For most of us, love is a far-off, abstract concept. Even in a long-term, committed relationship, the existence of love can be difficult to spot. What is the difference between strong feelings and true love? Is love at first sight actually a possibility? The answer to these questions may be different for everyone. It depends on your personality, your relationship style and a multitude of other unique factors. If you have found yourself questioning whether or not you are truly in love, ask yourself if these signs apply to your relationship.
1. You totally trust your partner
All healthy relationships require a high level of trust. Whether it's just a friendship or something more, everyone wants to be able to trust the people that they are closest to in their lives. Jay Hurt, author of The 9 Tenants of a Successful Relationship, says, "Trust is extremely important in any serious relationship and definitely something that people should be aware of before deciding if they are in love or not.”
If you are unable to trust your partner with little, daily things, how can you trust them with your heart? If you are questioning whether or not you are in love, ask yourself if you would be able to really trust your partner with anything and everything. If the answer is yes, you're one step closer to being in love.
2. You and your partner have established an agreement of commitment
In today’s society, the importance of commitment is often overlooked. Hook-up culture is rampant throughout our generation and due to this infatuation, many of us rarely feel a need to settle down or define the relationship. This is totally fine if that is what you want, but it can be hard to be truly in love with someone if you aren’t committed to one another.
One student, Karen Smith*, a sophomore at the University of Florida, says that an establishment of commitment was actually a big part of her realization that she was in love with her boyfriend. “Knowing that my boyfriend was committed to only me and never having to worry about losing him to another person made me feel safe and made it easier to know that I was in love,” she says. This is a common feeling for many collegiettes, especially in an age where commitment is not that popular.
3. There is a high level of intimacy (that isn’t just sexual)
It isn’t uncommon for people to confuse sexual attraction with love. Hurt says that in order to truly have love, you must have a level of intimacy that goes further than just sexual intimacy. This intimacy is something similar to that of what you might have with your closest friends. Hurt describes this intimacy as “something that has grown the relationship even deeper.”
Non-sexual intimacy can come in many forms and thus, can be hard to identify. When you've reached a high level of intimacy with someone, you'll feel truly comfortable with them. Little things like sharing the bed or confiding in them will no longer be uncomfortable but will be a typical part of your day together. True intimacy can be found when you and your partner start to feel like one person, rather than two separate people, unattached from one another.
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4. You find yourself wanting to share experiences with your partner, rather than alone
When you are truly in love, you will find that every experience you go through is enhanced by sharing it with your partner. Good or bad, you feel a strong desire to have them by your side, rather than explaining the event to them later.
Leah Pignataro, a junior at the University of Florida, believes that this concept definitely rings true. She says it is easy to know that you are in love “when you look forward to doing things together instead of doing it alone and telling them about it.”
Wanting to share experiences with your partner doesn’t mean that you will never need alone time — that's totally normal to need, even when you are in love. However, beginning to factor in your partner when thinking of future events and having difficulty imagining going through certain things without them is definitely a sure sign of love.
5. You feel a void when you and your partner are apart
Anyone who has ever been bitten by the love bug has been introduced to a whole new level of missing her partner. Hurt describes this voided feeling as going “beyond missing them.” He says that “you feel like they should be there.”
Realizing that you and your partner have become so close that you feel as though you are missing a part of yourself when you are not together is a sure way to know that you’re in love.
6. You have no issue being truly selfless when it comes to your relationship
Humans are selfish by nature; it's simply a fact. Even if you do selfless deeds often or strive to make the world a better place, we are designed to put our own needs first. The only thing that can really change this predisposition is the presence of love.
When you fall in love, your partner becomes just as important as yourself. When out of love, people must make sure that their needs are met on their own — no one else is responsible for making sure that you are happy. However, in a real relationship where you are both in love, both partners are getting their needs met because both are making sure that their partner is happy.
7. You seek comfort in each other
While being comfortable with your partner is certainly important, seeking them for comfort goes far beyond that. Rachel Kline, a senior at the University of Florida, says that one way she knew she was in love with her long-term boyfriend was when they both began to seek comfort in each other.
When you fall in love, your partner becomes your go-to person for nearly everything. They're the person you want to talk to when you find out exciting news, the person you want to cuddle up to after a long day and the person you want to talk our all of your problems with.
These signs are certainly not the only ways that someone can know they are in love. Love is a feeling. It's not something rational or easy to explain with facts or examples. More often than not, if you feel that you're in love, you very well are. However, if you find yourself questioning the sincerity of the love, you may want to consider these questions.
*Name has been changed.