“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we fall into mutually satisfying weirdness — and call it love — true love.” — Robert Fulghum
Love is one of those things that everybody wants, but not everybody gets.
It’s the stuff that songs and movies are made of. But the challenge men and women alike find themselves faced with time and time again is that while we all want love, many people can’t identify whether or not they are falling in love, in love or simply in the throes of infatuation.
So, this beckons the question, how do you know what being in love feels like or means?
While most of us think that we understand love, let’s clarify this.
Love is an intense feeling of deep affection that develops and is grown over time.
One of the beautiful things about love is that it accepts imperfections and is more than a physical attraction to your partner.
Love doesn’t make a person irrational or jealous. Rather, love is about devotion and commitment growing into and developing a feeling of security that is strengthened over time.
Love is also based on shared experiences, beliefs and attitudes. This is what we mean when referring to compatibility, which is a huge aspect of love.
Essentially, love wants what’s best for the other person and makes you selfless in your relationship.
When someone isn’t sure whether or not they are in love, the reality is most often that they need to reconcile their questions about being in love with the concept of infatuation.
Infatuation is an intense but short-lived passion for someone.
It’s that instant attraction and connection, but only lasting temporarily. Infatuation is not willing to recognize the humanity and flaws of others, only seeing perceived perfections. It’s based mostly on physical attraction.
Infatuation is characterized by the idea of falling in love with someone rather than being in love. With simple infatuation, there is no growing relationship or cultivating of something deeper.
Think of it this way — with infatuation, a relationship happens to the couple, whereas with love, the couple creates the relationship they want.
When you’re feeling infatuated with someone, you love the idea of them. When it’s real love, you love and accept who they are.
When things do not go your way with infatuation, there is jealousy and a lack of trust. But in a loving relationship, there is a basis of friendship and trust, so there is no need for jealousy or selfishness.
Infatuation wants what is best for yourself. Love wants what’s best for the other person and the relationship.
While many of us struggle in moments to distinguish between love and infatuation, there are some must-haves all romantic relationships need in order to cultivate and grow love as opposed to infatuation.
At the bare minimum, the foundation of healthy relationships needs to built on three key things: friendship, respect, and loyalty.
When you think of a relationship, having the foundation of friendship is crucial.
Relationship researcher John Gottman says, “Friendship fuels the flames of romance because it offers the best protection against feeling adversarial toward your spouse.”
Without friendship in your relationship, it’s hard to gauge to what extent the couple is like-minded, actually gets along, and if the relationship is progressing as it should be. Based on Gottman’s research, friendship is necessary to create a healthy romance and affection.
Everybody wants to feel and be respected. While there has to be a level of self-respect present, we all want to be respected within our relationship.
This means that we need to tap into our ability to recognize our partner’s feelings and individual needs.
If we can do this, then we can show them that they are respected, valued, and loved. And when you can do that, respect is likely to be reciprocated.
Ultimately, people want to know that they are important to their partners.
To show the ones we love that they are important to us that means that we not only have to prioritize them, but we have to be loyal and dedicated.
Make your partner number one in your life and commit to being there for them.
Many people struggle with putting their partners first and dedicating themselves. It feels like you are putting them before your other family and friends — because you are. Let your partner be your primary concern and let your focus be on them.
The goal with loyalty is to be consistent with your presence and be dependable. Everyone wants to know that their partner is there for them when they need them. When they call, make sure you answer.
Ultimately, romantic relationships are a significant aspect of all of our lives.
We spend an immense amount of time and energy trying to find Mr. or Mrs. Right.
But to do so, we need to make sure we know what we are looking for and are not afraid to take that leap.