smiling black family resting on a couch

What Does True Love Actually Mean?

They say that being lonely is as unhealthy as smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. That doesn’t mean that all relationships are healthy. I can argue that being in an unhealthy relationship is more detrimental to our health than being alone. With that being said, the quality of our relationships is what makes life worth living. Our togetherness brings us the love and joy needed to thrive.

To love unconditionally is to accept unconditionally. This means to remove any sense of obligation and expectation from another person. We only refer to love as an emotional state that involves affection and intimacy, but true love is much more than that. We shouldn’t love someone because of how someone makes us feel or what we can get from that person. These conditions only enslave a person our desires. True love is accepting everything regardless of our judgments and preconceived notions of how things should be.

True love is caring for another’s well-being regardless of whether you understand the person or the situation. An example of this type of love can be seen in loving parents such as Dwayne Wade and Gabrielle Union, who consistently accept their daughter’s transition, Zaya. So much so that they moved from their home in Miami due to anti-trans laws simmering in Florida. I don’t know Dwayne or Gabrielle, but I’m sure they don’t know how Zaya feels about her identity. The beautiful thing about this love is that they don’t need to understand. It’s the radical acceptance of all situations, even if we don’t believe the situation is not for our good. Something that I’m continually learning to do. Seeking to live through observation without judgment.

To love someone is to accept them. This goes for people, but it also goes for ourselves. For us to practice self-love, we must practice self-acceptance. Acceptance of the things that normally bring us shame, like our sexuality, our body, our past, our mental health, and all the other things I know that I am failing to use as an example. When we learn not to judge ourselves, we can easily project that energy towards others. You don’t have to agree with everything they say or do, but you can love them regardless. You don’t need to change who you are to belong, nor does anyone else for you to love them. This is the only way our love can come without exceptions.

True love with the practice of acceptance is hard for us because it forces us to relinquish control of an unpredictable world. I wish I could tell you that this type of love is instant, but in my experience, it hasn’t been. There are instances where I want an opinion, and I must remind myself that I accept this as I accept myself. I love this experience even if I believe this experience isn’t what I desire. If I disagree, I must remember that neither of our opinions means anything. The thing that is more important than any argument is the relationship.