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What does "Healthy Love" Actually Mean?

In this era of quick fixes, situationships and right-swipes-for-a-night... it's no wonder so many are seeking the adventures and romance of love, while finding themselves ultimately starved for deeper, more meaningful connection.

Relationship psychotherapist Esther Perel puts it eloquently:

"It is the quality of your relationships that will ultimately determine the quality of your life."

And with the sudden rise in dating & love expert popularity over social media, it has become clear: many are seeking a better way.

But with terms such as "healthy love" and "healthy relationships" becoming the gold standard and holy grail of love... it begs the question:

What does healthy love actually mean?

How can we define this as a general term and how much of this ideal, stems from personal desire, and is therefore un-nameable?

I've gathered thoughts around the topic, by some of the most renown experts in the field of relationships, such as Esther Perel, Jay Shetty, Harville Hendrix, Mathew Hussey, Jillian Turecki. Here's a definition of Healthy Love, that can inspire or become a guiding post we can aim for, when wanting to create this experience of healthy love in our lives.


Healthy Love is...

An intentional relationship that is built, where all parties feel physically and emotionally safe to express themselves. A supportive and engaged collaboration towards the growth and wellbeing of both the partnership, as well as the individuals within that partnership.

Healthy Love couple looking into each other's eyes

Let's break this definition of Healthy Love down a little...with some help from our love expert friends:

Firstly, I've used the word "intentional relationship" to specify that all parties involved are intentional around their chosen relationship format, structure or path.

For example:

In a "situationship" where one partner desires the freedom to explore with other people, and the other desires a committed partnership, things will likely turn towards an unhealthy dynamic, as not all parties are experiencing their intended desire in this relationship.

However, a polyamorous or swinger style relationship where all parties wish to mingle with other people, and how they "play with others" is agreed upon and communicated by everyone... This is in fact, an intended structure! And can exist as a perfectly healthy dynamic. This is the same for monogamous structures.

Healthy Love women couple lounging

Dating expert Jillian Turecki speaks about relationship as something that is built: "To love well means we have to get over our egos and take ownership of our energy. Because a healthy relationship is built, and it is directly proportional to how healthy both people are behaving within it."

I enjoy this idea a lot, as it places the responsibility back onto each partner's "healthy behaviour" within their partnership, with an understanding that this is a collective effort.

When looking at the "supportive and engaged collaboration" portion of the definition, the more obvious point is that a healthy relationship is not one-sided. Both parties take an invested interest in creating a safe environment for all, in the growth and fostering of wellbeing, connection, trust, love.

And Esther Perel's quote here really describes this well.

Love: "It’s a verb. That’s the first thing. It’s an active engagement with all kinds of feelings—positive ones and primitive ones and loathsome ones. But it’s a very active verb. And it’s often surprising how it can kind of ebb and flow. It’s like the moon. We think it’s disappeared, and suddenly it shows up again. It’s not a permanent state of enthusiasm."

This last part is so important: "it's not a permanent state of enthusiasm".

Note that my definition does NOT mention things like:

  • there will never be disagreements

  • it will always feel easy

  • there is joy 100% of the time or else it's not healthy

  • there are no mistakes

But it does speak about growth.

Growth can involve becoming our best selves as a result of that relationship, it can involve healing from childhood trauma wounding in a supportive relationship container. It can mean moving from a deep friendship to a romance. Growth can also look like learning the hard way sometimes... where the ego is bruised or the relationship mirror reflects back to you, words or behaviours that were more harmful to another than you had anticipated.

Healthy love comes with a level of self-awareness and a willingness to grow this connection, through learning, adapting and compromise. Even when mistakes are made.

Unhealthy dynamics will frequently dismiss, defend and blame others for our experience.

Healthy Love couple dancing at sunset on the beach

The YOU versus the ME versus the US in Healthy Love

Dating coach Mathew Hussey speaks about: "A healthy and mature relationship is between two people that bring out the best in each other, encourage each other, and feel happy - not threatened - to see the other grow".

Which addresses the final portion of the definition, highlighting the interplay between what is best for the partnership versus what is best for the individuals within that partnership.

I've always loved (and coach clients with) the approach of seeing a relationship between two people as a three-way partnership between self + other + a third entity we call "the relationship".

A healthy dynamic will experience regular emotional, or "effort" deposits into all three containers on a regular basis. And encourage the growth of the other individuals, even when it can feel scary or risk shifting the relationship day-to-day habits or comfort zones. An inevitable reality when in a committed partnership for many years.

Our famous love author Jay Shetty shares: "It's about choosing the habits, the traits, the personality type, that is good for you in a relationship."

Those shifting habits, which may have once been an important aspect of what initially felt "safe" in the budding relationship, can now become a meaningful adventure or learning curve that allows all partners to grow as individuals, as well as learn about each other all over again as the years go by! Creating a new and improved relationship dynamic.

And this idea could not be described better than in Esther Perel's book Mating in Captivity:

"Love likes to shrink the distance that exists between me and you, while desire is energized by it. If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by repetition. It thrives on the mysterious, the novel, and the unexpected. Love is about having; desire is about wanting."

And this perpetual dynamic between love and desire, allows for a long-lasting, deep sense of fulfillment and wellbeing for everyone involved... as individuals and as a collective.

Healthy Love Bachata Dip with Xine La Fontaine Love Coach

To close this chapter, I leave you with a short quote by the author Harville Hendrix, who's book Getting the Love you Want, I commonly recommend to client couples:

"Happiness, success, emotional well-being, and joy are functions of healthy relationships."

And as a Love Coach who observes the kinds of shifts that can take place around self-worth, confidence and overall wellbeing in clients or friends that, step-by-step, develop this capacity to create, uphold and attract healthy love... I certainly applaud those odds.

Next logical question... HOW do I create, attract and maintain Healthy Love?

Well you're in luck!

As I've recently created a new Healthy Love Checklist that maps out many of the internal elements each of us can work with, to create greater connection, self-awareness and improve self-worth... all key factors in creating a healthier dating and relationship dynamic.

This checklist was intended for Women getting back into the dating game, but I've found it to be very helpful and applicable to all genders, and whether already-partnered or in preparation mode for attracting your ONE(S).

Download your free Healthy Love Checklist here:


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