At a New Years party last Thursday night, between sips of champagne and joining in the chorus of ‘Auld Lange Syne’, my best girlfriend and I got into a discussion about her current relationship. She’d been seeing the same guy for about five months and definitely had feelings for him but she said they came and went. She said that about half the time she felt almost neutral toward him and then she would have this kind of emotional breakthrough and suddenly love him endlessly again. She’s a wonderful person that I love very much but she’s genuinely confused about what she’s feeling.
I’ve experienced this myself in the past and it’s a very difficult place to be and can cause a lot of pain in a relationship when it’s avoidable. You can love a lot of things about a person but it’s extremely important to know that just because you love things about them that doesn’t mean you’re in love with them. So, if you’re confused about your own feelings, how can you tell if you really do love them? Below are nine surefire ways to know if you’re in love, and to figure out whether someone loves you back.
My friend’s complaint about only feeling affection for her boyfriend (who’s crazy about her, btw) was a real alarm bell to me. Love isn’t a sometimes thing. When you’re in love with someone, when you feel genuine affection for them and care about what happens to them then you’re always interested in how they’re doing. It doesn’t come and go like the tides.
2. You Want The Best For Them
That means that you’re willing to sacrifice some of your own happiness sometimes if that means that they will be happier. It even means, I think, that if they’re better off without you for whatever reason then you’re willing to make sure that they can get on the road to reaching their best potential. I’ve written about this before but sometimes letting someone go is the best, most honest way to actively care about them.
3. It Doesn’t Bother You To Compromise
Of course we all want our own way as often as possible but with someone you truly love it can be a joy to find a middle ground. Why? Because finding a middle ground together means that you’re flexing the relationship’s muscles as a team. Sure, no one always feels this joy but if you’re more annoyed by compromise than you are uplifted by it then it might just be that you don’t care about them as much as you tell yourself you do.
4. You Want Balance For Both Of You
Compromise, yes, always compromise, no. A loving relationship is concerned with respect and being respected. If you’re getting your way more than they are and you’re fine with that then it’s time to check yourself. On the other end, balance is a key part of a love that lasts. If you love them enough to want things to last then you should be seeking balance in compromise. It’s tricky but people who genuinely love each other work to achieve this tricky balance.
5. Do You Worry For Them?
This, to me, is the big one. My friend said that she honestly never worries for her boyfriend no matter what’s going on. It’s not even that she expects that he can handle whatever he comes across, she just does not actually ever have feelings of worry about him. She worries for others. When I took a solo drive across the country two years ago she worried about me and called me every day. So why doesn’t she worry about him? I think that’s a question she, and all of us, have to answer when we find ourselves noticing this lack of concern.
Worrying can be irrational and pointless but it’s also an indicator of how much you feel you really need someone.
6. Are You Uninterested After Sex?
Typically a guy thing but I’ve had many girlfriends who also did this. Whereas before things got hot and heavy they were completely in love with the man they were with, they lost interest after sex and then took a while to generate those “love” feelings again. This was incredibly confusing to them because they knew they’d felt they loved this person at one point so why did those feelings go away? This is love in the moment, not real love.
7. You Brag About Them And Mean It
This may sound simple but it speaks volumes. Do you talk to your friends about the things you like about your boyfriend without doing that whole “my relationship is perfect” thing? Is it sometimes unstoppable? Does it make you smile after you talk about the things you love about them? If so, yep, it’s love.
8. Monogamy Ceases To Be A Big Deal
You aren’t thinking “in the future I will meet someone that’s better than my bf in X ways” when you’re around them. You’re in the zone of being with them when you’re with them and some part of you isn’t off somewhere planning your future with Fantasy Man.
9. You Want To Be Better For Them
This is the biggest one and I think it’s the most holistic way to think about whether or not your love for someone is fleeting or can stand the test of time. Do you want to grow as a person for them because your relationship inspires you to be a better woman both for yourself and them. If so, lucky you (and them), it means you have a mate that encourages you to have self respect through his actions and who you’re extremely emotionally engaged with.
Speaking from experience, I can be a very lazy person about bettering myself sometimes. If the one I’m with just does it for me and inspires me to become a better human then they’ve moved mountains.