man and woman wearing white top kissing

This Is Why You Might Not Recognize Real Love

My last few relationships have been some of the most transforming experiences of my entire life.

If you’ve been in a relationship thus far, you know what I’m talking about. Relationships are a mirror, as they teach you so much about yourself.

In my previous relationships, it became a habit to pour out love for my partner, and hope to receive the same love back. I failed to realize that I should be loved for being me rather than only how much I can give someone.

For a while, I thought that it was my fault for not being able to be good in a relationship. I thought it was my fault that my partners weren’t meeting my needs.

The harsh reality? I was picking the wrong partners. But it wasn’t because of me or any of the other reasons I originally thought.

After a lot of deep reflection, researching, and time and space, I came to a conclusion that struck me deep in the gut.

I had never experienced true love.

But I had experienced addiction.

This sounds extreme. I know. But let me explain—it’ll make sense soon.

I had an intense, fiery passion with my past partner. Truly, I thought I manifested this soul connection, and that I had finally met someone who “got me.” After taking off my rose-tinted glasses (and getting a good dose of heartbreak), I see now that I was addicted to the ups and downs.

My partner would go from making me feel incredibly seen and loved to deeply anxious and unheard. The unstable connection created an intensity that I thought was love. When the brain switches continuously from releasing the bonding hormone (oxytocin) to the stress hormone (cortisol), a high is created. Each time I didn’t receive what I needed, and then worked hard to receive it, I felt more connected.

In other words, intensity isn’t love. It’s a fierce need for them to calm your soul and connect with you after making you feel anxious or lonely. And when you do, the high is powerful.

As crazy as this may seem, it is a very common theme in today’s dating world. Have you ever sat by your phone, anxiously waiting for a response? Were they ever not fully sure of you or have commitment issues? Did they lack consistency? Whatever way they left you hanging, they were also the one to patch it up. And this, my friends, creates an addiction we call love.

And how would we know differently? This intensity is what we see in movies, it’s what we hear from our friends, and it’s what we imagine when we think of love.

Passion. Explosive connection. Rom-com worthy love.

When you experience a consistent love that doesn’t make you switch from a stressed to a connected state, you will feel calm. And when you feel calm in a relationship, it may not be as intense. You may think you aren’t experiencing as strong of a connection, because it doesn’t make you on edge. When something meets your needs and is consistent, there are less flares (you know, the ones that create that intensity).

Imagine feeling calm, loved, and supported. Imagine that this person truly loves you, and they do the work on their side to meet your needs. Imagine that you don’t have to set your soul on fire so you can be treated the way you deserve.

And imagine if this is real love. Because it is.

My love, when you let go of the unstable connection, you’ll meet someone with hands that feel unfamiliar yet kind. You’ll learn about someone slowly instead of sharply. And you’ll see action instead of words.

Keep on going forward, because one day you’ll be taken by surprise by a love that feels calm and stable.

And finally, you’ll know what love truly means.

About the author
I write so others can feel enough to write <3 Follow Madison on Instagram or read more articles from Madison on Thought Catalog.

Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.

Related