How To Love

Medically reviewed by Majesty Purvis, LCMHC
Updated May 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

If you have had even one failed relationship, you may wonder what you might have done wrong. While in some relationships, someone is in the wrong, such as in cases of infidelity, often breakups are the result of mutual issues. 

Even if people let you know the breakup wasn’t your fault, you probably don’t want past mistakes making an appearance in a new relationship, so what could you do differently next time? Many people wonder if the love they had was healthy or if they loved properly. If you had a lot of pain with the relationship, you could wonder if you were doing something wrong or if it was not loving or healthy.

Childhood and healthy expression

Accepting and giving love is not something that is taught in schools. Often, the only education you have on how to love who you love comes from watching the couples you grow up with, such as your parents or grandparents. If you don’t have good, healthy role models in this respect, you can grow up not knowing how to love healthily.

This can prevent you from having healthy and fulfilling relationships. When you better understand how to love and how you should be loved in return, you can form healthy and lasting relationships that are rewarding for both you and your potential partner.

How do you tell someone you love them?

What do we need to know about it?

To have healthy relationships, you must first understand how to love someone and show your strong feelings in many different ways. Loving someone does not mean taking over their lives in every way. They should not be the complete focus of everything that you do. On the other hand, you should make them a priority in your life and love them through all their faults.

Looking at the toddler brain vs. adult brain

Many studies have shown that we love with what is affectionately known as the “toddler part” of our brains. The toddler brain is the one that loves unconditionally. It is obsessive about your love interest and gets the emotional high from falling in love. 

However, the toddler brain is often also impulsive, obsessive, and overly emotional. When you love the toddler’s brain, it can be a very intense and emotional ride. This intense love may only last for a few months at most before the obsession and feeling begin to fizzle out.

At this point, you must learn how to love from the adult brain. Specifically, you’ll need to use the prefrontal cortex. This is the part of the brain that helps you to stay in love. Human beings generally crave autonomy but also a deeper connection with others. The toddler brain cannot balance this contradiction. Instead, the adult brain is needed to remain independent while still giving yourself over to your partner.

Lapsing into toddler brain love can happen. Even when you begin to use your adult brain to love someone, you may still have moments when the toddler brain takes over with either negative or positive emotions. The important thing is to remember to employ the adult brain when conflicts arise consciously and work to find a reasonable, logical, and healthy solution. This can help you to maintain the relationship in a mutually beneficial and healthy way.

Love selflessly with your all

Many people only give love to their partner when they are getting something in return. Often this leads to a calculative way of looking at true love; you may find yourself constantly doing the math to see who has done more in the relationship. When you feel slighted, you might withhold love. This isn’t a healthy way of offering love and can, in fact, be a sign of a toxic relationship.

Love is not a math competition. When you truly love someone, you love them with everything you have, all the time. 

When you give love freely, you will find that it is given to you freely in return. When you stop trying to tally up who has done more for each other, you will find that you and your partner are much happier.


Love that is healthy

Finding a healthy love can be difficult. Healthy love is a two-way street, where each partner has something to offer the other. This type of love is also one that recognizes that you are two individuals and not just a couple. When love is healthy, the individual and a certain level of independence are maintained, even though you spend time together and always support one another.

Quality time over quantity

Many couples make the mistake of thinking that they must spend all their time together to stay connected. They believe that if they are not spending as much time together as possible, they are not in a healthy love relationship. The opposite is often true.

It is important to recognize that a loving couple is made up of two individuals, and those individuals have different needs. For example, you will both likely have separate jobs that you need to go to every week to support your life together. Beyond this, there may be times when you and your loved one have different interests and do not necessarily want to go to the same events.

As well it is important that each of you spends time with your friends or family separate from each other. You should have mutual friends that you can hang out with from time to time, but the friends you had before the relationship started are still important. Spending time with those friends away from your partner is very healthy.

Instead of focusing on the amount of time you spend with your partner, focus on the quality of time you are spending with them. When you are spending time with your partner, focus your attention on them and what you are doing. Make physical contact if it makes you both feel good. Make an effort to do things that interest you both, or simply spend quality time talking about anything or nothing at all. Showing love to your partner can mean many things. Whether you talk, have sex, or relax together with a movie, the quality of the time that you spend with your partner is what is important, not the quantity.

Faith and faithfulness

It makes sense that healthy love is built on a foundation of trust. You must have faith in your partner that they will love you in return and do the right thing, even when you are apart. Jealousy, obsession, and constantly checking in are signs of a toxic love situation. Instead, you should trust your partner to come home to you, integrity intact.

On the same token, you must be honest and faithful to your partner. This doesn’t just mean that you don’t go out and cheat. It also means that you tell them the truth and keep no secrets. You should seek to communicate when things seem to be going wrong and not entertain the idea of spending time with others in the same way that you would your partner.

Practicing self-care first and foremost

One of the biggest things about healthy love that is often missed is the love of self. Self-love and self-care are vitally important to have a healthy love relationship. 

You should not be relying on your partner to meet any of your basic needs. You should be able to take care of yourself completely on your own without assistance. Your partner is there for affection, support, and communication, but ultimately you must do things for yourself. If you are not capable of taking care of yourself, you will likely not be capable of taking care of them, and that makes for a very one-sided relationship.

Self-love is also important because if you do not have self-love and independence, you are relying on the relationship to work to fulfill your own needs. When this happens, you end up in a codependent relationship, which is unhealthy. You need to make sure that you are taking care of yourself and not relying on your partner for your own happiness.

How do you tell someone you love them?

Support and growth

When you have a healthy romantic love, you support each other and encourage each other to independent growth, even through the tough times. Whether that growth is as a person, in a career, or toward a specific goal, you should be supporting each other in all of your endeavors. When you offer each other support and help each other to grow as individuals, your relationship will be stronger.

As each person in a relationship becomes stronger and grows independently, the relationship itself can continue to grow and mature. When you each have your independence but lean on each other for support, you are not relying on the relationship to meet your needs. You both know that you are in the relationship because you want to be, not because you need to be. The support factor means that you always have someone helping you to better yourself, which is the ultimate tool in self-growth.

Embracing positive emotions

Learning how to give and feel love can be difficult, especially if you have had a series of bad relationships. You may be questioning your ability to love someone, or you may be wondering what it is that you need to do to attract a healthy relationship instead of the incompatible partners you've dated in the past. A good way to get a baseline on what you should be looking for in a relationship is to meet with a therapist. They will listen to what you have to say without judgment, help you examine your past relationships, and teach you what it means to love and be loved healthily.

Finding support through online therapy 

Online therapy can be especially convenient for those who may not otherwise have the time to seek professional treatment. With online therapy through a service like BetterHelp, you can meet with your therapist on a flexible schedule from the comfort of your own home via phone, chat, or video call. 

Research has found that online therapy is just as effective in the long term as in-person treatment for a range of conditions and concerns. You can get the same high-quality care through an online provider that you would by going to a physical office.


Love can be challenging, but that doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. By learning what healthy, happy love looks like and how to offer it to others, we can learn to accept it for ourselves and build strong, long-lasting relationships. A therapist can help you build up these habits and express yourself more fully in love.

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