“Living with intention means saying no to the things that
aren’t important to us so that we can say yes to what matters most.”
When it comes to love, being intentional is often overlooked. We usually focus on is the passionate and emotional side, yet being purposeful in relationships is one of the most important elements . Think of it as the foundation on which all the other dimensions of love rest.
What does it mean to be intentional?
It means to look at the things in your life that are hurting your relationship and get rid of them. It also means to think about the things that will encourage and help your relationship, and add them.
How do you love intentionally? Here are 4 ideas to get you started:
1. Love Freely
Love needs to be given freely. If it’s given with a hook that requires something in return, it will create an “indebted” relationship. This means if you are loving someone so that they will give you something in return, or because you pity them or feel obligated to them, the love will eventually become a job you have to do, instead of something you enjoy.
And the other person will feel stress over the relationship knowing that as long as you get “paid” you’ll be happy and stay, but once the work of the relationship is harder than the benefit you receive, you’ll feel cheated and leave.
How do you fix this?
Make a decision to love them because you want to, and to let go of their side of the equation. Don’t require anything from them in return. Love them because you want to. If who they are naturally and without requirement isn’t someone you’re interested in being with, then you need to evaluate if the relationship is right for you.
2. Set Boundaries Against Intruders
A relationship needs to feel like a safe place. This means setting boundaries against people, events, and obstacles that work against your relationship. This could be an intrusive parent, negative friend, long work hours, destructive habits, constant distraction by your phone, etc…
Make rules for yourself that protect the space around your relationship. Something like: “When we are together I will commit to being off my phone.” Or telling your mother she is no longer allowed to insult your partner in your presence.
3. Be a Decent Person
We’re just going to go ahead and say it: it’s hard to love an asshole. Be nice to your loved ones. Don’t lie, learn to fight fair, don’t talk down to them, don’t cheat on them, and do what you say you’re going to do.
When you act like a decent person you build trust and your loved ones are more likely to open their heart to you. This is especially important when you are in recovery and have broken their trust in the past.
It’s easy to get comfortable in relationships that have been around awhile, but be intentional about winning them over.
4. Have Some Grit
Sometimes your relationships are going to be hard. Really hard. This is where some good old fashioned grit comes in. Ask yourself what you’re willing to go through for this relationship and then dig in.
This may mean you’ll have to sit quietly while they tell you all the ways you’ve hurt them. Or be understanding when they don’t trust you. You also may have to deal with the anger they’ve built up over time.
But if you can muster up the grit and continue to add positive elements back into the relationship, in the end you will either have a deep and meaningful bond, or you will at least know you did everything you could to make it right.