For most of us, it’s difficult to understand the difference between being in love with someone and loving them. Being in love can be a result of obsession and infatuation. You desire to be with them all the time. But when you love someone, you want them to be happy, whether you are with them or not.
We are never taught about being in love growing up. It’s mind-blowing that we receive zero formalized training around arguably the most significant area of our entire lives.
One of the things that many of my clients have asked me about over the past several years is how to know whether or not they’re in the kind of love that leads to a long-term emotionally fulfilling relationship.
More specifically, they want to know if they’re in love with their partner (and the emotional honeymoon will soon fade away) or if they actually love them, in a way that will last.
‘Is It Real Love Or Am I Just In Love?’
I had a client come to me last year with a question that I’ve been asked in many various forms before.
“I’ve been dating this guy for the past four months, and I feel really good about him. We have a lot of compatibility in a lot of different areas. He feels like he’s fast becoming my best friend (in a good way), we have amazing conversations, and we both find each other sexually attractive. Since we just rounded the four-month mark in our relationship, I know that the initial chemical high of our early romantic attachment is starting to wear off, and we’re settling into something different.
So my question is… what should I be looking for in this new phase of our relationship that signals our long-term compatibility? After the big dopamine flood of how most relationships start… how do I know if this is the real thing? What signals can I notice in my body, my behavior, or our interactions that signal our long-term compatibility?
Put simply, we have already been ‘in love’… now, what does the emerging, authentic act of ‘loving’ look like?”
(Side note: we worked together, I helped her navigate the tricky emotions, and they’re now one of my most happily married clients! Yay! But I digress…)
You’ve likely been in a similar situation at some point in your personal journey.
Wouldn’t it be so much easier to be able to recognize the tried and true warning signs of long-lasting love? Well, you’re in luck. That’s what we’re going into right…….. now!
Here are the three biggest things you should be looking for in order to tell the difference between being in love and actually loving someone.
1. Wanting them vs. Wanting the absolute best for them
When you’re in love with someone, and you’re being hit by wave after wave of all of the dizzyingly addictive happy brain chemicals, you sometimes feel dependent on their presence in order to feel extra-super-happy. You want to be around them as much as possible. Your entire being lights up when you see them in your vicinity.
When you truly love someone, in a clean, unattached way, there is an overwhelming sense of wanting the absolute best for them.
If you are in partnership with them, it becomes part of your personal mission to help them to grow and expand to the greatest possible fullness of who they are. And if you aren’t in a relationship with them (because you never were or because you no longer are) you still cheer them on from afar and want them to be as free and expansive as they can be.
True love is wanting the absolute best for someone, even if what is best for them is to not be in a relationship with you. True love wants them to soar, and not be weighed down by anything that doesn’t fully serve them. True love is unselfish. True love serves the person being loved on every level.