You should love her gently and slowly, at first and for awhile. Coming on too strong will make her fearful as she won’t sacrifice losing herself or her independence ever again. Slowly, because she needs to adjust to a new healthy and happy normal.

As she grows and continues to heal you should grow with her. Learn with her. As she heals you will need to allow her the space to do so. You should be a sweet voice of encouragement and a soft place for her to fall when the triggers have become too much for her.

You should be aware that her trust is fragile. Maybe she walked into life with you trustingly or maybe it’s jaded and still needs to be built. Either way, it’s fragile. You should be mindful of your choices and how they will impact her, you and what you have together. You should try your best to think your words and reactions through before running on an impulse. She will.

You should love her in such a way that when you make a mistake, or you hurt her, you poor how you feel about her into your apology. You’ll need to realize that she’s heard sorry so many times that there’s no meaning in it anymore. It’s empty. She will need to feel the depth of your apology. You should go past the surface of it.

You should love her hard after a while. When you’re ready to fully plunge into what you’re both building together. When you love her hard, make sure it’s that much harder when she feels like she’s not good enough. She will have healed, self-analyzed and made progress in bounds, but some days will be bad days. She’ll need you to love her harder on those days. She will.

You should love her enough to never make excuses for her. Sometimes old habits and ways of thinking die hard. Sometimes, triggers from trauma can creep their way in. You should love her enough to expect her to be the best version of herself that she can be. A version that continues to grow, that doesn’t fall back to the wayside of those habits or thought patterns.

When you’re upset with her, because she isn’t perfect, love her through it. Be angry, but don’t spew venom. Talk to her as issues arise, not once they accumulate. The best of us can feel attacked or inadequate when multiple issues are thrown at us. You should love her through, one issue at a time.

You should love her with a respect that understands what she’s been through. Respect, because she will bring everything valuable she’s learned into her relationship with you. She will hold herself to a standard in how she treats you and how she expects to be treated.

You should love her like the first moment you realized you did because that’s how everyone deserves to be loved.

By Toni Cormier for ThoughtCatalog

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