What is real love? We are sure we’ll know it when it arrives. But what if you are not sure? How can you tell what is real love, one-sided love, infatuation, or is nothing like love at all?
Infatuation often occurs at the beginning of a relationship. At that stage it is nature’s way of keeping you interested. Making you fall in love. It’s fine, it’s healthy and, if mutual, it’s a lot of fun.
Unhealthy infatuation is when it’s one-sided or taken to extremes. When you can’t focus on anything but her. When he fills your thoughts to the exclusion of everything else. When you forget to eat or make mistakes in your work. When you renege on promises to other people. That’s not love; that’s infatuation.
Six Signs of Infatuation
- Infatuation needs attention. You are heartbroken when he doesn’t call because he’s caught up in a work situation.
- Infatuation needs to get naked all the time. If you aren’t touching it feels like death.
- Infatuation is intense. It is espresso on steroids. You can’t focus on anything else.
- Infatuation spawns jealousy and selfishness. It causes you to search through pockets and purses.
- Infatuation makes you play silly emotional games.
- Infatuation can disappear as quickly as it began.
Real Love is Not Unconditional Love
Unconditional love between adults is as rare as February 30. Almost every relationship has some kind of condition or conditions attached. Established relationships are the result of complex spoken and unspoken negotiation through those conditions. And that’s the way it should be.
Unconditional love is dangerous. It means that you will love someone whatever they do – to you or to another person. Think about that. Will you love him if he hits your child? Unconditional love means you will love her if she runs off with her boss. Unconditional love means he can get away with murder and you’ll still love him.
Unconditional love means you will put up with anything. Abuse, name-calling, bullying. And you will never retaliate; never up and leave. As you can see, unconditional love between unrelated adults is not necessarily healthy.
Unconditional love for a baby or child is real love and is what keeps the human species alive. We have to nurture, protect and love in order to produce viable adults. It’s a mother nature thing. We are programed to love our offspring no matter what. Even when they do horrific deeds, we still love them even if we can’t like them.
One of the most common occurrences of unconditional love is for pets. Once in love with a dog or a cat, we rarely fall out of love with it. Expectations are low: we don’t ask for anything more than a waggy tail or a rumbling purr so pets are easy to love.
When you make a commitment to someone, you vow to love them under all circumstances. You think? Sure, in sickness and in health; for richer or for poorer. That’s a given in any committed, grown-up, love-based relationship. However, he loses the right to your commitment and support, the moment he lays a hand on you in anger. She loses her right to your commitment as soon as she lies about going out with her girlfriend while secretly meeting another man. These things aren’t necessary the death-knell to a relationship, but will mean a complete renegotiation of the structure and conditions present in it.
14 Signs of Real Love
- True love involves constant, evolving negotiation. What feels right at the beginning, won’t feel good five years in. Negotiation in relationships is not about getting the best deal. It’s about creating a framework for the relationship that works for both partners.
- Real love means it’s you two against the world. Not you two against each other. You present a united front because you are a unit.
- The currency of the relationship is affection. Not sex. Not power. You are friends first, lovers second.
- Both partners count themselves fortunate to have found the other. They thank their lucky stars that they were in the right place at the right time to meet their love.
- Real love is honest without being hurtful. However, hurtful words will be spoken in anger. The relationship must be strong enough to absorb them, process them and dismiss them for what they are: words spoken from a place of fear. Revenge isn’t on the menu. Comfort and reassurance is.
- True love doesn’t try to change the other partner. Instead you change yourself. As the saying goes, “Be the change you want to see.”
- Real love doesn’t make you feel tense. Other than the times when you’re having or just had a fight, you shouldn’t feel tense. Real love is relaxed nearly all the time. If you feel stressed, tense or anxious within the relationship for no apparent reason, ask yourself why.
- True love is an equal interaction. Mostly. All relationships are unique – what works for one couple would be untenable for another. No-one can judge from the outside. Generally a good, healthy relationship means that there is an exchange of views, advice and support between both partners.
- True love means you stop looking. You know there’s no-one better out there.
- Your partner inspires, encourages and supports you. As you do them. It’s what it’s all about. You are stronger in your team of two than as individuals.
- Real love cherishes its commonalities and celebrates its differences.
- Real love never belittles. It might tease, poke a little fun, or play small jokes, but it never makes one person feel inferior to the other.
- True love laughs often. Laughing together creates a strong bond. Sharing a similar sense of humor is what keeps many couples together through thick and thin.
- The thought of growing old together is not a daunting prospect. You look forward to creating memories, sharing precious moments, smiling, touching and laughing together. That’s real love.
Images via Pixabay