It’s usually not hard to tell when you love someone. What’s difficult is knowing why you love them, and unfortunately, it’s knowing “why” that can shed light on whether or not you’re really in a relationship that will last. There are three main reasons people fall in love, but only one in which people stay in love. Understanding the difference is how you identify your forever person.
When you fall in love with the idea of someone, the attraction grows as your impression of them improves. Maybe you were on the fence when you first saw their picture online, but when you learned that they had a cool job, or that they’re popular, or that many people think they’re cute, you want them more and more.
The tell-tale sign that you’re in love with the idea of someone is that the way you feel about the relationship is starkly different than what it is in reality. You might be convinced you’re soulmates, but they don’t want to commit, or treat you in ways your “soulmate” never would. When you fall in love with the idea of someone, you fall in love with their potential, not their reality.
When you’re attracted to someone, the feelings you have for them can be very intense. The stronger they become, the more you develop an attachment. This can very easily be confused for love. However, the emotions are just hormones, unless there’s a real sense of companionship there. All that’s sustaining you is attraction.
If you asked someone who was just attracted to their partner why they “loved” them, they wouldn’t have an answer. It would be either a physical attribute, i.e. “They’re so handsome,” or something like “I just do,” as opposed to: “I want to spend every day with them, they make me feel so good about myself,” etc. You might have mind-blowing sex that feels like all but a spiritual awakening, but unless you have a friend in them too, it’s nothing more than just a sex partner.
Attraction is an essential part of making love work, but it is not love itself, and that is a crucial distinction.
The best friend.
When you’re in love with someone who is your best friend, they feel like family. You can love the idea of someone, you can be attracted to them, but without companionship, it’s not going to be the relationship that lasts – at least not happily.
The best friend relationship is unmistakable. There’s no questioning, no trying to “figure out” what’s going on, no wondering whether or not you will be together. You simply are. Sure, you still argue, and it won’t always be perfect, but overwhelmingly, you’re happy, and you’re sure of it (indecision is a decision you can’t come to terms with, after all).
Knowing whether or not someone is your best friend as well as your lover is pretty self-evident. However, an amazing way to know it’s real is by paying attention to how you are when they’re not around. The love of your life will make you better, calmer, stronger, and more determined to be your best self. Being in love with your best friend is the “forever love” that feels almost too good to be true.