There are many beautiful truths about love.  It’s life-giving and drives us to be better people/parents/partners.  Loving someone means that you believe in them — in their potential.  It means you treat them with kindness and gentleness.  Love means that you celebrate them – their successes – and are there for their failures.

Yet, there are some truths about love that are not beautiful. For example, sometimes, when we love someone, we do them more harm than good. Sometimes, we love more than one person. Sometimes, unfortunately, someone won’t let go of an old love without a new one in its place. And sometimes those who love us, lie to us.

There are also some mistruths – some messages we have about love that aren’t very helpful.  For example, there’s a myth that loving someone means being there for them and available no matter what.  This, it turns out, is not true and often leads to resentment for the person who gives up for the other.  Or that there’s one “true” love.  Nope.  Not that easy!

Lately, I’ve had some really cool love experiences, which have led me to examine the truths about love  – things to do – as it relates to our partners, kids and close friends (I’m still “young” and reserve the right to add or delete to this list as I slowly get old(er)!):

1. Tell them about their brilliance and beauty – inside and out.  One thing we know about people is that they don’t often see this in themselves.  You see it and feel it – so, tell them.

2. Don’t confuse “directness” with saying everything you think.  A former partner used want me to be direct with him and figured I wanted the same.  First, he didn’t really want me to be direct!  And second, directness can hurt. If you’re feeling frustrated with someone, go to yoga, take a walk, think of a better way to share your thoughts.  Don’t pollute your relationship.  It takes a lot of work once your site is polluted.

3. Listen.  If nothing in the conversation interested you, you weren’t really listening.

4. Take responsibility for your actions.  Done.

5. Give permission for someone to make a mistake or two.  However, the same mistake over and over again means nothing’s changing.

6. Screw that whole idea of trying to change someone.  Habits and personalities are there to stay – even with our kids.  We can show them new ways but if they don’t want to go that direction then you’ve got to let go.  Also, don’t confuse love with being a doormat.  Take care of yourself if their “habits” hurt you.

7. Love is not resentment.  If you feel it, something’s wrong.

8.  Every person on this earth has something to give.  Treat them as such.  I try to think of it this way: Everything that happens from one person to me is either love or a need for love.

Here’s the truest statement of all:

What will survive of us is love.  Philip Larkin, poet.