By Brianna Wiest

1. Relationships are not bandaids for a life you don’t love. When people say “love yourself” what they really mean is “have a life you wouldn’t mind living alone.” That’s the only kind of life in which a relationship can thrive regardless.

2. Behaviors that aren’t loving are a cry for love. This is not to say that you should be unconditionally accepting of being treated poorly, but that if you want any shot at working through it, you must see unloving behaviors for what they really are: cries to be loved. Rather than retaliate or become defensive, lend your attention. Love is most needed in the moments we feel least inclined to give it freely.

3. If you want to have a healthy, happy, loving relationship, start acting as though you’re in a healthy, happy, loving relationship. If you want to be in a relationship with someone, speak, think and behave like you already are. You can’t wait to “make it official” and then assume everything will flow from there.

4. The pain of heartbreak is in closing your own heart, not having someone “take something away” from you. If you enter your relationships believing that regardless of whether you get anything back you’ll still be loving, you won’t get hurt. In fact, you’ll thrive. You’ll realize that what hurts about losing someone is closing your own heart to love – nobody can take that love away from you.

5. Everyone is meant to have their own kind of love, from their own group of people, in life. You don’t have to compete to be loved. Everybody is meant to be loved in their own way.

6. Every relationship is designed to teach you a different kind of love. It’s not a competition, and there is no “end goal,” really. The point is that relationships are our most intense growing tools, they are the avenue through which we see ourselves and experience our essential natures (love).

7. You either think of it as having many breakups, or a lot of little love stories. Though the rhetoric surrounding what relationships are and how they should be dealt with is pretty singular (and pervasive, at that) you must remember that you can decide how you perceive the love in your life, and more importantly, you choose what you do with it. You can think of your love life as having been a series of losses, or a lot of love stories that you get to experience in a life.

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