By Cameron Chang

A new understanding of what it means to be in love is emerging. This understanding is not dominated by the previous patterns of fearing and wanting that have collectively caused us and those around us an immense amount of pain, frustration and grief. This new understanding is about growth, about learning to stand on our own. Many of us feel completely lost when it comes to love. The antiquated attitudes we’ve inherited from our culture and the media are no longer an adequate road map to guide us. There are new principles for love. These principles are not for everyone, but they’re for anyone with the courage not just to give and receive love, but to embody it.

Falling in love you remain a child; rising in love you mature. By and by love becomes not a relationship, it becomes a state of your being. Not that you are in love – now you are love. – Osho

1. No one can be held responsible for making someone else happy.

The most empowering and liberating realization a person can have is understanding that it’s no one’s job to make us happy. It forces us to look in the mirror and examine all the ways in which seek happiness and love outside of ourselves. More importantly, it forces us to reconcile with all of the ways in which we make ourselves unhappy. Once we do this, we drop the unrealistic expectations we put on others and naturally our relationships are much more harmonious.

2. The healthiest relationships are not based in need or lack or fear.

When we feel whole and fulfilled within ourselves from the start, we enter relationships based on a conscious choice. When we believe we need something, we’re incapable of truly making a choice because whatever decision we make will be based on fear, not on love. True love is not based in fear, but in a sincere desire to share.

3. The uncomfortable feelings that come up are recognized as part of the process of becoming conscious.

When we first encounter uncomfortable feelings in our relationship, we tend to project them outward — usually onto our partner. In a conscious relationship, however, we understand that relationships can and will bring up our insecurities, wounds and anxieties and that this isn’t necessarily a sign that something is wrong. Instead of projecting or repressing our feelings, we welcome them as an opportunity to grow.

4. It’s no longer enough to be with someone that only makes us feel good, but someone that challenges us to grow.

In the past, it was enough to be with someone out of sheer convenience—financial or otherwise. The result of this may be getting old with someone, but not growing old. Conscious relationships are based on a sincere, honest desire for the other to grow. Someone that challenges (in a gentle, compassionate way) our beliefs, perspectives and attitudes can be a great gift in our lives.

5. Healthy relationships are grounded in reality.

That is, they’re based on facts, not feelings. Just because something or someone makes you feel good, doesn’t necessarily mean it or they are good for you. It’s entirely possible for another person to make you feel happy, loved and appreciated and simultaneously have the wisdom inside of you know that you shouldn’t be with them.

6. The relationship is regarded as a vehicle for conscious growth, rather than supplementing for our emotional needs.

In the past we’ve regarded relationships with the expectation that they will bring us happiness. Now more relationships are beginning with the expectation that relationships can and will bring us growth. That growth may not always be easy, but if it were easy, then every couple would have a healthy relationship (and the divorce rate wouldn’t be almost 50%).

7. They realize that sometimes love isn’t enough.

Loving feelings cannot give wings to a relationship. It’s not enough to feel in love with your partner all the time. Sometimes you need someone to kick you in the ass because you need it. Sometimes you need someone with the strength to walk away but the relationship is no longer true for them. Conscious relationships are based on courage and wisdom, not just feeling good.

8. They don’t stay in relationships because they’re comfortable or because we’re afraid we won’t meet anyone better.

Instead of seeking out or staying in a relationship because it gives us a sense of security or identity, we have the courage to leave if it’s necessary.

9. They don’t make promises.

A promise is a comfort only to a fool. If someone tells you they will love you forever and never leave you, that’s actually a huge red flag. Mature and conscious people in relationships don’t make promises, they show their love with actions. They know that, in the future, they may not be the same person who made that promise.

10. They allow their partner to change.

Nobody ever stays the same. Change is one of the unavoidable laws of life. Normally, if we see our partner changing, we become insecure because they may not appear to be the same person we fell in love with. But true love always allows the other to be exactly as they are. True love grants freedom, ego-based love takes it away.

11. They don’t wait on fate.

Usually when we say we met our soul mate, we’re projecting a fantasy that we’ve met the person who is going to be our ticket to wholeness. They temporarily make us feel incredibly alive and fulfilled and it literally feels like we’re connecting on a soul level. However much of this is due to chemistry in our brains. Feelings and hormones are fickle. They can change at any moment. Facts, like genuine compatibility, the willingness to communicate and have difficult discussions are what really give a relationship it’s strength.

12. Sex is an intimate connection, not just a means of fulfilling a physical desire.

In western society, sex is about identity and power. However, sex can also be a powerful spiritual experience that can deepen the connection between two human beings. When it’s done in the environment of trust and respect, it can more than just a physical experience.

Love this? Want more? Like Soul Anatomy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Read this next: