What is the meaning of love in a relationship

What is the Meaning of Love in a Relationship?

Asking the question “what is the meaning of love in a relationship” invites us onto a powerful journey into the realms of something both exquisite and confounding. As you know, our human experience of love, romantic or otherwise, brings both bliss and misery. Yet how can our deepened understanding of the meaning of love in a relationship help us turn the moments of heartache into a soulful joy?

Let’s explore… 


Why the meaning of true love in a relationship is so confusing?

The dictionary offers trivial meanings for love in a relationship. The common definitions fall flat and don’t begin to reflect the depth or truth of real love. These definitions render a deeply loving heart feeling empty, incomplete, and longing. They leave us feeling – knowing – that there is more to the meaning of love in a relationship than this. But what? 

One of the complexities we face is that the truth of love in a relationship is actually indescribable. Even so, we’ll do our best here to clarify and illuminate this infinite presence. Let’s start by exploring the three biggest confounding and challenging factors that make answering our question, “what is the meaning of love in a relationship” even more difficult. 

First, the real meaning of love is easy to misunderstand because we have so much unconscious and inaccurate conditioning about what it is, and what it isn’t. Because our parents and grandparents also misunderstood love, we found ourselves bombarded with bad examples of love in a relationship as we grew up. Additionally, the word has also been very overloaded and conflated to represent security, dependency, and, most damagingly, expectation. Yet, none of these fear-driven comforts brings us closer to love.   

Secondly, everyone experiences love differently, even when they truly know the meaning of love in a relationship. Allowing for our differences, we still find common sensations and feelings that most of us recognize as love. In romantic connections, sensations such as warmth, tingling, softening, butterflies, melting, and opening often accompany and signal us to the appearance of love. These experiences and their intensity may vary in other connections such as with family, friends and even strangers. Yet we actually do know how to recognize love when it arises. Whether we trust and embrace it presents another question.

Finally, our fear of losing, or never having, love causes us to project so much weight and baggage onto the idea of love that we compound our confusion. In turn, our romantic relationships and partners carry a greater burden. Our misunderstanding of what is true love in a relationship suffocates the very love we seek. 

Eventually we come to realize that the common meaning of love in a relationship is wrong, incomplete and oversimplified.  


What is the true meaning of love in a relationship?

True love in a relationship means we have the intersection of three kinds of love — self love, romantic love, and divine love. The union of the three loves brings out the true meaning to the word love. It makes lasting connections possible. True love in a relationship has the power and capacity to fill our hearts in indescribable and deeply ecstatic ways.

First, and truly most important of these, is self-love. Many forget, resist, or deny the need for self love in a relationship. Yet neither romantic love nor divine love can exist without it. Many believe loving yourself to be selfish and counter to romantic love. Yet, sustained romantic love requires self love. Said another way, an absence of self love will almost always destroy a romantic partnership.  

Next, let’s give meaning to romantic love in a relationship. Romantic love pairs soul connection with attraction and alignment. Romantic love, in contrast to familial and friendship love, has components of sexual attraction and shared values. These lead to the possibility of sustainable long term partnerships and marriages. 

To have that sustainability, we must bring in the third component that gives true love meaning in a relationship. The ultimate goal, if there was a goal, would be to live, breathe, and offer divine unconditional love, where ourselves and our partners are accepted as we truly are. Unconditionally.  Unfortunately, while our typical marriage vows imply this, most relationships don’t live up to the intention.


Living the meaning of love in a relationship

When we fully live the true meaning of love in a relationship, two people come together to support each other’s deepest expansion into divine unconditional love. When we marry the three components of love in a relationship it means we’re willing to be so authentic that we know we’ll push our partner’s buttons, and they’ll push ours. We know that sometimes we’ll both experience pain, yet we compassionately and kindly offer ourselves anyway, because this serves our soul connection and our relationship. True love in a relationship means we are both committed to authenticity, authentic self love, first. We realize that if our love is true then our partnership has the capacity to last through the greatest ups and downs that life will bring. 

True love in a relationship means we choose to not hide our true feelings or any part of ourselves for fear of loss of connection. 

True love in a relationship says “I’ll love myself enough to be me and I’ll love you no matter who you are.”

True love in a relationship says I will not try to change you. 

True love in a relationship means I will be myself no matter what – which means you can trust me. 

True love in a relationship means I will not dishonor you by pretending to be someone I’m not.

True love in a relationship means I’m willing to reveal all of myself to you – the wonderful parts and the not so wonderful parts. 

True love in a relationship means I’m committed to accepting and embracing all of you – your wonderful parts and your not-so-wonderful parts. 

True love in a relationship means we’ll have upsets and arguments but we trust the love underneath and stay committed to consciously resolving whatever arises. 

True love in a relationship means forgiveness. It means not holding a grudge or burying resentments. 

True love in a relationship means through our united imperfections and passions we are stronger together. One plus one equals more than two. 


It does not mean forever

While we explore the deepest truths and answers to the question, “what is the meaning of love in a relationship”, we must consider one of its greatest myths and falsehoods. True love in a relationship does not mean we will stay together forever. The possibility of that is strong, yet in true soul connections we may serve each other for only part of our lives. True love of self and other allows for this unknown timing.  

As a relationship progresses a couple will absolutely have times when their feeling of love goes into hiding. When hurts, disappointments, or misunderstandings happen, we sometimes lose access to the experience of love. Yet that doesn’t mean the love has faded or disappeared. Too many couples don’t realize this and give up, when all they need to do is communicate and repair. But then, most of us weren’t taught how to do this. 

Then, in contrast, there are times that true love in a relationship actually does lead us to separate. Genuine love and staying together are not the same thing. Sometimes letting go is the greatest expression of love for yourself and the other person. We must remember that the form of the relationship doesn’t say anything about the presence or lack of love. What is the meaning of love in a relationship but to love the person regardless of the form of your connection? The form may change but the love can remain.


What does true love cultivate?

Finally as we complete our exploration of the question “what is the meaning of love in a relationship” we will be well served to consider some of the ways in which this true love will be expressed and cultivated in a soulful conscious relationship. 

In the presence of true love we will commonly find the following experiences in ourselves and each other. 

Authenticity – the courage and willingness to be fully ourselves

Support – our presence is supportive of the others greatest needs, joys and expressions of the other

Happiness – the combination of the 3 components of love leads to genuine joy

Care – we tend to the wellbeing of ourselves and each other

Non-judgement – our commitment to unconditional love leads us to embrace all of who we both are

Compassion – we know we are imperfect and we love ourselves and each other anyway

Affection – our united love brings physical expressions of our connectedness

Passion – our attraction married with love ignites passionate lovemaking 

Feeling seen – our presence with each other brings the feelings of being deeply seen and known 

Respect – we hold each other and ourselves with the highest regard

Cherishment – we know and value the meaning of our connection and each other

Security – we have a deepened sense of trust for ourselves, each other and the world

Honor – we honor ourselves, each other, our soul connection and its higher purpose. 


The meaning of love in a relationship calls us to keep returning to love, especially when we most want to leave, especially when we want to give up, especially when our ego kicks in and we are afraid of losing love. We cannot lose true love. It is always there for the having when we unite self love, intimate love, and divine love. Yet will we have the courage to remove our barriers to it? Will we have the courage to release the old outdated and limited meanings of love in a relationship and replace them with a much deeper knowing that fills our hearts with joy?


*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.

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