1. Whether or not you’re meant to be. When you’re with the right
person, you’re too busy actually being with them that you don’t really have the need to stop and evaluate it to any intense degree. Wondering whether or not it’s “right” sooner than you start trying to see whether or not it’s “right” is the #1 sign that it isn’t.
2. Plans for how you’re going to cope with the things you already don’t like about them. You barter in your mind, as though they’re property you’re committing yourself to: well I like this thing, so I guess I’ll have to deal with this other not-great one. People who are actually in love are delusionally hopeful. Planning to cope with the things you already don’t like about them isn’t being realistic, it’s what happens when you don’t love them enough to say “whatever, it’s worth it.”
3. What you’re losing. Time with your friends, a bit of autonomy, the possibility of meeting someone else, the youth in which you suddenly long to be wild and free. When you start thinking about what you’re losing in proportion – if not more so – than what you’re gaining, you know you’re not really in love.
4. That love doesn’t feel as good as you’d hoped. Love will always feel different than we imagine, but usually it’s different and better. If it doesn’t feel as good as you imagined, it’s not right. It may not look the way you imagined, or come when you imagined, but the kind of love worth sticking around – and trying for – will always exceed your emotional expectations.
5. How other people are perceiving the relationship. An element of “caring what others think” isn’t what’s abnormal, it’s basing how “good” and “right” the relationship is based on how approvingly other people look on that’s a problem. You’d think this sounds so simple that nobody would actually do that but, uh, they do, it just doesn’t seem so obvious at the time.
6. How you’re going to respond, rather than what they’re saying. In other words, you don’t see or accept them for who and how they are. You’re more focused on who you are in the relationship than you are connecting with them. A good way to tell is when you’re having a conversation, do you focus on what they’re sharing with you, or what you want to say next?
7. How they need to be better, and it’s more insidious cousin: How you can help them become better. If you’re already thinking “well, they’ll be great once they get that different job and change their clothes and grow up a little,” you do not love them, they are simply there to fill a role in your life. You cannot change people, you can only love them. And coming up with ideas of how you need to change them, is usually the first indication that the latter doesn’t feel possible for you.