Romantic Love is a complicated thing as far as I’m concerned. How many times have we believed we were in love and then once the relationship ended and some time had passed, we decided it wasn’t love after all? Is that because since it no longer is, we believe it could never have been? Or in retrospect do we reanalyze our feelings and see them more clearly for what they really were? Or once we fall out of love do we deny it ever existed simply because we quickly forget how we really felt? Some of the things I’ve learned about being in love are pretty common knowledge, like that love often hurts and is therefore quite scary, especially for those of us who have been heartbroken. Love changes and evolves over time. The highest highs of love are magic, and the lowest lows of it are torture. And finally, it truly is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all. In addition to that I’ve learned 5 things about love that I believe have been significant in helping me identify the “real thing” accurately. All of the things I mentioned above exist also in the experience of infatuation, and many people call infatuation love when really it is not love. I truly believe that some people go their entire lives having never really truly been “in love”. So how do you know? These are 5 identifying factors that I believe are indicators that you have been, or are, in love.
1. Your happiness is in a large way contingent upon their happiness. When you are truly in love with someone their overall wellbeing is extremely important to you. So much so, that compromise is not that difficult because seeing your partner happy, more often than not, brings you more joy than having your own way. Couples who participate in each other’s hobbies and interests, even though they aren’t always mutually interested in the activities, demonstrate what loving relationships look like. Being together and participating in each other’s enjoyment is of great value. When the love is mutually there, you can see how this would work very well. In the same way, when your partner suffers a loss, or is hurt for another reason, you feel it too. It’s hard to feel happy when your partner is suffering. And it isn’t a burden to be there for them in a time of need, but rather a natural desire.
2. You accept them just the way they are. No one is perfect. When it comes to the one you love, their imperfections, as annoying and frustrating and challenging as they may be sometimes, are forgivable because their strengths far outweigh their weaknesses in your mind, which enables you to continually see the big picture and not nag and nit-pick very often. When you are in love you praise and say thank you much more often than you complain and criticize. You are conscientious about, and grateful for, the qualities you are attracted to in your partner and make it a point to stay mindful of them without taking them for granted.
3. You respect them. One thing we all want in any relationship is to be respected. When you are truly in love with someone, you find yourself really caring about and honoring their feelings, opinions, and desires. You strongly appreciate their mind and the way they think. You are interested in what they want out of life, and you find value in their feedback, perspectives, and experience. Respecting your partner requires feeling that they help to balance the relationship and bring something of value to the table. Being able to truly respect someone also requires having a good measure of self-respect. In a situation of true mutual respect, deception of any kind is highly unlikely to take place. A person with high self-esteem requires a partner that meets their standards. Very often, we end up with someone we cannot fully respect long-term because we are unclear about our standards and what we require. Giving this due consideration can prevent us from wasting time with the wrong partners. Be careful not to be unrealistic. Some people set standards that are simply too high, and are waiting for the perfect person that just doesn’t exist. Make sure that you yourself can live up to the standards that you set for your partner.
4. You’re willing to admit when you are wrong. To experience a healthy relationship it is necessary to admit when you are wrong and say you are sorry. Easier said than done, I know! But when you are in love it’s worth it to you to swallow your pride for the sake of keeping peace with your partner. Again, when they aren’t happy you aren’t happy. When you’ve made a choice that ends up hurting your partner you are willing to take the necessary steps to redeem yourself. They will feel honored and respected, and you will feel good knowing you are successfully providing for your partners emotional needs.
5. You’re willing to say you’re sorry when you didn’t do anything wrong. A lot of you may be cringing right now and assuming I am insisting you become a total pushover, but I promise that’s not the case. Since no two people are exactly alike, sometimes you will make a choice that hurts your partner somehow, and it will totally surprise you. Perhaps you end up teasing them about something you didn’t realize they are very sensitive about, or reveal an embarrassing moment with friends that they were unwilling to share, or say something mean about their evil sister and… “oh no you didn’t just talk about my sister like that”! In any case, you didn’t mean it, and you may not even think it was anything to get upset over and you truly believe they are over reacting. However, when you truly love someone you realize that it’s not up to you to dictate what should and shouldn’t bother them, and that they want to know that you care about their feelings. You can show you understand where they are coming from and apologize for having inadvertently hurt them. Chances are strong they will end up apologizing too for jumping down your throat over something so silly.
All of these things really only work out very well when it’s totally mutual. If both people in the relationship act in these ways, life is good. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. I will say that it isn’t always that the love isn’t mutual, but that both parties aren’t emotionally and mentally mature, self-confident, and/or experienced enough to know how to love. It doesn’t come naturally, and it takes time and effort to learn how to be good at relationships, just like it takes time and effort to be good at other areas of life. Succeeding at love requires the ability to be secure, vulnerable, humble and willing to learn and grow.
Too many people want love to be easy, convincing themselves that as long as they find the right person it’ll be smooth sailing. That is totally false. No relationship, no matter how perfect the match, will be easy. That is just a giant unavoidable piece of reality we all do well to acknowledge and accept. My mother once told me that if a couple never fights, someone isn’t being honest. I completely concur. No two people will see eye to eye on everything. We learn to pick our battles, and know which arguments are necessary and which should be avoided by compromise or by simply biting our tongue and taking turns giving in.
Infatuation is much more selfish than love. The focus in an infatuation is more on what the person or relationship has to offer you. Love has more to do with what you can offer to the person who has captured your heart, to keep them happy and to keep them-period.
Thanks for reading!
Be you and enjoy it.