Most of the time, love is a feeling, or that’s what the movies tell us. Usually, it’s something we feel for another person or thing. “I love you.” “I love my dog.” “I love that restaurant.” But what does it mean to love? If love were just a mere feeling, we wouldn’t hear the stories of couples being married for 30 plus years. It comes down to how you show your love and how much work you put into it because love is a verb.
Most of us grew up with Disney movies and the idea of happily ever after, love at first sight, and how powerful the magic of love can be. Then as we got older, we watched romantic comedies. And those set even high expectations for what a relationship should look like and how intoxicating the feeling of love is.
But what those movies are highlighting are the beginning stages of a relationship where emotions are still high. The honeymoon phase is great but will eventually go out like a burning candle.
I know you didn’t sign up for a grammar lesson, but bear with me. An action verb is a verb that, well, describes an action. (Talk about a terrible definition.) Some examples are running, swimming, jumping, and walking. You get the point. But why is this important? Because love is also an action verb.
If commitment is a decision to be with someone regardless of whatever other options are out in the world, then love is the action following the commitment to show that person you are committed to them. And in my world, actions always speak louder than words. You can say all the things you want, but if you don’t follow them up with your actions, you are spewing out utter BS. And that is so much more true when it comes to love.
A simple way to get started in showing love as an action verb is by showing your love in tangible ways to your significant other. Figuring out or having a conversation with your significant other about their love languages is a great first step. Once you know their love language, it becomes exponentially easier to show them your love in a way that they will feel and appreciate it.
Love is Based
If what Hollywood is showing us is unrealistic and love is more than a feeling, what is love, and how do I know I have it? Real love is stable and authentic, not some exaggerated feelings of heat and passion. (Which are healthy in a relationship but not at every moment of the relationship). You don’t need to have loving feelings for your significant other all of the time, either. You probably didn’t have loving feelings for your mom or dad as a teen, but you knew that you still loved them. (Even if they managed to make your angsty teen brain mad.)
Loving a significant other is the same concept but a little different in execution. Showing up for your significant other and being present is love in action. The first half shows that you are there for them, but if only being there was enough, then most relationships wouldn’t fail. Being present is also important. It shows that you aren’t just there, but you are there for them. (To spend time with them, listen to them, and be there for them in whatever capacity they need.)
Relationships Take Real Work
Most Disney love stories make love seem easy. Both characters have intense feelings for each other. They are perfect at communicating and have no real issues or arguments to work through as a couple. But you and I are not perfect fictional characters. We aren’t all perfect communicators. We might have a temper or avoid conflict at all costs. Intense feelings fade, but that allows real love and substance to take their place, and you grow in love with your partner.
So don’t let the myths of love skew your perception of what real love looks like in the real world. Don’t leave a healthy, stable relationship because you don’t ‘burn’ for your partner at every given second of the day. (I had to figure out a way to hype up Abby Barlow and Emily Bear in an article. Their story in creating The Unofficial Bridgerton Musical is incredible.) And if you can get your mind out of the fairy magic, then remember to love not only in feeling but in actions. Show your significant other you love, show up for them, and be present when you are with them.