I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately; every facet of the crazy emotion. I’ve been reading a lot of Proust and de Botton on the philosophy of love. And watching one too many Ted Talks.
It’s great to be able to talk about all of this in my book I’m writing. The working title currently is What I Wish I Knew About Love. It’s a collection of essays and poems with all the lessons I’ve learned about love.
So I’m curious, what do you wish your younger self knew about love?
This week I want to talk about the elusive and mysterious emotion of being ~in love~ with someone. It’s easy to fall in love with the idea of love but harder to see things clearly once you do.
Love is a powerful feeling. It’s the reason a decade-long war broke out between ancient civilizations and the driving force for plots in world-renowned plays. Scientists have even found that love is as addictive as cocaine and nicotine.
This is the reason we all long for the elusive feeling, throughout our lives, until we come across it. As Diana Barrows says in It Takes Two, we want “that can’t eat, can’t sleep, reach for the stars over the fence, world series kind of love.”
But it’s not that easy to know if you’re in love. Sometimes a relationship happens fast with exhilarating emotions that are hard to see through. Other times, love creeps up on you; it grows from a place you least expected.
I remember being in my early twenties and obsessed with the moment the words “I love you” was uttered in my relationships. I focused too much on what those words meant, rather than if I genuinely felt them.
Now that I’ve had a bit more experienced and my hormones have calmed down, I’ve learned more about love. Specifically, how to know when you’re experiencing this feeling for another person, or if you’re maybe caught up in something else.
Since love is unique to each individual, the answer lies with you. To help you figure out if you’re in love, ask yourself these questions:
How would it feel if the person wasn’t in your life?
When you think about the person not being in your life, what kind of feelings are evoked? Do you feel sad? Upset? Maybe even a bit of physical pain at the mere thought?
When you love someone deeply, you want them in your life. It’s not wrong to feel sad at the thought of them leaving, it’s simply love. You found someone that means enough to you that you’d do whatever it takes to keep them in your life.
How comfortable are you with being sexual with this person?
I don’t want to mix up love with sex. There is definitely a clear distinction. And it is possible to be in love without being sexually involved with someone.
But if sex is part of the equation, ask yourself how comfortable you are with this aspect of your relationship. Are you able to speak up about your needs? Do you enjoy having sex with them?
While having sex is not needed to be in love, sexual chemistry could be a sign that you’re in love with someone.
How seen do you feel by this person?
Do you feel like your partner understands you on a deeper level? Are they interacting with the parts of you that aren’t hidden behind walls but, rather, open with vulnerability?
There’s a certain way we interact with people in our daily lives. They see glimpses into who we are, but they don’t completely understand our full selves, shaped by our past, goals, dreams, and interests. If you feel your partner sees all of this in you and is accepts you no less than it could be a sign you’re in love with them.
Are you able to be silly/sad/serious/fun-loving with this person?
Right before we go to bed, I’m reminded, again and again, how in love I am with my boyfriend. We lay in bed and act like kids — laughing, being silly, and even engaging in the oh-so-annoying baby talk. But the fact I can act however I want with him and still feel comfortable reminds me how much I cherish his presence.
Being in love means you’ve crossed the plane of acting a certain way around them. Your walls have come down, and you’re comfortable around them. You don’t need to present yourself a certain way to try and woo them, you’re at the stage where you can be who you are, without reservations.
Do you find yourself thinking about a future that involves them?
When someone mentions plans for Christmas, does your mind immediately picture you and your partner together? Have you noticed yourself wanting to plan trips with them months in advance?
You might be falling in love when your focus shifts from purely what’s happening in the present, to more of a long-term way of thinking. Like the statement above, when you’re in love with someone, you want to spend your time with them. So it only makes sense to think about a future that involves them.
Do you want to do things for them, even if there is nothing in return?
Rhetoric on love usually focuses on how to get love from another person. It doesn’t take into account that being in love involves the way you care for the other person. Love isn’t only about being loved, it’s about giving it too.
When you’re in love, you want to do things for your partner to make them happy. They’re a priority in your life, and that means helping them or showing your love when there is nothing in return. Because being in love isn’t about what you get in return; merely loving them is enough.
Is the relationship easy or stressful?
I once thought love meant riding the emotional rollercoaster of passion, lust, and arguments that ended in tears. It took me many relationships to realize that kind of relationship is not healthy. And I question how in love we actually were.
Being in love should come easy and without pain. A healthy relationship will functions relatively smoothly, with the good far outweighing the bad. Being in love means the relationship, not just the person, is a positive addition to your life.
Does it feel like a dream, or does it feel real?
If everything feels too good to be true, it’s worth questioning if that’s actually the case. Often, we put people on a pedestal or hold a relationship up to preconceived expectations. But at some point, everything will come crashing down. And if that happens, you’ll be left wondering if what you felt was ever love.
But if you’re happy and grounded — if the relationship feels like an adventure and home — then chances are, you’re in the beautiful feeling of love.
Opening your heart to someone you love by telling them your true feelings can be scary. But, if having gone through this list, you feel like you’re in love, it’s worth letting the other person know.
Love is elusive, but it’s one of the best feelings we’ll experience as humans. And life is too short to not know if that feeling is reciprocated.
Some helpful content…
There is a science behind love that’s quite interesting. There is even a philosophy behind love, which I find more interesting. Love and relationships work in the weirdest of ways. Sometimes, it spans years before coming to fruition. Professionals have a thing or two to say about falling in love, too.
Until next week... stay sane & healthy.
All the love,
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