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Today is Valentine’s Day, the day we set aside time to recognize and celebrate those we love. One of the most fascinating aspects of this crazy little thing called love is the reminder of its profound circular effect. What goes around the circle of love must always come back again, and when two people demonstrate such care for each other in a true, honest, and sincere way, this circle will inspire attitudes and behaviors that can transcend whatever life has in store, whether among family, friends, or colleagues.

Giving attention to how we manage our relationships is important, because according to research, loneliness can lead to many averse issues, including sickness and death due to the effects it has on our “attention, cognition, affect, and behavior.” In short, we are biologically wired to be social, and when we don’t invest effort to facilitate positive interactions with others the results can be detrimental to our health.

The Five Promises of Love
In a previous article we outlined eight models of love that all sounded the same (they all called themselves love) but they were all felt and expressed differently. In this article we outline five promises of love that can be viewed as a prescription for expressing and aiming for agape (when used towards others) and philautia (when directed in the positive sense towards oneself), though these suggestions can also be modified for use with other models of love as well.

1) Gratitude
This promise says: “Thank you for being a part of my life. Thank you for walking by my side. I Love You.” Gratitude can be expressed in both words and in actions, but remember, words mean little unless they are supported by action.

2) Repentance
This promise says: “I’m sorry for anything I may have done—now, in the past, and in the future—that may have hurt you. I never mean to upset you and I am so sorry. I Love You." As with Gratitude, Repentance can also be expressed in both words and in actions. The same warning remains to match our words with actions, and a secondary reminder will also serve us here: some people may see our actions and not understand what they are supposed to express. 

3) Forgiveness
This promise says:​ “I forgive you for anything that you may have done—now, in the past, or in the future—to hurt me. I know that you never mean to upset me and I acknowledge that we all make mistakes from time to time. I Love You." Again, words and actions can express this promise. Important to note here is to sincerely forgive in our heart, not just in word. If we hold a grudge it is not a sincere forgiveness.

4) Support
This promise of Love says: “I support your hopes and dreams, and I promise to do all that I can to help build you up. I Love You." Some people prefer to be supported by simply having someone to listen to them, to encourage them, and root for them. Others may need a more hands-on approach with guidance and words of advice or shared expertise. They will take joy in knowing that you stand behind them no matter their decisions. Others, though, will want you to stand not behind them, but side-by-side.

5) Recognition
This promise says: “I recognize you—for who you are today, for who you were and what brought you to this moment, and for who you hope to be. I love you.” Be proud of the beloved, and let them know it. And let others know too! Let them shine in their best light by recognizing them when they succeed, and reminding them of their value when they don’t.

Reflection

  1. Make a list of each of The 5 Promises and next to each one indicate your skill level on a scale of 1 to 5—with 1 indicating that you are consistently in need of a lot of work and 5 indicating that you are consistently perfect in that area. How might you be able to capitalize on your strengths and manage your weaknesses to improve your relationships?
  2. Do you have any current relationships that are fulfilling (or aspiring to fulfill) all five promises?
  3. Are there any promises on this list that you would not include in your own model of love?
  4. Are there any additional promises that you would include?
  5. How might you be able to use the ideas expressed here to facilitate positive experiences for yourself and for those within your sphere of influence?


Final Thoughts
Three simple words with profound significance: “I” and “Love” and “You.” Whether directed towards oneself, a partner, family member, friend, business partner, or any other version of “love," these three words circle together to form the bond that will carry the relationship through all of life’s seasons.

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