First thing you should know about me is that I'm a hopeless romantic. I swoon over couples holding hands in public, romantic comedies are my favourite movies and Nicholas Sparks books line the bookshelf in my apartment. So this next thing I'm about to say might come as a bit of a shock: I feel that the word "love" is used too much and often incorrectly in relationships today.

Now hear me out for a second, saying "I love you" is important but it is more important to actually mean what you say. Love is also just as important as some of the values listed below. Am I cold-hearted? No. Maybe a little bitter? Possibly, but that does not change the fact that people today use the word "love" like it is any other word in the dictionary, such as pizza or Toronto, for example.

Sometimes, we lose sight of what is really important because we think loving someone is the sole reason to be in a relationship, but it's not. Here are the values I think are more important than love for a relationship to work.

1. Trust

Trust is one of the most important factors in a relationship. If you don't trust the person you are with, then it is probably not a healthy, stable relationship and you most likely feel insecure about it. Trust grows stronger over time and can definitely be built — a lack of trust early on in the relationship just means there is work to do.


2. Honesty

Being truthful and honest is major when it comes to relationships. A relationship built on false hope and white lies will only crumble in the end, no matter how much you love the other person. Being honest leads to good communication, which can strengthen many aspects of a relationship.


3. Respect

Regardless of sounding like a cliché, love can be blinding, especially when it comes to self-worth. No amount of love is worth giving up who you are and the respect you deserve. Love is not a justification for disrespect or abuse. Partners must be respectful of each other and who they are for a healthy relationship to grow.


4. Communication

Communication is key in any relationship to define boundaries. You need it to express feelings, needs, and expectations. You need it to solve conflicts and you even need it when it comes to intimacy. Without good communication, how can anything in the relationship be clear and the rest of these values be strengthened?


5. Loyalty

This one is up there with trust. If you don't have the loyalty to stay faithful to your partner and the relationship then why are you in a relationship at all? Loyalty acts as a building block in relationships for other values such as those on this list. You have to actually want to be in a relationship and commit to it in order for it to work.


6. Happiness

Okay to be fair, you can't be happy all the time, but it is what everyone wants and deserves regardless. Relationships aren't always sunshine and rainbows, but the happy times should far outweigh the unhappy ones. Being happy is really important in a relationship and if you are not happy then it is time to move on.


7. Compromise

Relationships are all about give and take. If one partner only takes and never gives, something is bound to break. Healthy relationships need compromise in order to work and to establish happiness between both partners.


8. Safety

If you don't feel safe with your significant other then you are not in the right relationship. Nothing is more important than your own safety and security. Love makes it hard, but it is not worth it if you are being abused in any way. If you are not safe then how can you possibly be happy?


9. Independence

Some couples eat, sleep, breathe, and live together — and that is okay! However, it is important to have individual time and space away from your significant other every now and again. Even if you two have similar hobbies or genuinely enjoy spending as much time as possible with one another, you should never put aside your own identity for anyone.


10. Partnership

Along with having individual space, you both also need to be strong as a couple. You are not a mother or a nurse or a maid (although you may play these roles occasionally), you are an equal partner in the relationship and if you are not being treated as such then that is an issue. You both are individuals who need to come together as a team to maintain an equal playing field.

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