16 Guys Explain Their Take On What ‘True Love’ Really Is

To read the female perspective on real love vs puppy love, click here.

istockphoto.com / AleksandarNakic
istockphoto.com / AleksandarNakic

1. It’s never forced.

Only been in love once. Real love takes a while to get started and you have to know the person as a friend first. It’s never forced. It just comes naturally. And if you let it mature accordingly, it gets to the point where if you’re feeling it, odds are she is too. It happens when you both mentally take notes on eachothers’ qualities so you can surprise each other with how much you’ve retained when you talk, do special things for them, and use it to make the relationship stronger.

Puppy love is something that happens quickly and with little effort. Usually in the summer months when everyone feels like getting their romance on. You go 98% on mutual attraction and it tends to dissolve as suddenly as it started.

— Randall, 25

2. It’s when she’s your soulmate.

The real deal LOVE is what you want now and forever, it’s what makes you whole. She’s your soulmate, someone you cannot see yourself without. Yes, it can be physical and sexual and mostly emotional but puppy love is like the honeymoon of the real deal.

— Ryan, 22

3. Love is complete honesty.

You know it’s is real love when you are willing to do ANYTHING for the other person. It is real love when you introduce that person to every aspect of your life and you are completely open to them about everything and don’t hide anything. Falling in love has become more complicated in our generation because too many people don’t stay loyal. Too many people are in love with the idea of being love, which leads to just a fling.

— Ernie, 23

4. Love is when she doesn’t wear makeup.

If you can’t have a conversation with her at 7 in the morning, when she has no makeup on, it’s lust.

— Jack, 30

5. When the guy makes a decision.

When a guy sees a girl that he finds attractive, it is like a conquest or a trophy to him. He does as much as he can as fast as he can because he is not sure how long this new fling will last. Its all about new fun sex, and seeing her aggressiveness and having fun in all new positions. He will do everything he can to experiment with his new girl toy and its like an accomplishment for him. Sure there is some feeling to make her happy too, but the thought of long term relationship or marriage never really enters his mind. As long as the girl keeps giving him the milk without paying for the cow, things will continue just fine.

After a few months and when complacency starts settling in, a few arguments, some bickering, maybe one big argument, and the girl starts looking for answers on the long term plans of the relationship is where the crossroads of stay or go come into play.. it’s at that point where the puppy love is over and the guy needs to decide if he really wants to fight for his prize or move on to the next challenge or a better trophy.

At that stage, the guy usually disappears to figure out his plan of attack for a week or two. That’s when a guy knows whether he is in love or if it was just lust. After that stage, if the guy has decided to go all in, that’s when he figures out that he is falling in love. But just like the old adage, guys use love to get sex, and girls use sex to get love. Its that simple.

— Jack, 30

6. Love is being able to talk about poop.

I was in a relationship with someone whom I can say I really did love with all my heart. I remember one time we were in bed together and at one point she got up and said, “I have to take a sh*t.” We were at a point with one another where I was able to just say, “Let me know if everything comes out ok.” Normally that would be a disgusting thing to say but when she came back, I still saw her as the angel she was.

Real love for both men and women comes after pieces of the real you start to become revealed; real love is when you are both so comfortable with one another that almost nothing that the other person does bothers you anymore.

— James, 24

7. It’s when we show emotion.

Men typically tend to shove their emotions away and we seem like we are cold and do not care. The reality is that nearly all of us are huge emotional wrecks on the inside, but because of society saying that men are not supposed to show emotions, we hurt every day and it is not something that anyone will see. If a man is showing you his true emotions, it is because he is comfortable and feels truly safe with you. He loves you.

— Rick, 27

8. It’s intoxicating.

I think puppy love is much more readily available. Minor infatuation is a good driving force for getting to know people, it’s what makes things exciting. But when you’re really in love you feel their presence and it’s intoxicating.

— Stephen, 20

9. When it grows from the puppy love stage to the ‘oh sh*t, this is real’ stage.

Puppy love is infatuated love. It’s when you first start. But I know from experience that puppy love can turn into the real deal.

I think everyone gets to a point in a relationship and says oh sh*t if I keep going, this is for real. A lot of people flake and let go. But what’s sad is that they aren’t afraid of that person that they’re with, they are afraid of the commitment.

There is always going to be that moment of fear. When that time comes you just have to embrace it. And remember how it was when you first met that person. There are 7 billion people in this world and odds are you can fall in love with many of them. But to be able to say I love this one and to say I didn’t leave is what real love is.

— Ben, 22

10. It’s when you realize that you will always have this human being.

Puppy love is the feeling you give a person when they give you copious amounts of attention and you feel wonderment for the first month. True love is the idea that you will always, truly have another human being, regarded as a significant other, to back you up and support you in all aspects of life.

— Quinn, 19

11. It’s a mix of puppy love and enduring love.

Puppy love is irrational, spontaneous, and being a little kid. But no one should lose the little kid in them: the building forts, the dreaming together, the walks, the small things.

Real love is all of that, plus accepting the person for who they are, who they will become, and who they want to be. To be the one that’s there for the successes, the failures, the joys, the sadness, the little kid things, and the big things.

— Zeke, 26

12. True love is feeling whole.

True love is when all you can do is think about that person because every aspect of your life reminds you of them. They make you feel whole, complete, like nothing else in this world matters as long as you have them. True love is when you honestly wake up and go to sleep and they are the first and last thing on your mind. It’s when someone asks you how you feel about someone and you can explain every detail regardless how long it takes. It’s when you can’t think about being without them because it scares you. True love is when you find a friend and a significant other all in one.

— Tavion, 23

13. Real love hurts.

I think that puppy love is not real love at all, it is just an intense affection. A puppy can love a human unconditionally, but if forced, can love another human just as unconditionally and intensely as another.

Real love is much harder to come by…yes, it can be felt more than once, but it’s not easy. Real love takes a toll on you, it drains you and takes a huge piece out of you to the point where you are not going to get over that person in a small, or even extended amount of time. You may even think about that person, or love that person while in a relationship with another.

Puppies miss their owner whenever they leave, and cannot fathom being without them for any amount of time, but if they don’t come back, the puppy will eventually move on and almost forget their previous owner. With real love, you can miss someone when they leave, and it’s okay to be apart for a little amount of time, but if they never return, it takes a chunk out of you. You’re okay without them, and eventually fine if they leave, but you’re never really whole.

— Brian, 22

14. It’s when you become second in your own life.

It may be vapidly cliché, but I absolutely knew from the very moment I met my wife that I was meeting someone I would love for the rest of my life, indeed truly forever. It’s difficult to identify, much less put into words, look at how many have tried over our history – artists and poets, songwriters and novelists, etc. I can only describe it like this: If you could combine the feeling you get spending time with a lifelong friend, your closest best friend that you can share anything with, and couple that tremendous feeling with the sort of love you have for others in your life, but even greater – more than you love your mom or dad, more than a sister or brother, different and yet greater in intensity – that’s when you know it’s what you are terming “true” love.

Maturity certainly is a factor in how you perceive and subsequently react to these feelings – often times you are overwhelmed by them in the “puppy” love phase because they are so new and so powerful. For that “true” love, from the male perspective anyway, you don’t really think about the instant gratification that is driven hormonally. You don’t worry about the superficial things as much, such as perfect appearance or what tremendous date activity you must come up with to impress this girl. Your thoughts are different, deeper certainly, and longer in range and in scope. Put simply, you have finally, without really knowing it or deciding on it, become “second” in your life.

I have never really found a better way to describe true love other than to say that when I met my wife, I willfully, happily, became “second” in my life…. And when our three children came along, I willfully, happily became “fifth” and wouldn’t have it any other way…ever.

— Jeff, 52

15. It’s a commitment to forgive, to accept, and to work at loving.

Real love requires real forgiveness and real compromise. Real love requires that you work with one another on each other’s flaws instead of always accommodating them. With the longevity promised by real love there has to be a commitment not only to one another, but also to forgive, to accept, and to work with one another going forward. To me real love has permanence, and with that permanence comes new challenges and responsibilities that aren’t there in the puppy love/infatuation phase. You have to respect your partner for who they are, good and bad, and embrace all parts of their individuality.

— Chris, 27

16. It’s when you see their flaws, but look past them.

A fling to me is merely based on physical attraction. You care for the person but in a way you care for material things, and most of the time it is what that person can do for you/to you.

Now the real deal is when you’re completely infatuated by the person, you want to devote most if not all your time to them because they make you happy. There’s also a sense of admiration for that person because you love who they are, but most of all you love who you are while with them. You do anything and everything to keep them happy. You deeply care for that person and your relationship because you want it to last for a really long time/forever. But most importantly the real thing is when you can look at that person notice all their flaws and insecurities, but look past them. Put up with the fights and arguments because at the end of the day they’re who you yearn for and you wouldn’t want it any other way.

— Derrik, 22 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

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