So, what is true love? How do you know if you and your partner truly love each other? Or if you want your relationship to last, how should you love each other?
No one is perfect, and as a human being we could fail in how we treat our partner. However, if we want to give true love in our relationship, we have to change our ways that can harm our partner and relationship.
Here are the characteristics of a real and genuine love based on the popularly quoted 1 Corinthians 13.
1. Love is patient.
If we love a person, we do not easily get impatient with him/her. We should understand that our partners are not perfect, so we must not pressure them to change in one click or to perfect what we want them to do.
2. Love is kind.
Just like how we deal with other people we care for, we have to treat our partners kindly. Even if they could be annoying sometimes, we still have to be kind to them. That means we do not speak or act harshly towards them. We should also be thoughtful of their needs and serve them in any way we can.
3. Love does not envy.
True love does not compete. We should not see our partners as our rivals. We should be happy for their accomplishments, even if they become more successful than us. This is because love is selfless, and we put their happiness and welfare before ours.
4. Love does not boast.
On the other hand, we should not make our partners envious of our achievements. Yes, we want them to strive harder to pursue their dreams, but pressuring them to compare their selves to ours could only make them insecure.
5. Love is not proud.
Pride is one of the worst enemies of love. Usually, relationships do not work because either both of the couple or one of them is prideful. When conflicts happen, it is usually hard for partners to admit mistakes and apologize. However, true love is characterized by humility. We should be willing to say sorry first even if we think it is not our fault.
6. Love is not rude.
This is the same with being kind. Even if we have differences with our partners, we should avoid being rude to them in words and actions. We do not want to hurt the ones we love, right? For this reason, no matter how bad the misunderstanding is, we must control ourselves from saying painful or degrading words that could ruin their self-esteem. We should not also hurt them by doing things we know could insult them.
7. Love is not self-seeking.
Love is selfless. That means we should put the needs and feelings of our loved ones before ours. We should also be willing to sacrifice time, effort, even resources for them especially in times of need. Moreover, we must not demand the same things from them. Yes, we deserve them, but if the level of affection in the relationship is the same, we do not have to express these demands. They are willingly and freely given. Have faith in the love of your partner for you.
8. Love is not easily angered.
Since love is patient, we can control our anger towards our partners. This does not mean it is impossible to get angry at them—we are humans too. Nevertheless, we should not be angered immediately especially by small things. Before throwing tantrums, we have to give time to listen to them first if they commit a mistake. Our love for them should be greater than their mistakes.
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs.
Once we have forgiven our partners for their mistakes, we should already let go of those past failures. Although we cannot literally forget them, we should not bring the dead out of the graves anymore during new fights. Let us avoid reminding our partners of their past mistakes. This is not history class anyway.
10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
This means we must not tolerate our loved ones’ mistakes, especially if these could harm them and others. Even if it could hurt them, and they may think we are being unsupportive, we need to rebuke them if they are doing something not good. If those mistakes need to be exposed for the welfare of many, then we have to do it even if it is difficult. It would help them correct their mistakes and live a better life in the long run.
11. Love always protects.
On the other hand, love always seeks to protect our partners. Helping them give up bad habits and rebuking them for bad things as early as possible is actually one way of protecting them. Furthermore, we have to be willing to stand by their side when everyone is against them. We should also defend them not just from physical harm but from emotional, psychological, mental, and spiritual injury as well.
12. Love always trusts.
Doubts and mistrust can weaken love. We have to assure our partners that we trust them, and that means we should not stop them from seeing friends of opposite sex or going to other places without us. Also, this trust is not only limited to the fidelity of our partners. As someone who truly loves, we have to be the first ones to believe in them. There would be times that they would be down and discouraged. When this happens, let us make them know that we trust their capabilities to surpass trials and reach their goals.
13. Love always hopes.
In connection to #12, we should not give up on our partners. Even if the relationship is on a rocky road or our partners are messing up, we should not leave them easily. As much as we can, we should hope for the best in our relationship. We should believe that the best is yet to come.
14. Love always perseveres.
No relationship will last if partners would not work hard to make it last. There will be challenges and down moments in a relationship. However, if we do not easily give up, and we continually put enough effort to overcome differences, settle conflicts, and take care of each other, then love will thrive.
True love is not perfect. There will be problems and fights too. To overcome them, it needs cooperation and determination from both partners in a relationship. It needs mutual understanding to keep it balanced.