What is Love?


Relationships 101 with Dr Achal Bhagat 

One of the commonest questions I’m asked is: What is this thing called love?

I say to people and it’s not about falling in love it’s about working on a relationship; it’s about working in love you’re always standing and working in love. Love and relationships are about care, respect, responsibility and knowledge. If you fall in love it’s an impulsive decision… it’s more like infatuation than love.

Love is about care, respect responsibility and knowledge: You need to know the person that you love… You need to know what they think, what they feel, the small things in life. Not in an intrusive kind of manner, but in a manner that you can care for them in a better way, that you can respect them as they wish to be respected… that you do not humiliate them act responsibly towards them, that you do not intrude upon them,  you do not take for their lives,  you do not neglect them, do not distrust them.

ALSO READ: Breaking Up and Moving On: A Psychologist’s Perspective

GENDER WAR: Unfortunately the commonest problem that happens in relationships in India is a gender war. It’s like we are 5,000 years back when the relationship gets into a problem.  My family thinks like this, your family things like this. Men are supposed to do this, Women are supposed to do this. We make assumptions about each other’s families, we make assumptions about  each other. We forget that these assumptions impact each other very negatively.

TREAT EACH OTHER WELL: So the first step is to get out of this gender war and start treating each other as human beings and start empathising with each other. Again empathy is not the proverbial ‘put yourself in somebody else’s shoes’. It is about trying to get to understand their feelings, their thoughts  and not waiting either for them to mind read or for you to mind read them…Mind reading doesn’t happen…Conversations do.

COMMUNICATE BETTER: Life is about having conversations with each other…about communicating with each other and we need to learn to communicate with each other if we need to solve our problems.
So in the relationship if your patterns are becoming unhelpful, if you are spending more than the usual time only solving problems, if you’re using words like always, never, should, must not, must…
If you are humiliating the other person or if you are feeling humiliated yourself and definitely if it’s bordering on to violence you must seek outside help. 
Even the threat of violence is violence. Never be in a relationship and stay and bear the violence. Violence is about control. We need to move away from violence, we need to move towards communication, towards caring for each other. If you are distressed in a relationship do talk to your partner and seek out for help.


ALSO SEE: Ask the Experts: What is OCD

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