Love is indefinable. Love is wonderful. Love is the greatest aim any of us can have in life.
But love is also real, it is tangible, and it is achievable for almost anyone.
The tricky part is being able to tell the difference between love and like; between love and infatuation; between love and dependency. How do you know if you’re really in love?
All of the points below are intended to be definitive ways to tell when your love is real and when it is with the right person. Though, in truth, you cannot boil love down into 10 points – or any number for that matter – because it is far more complex than that.
Still, hopefully these 10 things are realistic and go a long way to identifying love in the real world.
1. Your list of conditions is very short.
Some people suggest that true love is unconditional, but others would consider that to be idealistic and unrealistic. Most people probably would, on reflection, impose some conditions on their love, although when you find yourself with the right person, your list shrinks to the bare minimum.
You may draw the line at serious physical/mental harm to you or another, adultery, or other unforgivable acts, but for the most part, your love can endure through thick and thin (notice the “can” here – it doesn’t mean it will or has to).
2. You may be best friends, but you don’t need to be.
The idea that your one true love automatically becomes your best friend is not a universal truth. While they will certainly become an immensely good friend, it is possible for you or them to have even closer friendships with other people.
Most likely, these will be family figures such as siblings or parents, but they might also have a lifelong friend with whom they have an incredibly deep relationship.
The point here is that, in the case of real love, you won’t fear or envy these other people, even if your partner does consider them as their best friend. You understand that this does not diminish the love you have together.
3. You say you trust them and actually mean it.
Trust is one of the fundamental foundations of true love, but the word is too often bandied about when it is not actually felt or meant.
In the case of genuine love, trust is virtually a given. You inherently trust them and you never find yourself doubting this regardless of what other people may say or think.
This is not to say that trust cannot be broken – it can – but you simply cannot envisage it happening to you.
It’s important to distinguish between real trust and trust by denial. Real trust is a belief you have, while trust by denial is ignoring the lack of this same belief.
4. You don’t just see your future together, you take action on it.
True love is the ultimate commitment to one another and this doesn’t just mean saying it; it means showing it.
When you love the right person, you not only think about what your future may be like, you take the steps required to turn those thoughts into reality. This may mean planning your finances together so that you can afford to buy property, giving up a successful career so that you may raise children, or something else entirely.
Whatever it is, you don’t lightly agree that you’ll do it at some point in the future; you sit down together and discuss when and how it will ideally happen.
5. You seek self improvement even though they haven’t asked you to.
When you find yourself in a loving relationship with the right person, you find yourself striving to be the very best “you” that you can be. This means identifying and taking opportunities to shrink your bad habits or negative traits (and we all have them), while growing your good side.
Perhaps this involves improving your lifestyle, giving something up (e.g. cigarettes or gambling), practicing kindness more regularly, or learning to express your emotions in a healthier manner.
The point is that, for the right person, you are willing to try and improve yourself despite the fact that you are loved. You don’t do it for them, you do it for you.
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6. You are willing, even happy, to put the hard graft in.
Even the most loving relationships require a bit of hard work from time to time; the odd sacrifice or compromise is inevitable and these can sometimes be quite taxing.
When you find the right person, you don’t try to shirk these challenges, but rather embark upon them with a gritty determination and belief that they are right.
Whether this means having to give up going to see your favorite sports team play every weekend in order to attend their family parties, or lowering your lavish holiday expectations to save into a rainy day fund, you may huff and puff a little, but you do it anyway.
7. You argue, but understand what true forgiveness means.
Very few relationships are free from the occasional argument, but you know when you are with the right person because you experience genuine forgiveness afterwards (although it doesn’t have to be immediate).
What does genuine forgiveness mean? Well, you don’t hold on to the feeling of being wronged or the belief that you were categorically right. You may not come to see eye to eye, but you reach the point at which the difference in opinion fades into insignificance and you remember all of the good within them that is the basis of your love.
8. You let them follow their own path instead of insisting you walk together.
We all walk our own paths through life and while yours and your partner’s may move in roughly the same direction, they won’t always be fully aligned.
When you settle down with that ideal person, you won’t try and force your paths to merge. Instead, you will respect the differences that might occur and remember that what’s right for you isn’t always right for them.
You may even find that your path changes because of their path or vice versa, but these shifts cannot be enforced; they must happen naturally.
An example may be the lifestyle you wished for yourself before you met your other half; it might be quite different to what is realistic based upon their career and salary. Instead of insisting that they push themselves harder to meet your desires, those desires change to meet their salary. Your path moves because of your love.
Or you might be an introvert who falls for an extrovert, but rather than stifle their outgoing nature, you accept that you won’t always want to go out with them and their friends and that this is ok. It doesn’t lessen the love you may have for one another.
9. You appreciate small gestures as much as the big ones.
There is a right time for a bold gesture of love in a relationship, but these cannot happen week in, week out, no matter how much you may enjoy them.
Instead, experiencing love with the right person means finding just as much appreciation for all the small gestures that your partner shows you. The unexpected flowers, the extra effort they went to in order to make your life easier, the hugs when they know you’ve had a rough day; these are the glue that binds a couple together.
10. You’d lay down your life for them, but they’d probably berate you for saying so.
If you can say, hand on heart, that you’d make the ultimate sacrifice for the partner you love, then this is a big sign that your love is real.
However, if you were to ever say this to your partner, you may find that they tell you off for ever dreaming of such a thing. The right person will hold your life as dearly as they hold their own and would not wish harm to come to you however dire their situation may be.
If you find that your partner is okay with your willingness to sacrifice yourself, you might ask why.
How do you know if you’re in love? Ask yourself how many of these things are true about you and your relationship. The more points you can tick off, the more likely it is that what you feel is love in the truest sense of the word.
Do you disagree with something in this list? Would you add another point to it? Leave a comment below and let us know!