True Love Defined In 2 Words.

Via Jayson Gaddis
on Feb 7, 2016
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Flickr/Guian Bolisay

Most humans are incredibly ignorant when it comes to what love means in the context of love relationships. I was the same.

So, let’s get the record straight and define love in two words…

Love is support and challenge. That’s it.

It’s not just the support side—if you have a great partner, they support you, yes, but they also are willing to challenge you. And, they don’t even have to try—live with them long enough and their behavior will challenge you and test you unlike anything else.

Most people mistakenly confuse love for infatuation, which is a childlike and romantic notion of someone who supports our every move. Barf.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but love isn’t just the warm fuzzies you get when you “fall in love.” That feeling is called infatuation or dopamine and it’s one side of the coin. Dope-A-mine. My feeling of being on dope. Seriously.

If you want to get high, just go get some good Colorado weed and light up. That’s about the same feeling as what most people mistakenly call “falling in love.”

And, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy that feeling—be it falling for someone or sparking one up. It’s a good one. Yet if we look at our own experience, the high doesn’t last.

When you “fall in love” you “get high” on the feelings when you and your “soul mate” connect. Then, after about six months to a year, you stop getting high off the feelings because this person now annoys you. Thus we naturally move from infatuation to resentment in our partnership with another person.

Because now your partner can’t hide their true colors. They annoy the sh*t out of you in small and big ways.

To make matters worse, most people have purchased a fantasy around marriage or long-term relationship—that it’s supposed to feel good all the time (our culture feeds us this idea and most people believe it and then then get annoyed when their imperfect human partner can’t live up to their fantasy).

So when resentment shows up, people run or make their partner wrong.

If you want to keep chasing the “falling in love” feeling, you’ll create a tail of resentment that follows you to get you back to the middle.

So, if we want to have less drama in our relationships, I recommend setting down the fantasy and the addiction to the drug-like feelings of a one-sided relationship (support), and instead embrace both sides of the relationship—which includes “challenge. This gets us to a whole-relationship and to the real definition of love.

Or course, some relationships can get too heavy on the “challenge” side. That relationship would need more support.

In other words, love embraces our infatuation and our resentment. The balance of accepting these two opposites is love. And, it’s a moment, a state. And, pretty soon, we swing to one of the poles.

People who rock inspiring relationships over time, are able to work with polarities skillfully. They don’t have a childish fantasy that the challenging feelings of the relationship will go away in favor of more supportive feelings.

The smart couple embraces support and challenge, both.

When we come to understand that challenge and support are two sides of the same coin we can dramatically increase our fulfillment in our long-term relationship.

Don’t buy it? Embrace more challenge and see where it takes you. My guess is that you will experience a deeper, more realistic experience of love.


Author: Jayson Gaddis

Editor: Katarina Tavčar

Photo: Flickr/Guian Bolisay


About Jayson Gaddis

Jayson Gaddis, host of The Smart Couple Podcast , relationship geek and host of the Smart Couple Podcast, is on a mission to teach people the one class they didn’t get in school--”How to do intimate relationships.” He was emotionally constipated for years before relationship failure forced him to master relationships. Now, he’s married to his amazing wife of 8 years and has two beautiful kids. When he doesn’t live and breathe this stuff with his family, he pretty much gets his ass handed to him. Jayson writes his own highly personal blog, and has also written for Integral Life, Digital Romance, The Jungle of Life, Primer Magazine, Recovering Yogi, The Good Men Project. You can find him here: Jayson Gaddis or sign up for a free training here if you are dealing with an emotionally unavailable man like Jayson used to be. You can also become a fan on Facebook here: Jayson Gaddis Fan Page.


8 Responses to “True Love Defined In 2 Words.”

  1. Fern says:

    I don’t really agree. I enjoy smoking pot occasionally, but would not compare being stoned at all to being infatuated. I didn’t fall in love till my forties, I had started to think it would never happen. But even my previous infatuations were more exciting than smoking pot, and I really do enjoy marijuana. But it’s infatuation that often has us putting up with flaws or even unfair treatment, things beyond normal challenges. While in that crazy state we’ll put up with a partner that does not support us. It’s the support that keeps that state prolonged or reoccurring and can maybe turn it into love if the chemistry is right.

    In any relationship, whether with a romantic partner, a parent, a child, a friend, a pet… there will be annoying moments and challenges. When 2 people are in love there is a passion beyond that which never fades, possibly due to great sex and intimacy. I have seen this in older people including my parents, not just people continuing to support and accept the challenges, but two people who feel something for each other that goes beyond the bond of sharing a home or being a parent. Often you see it in older couples who never had children, there was something greater keeping them together, that was greater than common goals. My parents were getting high off each other, with each other and annoying the hell out of each other all at the same time– for decades. Some strange passion kept them together through bad decisions and hardships that would have torn most couples apart.

  2. Bob says:

    I agree support and challenge foster growth and intimacy. But I would make it three words and add fun too. Not to the exclusion of the other two but an integral component to maintain connection and sharing. Thanks

  3. Hi jayson,

    I enjoyed your article.

    But i have to say, people these days quit way too easy too.

    Whenever it’s getting tough, the relationship is over.

    I’ve met my wife in thailand and we have a long distance marriage at this moment and people often tell me i only have the benefits. When we are together for 3 weeks we will have an awsome time, and once back in the Netherlands we communicate through skype.

    But we too have difficult times. But we talk about it and find a solution to make it better. And believe me, especially in a ldr that’s crucial.

    We are 2 totally different characters but we fill in each other’s blanks and thats is love to me.

    Without her im not complete.



  4. Island Girl says:

    I must say, I totally agree

  5. Jenny says:

    I say people know and understand that new relationship have a natural dopine and if you think it doesn't ware off then you would have to be clues , but sometimes people don't start off in love but in lust and then get to experience their flaws and people fall in love with that person later and their flaws don't scare them away it builds on the relationship and people are open to one another and learn to feel close and finding out that fighting can strengthen your relationship if you know how to communicate your authentic self that drawls to people closer and if you have real intimacy then , challenging that person becomes second nature and love is inspired to grow inside that relationship . But if two people give up to soon they won't know what was the deep bond between them glue that may of built the relationship on a strong foundation .

  6. Dr J Chauhan says:

    Ummm love is about support and challenge and indeed it is Jayson!
    However, for me love is neither true or untrue it just is. Love is all there is. Love is about being kind. Love is about living a life moment to moment from the heart. Love has no language. Love is something you simply feel through a mind body connection with another living being. Pets are great companions for many!! The movie Life animated shows the meaning of love brilliantly!!
    Love is there regardless of circumstances is what my former husband said when our 20 years of marriage ended. Love is conditioned and I took him for granted and he took the rug out from under my feet and now 8 years later we are still the best of friends due to the trust that was built between us over the 20 years. Our communication had wavered in the 20 years as we spent time apart living in different countries in the days before technology making it easy to stay connected across the globe…the break up of the marriage was not easy for either one of us especially as we chose to marry out of our respective cultural contexts in which we had been raised. Ours was a mixed race marriage that weathered many storms and with grace of the creator we have come through the divorce and still the best of friends for which I have immense gratitude.
    Namaste Jayson and in appreciation of all that you do around relationships as we humans are relational and cultivating healthy relationships is what living a good life is all about, don’t you think?? J. xx

  7. Dr J Chauhan says:

    Fern, I too resonate your thoughts and would go as far as to say that I grew up not witnessing any modeling of romance in my parents extremely lengthy marriage arranged by their parents who knew the best for their children and they grew up trusting their elders wisdom to guide them..this sort of thinking is in short supply these days in my view.
    Too many grow up with a sense of entitlement and do not want to sacrifice self interests for the common good in a relationship. My parents used solution focused therapy to sustain their vows….mother put up with my father's domineering ways; she accepted the power relations informing their relationship and did not fight this; therein lay the peace. Love. What else do we need to flourish? To love and be loved! Be love!

  8. Dr J Chauhan says:

    Chris, I agree and I love that you fill in the blanks and get so much joy out of each other! ~ Jaya