Water is necessary to live. But not all water is safe to drink; in fact, if it is contaminated, it can be quite deadly. The same applies to relationships. To be Grown is to set higher standards for what healthy love and loving are—to accept not just anything that passes for love, but nothing less than Grown, healthy love, what we call Good Love. Helping people to stop chasing substitutes and to recognize and attract Good Love is exactly why we wrote (and so many people are reading) our book, Loving In The Grown Zone: A No-Nonsense Guide to Making Healthy Decisions in the Quest for Healthy Romantic Relationships of Honor, Esteem and Respect.

Good Love is always:

An emotionally safe, healing and nurturing refuge from—not a source of—pain, anxiety and stress. In healthy relationships, partners are allies against adversity and in pursuit of opportunities, not adversaries, nor the source of one anothers problems. Stress and misfortune does not pull them apart—it brings them closer together.

A relationship of partners who are always tender, compassionate and considerate of one anothers feelings, desires and needs, and mutually committed to treatment and behavior that brings honor, esteem and respect. It is recognition that tenderness is not just about how you touch each other, but how you treat each other when you’re not touching each other, and especially when you are away from each other.

A relationship in which partners maintain a space of peace, fun and joy. They are committed to intimacy even when they do not share proximity, in part through constant, always honest and non-judgmental communication, so nothing and no one can separate them. They demonstrate and earn trust and confidence, and draw strength and security, from one another. If every day, regardless of life’s circumstances, starts and ends with smiles, with lots of shared laughter in between, it’s likely Good Love.

This is what good love looks like, not the picture perfect fairy-tales of Hollywood marriages and celebrity couples fanatically promoted by popular media (and just as eagerly picked apart when they result in public break-ups and costly divorces). Authentic, Good Love is the kind of love that endures through thick and thin, and conquers all, not the self-indulgent sex, ego-driven desire, obsessive control and possessiveness, and unhealthy dependency often celebrated as “love.” Real, authentic love is always and unconditionally good for you, not just conditionally good to you. In other words, it is always healthy—to mind, body and spirit—not just pleasurable. Moreover, love cannot be authentic when it is accompanied by unloving treatment and behaviors.

Do you have Good Love? Here are a couple of reality checks:

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