I am a huge proponent of the word “love.” A lot of people claim that using the word a lot diminishes its meaning, but I completely disagree. Language evolves and fills holes in the way we communicate, and over time, we’ve started creating more meanings for the word: The way you love your parents is different from the way you love your sibling, which is different from the way you love your partner. (And all of these are certainly different from the way you love your Netflix subscription — at least, I’d hope.)
That said, because of all these different meanings, we can feel love for our partner that isn’t necessarily true love. Many of us can look back on past romantic relationships and see that we’ve loved all our partners in different ways, but that some were certainly less deep, enriching, and altogether selfless than other loves. So how do we know that our love for our partner is true? Here are some little subtle signs.
Seeing your partner happy is the best feeling in the world.
In the beginning stages of love, seeing your partner googly-eyed over you was the best feeling in the world. But after some time, there’s a shift, and suddenly, just seeing them happy in general is great. Seeing them cracking up with their friends, or talking about something they’re passionate about — even going to a museum about their favorite topic (a topic that totally bores you), because you adore seeing them light up.
Your partner swells with pride when you tell them about an accomplishment.
When you tell your partner about a promotion you got at work, their eyes practically shout, “I am so, so proud of you.” And vice versa! You support each other and are so proud of each other’s accomplishments that you’ve created a wonderful support net of two.
You can be goofy together.
At first, being in a new relationship can make you want to be the cool, meet-cute character from an indie film. But as things progress, you can let your freak flag fly when you’re feeling totally goofy, and you can be your weird self when you feel like it, because you know your partner will never judge you.
Doing nothing together is the best ever.
There often are several stages in the world of What Couples Do. First, there’s going out on the town all the time. You want to experience everything together, and you also want to impress each other, so you come up with movie and food recommendations constantly. Then, the relationship gets sexual, and all you two want to do is tangle up the sheets.
But after a while, the thought of doing nothing — just lying and watching Netflix while cuddling — sounds great. Some say this is a sign that the fire is dying down, but I’d say the opposite. It means you don’t need any frills to feel happy and comfortable with your partner. You’ve fallen in love to the point where all you want to do is just be with that person.
You find yourself loving even their “annoying” quirks.
Sure, you want your partner to do the dishes a little more often, but you love every single thing about who they are. And if your partner is out of town, you find yourself missing their snoring. Even their “annoying” quirks are another reason to love them, and you never want them to change a thing.
When one of you says “are you OK?”, the other responds honestly.
Saying “I’m fine” after you had a bad day — except you’re actually not fine, not fine at ALL — then getting mad at your partner for not magically understanding what you *really* mean like they do in the movies? Yeah, you guys don’t do that. Because that’s not true love. That’s Hollywood-style, read-my-mind-and-sweep-me-off-my-feet love. And guess what? That kind of love doesn’t exist. But you and your partner are in true love, you know that what does exist is so much better—- real, human connection between two people who care about each other more than anything in the world.
Picking a dinner place is ultra easy.
Neither of you is deadset on getting every single thing their way. You both naturally want to compromise and find happiness for each other, and that makes the entire process of everything from picking a dinner place to solving arguments so much easier.
You fit in the “relationship triangle.”
Psychologist Robert Sternberg came up with a pretty great theory that groups relationship love into seven categories based on three qualities. The presence (or lack) of the qualities — passion, intimacy, and commitment — determined what kind of love you are experiencing. True love — or, what Sternberg calls “consummate love” — is the only kind that had all three qualities.
True love involves being sexually attracted to your partner (passion), feeling bonded and close to your partner (intimacy), and a willingness to make the relationship work no matter what (commitment). That’s the only kind of love that’s inside Sternberg’s triangle.
Somewhere along the line, your partner became your best friend.
True love isn’t just romantic, bouquet-of-roses love. It’s passion mixed with true, real friendship. The whole intimacy / passion / commitment thing is a perfect recipe for not only a wonderful love, but a best friend for life.
(Image via FOX.)