Is your Relationship True Love?


What is true love? Can we discern between true love and neediness? Have you ever really explored your own romantic love? And do you use the word “love” too freely?

We have asked these questions about the nature of love for centuries, but love is a slippery thing to catch hold of and describe, and, when we finally have it in our mind’s grasp, it’s possible that we aren’t at all comfortable with the answers.

So, because love is vague, and because we might fear what the answer will mean for our relationships, let’s first talk about what love is not. Then, what remains might be love.

Some things that love is not

We know that romantic love is not selfish. No one will disagree with this, because when we are selfish we care only for our own needs and desires. This cannot be love of another, because there is no other occupying that selfish space.

Actually, when we think of everything that love is not, we can see that they are all deeply rooted in this selfishness. This is handy for us because it simplifies our task.

Selfish relationships lead to power struggles. Each partner wants to satisfy their needs, so they struggle. Soon, one of them is victorious over the other, and then we have a relationship of dominance and submission. This is definitely not love.

In the midst of this selfish drama, we act out all the jealousy and anger that is in us, backed by our weakness and fears.

We want to possess what we need, and so we will defend our possessions. Selfishness, possession, dominance, submission, jealously, and anger — they are everything that love is not.

So true love must be…

If we exclude everything that is not love, what are we left with? Well, if we say that selfishness is the root of all that love isnโ€™t, then we must feel that the root of love is the opposite of selfishness. The core of true love then must be — giving.

And if love is giving, it must mean that love gives equally to the beloved and to the lover. For if there is no selfishness in love, there cannot even be projections of selfishness. We cannot for instance, satisfy our need for self-denigration, by giving to another who will then selfishly take from us.

In a true love relationship, our giving and receiving is not at all needy. It is based on a genuine connection and appreciation of who our beloved, and we, really are.

When we are truly in love, we do not have that feeling that we are a vacuum, sucking this person in to fill the void within us. We feel complete with or without the other. We are attracted because their very being resonates through us. We know somehow that we are similar, and yet, there is this mysterious gulf between us; a space that calls us to explore; a place to build and dream within.

“let there be spaces in your togetherness, and let the winds of the heavens dance between you.”
Kahlil Gibran

How to tell if your relationship is true love

In a real love relationship, you connect to the core of your partner. You see through all of the masks and armor they wear as if through water. Somehow, you sense their essence — the beauty that resides at the core of their soul. They may often act contrary to this essence, but because you are connected, you see it regardless, and it attracts you.

This is the beginning of love, because you establish it on a mutual core of goodness that you both share and honor.

Because you are attracted to this inner beauty that you see in your partner, you want to explore it. You want your partner to experience more of it as well, because you know it is their essence, and you know in your heart that it is good.

A few telltale signs of true love are:

  • You can articulate your core attraction to your partner without hesitation, and in doing that, you describe your partner’s essential nature.
  • When you are together with other people engaged in group conversations, there is never a power struggle between the two of you.
  • Both of you freely give and take space. You do not cling to each other.
  • You both support the best that is in each of you. You then celebrate each other’s successes, even if it takes your partner in a new direction that could change the life you’ve come to enjoy.
  • As years pass, your love becomes quieter, deeper, as your understanding of each other grows roots.
  • You enjoy talking with each other. You both share your thoughts and feelings without fear or remorse.
  • You are both comfortable with the other having friends of the opposite sex.
  • You never hesitate to take what you require for your own wellbeing. And when giving — you do not give yourself up to your partner — you give of yourself to your partner.

Even a true love relationship challenges us, but needy and selfish relationships seriously damage us. Take some time here to examine your own relationships. Are you able to trust your partner and give space in your relationship? This small amount of time to self-examine can change your life.

True love is a decision. Really, it is a decision, and not something that mysteriously happens to us. We decide not to relate to others in a needy, selfish fashion, and we decide never to be the object of someone else’s selfish needs. We decide to try our best to see the core of good in people we meet, and we decide to support only that. We withdraw our support and compliance from any lack of integrity.

In this way, you set yourself up for love. Even if true love is absent from your present relationship, perhaps it can still be found. Every moment is an opportunity to decide on loving truly.

Please share some of your thoughts and feelings in the comments section. What do you think? Are most relationships based on need? Can you change a selfish relationship to one of true love? What have you experienced?

Over to you now.

11 thoughts on “Is your Relationship True Love?

  1. kristarella

    Heh, you covered exactly what I would have said in response to the initial questions. I’m not sure about the whole core language, but love is giving and it’s a decision. When you stop making a decision to love someone else then things go wrong and you probably have yourself to blame.

  2. John R. Post author


    Probably the most important thing is that we ask the questions of ourselves. The answers are likely less important than the asking.

    You are right — when we decide to stop loving, things do go wrong.

  3. Erinita

    Good Morning John,

    Your perception of love and relationships is refreshing and uplifting. I do believe love is a choice no matter what in every instant. My perception and observation and experience so far in this uni is that we all need love and nurtuirng and affection and positive thought and genuine caring to live a healthy and happy life…as we are all like a garden, so to me love is a giving and receiving, it is full circle, like osmosis, as in the trees give us the breath of life, we in turn give them theirs…like a dance their is a giving and receiving, our core essense shows us that is our deepest inner urge. My perception is of surrender to give and receive as easily as breathing.

  4. John R. Post author


    You are so right when you say. “we all need love and nurturing and affection and positive thought and genuine caring to live a healthy and happy life.”

    We are a part of nature, and nature gives and receives equally: neither is out of balance over time. The wisdom of nature is in its unbiased means of balancing and maintaining its abundance.

    In a similar way, we need to give and receive in relationship to facilitate the abundance within each other.

    Thank you for your lovely expression of relationship.

  5. Sue

    Thank you John for the well articulated article.

    Oftentimes, people have no idea why they love someone, and their only intention for wanting to be with someone is to satisfy their own need for attention, romance, lust or other superficial reasons that would not withstand the test of time.

    If only more would try to understand this definition of true love, then I am sure there would be fewer confusion and power struggles in relationships.

    In my experience, this kind of love is truly hard to come by, as evidenced by yours truly who has been single for years ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. CamyDee


    This is a beautiful characterization of true love. I like the positive and affirming decision-and-responsibility approach. Truly, we should take this same approach toward many things in our loves, but most importantly the love we have to give: our greatest, most valuable resource.

    There is one caveat that I would like you to consider. The word “selfish” I think sometimes has too negative a connotation. i personally believe that selfishness has a part to play in our greatest loves. Being with someone because you selfishly wish to be with them, and not because you are self-sacrificing, is an important dimension of our greatest loving relationships. Too much self-sacrificing can lead to toxic or co-dependent love. The greatest co-existence, imho, is when all parties are selfishly wanting to be together, for their own joy and happiness. Seeking self joy and satisfaction in the intimate and subtle strength of relationships is, I think, the fundamental of attraction.

    Something to consider. I hope you do know that I appreciate your words and do not wish to take anything away from them.

    All the best,


  7. John Rocheleau Post author

    Hi CamyDee,

    Thanks for your thoughts; I appreciate them. And I can also appreciate the semantic problems in language. We write from one perspective and intent, using words as tools to convey thoughts.

    The trouble with spoken language is that it is necessarily ambiguous. Words can, and should, take on many different meanings and inference, depending upon their context within the dialog.

    In this instance, I was using the word “selfish” in its commonly held negative connotation (for common clarity). I was not implying that is therefore wrong to give to ourselves, or that we should be self-sacrificing. I tried instead, to express our requirement to properly satisfy ourselves in my use of the positive word “giving,” as in the quoted line below:

    “And if love is giving, it must mean that love gives equally to the beloved and to the lover.”

    In that sentence, I tried to convey that “giving” encompasses not only supporting the strength and beauty in others, but also your own, to create a symbiotic dance between you both.

    Though it is true that selfishness (in its literal meaning) has a part to play as you say, I preferred to use positive terms to convey that sense of taking care of yourself — “giving” to yourself.

    Too bad we have to use words eh? ๐Ÿ™‚


  8. adriana

    Mr. John: I am in a relationship for almost a year now, my boyfriend got me going thrue a lot of challenges for as long as the time we have being toghether(sorry about my spelling, i’m venezuelan)…He drives his life acording to money and his business, he desires to succeed and be a millioner one day, he is smart, young(37) sometimes loving and fun person, it is dificult to get hem to do things but is ok with me because i am the kind of person that let you be unless is hurting you or me i will speek up always in a very respectfull way, he is a good listener specially because of the way i comunicate…I am also very talented, very artistic person and my goal in life is to be a better person spiritually speaking, non religion…i always see the best of people unless they show that they are no good and then i don’t trust. He is the oposite but i respect that…

    We have not had sex in a month, he said that is because i expect to much from hem when the truth is i don’t ask for nothing, sinse i have demostrated how much i like him and want to be intimate with him he has stopped wanting to be with me, he has being pleasing himself everyday leaving me out even though i have cried and let hem know nicely how painfull that is for me…he dosen’t kiss me the way he use to either. when i suggest to him to take a brake, so that i can move to a diferent place and just keep dating and see if that will help he say NO I DON’T WANT THAT, I WANT YOU IN MY LIFE I LOVE YOU. I AM GOING THROUGH A PHASE, WE WOULD BE FINE, ONCE WE MOVE TO ANOTHER PLACE.

    This situation got me depressed because i can’t be better and more understanding and caring ….then i read “in love we trust” and wrote him a letter telling him that from now on i will give up my need to possess him in anyway and that i will love hen unconditionally…he smile and was pleased with that but he did not kiss me or say i love you thank you…he stay distant from me and change the conversation…i feel better after reading your articles and it is helping me to see better and undertand love and giving etc…but i feel that the more time that passes without intimacy with my boyfriend and sleeping by his side everynight more painfull and that our conection is braking up…i have the urge tu run away on my own insted of staying in a friendship covered up as a relationship…I can see why he wont let go of me, I am worth it! and that is what i thouht of him too. but now i’m getting desapointed at least in bed and that our conection is fading..please help…i need your advice…gracias. speel check needed. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. John Rocheleau Post author


    Thank you for having the courage to share your relationship issue with us. My first thought is: you solve a relationship problem the moment you see through your partner’s eyes.

    So I am wondering how your boyfriend feels, aside from not wanting sex for the past month. How does he feel about his business interests, his life direction, his abilities? In short, I am wondering if he is secretly troubled with low self-esteem. Perhaps he is stressed about something and maybe he needs to talk about it, but is not accustomed to opening up about these things. Men often feel that admitting that they are troubled about something is the same as admitting that they are not capable or strong enough to cope with it, so they keep silent and relationships suffer as a result.

    It takes some smart coaxing to get some men to openly discuss the real issues. If they can view these discussions as a “brainstorming” session where the focus is positive, on overcoming obstacles and progressing, rather than a “tell me your troubles” session where they feel weak, they are more likely to be truthful and open.

    Also, is it possible that he feels overwhelmed in the sexual aspect of your relationship? If you are the dominant one, the leader in your sexual relationship, or if your sexual energy is significantly higher than his, then he may sense that and feel that he is not quite “up to the task” (or what he thinks you expect of him). This is a very delicate issue for men. Men are very sensitive and emotionally driven in ways that are not obvious to women. For a man to be physically able to have sex with a woman, he must have the right emotional motivation. If his emotional state is not self-confident he will fear not measuring up, and worse yet, he will fear that it will become physically impossible to rise to the occasion. Before that failure happens, a man will back off. He may say he is going through a phase, but there is always more to it.

    Of course there is no way for me to know your situation, so I offer the above only as food for thought. In the end, you may have to move on to another relationship that will allow you to be happy and fulfilled. But before you do, it may be worth your while to dig deeper into how your boyfriend feels, and to try to walk in his shoes for a while.

    Sometimes the best relationships are the ones that you have worked the hardest on. You both grow through these trials if you both work through them, and that growth deepens the roots of your relationship.

    If he doesn’t respond, then you have done your best. You can then wish him well and move on with integrity.

    My best wishes to you and him,

  10. adriana

    Mr John, I thank you very much for responding so soon, I like the way you have explain things to me and for opening my mind about my boyfriens feelings; I am going to be patience, loving and supporting to hem, I respect hem alot and love hem deeply.You have make a point about me has the one with more sexual energy and sometimes the dominant one, I was not that way in my past relationship, I was shy and didn’t really enjoy intimacy the way i have with hem, from the firt time we bouth felt that conection and i got to be so open to be my self and happy about it, I never thought it would be bad for hem ๐Ÿ™ I also dont want to cover up my true self for hem all my life, I will stay for a wile and see what happends with out asking for anything at all but giving…and with God first i hope it works out other wise i will definatly move on with integrity.He ask me not to expect anything from hem and he will turne around, that my expectations of hem are to HI… thank you for your help, your articles are sooo healing, just what i needed all this time.Adriana

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