What is Love? And How to Know When You Have It

“I met my soul mate. You only fall in love once. No one can compare to him, the love of my life.”

“I’ve fallen in love many times. You could fall in love with anybody. What matters is how much effort you put into it.”

These two seemingly opposite theories of love are both true. Surprising. But then again, love is a paradox sometimes.

On one hand, being in love means that you love each other unconditionally, passionately, maybe even a little “madly” in love together. No one can compare to him because you’ve bonded so closely. He is the love of your life, just as you are his.

But on the other hand, a person who opens their heart to others completely, may fall in love with more than one person—especially if relationships end in breakup. You never really stop loving someone you deeply care about. But you do sometimes have to move on and love a person enough to let them go. You may be able to love more than one person but you won’t experience the FULL EFFECT of loving a man completely unless you are willing to be exclusive with him.

It’s best to not try to place limits on what love is. Instead, be accepting of what you feel and what your partner needs from you. You will always know when you’ve found “real love” by the way it makes you feel.

Here are five ways to tell when this is true love and not just lust or infatuation.

1. Real Love is based on similarity in your shared values, goals and experiences.

While lust may attract opposites, real love starts when people find things in common. It’s simply too difficult to maintain a loving relationship with someone you don’t understand. But when you do understand each other, and you appreciate where he comes from because you feel the same way, you build a strong bond. Your goals are in sync and your values mirror each other, probably based on an upbringing that highlighted the same morals/ethics your family cherished.

2. Real Love always makes you a better person and makes you feel at peace.

This is perhaps the hardest lesson for many people to learn. And that’s simple…Love ALWAYS makes you a better person. Sometimes dysfunctional love (or sometimes called the “twin flame relationship”) is addictive and emotionally powerful. But Real Love makes you a better person. It calms you, it fills you with love for other people. It heals your damaged soul. It caresses your ego. It lets you get over the past because the present is so good.

This is NOT the case in a dysfunctional relationship. You may have love for him, but the highs are far and in between. Usually, your relationship is defined by misery, constant drama, anxiety and pain. Just because you can love someone who is bad for you, doesn’t mean this is the kind of love you need in your life. It’s up to you to realize that you’re not really happy. It’s up to you to escape the vicious cycle and to find a more intense and positive love that will let you find real lasting happiness!

3. Love only grows over time. Infatuation or “lesser love” fades.

Real love grows over time, so waiting a few months, EVEN YEARS, will not matter. You will always pick up where you left off. I actually know of two close friends of mine who dated each other forty years ago…then broke up because of tragic circumstances and moved onto other relationships…but who got back together in the end. No time lost. The love was still there. It wasn’t just a fling, it wasn’t just a passing feeling.

Infatuation fades quickly. Lesser love (as in a love that feels right for the time, but which you outgrow as you CHANGE) also wanes over time. But real love only grows stronger as you live together or even as you wait for each other.

4. You both invest effort into this relationship because you truly cherish it.

Some couples who have been together for years will admit that initially, sexual attraction was not very intense. It wasn’t love at first site. But over time, both partners came to appreciate the good and marriageable qualities in each other. They realized that appreciation and action—namely how hard both partners will willing to work to keep this relationship going—was something real. And in the end, it was something special neither partner wanted to lose.

Surprisingly, even some arranged marriages can have this sort of happy ending. The commitment they have to each other allows them to work through other problems and find solutions, so that what they truly cherish—the bond, the commitment—can be saved.

5. You desire only to make the other person happy and not cause them grief.

As you build a life together and resist temptations, you will notice one recurring motivation: you only want to make your partner happy. You don’t want to cause him any grief. And he feels the same way about you. This is an equal relationship and one that transcends impulsive behavior and infatuation. You don’t want to betray your partner and cause grief, so you learn self-control. You speak to each other honestly, without withholding or deception.

And most importantly, you limit the “love” you theoretically could have with other people BECAUSE you value this relationship above all others. You want this person to be your soul mate, and your one true love. And you create rules and standards to protect this important relationship.

In conclusion, don’t try to fight what you feel. Don’t live in denial, don’t run away. Accept who you love BUT use common sense in how you respond. Consider what your partner needs from you. Next, consider how you can better provide for your partner in a way that builds trust and strengthens the bond. Remember, love may be possible with anyone…but the most intense and trusting kind of real love requires your FULL attention and your whole effort.

About The Author

Matthew Coast

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