Introduction The rest of this book offers insights and advice on keeping relationships healthy from the perspective of a clinical psychotherapist. However, writ- ing about healthy relationships is silly without writing about love and the experience of falling in love, cultivating love, and nurturing love. And writing about love does not work if we don’t get personal. If my bachelor’s degree in English taught me anything, it’s that the introduction is where we can get personal. For me, to “love” is to choose to nurture a connection with a person, to offer them care, attention, loyalty, empowerment, and trust, among other things. If the worst relationships feature abuse, the best feature the opposite: mutual investment in one another, a culture of teamwork, and a commitment to challenge and aid the other person in their personal growth. This is not the same as “falling in love.” To fall “in love” is to experience the beauty in another person and feel overwhelmed with awe and a desire to connect. This is a subjective phenomenon it has nothing to do with any agreed-upon standards of attractiveness or any rational assessment of who would be a good match for me or who would treat me well. The first person I fell in love with as an adult would never have made the cover (or even a small square of one of the back pages) of any beauty magazines. She was sturdy, sarcastic, and struggling to keep her mind functional as waves of agony and terror from past abuse washed over her. We were both 20 years old and completely incapable of anything
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