I’m a firm believer that no one can really define love or how it feels. It’s like describing a color to someone. You can simply point at something you’ve been told is the color, but using words to define it is futile.
Love is elusive. Love looks different for everyone. And love can be one of the greatest mysteries we experience as human beings. Some people claim you’ll just know when it happens. There will be no doubt in your mind.
But many people leave relationships and realize they weren’t actually in love. They simply mistook a different feeling for what they think love must feel like. So while there is no way to really describe love — no indicator for when you’re in it — there is room to talk about instances you might mistake for love. And those will be key to avoiding a lot of hurt emotions and complacency.
When your own life is unstable, you crave stability elsewhere. If you begin to date someone that has their life running somewhat smoothly, chances are you’ll feel a connection to them.
And while dating someone stable is healthy, it’s not love. If you’re not aware of this occurrence, you could easily slip into complacency with someone that doesn’t truly interest you. Hello, one reason for divorce.
2. A Rollercoaster
I dated an emotionally abusive guy. He’d have me crying on our bathroom floor and cuddling in bed, lovingly doting on each other, all in one day. This happened often.
A rollercoaster evokes strong feelings. When you think things are going good, you’re suddenly hit with a huge drop that’s terrifying and thrilling all at once.
Going from one emotional peak to the next is often mistaken for passion. But love isn’t tear-soaked pillows and kisses on the forehead every day; it’s compassion and care for one another.
3. Great Sexual Chemistry
Our society places a great deal on sex: it’s in our advertising; it’s heightened in TV shows. Sex is everywhere.
We’re taught to believe the most profound emotional connection we can have with someone is when we’re naked, in bed, and getting it on.
But this is only one aspect to a relationship — and, in my honest opinion, a tiny element of a healthy relationship.
If you’re having great sex, that’s amazing. Kudos to you both. But remember that your relationship occurs mostly outside of your bed (or at least, it should). If the rest of your relationship is lackluster, then chances are you’re not in love.
4. Someone Being Nice To You
Guilty, party of one! I’ve dated several guys from my circle of friends. They were kind to me. At times when I was most insecure or going through a breakup, they were there to listen.
When you’ve dated a lot of horrible guys, it can quickly feel like you’re in love when someone finally treats you in a decent way. But this is not love, and you must be careful not to use this person as your emotional support dog.
Getting wildly upset over your partner talking to someone of the opposite sex isn’t love. Nor is it very healthy.
It’s a sign of insecurities, either with yourself or with your partner. Try addressing why you feel the way you do. Is it because you believe you’re not good enough for your partner? Or do you not trust your partner?
6. A Self-Made Illusion
Putting your partner on a pedestal is a real thing. It’s like when we were in high school and wanted so badly to date the quarterback. But in reality, he was pretty douchey and had the emotional depth of a teaspoon. But he was good-looking, and on the football team, so we put him on a pedestal.
Idealizing your partner is making them into an illusion. No one is perfect; everyone will falter. You’re not lucky to be with your partner, and that ill-founded idea of “luck” doesn’t equate to love.
Sometimes we feel an intense connection with another person. But that doesn’t mean it’s love.
I have a lot of guy friends. As a heterosexual girl, this is a slippery slope. Guys tend to try to take things to a romantic level. And sometimes, I do too.
As a hopeful romantic, I want to give everyone a chance. But this tends to be my fault. I mistake a deep connection for someone as love rather than what it is: a friendship.
If you feel a deep connection for someone, but the lack of sexual desire is apparent, then you too could be mistaking love for friendship.
Love is a mystery, but a beautiful one to experience. When found, like any relationship, it requires care and intentional work to keep it flourishing.
Just be sure that what you have is love first.