What is love in a relationship?


Hi all,

first I apologize if this is in the wrong forum.

Now to get to business :stuck_out_tongue: and this really or married/engaged people.

what is love in a relationship? How do you know it’s there? How is it expressed (without sex)?

How do you love your significant other and how can you tell they love you back?

I read this article:

but I’m still confused and trying to discern what love in a relationsip is and what it feels like.

Any respectful help will be very much appreciated; I don’t want any responses criticizing me for my age.

And, as always, if someone for some reason needs some background go ahead and ask :slight_smile:

thank you very much in advance,


Hi, I see that many have read your question and not answering. It can be difficult to answer I guess. I read the article that you mentioned and at the very end, Pope John Paul II, answered your question the best. What is love and how do you know if you love a woman? His answer: * “the greater the feeling of responsibility for the [beloved] the more true love there is.”[1] The greatest example of this love is Christ. He alone perfectly reveals how to love a woman. If we ever need to know how to properly love a woman, all we need to do is look at a crucifix.*

What does that mean? Well to me, it means a sacrificial love. Christ sacrificed his life for us. So you, as a man, sacrifice your life for your woman. You give up your selfishness and be selfless. You truly love her by listening to her needs and not always catering to your needs and wants only. That is true love. What I see a lot is a woman in a marriage is always sacrificing for her children and husband. She puts herself last. Why? Because she loves them. Love is a decision too. It is not a “good feeling.” I see all around me so many marriages getting a divorce because they say that their spouses didn’t do this or that for them. All I hear is “me, me, me, me” They are all concerned about themselves. Women want to be loved and men want to be respected. If a man truly loves a woman, she will respect him. Christ died for His Church, for each one of us. Are you willing to die for your woman? In Corinthians it also tells us what love is. I don’t know remember where in the Bible now, but I am sure someone does. It tells us love is kind, patient, and never boostful and more. It is not arrogant.

I hope that helps you somewhat. I am sure there are more wiser than I who can answer this question.


It really depends on the couple in how they are going to express it.

Also, sex is not a expression in a marriage, its more akin to Communion to be honest. Its the worshiping of our spouse, the being 1 entity.

As for what it feels like? You will know it when you feel it, I fell in love with my wife in about 10secs, and that was almost 3 years before we were introduced.


Love is a wonderful, very complicated thing as you know. Age may not have as much to do with love as maturity - not just physical maturity, but emotional maturity, and spiritual maturity. Some couples fall in love young and mature (grow emotionally and spritually) together. Others (like me and my husband) are older and more "mature" when they fall in love. Part of that maturity is being able to put someone first, naturally. And putting each other first shouldn't be one sided.
I know couples that started dating when they were 14, got married, had children and have a happy marriage after many years. I also know 40 year olds that have never experienced healthy, commited relationships, because their relationships revolve around their own wants and needs - they're emotionally and spiritually immature.
Wondering what love is and what expressing love means may be God's way of trying to get your attention. Through prayer and an open heart and mind, "hearing" His message may be the answer to your question.
You will be in my prayers.


Thank you all for the wonderful posts! They are all really good! :) :thumbsup:

I now have another question. Where does physical attraction play into this? Does that play into true love anyway? How physically attracted are you to your spouse?

Oh and if anyone new to this thread could answer from my first post and this one that'd be great :) don't have to though :)


Love is something that, in my case, developed so gradually I hardly noticed. Like becoming friends, then best friends, then pretty much family. I would still consider my husband my absolute best friend, someone I like to do things with, someone who’s got my back, and so forth.

Oddly enough, physical attraction doesn’t seem to hamper that friendship feeling … I remember walking along with my now-husband, talking about ordinary things, feeling “wow, he is such a good friend” – and then looking over at him and feeling my heart skip a beat because I was attracted to him too. I don’t know how it would have worked if I’d been attracted to him first and then friends later – but it was definitely friendship first in our case.

Oh, and HOW physically attracted am I to my spouse? A lot … a lot a lot … :wink: But that’s something that’s there at one moment, and hardly noticed at another moment … the relationship stays because it’s based on more than that.



love is my husband working for 22 years in a place as close to hell (screaming loud, torturously hot, flames flying all around, everybody angry and exhausted and blamed) on a weekly swing shift, so his family could eat and have a simple home and books and a working car and health insurance.

that’s love.

love is me going out to work 6 days a week so he can come home,be with his kids, never to return to that unholy steel mill, cook some dinners, have some peace and quiet and have his life saved.

we love each other.

are we physically attracted to each other? more than ever.

was it this way when we were young?


we had some small seed of the concept of love, and we had intent to remain faithful and married but the GRACES OF the sacrament of MARRIAGE grew that small seed and immature intent into a beautiful tree of life.

the growing was not without sorrow and pain. and like any tree, we’re not imune to infection, blight or some other disease that could rot us to the core. proper care (eucharist, sacrament of reconciliation, family prayer, obedience to Church teaching, contunally befriending each other, communication, rest and play) is required to keep this tree healthy.


This is very similar to how I feel about my girlfriend. We’ve been seeing each other for 14 months (an eternity by high school standards :p) and we also started out as friends, then best friends, and now I feel like we almost are family, like she could be my sister.

Now at the end of your post you said the attraction is hardly noticeable one time but there another. Can you please expand on that?


I'm engaged, and in my almost mid 20's just to give some perspective :)

For our relationship, love is being understanding. It's sacrificing oneself for the good of the other. It's total and complete trust in one another. It's sharing faith and bringing each other closer to God.

How do I know it's there? Well, for me, it's just this immense feeling of gratitude for what my fiance does for me and for our future. And this desire to spend the rest of my life with him.

We've been together for 5 years, so our relationship has definitely evolved over these years. Now more than ever I appreciate him and what he does. I'm more in love with him now than I ever have been. For me, that's come with me seeing God's plan in our life and for appreciating him more.

And what about physical attraction? Well he and I have never had sexual relations with anyone or with each other. So for us, the physical side of the relationship has not come to interfere with how we view one another. I think this is one benefit of waiting for marriage for sex. Because in the dating times, you can focus on the faith and non-physical aspect of the relationship. It's allowed us to respect one another more and to appreciate our relationship more. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait for us to be married, I am physically attracted to him, and always have been. But I don't let the focus of our relationship be that. Because looks can fade over time, or something in life may take away that beauty. But if you build your relationship from the beginning on your faith in God, and how you act together, then you'll have a strong base that you can weather hard times in.

That's the way I see it anyways!


*Love is a choice…an action. We can choose to be kind, not jealous, sacrificing, and seeking the best for another…it doesn’t boast, it’s not pompous …(sounding familiar?:wink: This is the litmus test St Paul gives to us, to determine love)

We should love our spouses, the way Christ so loved the Church…that is the essence of true love in a relationship. *


The litmus test of St.Paul, mentioned by Whatevergirl,goes thus -
Love is patient,
love is kind and is not jealous;
love does not brag and is not arrogant,
does not act unbecomingly;
it does not seek its own,
is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails

It is giving, patient, considerate and as William Shespeare once wrote, it is a raging tempest whose action is no stronger than a flower. Think about that!
If you really love someone, is there a choice? Does not love naturally make us do the things whatevergirl and St Paul describes, plus a whole lot more?

A Sonnet (#116, I think) by Shakespeare, for me, sums up the steadfastness of true love. It goes thus…

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
. Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
. That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
. Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
. But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
. If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sounds a whole lot like St. Paul, but a whole lot more romantic. Don’t you think? :slight_smile:


What is love in a relationship? This is coming from a 38 year old man, married for 10 years now and dated for 8 years. You are already ahead of many people because you are searching for the good, so I say good for you and keep searching and you will find what you are looking for. Before I put in my 2 cents on what love is I want to say first what it is not. Bare in mind that this is coming from someone who has had sex before marriage, was addicted to pornograghy for many many years( praise be to Christ in the sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist by which I have completely overcome), I was consumed with lust for any girl or woman that was in my sight. In all these sins love was pushed aside and ignored. Through all my sins(these and many more) I have discovered that there are many levels of love. The highest level will be realised in heaven with God himself “face to face”. But here on this earth we desire that highest level because only that can ever truly satisfy our longing. So all of our relationships whether friends, family, spouse or future spouse are only mere shadows of the good things to come. If you really want to know the answers to these questions(and more) then place your life and your girlfriends life (physical and spiritual) in the care of our Blessed Mother trust that she will lead you both to her Son. Pray every day together with you girlfriend for the grace to know Gods will for you, for a holy and healthy love that desires the very best for the both of you and the strength to obey God’s will in you lives. Purity, Purity, Purity. Guard her purity and your own. I’ll say it again, Guard her purity and your own. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, my God I love you, save souls, please dear God teach them the beauty of purity. Amen!


Amen! :thumbsup:

Love and Responsibility
by Karol Wojtyla


What is love in a relationship? Let me first ask this question: Do you know what love is?

Love is not an feeling of the heart. Forget about anything you may have seen in books, movies or TV shows. They typically depict a romantic image of love, which is fake and superficial. Love has nothing to do with candy, flowers, cards, etc. (These can be signs or expressions of love, but they are not love itself.)

Love is a choice. It is a conscious choice, of the free will, to do what is best for another person. It is the choice to put the welfare of someone else above your own. The Christian undertanding is this: the best thing you can do for another person, is to help them receive salvation. Hence, if you love someone, you will help enable their salvation. Effectively, you become a mnister to the other person.

Now, what does this mean in the context of a relationship? This means loving the other person, by helping them receive salvation. You attend to their spiritual and physical needs.You help guide them to Christ. You use the power of the Holy Spirit, to help build their faith.

Now, this can take various forms, depending on what is the stage of your relationship. If your partner is not a Christian, this means helping them to convert. If they are Christian, this means helping to strengthen their faith.

If you are married, then this can take numerous forms. It can mean supporting your spouse, in their vocation. If you have children, then that means helping your spouse in child-rearing. It means the expression of sexuality, by which you express your physical love in the marriage bed.

So there is no one single answer. But ultimately, all these answers have the same root. If you love someone, it means that you put the other person’s welfare first.


Oh yes, most definitely. :love: :smiley:


Probably one of the most memorable books I’ve read on the subject. I fell in love with this book–great for anyone single and married, alike. :thumbsup:


So how do you discern love for someone from 'marriage; love? (that is, the love needed to get married).

Because since love is a choice, you can love anyone. How do you know then, that you should marry one woman (or man) over another?

Get my question? It’s a bit confusing :o


how do you know?

it takes discernment which is from the Holy Spirit.

and it takes time. which you, in high school have plenty of. and it takes maturity, which you are clearly gaining.

but, as Juba (from Gladiator) says “not yet… not yet.”

you probably won’t know now because you don’t need to know now.


Discernment. Hmmmm. Isn’t that the same thing as “discrimination”?
Now don’t get me wrong, as I agree with your post 100%. However, in this modern era, are we allowed to ‘discriminate’ like that? Isn’t it a no-no to discriminate against people on the grounds of race, religion, etc, etc? The reason I bring this up, with the risk of sounding slightly rediculous about the issue, is that today’s youth are taught that discrimination is wrong, that we must not judge people. I, for one, worry that the sagacity required to judge relationships is being lost because of the lack of development of the discerning principles that you and I grew up learning. I wonder if todays youth are able to discern between the character types they meet as they are growing up and blossoming into young adult. Hopefully, young Catholics are spared this, but I often wonder if young people dive into full on close relationships because they are not discerning enough at the beginning and so end up being hurt. Gee, I hope I’m wrong, but…:shrug:


Obviously, there must be love. But there must also be compatibility, friendship, and trust. If you don’t have all 4 of the elements in place, you probably shouldn’t marry.

If you are incompatable with the other person, then it doesn’t matter how much you love them; you won’t be able to live with them, for 20, 30, 40 years.

If you aren’t friendly with the other person, then you won’t enjoy being with them. You won’t be happy with the other person. This can be potentially a very unhappy match.

And if you can’t trust the other person - or they cannot trust you - then this is a recipe for disaster.

Yes, you need more than love, to have a successful marriage. Contrary to the old Beatles tune, all you need is not love. You need more than that, for a successful marriage.

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