving relationship, both people make sacrifices for the other person. Although this doesn't seem that complicated, when we delve a little deeper it gets a bit trickier. Here's an example:

You start dating someone and are feeling all of the good things you should early on. They told you that they were vegan when you first met but were completely OK with the fact that you weren't even a vegetarian. Three months after you start dating they change their mind and say, "Hey..I really just don't think that I can date someone that isn't vegan." At this point you have started to fall for them so you decide that this is a sacrifice you are willing to make. This is NOT healthy unless you are the rarest of people that a dramatic change like this really wouldn't affect.

Here's a sacrifice that would be healthy and set a good precedent of what compromise should look like in the future. If you said, "Hey, I'm fine not keeping meat in the house and not eating it when we are together, but I'm going to eat what I want when we aren't together. I would also hope that you will go with me to have sushi on my birthday because you know it's my favorite food in the world."

Safety at first may see seem obvious but it has a very specific meaning in the context of relationships.

Physical safety is pretty cut and dry. This means that you will never intentionally injure someone or cause them pain AND you will not treat their physical well-being with reckless disregard. You won't put them in any type of dangerous or risky situation that they have not consented to and understand.

Emotional safety is when you can be your fully authentic self with someone, be open about how you feel, and tell them what you think, want, and need without worrying about being punished, rejected, or abandoned. A lot of people tell me that they know that their parents, partners, or friends love them but when I press the issue, they often recognize they don't feel safe. Here are some examples:

"I can't tell my partner that I want to quit my job. I know they will leave me."

"I can't tell my parents that I'm planning on moving to _______. They just won't understand and will make the rest of my time here miserable because they will keep trying to convince me not to go."

"I can't tell my friend that I feel like I am putting forth more effort than they are. They will just stop talking to me."

"If they find out I'm pregnant they are going to kick me out of the house."

Love means that you don't have to hide or hold back. This doesn't mean that all of the people in our lives have to agree with all of our choices, but it does mean that those choices shouldn't make us afraid they will hurt us. That is NOT love. It's our job to communicate with the people that say they love us about safety. It's also our job to make sure that the people we say we love feel safe being authentic and open with us. Just do a doublecheck and make sure that safety and sacrifice are a consistent part of your loving relationships.

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