20 Women On What It’s Like When You Finally Find The Real Deal (Not ‘Puppy Love’)

To read the male perspective on what ‘true love’ really is, click here.
Daryn Bartlett
Daryn Bartlett

1. “Puppy love is you’re cute, I’m cute, let’s mess around and have some fun. Let’s just take pictures to show people how cute we are. In real love there’s no need to show off your love because you know how good it is, and how sad it is that not everyone has what you have.”

– Aly, 22

2. “Real love is when you break down each other’s walls and really, deeply understand that person as much as you do yourself. You talk about everything and there is no judgement. Puppy love you love spending time with the person and they make you laugh and happy but you can’t truly love them because you only know them on the surface.”

– Alexia, 20

3. “The difference is maturity—not only of the individuals, but the relationship itself. If the relationship is grown up, then that’s real love.”

– Cindy, 51

4. “I think puppy love has more to do with what people see on the outside: our looks, our personality, whether or not we are athletic, etc. It means being in love with each other’s attributes, whereas real love runs much deeper. Real love is knowing everything about a person and still feeling that same love you had when it was just puppy love. Loving someone at their worst and their best moments.”

– Krysta, 22

5. “The difference is acceptance based off of beautiful ‘imperfection.’ In puppy love we look for the ideas of perfection fed to us through the world we live in. At some point, we realize that nobody will live up to these perfect ideals and we also realize that we, too, are imperfect and unable to meet such ridiculous standards. Once we accept our own imperfections as beautiful gifts, then we can find real love through our ability to accept others and find the beauty in their uniqueness. There is nothing better than the laughter between two people who live for and love each other’s imperfections.”

– Lindsay, 39

6. “Puppy love is this constant need for validation and communication that the other person is into you. With real love you can sit in the same room together for HOURS and not say a word to each other and you know that everything is alright.”

– Sam, 27

7. “Real love is wanting to be together after the ‘honeymoon stage’ is over and newness and excitement has worn off. It’s never giving up on each other during hard times.”

– Kimberlee, 22

8. “Puppy love is infatuation. Real love is taking care of your boyfriend when he breaks both of his legs and hosing him off in the backyard because his wheelchair can’t fit in the shower.”

– Emily, 30

9. “To me, puppy love is solely a feeling. It’s when you are so ‘head over heels’ for that person who seems to have everything you’ve always been looking for in a partner. It’s when you are trying to be your best for them and they can do no wrong. But this type of love will always fade. You both start showing the sides of yourself and the flaws that you’ve been trying to hide. And this is where many people either find that their relationship fails, or they find out what true love is.

To me, true love is not just a feeling, it also has to be an action. It’s realizing that your partner has flaws and will fail, but daily choosing to give them grace and understanding because God knows that you need the same thing. It’s choosing to show them love, even when you feel that they don’t deserve it. It’s knowing that you may not always FEEL the “puppy love” for the other person, but that you can always CHOOSE to show them love anyways. True love is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can go through, but I also believe it to be one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences one can have in life!”

– Kadi, 23

10. “There is a big difference. There is the ‘I think you’re adorable and you make me smile’ type of love that you can have with anyone if you allow yourself to. And there is real love that that runs so deep inside you that it hurts to think about that person not by your side.”

– Ashlyn, 23

11. “Puppy love is all about feelings—the pull and passion that is so fun. Real love recognizes that feelings are important, but can sometimes be born of the moment. Feelings/emotions can be fun and playful, painful, sensual, or so many other things, but they are only a small piece of real love. Real love is a decision to remain and support each other. To know when tell the brutal truth with compassion. It is also the wisdom to keep your damn mouth shut when you’re facing everyday irritations. It is remembering to always say ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you.’ Real love is (almost) always putting the other person first and knowing they will do the same for you. Real love is choice.”

– Rhonda, 34

12. “I’m in puppy love instantly with pretty much anyone I like. Love is fun, and for me, puppy love has always amounted to being totally infatuated with someone and romanticizing everything they do. I’m in real love now, for the first time, and it’s way more guttural or something. It’s in your bones. I think you know you’re in real love when you feel that overwhelming urge to tell the person you’re with that you love them.”

– Bailey, 21

13. “When you’re in puppy love everything your crush does and says makes you sigh like a lovesick schoolgirl. Anything negative is quickly recognized, yet ultimately ignored. Your actions and thoughts seem to be absolutely blinded by this individual and a large chunk of what you do revolves around their personality. With real love, that cutesy stuff tends to meet its match. In real love, you want to do things, not just out of adoration for your significant other/crush, but for their well-being. You realize that the word ‘love’ has a much deeper and more solid meaning. You become one another’s security, foundation, and trust. A part of yourself lives within your partner and vice versa–two halves making a whole, so to speak. You still may want to do fun things with your significant other, fun and cute things, but the meaning has to be strongly mutual to better both yourselves and your relationship”

– Beccah, 21

14. “Puppy love is butterflies, intense, short-lived. Love is calmness, physical and emotional attraction and the ability to withstand change and diversity.”

– Pam, 34

15. “Puppy love can be sweet and innocent and pure and a sure delight, but it seems to me it’s often based upon ideals of what a girl might imagine about a boy. She projects onto him what she wants to see, or she only focuses on one attribute (his gorgeous looks, his smart answers, his humor) rather than the whole person. I’d say that the real deal becomes apparent when someone can pull back, get away from the physical attraction, and realize that this is the person she wants to wake up next to for the rest of her life. In the ‘real deal,’ each person forgets what the other looks like because they are so used to seeing inside of each other that they don’t even notice the outer appearance any more. They feel respected, loved, and honored by the other, and they continue to have that feeling of glee just knowing the other is coming into the room.”

– Sarah, 55

16. “Real love is about work for the planet. I believe you find your soulmate in this lifetime because you two are here to do selfless work for others.”

– Marie, 22

17. “Puppy love is the beginning phase in every relationship. As the relationship develops, the puppy love cloud disappears. Love is seeing and accepting the whole package—the good, the bad, the ugly, the embarrassing drunk moments, the raw pain and heartache that life brings—and loving that person still.”

– Kassie, 30

18. “Love is facing your demons and confronting your fears. When you love someone, that shell you’ve instinctively built around yourself starts to crack. You are beautiful and you are raw. It’s pretty scary to be vulnerable but love calls us into vulnerability because through vulnerability comes true intimacy.”

– Taylor, 22

19. “Puppy love is kisses and laughs. It’s easy. I don’t think you know real love until you are faced with a major challenge. Then you see that love is hard. Really hard. But you fight for it and for the other person because you know it’s worth it.”

– Rae, 22

20. “When asked why they love someone, I often hear women respond with ‘I love him because…’ They say things like, ‘he’s so good to me’ or ‘he has a good heart’ or ‘he makes me feel special.’ In my opinion, these phrases define puppy love. The fact is, there are millions of men out there who would be good to you, who have a good heart, and who would go out of their way to make you feel special. But you don’t love them. If your love is real love, then the answer to the question would be ‘I love him because I do.’ Real love cannot be defined; it just is.”

– Amber, 45 Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

Keep up with Marisa on Instagram, Twitter, Amazon and marisadonnelly.com

More From Thought Catalog