“Just keep loving me, I’ll keep loving you.  And the rest will fall into place… true or false??”

When I first read these words, after brief reflection my response was “true”.  But then my spouse pointed out that love is not enough, for there is so much more involved in a great relationship.  And she is right, for my reaction was based upon a presumption that all of those other things exist.  The second sentence suggests that some things are missing, after all.

Solid relationships seem to have love at their core, but can love exist without a solid relationship?  For that matter, what really is love all about, and to what extent must it exist for a relationship to work really well?

Being scientifically-minded, my initial reflex was to consider the Oxford dictionary definition of love: “An intense feeling of deep affection.”  But one also has to consider what a relationship means.  Oxford tells us that it is: “The way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.”

So, taking those definitions into account, a loving relationship must mean one where two people are connected with an intense feeling of deep affection.  If that is true, then to what extent can a relationship be rocky while love persists?

Experience has taught me that love occurs in phases, driven by different things.  Early love, often infatuation, is the most powerful in terms of how we feel, but it really is not the strongest form of love.  True love is something that evolves with time, based in large measure upon trust that develops in every good relationship.  It is unconditional in that it does not require anything in return, at least not in the short run.

So a powerful and deep love can develop over time in a great relationship.  Does that mean that love can still exist where the relationship has fallen on hard times?  I believe so.  Love becomes a default position where it has developed over time, and only great trauma such as a breach of trust or prolonged inconsiderateness are likely to destroy it.  Before the bond of love is broken, the relationship can (sadly) be far from solid.

Thinking about those words has me realizing just to what extent the strength of the relationship is key to the love equation.  Having love is not enough.  Having a solid, loving conscious relationship, built on trust and caring, is what really matters.