You started a new relationship – and it’s all you can think about. The exciting new feelings can be consuming. But, whether you’re feeling irresistible, passionate attraction or a more grounded, comforting feeling from having finally met your soul mate, you will eventually need to face the question, “Are you truly ‘in love’?”
The problem with answering this question is that there is no scientific definition of “in love.” So, different people define it differently. What one person calls being in love, another might call lust. And what some people might think of as a friendship with benefits, others experience as love. Still, there is agreement that being in love involves a physical, emotional, and psychological attraction.
Some signs of being in love are that you and your partner feel:
- Physically attracted to each other
- Happier when you are together
- Happier when you think of each other
- Better about yourself when you see yourself through your partner’s eyes
- Emotionally safe with each other
- Loved and supported for being yourself
- Valued and respected by each other
- Lifted up when you are down or stressed just by thinking of your partner
One trap people sometimes fall into is mistaking fear of rejection for the feeling of being in love. Paying close attention to your thoughts and feelings will help you figure out what’s really going on. If you sense that you are not valued, not consistently supported, or can’t rely on your partner to be there for you emotionally, then you are probably not in love. Instead, you likely feel flustered and anxious because you fear being rejected. Each time your partner reaches out to you, you may feel a rush of relief for not being left or for having earned back love you thought you lost. But again, this is not love, though the intensity of your feelings can make you think otherwise.
Even when you and your partner truly are in love, you cannot simply assume that you will have a long future together. For a relationship to last, both partners must do the work of keeping it going. This includes things such as maintaining open communication about daily life – what kind of life can you have together if you don’t even know about what fills each other’s hearts, minds, and days? It’s also important to work through conflicts. Failure to do this leaves your relationship at a high risk for being overwhelmed by unspoken resentments. With time, your love will be buried and lost.
The healthiest relationships have a grounding in love. And you know that you and your partner are “in love” when you both feel a physical, emotional, and psychological attraction. When you combine this with doing the work of maintaining a relationship, you can keep your love alive through good and difficult times for years to come.