Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How Do I Know If It's Really Love?

Q: How do I know if someone really loves me, and if I love him? I’ve been in a relationship for two years. He seems sincere, but I’m just not sure if it’s really love that we feel for one another. My parents divorced when I was 12; his parents divorced when he was 7. We both feel a little uncertain about any kind of big commitment. He wants to move in, but that feels “big” to me. We’re very comfortable around each other, but how do I know if it’s really love?

Joyce: As much as I’d like to believe Cher pegged the secret in her Shoop-Shoop Song, I believe there’s a lot more to recognizing love than in his kiss.

First off, being a byproduct of divorce is a telltale sign of fear of the “big” commitment. The fallout of divorce is often more painful for children than the adults involved. The damage incurred is often reflected in the reluctance of repeating history and inflicting the sting of broken relationships upon yet another generation. You and your boyfriend need to have a heart-to-heart about the degree to which your parents’ breakups affected each of you, identify your greatest reservations for a permanent commitment, and what your goals are with regard to breaking the cycles of divorce that were begun without your input. It’s important that you listen to your heart as intently as you do his in addressing these issues. If there is any reservation regarding an enduring relationship, come what may, I would discourage further pursuit of a 'this-is-the-one-for-me-forever' connection.

Now, how do you know if it’s really love? There are some signs that I believe are critical in assessing what true love consists of.
  • Does he respect you? Do you feel valuable around him? Does your opinion about things really matter? Is he constantly correcting you? Do you feel like you’re being controlled? Does he seek your advice on minor and/or major issues? 
  • Is he considerate of you? Are you involved in decisions about planning dates, events with friends, how you’ll spend your holidays? If you are expected to be robotically obedient to his whims and wishes without consideration of your plans, life could become quite challenging for you. 
  • Does he make you feel special? You’ve been through two years of seasons with him now; that’s a good barometer. Has he put thought into your birthdays? Were Valentine’s Days unique? Did he make Christmas, New Year’s and other holidays exceptional? Did he remember your anniversary dates? Thoughtfulness speaks volumes for depth of love, though one can be romantically thoughtful and really stink in other areas. But if you feel a little short-changed, whether a special occasion or not, consider it for a lifetime and how it might settle on your heart after five or 10 years. 
  • Do the two of you dream together? If either of you are a dreamer and planner and the other doesn’t imbibe in the vision and offer support and encouragement, one could likely feel he/she is being deprived of a heart-felt passion. It’s important that couples set corporate goals, and then cheer the other on toward achieving individual ones. 
  • Can you imagine life without him? If life beyond breakup isn’t disconcerting, it could be that this relationship is a pastime filler until Mr. Right enters the picture. I’m not suggesting that one cannot or should not survive if a for-real true love turns sour. As much as my husband and I love one another, we realize life would go on should something happen to separate us, but neither wants to think about living life without the other. 
There are other aspects to regard in considering “How do I know?” I will offer this advice, however. Recent research indicates people who live together prior to getting married are more likely to divorce. After five to seven years of cohabitating, only 21 percent of unmarried couples are still together. Only 55 percent of them say I do within five years after moving in together, and 40 percent of them break up within a five-year period after tying the knot.¹ I’m fully aware of equal time being given to refutable statistics. However, there is cause to give weight to the likelihood of being a statistic in the fall-out category. I would hasten to add a comment one gentleman made to me when interviewing a group of men regarding premarital sex: Sex without commitment will cause one to experience emotional pain and a lack of fulfillment in a relationship.
Staying true to protect your heart against a fallacy of love will help you know when true love has captured it.

Write Joyce Oglesby, Family-Life Fitness Pro, at She's here to help!

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