The Semantics of Love – Living in Relation Versus Being In a Relationship


Most of my life I have heard “I love you” and naturally returned it with the same response…with parents initially and later on with partners. It is only since I have taken those words to in turn define myself as being ‘in a relationship’ with others that the true essence and dangers of these phrases come to fruition.

People are in some form of relationship with just about everyone they encounter; however, sometimes these bonds go deeper and many desire to give it a label such as ‘significant other,’  ‘boy/girlfriend,’ ‘spouse,’ or ‘best friend.’ While seemingly harmless on the surface, words have power and labels come with expectations and almost always lead to confusion or deceit because they don’t tell the whole story. For example, your ‘relationship’ may end…but you may still have feelings for that person or even still have relations with them that no longer fall into a specific label…and if ‘reality’ doesn’t align with the way we describe it – suffering results.


What you ‘call’ something or label as being often determines how you treat it, and there’s no finer example of this than within the realm of LOVE. The words ‘love’ and ‘relationship’ are nouns, while the words ‘loving’ and ‘relating’ are verbs… why do these semantics matter and aren’t they the same thing? I won’t go all Noam Chomsky linguistic lesson here, but semantics DO matter when it comes to how one describes, defines, and views their partnerships…(that is for those who feel the need or choose to define such associations in any fashion).

Using words such as ‘in love’ or ‘in a relationship’ has a tendency to objectify the connection, and in turn placing expectations that come along with those labels. Expectations have a way of causing hurt and disappointment when they aren’t fulfilled, which can lead to further negativity in the form of judgements and additional labels. Choosing phrases such as ‘we are relating to each other,’ ‘loving one another,’ or are ‘living in relation to one another’ leaves room for growth and offers such partnerships to flourish beyond labels.

Loving Beyond Definition

By transitioning your words and phrases concerning your ‘relations’ with others from nouns into action verbs, you’re leaving unlimited room for growth and expansion…creating and manifesting with words a future that knows no definition or end. Living beyond labels is an admission that no ‘relationship’ truly ever ends – whether it evolves into just being friends or avoiding each other altogether. These are still ways of ‘relating’ with someone; however they create opportunities to practice living a loving existence.


The Perks of Making the Semantics Shift

While some of the developments in making this shift may be a bit daunting initially, I experienced quite a few long term benefits by doing so within my relations with others – and with myself.

Loss of Entitlement: Simply stating to my partner that I am loving and relating to them essentially set the tone for greater intimacy and happiness. No longer was I feeling entitled as a girlfriend or spouse, but rather enjoying living in the moment of what the relationship was at that time, taking nothing for granted, and never feeling entitled to another day of ‘love’ for my partner, but rather feeling grateful for every loving, relating moment.

Empowering Engagements: Without the words “I love you” available to cover up any dissatisfaction, I felt empowered to be more open and honest with my partner and that our communications were filled with less pressure or expectations of the perfection that is considered to be love. This freedom seeped over into letting go of disappointments an insecurities in many aspects of my wellbeing and transformed my relations across the board.

Discovering the Abundant Nature of Love: When you broaden the spectrum on how you think or speak of anything, doors are opened that directly affect both states of our consciousness that in turn allow us to release preoccupations with control, permanence, and predictability. We stop seeking love or someone outside of ourselves to ‘complete’ us. Loving relations of all sorts can pop up at the strangest times and in unexpected places, and when our words are reflected in our hearts and minds we are aptly prepared to accept it and willingly allow it to unfold.

Certainly there are a number of ways one can choose to describe their boundaries while living in relation that don’t look down on commitment. The entire purpose is to give and receive love with greater ease and less expectations and acknowledge these ‘relations’ as constantly evolving and subservient to the higher order of love.

©Universal Copyright 2015 is authorized here. Please distribute freely as long as both the author Stephanie Lucas and are included as the resource and this information is distributed on a non-commercial no charge basis.


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