We swooned when Tom Hanks met Meg Ryan atop the Empire State Building in Sleepless in Seattle. Our hearts broke when Andrew Lincoln confessed his love to Keira Knightley through a series of signs in Love Actually.
Of course, these are all examples of perfectly scripted Hollywood love. In movies and on TV, when two characters fall in love, despite a few bumps in the road, they usually experience a seamlessly happy ending. But what does it mean to love someone, really? As you might know, it’s a bit more complicated than what you see on the big screen.
What Does it Mean to Love Someone: Our Advice
When you really love someone, you’re there for them no matter what
Loving someone means you have their back and support them in all of their endeavors, big and small.
If they want to quit their job working in finance to pursue their true passion as a barista, you’re their first customer. If they need to move across the country to help take care of a sick family member, you help make the transition as smooth as possible. You might not always agree with them, but you will always support them. Why? Because they’d do the same for you.
It’s not that being in love means doing whatever your partner wants, it’s that being in love means recognizing your partner’s needs and doing what you can to support them. Consider the traditional wedding vows, “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” Those are some serious extremes that are not intended for casual lovers!
But when you’re really in love with someone, you wouldn’t think twice about saying “I do” to all of the above, whether it’s part of an official marriage ceremony or a less formal agreement amongst yourselves.
When you really love someone, you deeply trust and respect them
Loving someone requires trust. A deep level of trust like this comes more easily to some people than others, and that’s ok. Discovering how to strengthen your relationship’s trust can take time and work. Respect is important too. Without it, you can easily lose sight of what’s important and hurt each other’s feelings or act impatiently when times are tough.
Trust and respect go hand in hand. You see, it’s much easier to trust each other when you respect each other. And respecting each other is a no brainer when you are confident in your relationship. Of course, every relationship will have patches, some good and some bad. But these two qualities see the relationship through to the other side.
When you really love someone, their happiness is your happiness
When wondering “what does it mean to love someone?” ask yourself this: does it make you happy to see them happy?
Some couples will tell you that the secret to long-lasting love is putting your partner’s needs over your own. We agree, but we tend to think of it more like this: The secret to long-lasting love is making your partner’s happiness, your happiness.
This means that when you really love someone, making them happy makes you happy. Whether it’s letting them choose the movie you watch or sending them a sweet text you know will make them smile, gestures that show you care go a long way.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you should deprioritize your own happiness or only live to make your partner happy. No, it won’t fulfill your personal ambitions or goals, but it’ll contribute to your happiness to know you made a difference to their day.
When you really love someone, you fiercely protect your relationship
We hate to break it to you, but once you find true love, the work still isn’t over. Relationships require work, and the most important work is protecting the love you share and built together.
This means maintaining the good and nipping the bad in the bud. It means abiding by the rules you establish together and respecting your relationship’s boundaries.
So, what does it mean to love someone?
Loving someone means being there for them. Sure, every relationship goes through seasons, and despite what Hollywood romcoms may have taught us, most relationships aren’t a walk in the park! Nurturing a relationship takes effort. But when your love is real, then it’s definitely worth it.