5 + 1 Markers of True Love

Over the years, I’ve experienced love in a wide range of ways.  I’ve been overwhelmed and swept off my feet.  I’ve had my heart broken.  I’ve been inspired, consoled, healed, and nurtured.  In love, I’ve seen the ordinary become extraordinary; and I’ve glimpsed the face of God.

Sometimes, I’ve had experiences that masqueraded as love.

At times, in the midst of an intoxicating, confusing, frustrating, unsettling experience, I’ve wondered – is this true love or a seductive impostor?Two Heart

It was with great relief and thanksgiving when I discovered Jean Miller Baker’s Five Good Things. These five good things are the characteristics of a growth-fostering relationship. {{1}} I would say that they are the markers of authentic or true love. To these five, I’ve added one.   After reading about the importance of generosity in a marriage{{2}} and reflecting on my own experience of generosity, I’ve added it to my list.

5 +1 Good Things

  • increased sense of zest – in a loving relationship you feel a sense of vitality, of “being alive”.  Yellow flag: a colleague once commented on her marriage, “it is sucking the life force out of me;”  that would be anti-zest;
  • increased ability to act – in a healthy relationship you are encouraged to act, you have a sense of power.  Yellow flag:  feeling like you are “walking on eggshells”;
  • increased clarity – you gain knowledge about yourself,  your partner, and your relationship.  Yellow flag: feeling like the relationship is “crazy making”;
  • increased sense of self worth - the relationship fosters respect.  Yellow flag: feeling like you are small or diminished;
  • deeper sense of connection - with your partner, God, and others.  Yellow flag: feeling isolated, being restricted from relating to others;
  • expressions of generosity - giving good things freely and abundantly.  Yellow flag: feeling like you are giving, but not receiving.
These characteristics are immediately helpful for our most intimate relationship.  They help to keep us grounded in the midst of our loving.
As we continue to explore what it means to Be A Better Lover, as we follow Jesus, these markers will also be helpful in examining other relationships in our lives and in our community.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day!

[[1]]Jean Miller Baker  has identified 5 characteristics of growth-fostering relationships[[1]]

[[2]]NYT: Is Generosity Better Than Sex?[[2]]

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