Love is the answer. We’ve heard it for years but what we should be really saying is healthy love is the answer and that’s not so easy to find.
So? Are you in a healthy relationship, or no? Sounds like a simple question, we know, but it’s not. Of course, if you ask most committed people the question, they’ll insist they’re healthy all the way. But is there some dysfunction in there? You bet. Here’s how we know.
Therapists work with couples in all stages of love. Yes, some truly healthy. But there is no denying the fact that so many are truly dysfunctional. The scary thing is, most people who are living in a dysfunctional love relationship actually think they’re doing pretty good. And that has to change.
Ready to get a a real bird’s eye view and the reality of your current and even past relationships? Check out this Scale of Love, and take the test. We dare you.
WHERE DO YOU FALL ON THE HEALTHY LOVE SCALE?
Love Levels #1 and #2:
This is the most dysfunctional form of love on the planet. But nonetheless it’s still love. In these two levels of love, dysfunction and abuse are prevalent. Emotional abuse, which can come in the form of calling people names, to shutting them out, and shutting them down. These levels also contain physical abuse, which can come from raising your hand as if you’re going to hit or slap someone on a regular basis, all the way to following through with that threat and hitting someone or pushing them up against the wall.
There are millions of men and women in this world who are in this form of love, and more often than not they observed it growing up. They are simply repeating what they saw, extremely dysfunctional, but in their mind, they continue to return to these type of relationships because they believe it’s love. Addictions are incredibly common in this form of love, to substances and behaviours. Underlying personal abuse as a child, as well as anxiety, anger, rage and depression are very common here.
Dysfunctional love at its finest unfortunately.
Love Levels #3 and #4:
These levels are still dysfunctional, but the physical abuse has been removed. People will say that they love each other deeply, but aren’t honest with each other. They may spend money, and hide the clothes or the gifts they purchased for themselves so their partner doesn’t get upset. They can walk away feeling righteous—a highly dysfunctional form of love.
Addictions are also very common in these levels of love: emotional spending, emotional eating, alcoholism, workaholism, any form of substance abuse whatsoever is fairly normal in these levels of love.
Love Levels #5 and #6:
Here is where we begin the examples of healthy love.
This level offers respect, communication, vulnerability and humility. There still can be arguments, but people make up for their errors fairly quickly. There still could be passive aggressive behaviour, but it’s minimal. And once they see they’ve acted out in a way damaging to the relationship, both parties are open to apologizing, learning from their mistakes and moving on.
They are seeing for the first time in their lives, what healthy love looks like!
Love Levels #7 and #8:
Here there is incredible respect, admiration and support. In these two levels, couples often look for intimacy workshops, or are willing to work one on one with counsellors, therapists, or ministers in order to heighten their honesty and love for each other. More often than not, there are forms of public displays of affection; it might be something as simple as holding hands, opening the door for their partner or even hugs and kisses regardless of who is around. They are independently in love. They may leave notes for each other, on a regular basis, because they know that a deepening of a love relationship takes daily work. They’re not afraid to stand up for their partner, if other people are ridiculing their partner’s ideas or attempts to help make this world a better place.
It is a true union of love.
Love Levels #9 and #10:
Both these levels are extremely rare in the world of relationships and partnerships. This is where we move into unconditional love. These levels of love are more common amongst parents and their children, then in relationships with each other. Levels nine and 10 are very common between dogs and their owners, and I say that with a smile but no laughter. I’m very serious.
Unconditional love is a goal for many of us, and an elusive one at that. There is a full humility for vulnerability, full honesty, it’s a companionship made in heaven, experienced on earth. They look at their partner’s quirks, and we all have them, with a level of humour and acceptance. They will support their partner during huge life challenges, like addiction recovery, without enabling them. They often awaken daily with the thought, What can I do to make my partner’s life more enjoyable today? And then, they follow through and actually do the work.
David Essel M.S., is a Master Teacher, Author, Storyteller, Radio/TV Host, Little Kid in a Man’s Body, Adjunct Professor, Seeker, Finder, Addiction Recovery Coach, Inspirational Speaker and All Faiths Minister who marvels at the beauty of life.