One of the toughest questions in life is, “Is this love?” How can you know for sure that you are really in love? When you were a kid, you might have thought you were deeply and madly in love with the girl who sat next to you in Biology.
You thought about her all of the time and you figured you’d grow up and marry her. Now that you’re older, you probably realize that those were your pubescent and confusing hormones in action.
The trouble is, your hormones can still make you think you’re in love! So how do you know if it’s love, lust, desperation or a crush? The incredibly heady feelings that precede real love leave us with pounding hearts and churning stomachs.
These feelings can make you feel good, excited, foolish and like you could sprint five miles. They’re all a part of love, or the beginnings. But before we look too closely at love, let’s take a quick look at those feelings that can (sort of) mimic love:
- Lust – It’s simple to identify because it’s based on her sexuality. You aren’t too interested in what she thinks or the names of her two cats. Lust doesn’t often turn into love, but it’s nice to be in love and feel lust for that person.
- Desperation – A sinking feeling of grasping. You feel like you really need her to like you and you can’t stand to think of her with anyone else. You just want her to want you.
- A Crush – It’s sort of like the beginnings of love. You feel all of those butterflies or bumble bees in your stomach when you see her. You think about her a lot. You grin when you think about her. A crush begins the same way as love, and sometimes turns into love over time.
But love, once the excited butterfly stage passes, grows into something that a crush itself does not, and desperation or lust can’t. The signs you’re in love are subtle, but you can recognize them:
- You still like (love) her after she’s done something annoying. You might be ticked off at her if she’s done something really bone-headed, but you still want to be with her. Not because you’re desperate and you just want her to be the one, but because you still truly like her.
- You’re willing to do things that you wouldn’t have considered in the past. Not bad things, but things that are just weird for you – like going to the ballet with her because she loves it so much. You aren’t doing this because she’s guilted you into it, or because of some pathological need to please her, but because you sincerely want to do things with her that will give her pleasure.
- You begin to imagine the future with her in it. Not just next week, but the next year or decade or a lifetime. You think about growing into a life with her and it doesn’t nauseate you or cause panic.
- You feel loyal to her.
Knowing you’re in love isn’t about the excitement, although it’s nice when you have an exciting relationship even after you’ve been together for years. Love is about the comfort and the feeling of being able to share your life and yourself with her. When you start feeling like that, you can safely assume that you’re well on your way to being in love.