Your heart goes “boom-ba boom-ba!” You feel like you’re going to burst right out of your skin. Your thoughts are consumed with your lover. You sometimes forget to eat and you have trouble sleeping. It’s an emotional high – an altered state without the use of drugs. There’s no mistaking it when your body is signaling you that you’re “in love.”
That’s the easy part. Once you settle into a relationship, take off the emotional blinders, once those feel-good natural chemicals coursing through your body diminish … you can see more clearly, more realistically. Your mind and body have been released from a spell.
Was how you were feeling after being bit by the love bug mean it’s true love? Or, did you temporarily get caught up in the moment, the fleeting throes of ecstasy? Were you caught up with “being in love with being in love” or is this the real thing? Is this person “the one,” the relationship that’s meant to be, for the long haul? How do you know it’s really love?
How Do You Know It’s Real?
Is love an emotion or is it a state of mind that feels so wonderful that we put a label on it, call it “love?” The series of feelings and physical reactions are so defined that you can just about check off the “symptoms” one by one. But hey, whatever this is, it feels real and it feels wonderful.
You still may want to ask yourself how you confirm an intangible feeling like love … a feeling that comes from the heart and at times from the pit of the stomach. Sometimes it’s difficult to sort out feelings that can’t be expressed easily in words. How do you know it’s not infatuation and won’t fade in time?
True Love or Not?
Is it true love or – to borrow a slogan from an older generation – is it Memorex? I think we need to be level-headed when trying to discern true-blue love. Rational. Yeah, rational. How can you make good decisions for yourself and better assess a situation without applying a reality check? It’s easy to describe all the ways our lover makes us feel in the initial stages. I’d like you to take off the rose-colored glasses now and look at love under the microscope. Let’s put love to the test, shall we?
So what we’ve got here at first blush is romantic love; hot, passionate, infatuating, thrilling new love. Then there’s what I like to call “compassionate love?” Compassionate love is more relaxed. The highs and lows (yes, you’ve experienced those lows too) have balanced out to a more or less even keel. There’s desire there for sure, but there’s also a feeling of communion, a deep caring, admiration, acceptance, concern, and connecting that evolves from knowing and growing together with a person over time. I like to think compassionate love IS true love.
Working At Love
True love takes work. To some that may sound a bit looney on the surface, but think about it; if we just go merrily along in a relationship and let whatever happens happen, we could easily fall into complacency. We could be thinking, “Ok, this is great. It’s going to stay just like this and we’re going to have a wonderful care-free life together. I can kick back and relax.”
Ok, you got to the basic “in love” stage down. What you might want to ask yourself is, what am I doing to nurture such love? What do I need to pay attention to? What might be missing? What can I do to tighten those ties that bind that make for a satisfying lasting relationship?
Let’s break down those feelings a bit more.
· Attraction. The emotional string that draws you together.
· Intimacy. Deep closeness, connectedness – in an out of bed
· Attachment. A desire to bond, to stay together.
· Care. Caring about the well-being of your lover.
I call these the four horsemen of true love. If you’re feeling these and so is your lover, I think you have the right stuff that makes for a lasting, loving relationship. If any of these get out of whack in either of you, you need to look under the hood and see what can be done to get them in running condition again.
Taking a Love Assessment
So here is my inventory of what you might be feeling about your partner. Maybe these can help you sort out your feelings and determine if you’re cooking with gas, need to adjust the recipe, or scrap it:
· I spend a lot of time thinking about my lover.
· I feel that I can count on them.
· My heart beats faster when I am near them.
· I have a desire to share myself with them.
· I feel lonely when we’re not together.
· Life has an intensity and purpose that it hasn’t had before.
· Experiences have more meaning. Colors seem more intense. Sounds are more beautiful.
· I know deep down that this person is the one for me
· I feel like my feelings for them will never end.
· I feel emotionally connected to them.
· I feel reassured by my lover when I’m upset.
· I want to understand my lover.
· I’m interested in what they say and do.
· I’m the happiest when I am around them.
· I want to have a future with this person.
· I feel at home when I’m in their arms.
· When my lover is happy, I’m happy for them; when they are sad, I feel bad for them.
· I’m completely happy spending focused time with my lover.
· It’s exciting to be with them.
· I don’t get bored or tired of being in their presence.
· My lover makes me feel special about the things I say and do.
· I respect my lover. Their opinions and beliefs matter to me, even if I don’t share some of them.
· I’m patient with them when they say things I don’t agree with or they make mistakes.
· I accept their quirks and don’t try to change them.
· I want to keep my lover out of harm’s way.
· I stand up for them.
· I love talking to my lover.
· I have a desire to share my deepest feelings and thoughts with them.
· It seems I never run out of things to talk about with them.
· I feel free talking to my lover about anything and everything that’s going on with me.
· I want them to know what and how I’m feeling.
· I feel good touching and holding them.
· I’m attracted to their scent.
· I look into their eyes and feel heightened emotion.
· I am sensitive to their feelings and needs.
· I trust them explicitly.
· Nothing they do or say or have done in the past will make me judge them and turn from them. I accept them with all their flaws, secrets, indiscretions.
· I want to get to know their family and friends.
· I am willing to make sacrifices for them.
· I am willing to compromise – more so than when I would with others.
· I’m compelled to express how I feel about them and enjoy saying “I love you” frequently.
· I feel we are as one together; two people on the same wavelength, the same journey.
Putting Love to the Test
We each feel and express love in different ways. The assessment above is my list. You may have other ways you would measure true love. Create your own list of what your ideal conception of true love is.
Life with your lover isn’t static and it’s not always a walk through the park. Don’t be easily discouraged. Hang in there if you feel in your heart that it’s worth the effort. There will be times when your love is tested, when things get dicey, when events transpire that test your love. How well and if you recover from those setbacks is the litmus test of true love.