Hot and heavy is how it feels in the beginning. Those sensations and perception are what leads to love...or not. Years ago I assisted in research psychology. The studies involved the very human components of sensory and perception. While the studies were pretty basic, leading to more complex questions and conclusions, it gave me insight into how love is completely related to these areas within our brain and body. We know that love, or feelings associated with various stages of love, is similar to a drug. Our senses and perceptions can fool us, making it difficult to know what reality is when overcome with strong emotions or sensations.
That's my professional explanation for why love can be so confusing. My personal experience is that love is a test of time- meaning it changes the longer it lasts and it will last longer if it does change. Everyone has a theory about love. Everyone is an expert, but we all know it can be narrowed down to a short list of important basics. I'm insinuating there is no secret to love, no blueprint than basics. The kind of basics we often forget because multiple theories and advice exist today.
For as many theories on love that exist, there are equally as many definitions and stages of love as well. There is the popular romantic notion of 'Love at first sight', but that would be more adequately identified as lust than love. Yes, lust at first sight can grow into love- most initial strong feelings of love are not love at all. Those are the feelings that fool us. However without those feelings people wouldn't be led to pursue love so I won't bash lust and desire or romantic love, but I want to focus on that long-lasting love...true love.
Goal = Consummate Love
I haven't found anything better than the psychologist, Robert Sternberg's explanation of true (consummate) love. Please see diagram below.
If love could be wrapped up into one neat and tidy explanation, this would be it. But there are more details involved in love than the simplicity of this explanation. I'll expand upon this because like I said before we don't always recognize where we're at or what we're experiencing if fooled by our sensations and perceptions. And of course love changes so a complete consummate love package isn't always what equals love.
Love finds us...and other words of wisdom
Before I get to the nitty gritty of true love signs, I just want to touch on some basic wisdom. Long ago I worked at a popular breakfast chain restaurant and frequently the customers were elderly. Many had maintained a 50+ year marriage. Kudos to them! Even though I wasn't married at that time, I listened intently to the wisdom they bestowed upon me.
Love finds us: It's hard to grasp the idea of love finding us in the day and age of online dating and cyber sex or perfectly planning our futures, but often love finds us when we're not looking. Cliché? Yes, but true. Today we plan everything, our entire lives. We have this order to life now: education, travel, having fun, casual encounters all come before the big "L" word.
Along our path (and plans) we search for love when we want it, when it's convenient for us. Often you hear those in love say, 'I had given up' or 'I wasn't looking for love' or 'it was bad timing'. I don't think we know when we're ready for love and that's why the kind of love that catches us off guard is the kind that has lasting potential. Sometimes if we want love so bad, we find something that really isn't there, we settle. When we don't care or 'give up', it hits us.
Foul or friendly advice: Sometimes it's necessary to forget what your peers are saying to you. Men will get teased that they're 'whipped' and women will get nagged by their girlfriends about how he doesn't fit certain criteria, how much money he makes, etc. It's happened to all of us. We get off course with these unnecessary distractions and thoughts circulating in our brain.
Time away: Oh yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder. You never know how much you love someone until they're gone. Take some time off if you've been spending a lot of time together. Take a mini vacation from each other. This is so crucial to step away and get and objective perspective. It's hard to see clearly when you're super close to the situation so take a step back and reflect on the relationship.
Reflection is one of the most under-appreciated tools in life. Most of us don't have time to reflect, but making big mistakes can be an even bigger waste of time.
Divorce? Speaking with elderly couples, you know they've been through a lot. Some with spouses in World War II, deaths of children, health conditions, poverty/The Depression. During tough times most wouldn't even think of mentioning divorce- you had to stick together to make it. They actually needed each other.
We have this idea now that we don't have to put up with anything. Any inconveniences and couples start to fall apart. How sad because these older couples explain those tough times were a glue that bonded them. I've been through some really rough times in my marriage and I can't believe how much it has brought us together.
Good Old Fashioned Values: Another cliché, but is a similarity among lengthy marriages. Some of those old fashioned values are what holds a marriage together. Respect, honesty, hard work, believing the other is a good person.
With roles changing, women working, dads staying at home with kids, we are learning a new norm. This is fine, but it seems we've also added an extra does of independence in there that no matter who or what your partner does, a single person can still manage things by themselves. We've lost the value of what it means to have a partner. Now more that ever with women and men participating equally in gender typical roles, it should be an opportunity for true partnership.
Is it Love? 10 Signs
- Time- You want to spend all your time with the person, not to control them or fill a void for yourself, but you honestly want to share aspects of your life with them. Likewise, they make you one of their priorities for time as well. You are already past the initial obsessive stage when you're caught up in lust, when you tend to spend time together a lot. However, if it's purely physical, the time spent in each other's lives beyond the bedroom starts to dissipate. The kind of time you put in begins to measure the type of love you have. It also takes time to get to know someone so if you've tried the test of time, it may be true love. In relationships, tests of time usually begin to show up after 6 months to the one year mark.
- Work- When we love something, we're willing to work for it. Love takes work and effort. A lot of times, that's how you know you have a love that lasts. Sharing our pasts and pains is part of this work. Being humble and honest is a test in love. It may not be glamorous, but it's giving a part of ourselves and requiring that same effort from the other person. When you and the other person are working for it, then you might be in love. However, it shouldn't be ALL work- that would be an uphill battle.
- Trust- People build walls up, a façade, a social image, and trust tears those walls down. If you feel like the other person is holding back, trust may not be there yet...and neither is love.Trust takes work but it's a good test of love. Do you trust this person with some of your deepest secrets? Do they seem to trust you with their secrets, willing to put themselves in a position of getting hurt or rejected.
- Feelings- Yes, love is the feeling we're focusing on, but you can't have love without concern, passion, and a myriad of other feelings that signal to you love is in the air. Those feelings are what drives us to love. Also, how we feel around this person is paramount. In psychology we discuss how a person feels when they're in the presence of the other is as important as they're feelings about that other person. Earlier I discussed how lust, desire, and romantic feelings are what led us to love so they're very important in the equation. Without those feelings, Robert Sternberg would describe that as "Empty love"...no fun! To add to this, manipulation, control, and intimidation are not feelings of love either.
- Body Language- Listen to their language with your eyes. Watch what they're not saying. One of my favorite songs...'You Say it Best when You Say Nothing at All'. Some signs that signal love from men are caring about his appearance and even better posture while you're around, adjusting his position when you approach, and anything a bit more masculine than the normal- protruding chest, spread out sitting position. Women play with their hair, make frequent eye contact, and genuinely act interested when they are with the one they love.
- Connection and Attachment- Whatever it may be that makes two people connect, is very important. Interests and hobbies are an aspect of connection. Similarities are as well, but the focus should be on common values, shared goals. If both of you want to get married and have children, you share a common life goal. attachment and connection takes it further...common goals AND shared interests is really what makes two people form an attachment.
- Fights- Bet you didn't think you would see this on a list for true love, but it's extremely valuable in a relationship. Have you had that first fight yet? Fighting fair is one of the leading reasons people can maintain a lasting love. Do you problem solve constructively? Is there name-calling? How far is anger taken? Too much fighting is not good, likewise no fighting is also something gone wrong, perhaps lack of feelings. On Sternberg's diagram we saw passion as one component of True Love- a love with passion will always stir up some arguments and it's OK but most therapists will agree it's the way you fight, namely whether or not you fight fair.
- Better together- If you're a better person when you're with them, then it can mean love. If you can be yourself, but better, that's a true love bonus! We all change in a relationship, and even a relationship changes. Once my husband and I had kids, we were forced to work together for this life. He is a better provider because of a family to support. We are better together and able to conquer more together. I've known some couples who separately each person is great but get them together and dishes are flying. Some people are worse together and it's something to pay attention to early in the relationship.
- Commitment- Obviously it's not true love if there are others- meaning one or both partners are seeing/dating other people. A mutual commitment is a sign of true love. Do they mention you in front of friends? Do their friends know who you are? Do you include them in various events or things you enjoy? Commitment is pretty standard if you want to be assured it's true love you're dealing with. You don't want to see anybody else, neither do they, and the grass-is-greener feeling fades. Nagging questions of sincerity, exclusivity, and commitment begin to vanish. If you are committed and suppose the other person is a single parent or lives far away, when you love that person, the children involved are part of the commitment and a long distance relationship is a commitment of sorts too.
- Compromise- Life is full of compromises...so are relationships. I didn't believe that in my 20's and only got a glimpse of it in my 30's. I used to think I shouldn't settle and I could c every star in the sky. The relationships I fell into, I felt I was settling. What I didn't realize was it was an aspect of being with another person. When a guy liked to take me to action movies, I thought 'Ugh I'm not going to like this for the rest of my life'. But in the end when I finally fell in love (and grew up), I loved doing the things that person enjoyed and vice verse.
A Love that lasts...and lasts...and lasts
We tend to focus on that other person when we start thinking about love, whether they are possibly in love with us and/or we are in love with them. But we need to take the time to think about ourselves:
- Are we willing to be humble in our pursuit for love? Are you in pursuit of love for other reasons?
- Forgive and ask for forgiveness? It's important to ask for forgiveness if necessary and forgive for long-lasting love.
- What are we willing to accept? Not accept? You need to think about deal breakers before you completely fall in love. Once in love, it is easy to accept things we shouldn't. And this boils down to the little things that annoy us. Eventually you will have to deal with snoring and other bad habits.
- What are we willing to do for them? And them for us? I talked to a single woman who said she didn't want a guy who liked Nascar and if he did she wouldn't participate in any Nascar functions with him. This was pretty specific, but the general problem here is I hate Nascar but if someone I loved was into it, I'd participate periodically to see their joy.
- Are you in love just because it's exciting right now- realize love is for the long haul.
"Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love" which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” Captain Corelli's Mandolin
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From the first kiss (huge milestone) to sealing a marriage ("You may now kiss the bride"), kissing is a big part of our lives.
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Chin Sulat from Antipolo City on September 01, 2017:
what if the guy don't want commitment since we are both busy with our work? is it even possible that he is inlove with me?
Deborah Demander from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD on February 22, 2016:
You make some very good points here. I appreciate the depth and detail of your article. And yes, I do believe in love! I am in love now.
Thanks for writing.
Zahid Ashraf from PAkistan on February 12, 2016:
Julie K Henderson on April 21, 2015:
Very nice. I like how thorough this article is. Voted up.
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on March 29, 2014:
Thank you Dave36,
Well written and as much faith as I put in science (to a certain point) some things are better left to experience...as you have.
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on March 13, 2014:
rjbatty, I'm not sure we're communicating efficiently on this. so we'll agree to disagree.
Right on! Yes, love changes over time and expectations often get in the way. Some couples go through cancer, go through, raising children...none of this is glamorous or sexy.
rjbatty from Irvine on February 18, 2014:
I think you missed my main point entirely. What I was trying to say is that love is numinous, transcendent. It can be written about, but it says absolutely nothing about the experience itself. I'm not getting on your case. I have no bones to pick here. I just thought I'd add my two cents.
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on February 17, 2014:
Thank you kapilbiala.
Both my husband and I are disabled too. And oh yes I CAN imagine so who's making assumptions? I'm not trying to quantify love - this was written for something fun before Valentine's Day. But besides that, I can talk about love authoritatively just as any self-help guru can talk about their personal experience towards self actualization and write a book to sell to the masses. I think my hub is harmless. Sorry if you find it contrite and whatever fun words you come up with. Science CAN back up what love means to us biologically/ what it does to our brain, our system in general, and otherwise through polls, self reports/questionnaires, and observation. There is a lot I considered when writing this hub so no it didn't come out of nowhere. I've got a simple minded solution for an intelligent chap like yourself- move on if you don't like it. Don't like, don't read. As far as writing- I do it for a nice living while being disabled. I don't sit around and judge and not go take a chance.
Thanks for stopping by.
Love is certainly a subjective topic, but also there are similarities in those that stay together for a long time. That's why I liked the Sternberg's description.
Humility comes to mind when we forget that that person is a reflection of us to the world- we think of our loves, our family, children etc as this selfish extension of us to the outer world- humility erases that need. It's also a willingness to say that person isn't perfect AND neither am I. So many women I know are searching for their perfect man while overlooking their imperfections.
rjbatty from Irvine on February 13, 2014:
I get a kick out of Hub writers who make extemporaneous assumptions and accusations, such as yourself. I've been married 13 years. Both my wife and I are living on disability. We support each other to a degree that you probably cannot imagine. I'm often amused by would-be writers who seem to have something meaningful and authoritative about love, and yours is no exception. Either of us could write about sex or long-term commitment based on emotions that neither of us fully understand. I tend to see long-term "love' as long-term compassion. You can easily find single people who lose a pet and are completely devastated and depressed. Human beings build bonds that are mysterious. Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers and trinkets. The Egyptians built massive temples to honor their leaders. Love and dedication have been expressed in many forms throughout the ages. What we have little (or nothing) to comment about is the inner-feeling that men/women experience being connected to another person. You cannot write about what bonds us or the deep despair that we experience when that attachment is separated. Look it, I'm not trying to eviscerate your valiant attempt to quantify love, but I believe it is a hopeless attempt. The answer may be as simple as we feel a sense of hopelessness at the loss of a loved one. We have to carry on (somehow). Attempting to come up with a few iron-clad reasons when love is real -- is just contrite and over-simplified. I do not mean to offend. I'd much prefer reading a post such as yours than why we all hate/distrust each other.
Dave36 on February 13, 2014:
The first time i saw my girlfriend i fell in love with her, however i didn't fall in lust with her....I didn't even think about what it would be like to have sex with her, i just knew i loved her & wanted her....It was more than just how she looked, & i do think she's beautiful....The first time i looked in her eyes that was it, & it was the same for her....Although it did take us a long time to get together, it wasn't & isn't lust, sexual desire or attachment....I know all my feelings/emotions arise from my mind, i just don't think love does....Even if love does arise in my mind like all my other feelings, i can't manifest that feeling on my own like i can all my other feelings, there has to be someone/something there worth my love....When i met her i already knew quite a few considered to be more beautiful single & available girls, with better figures etc....But there was only one girl in town that made me nervous, as once i met her i knew it had to be her....Most couples i know aren't really in love, & it's obvious by the way they treat each other, talk about each other to their friends/family....Also the average relationship in the UK, is only two & a half years...More proof, that the couples aren't really in love....Once a single person (in my opinion) starts working only on themselves, & completely forgets about finding love....When they start becoming the person they want to be, a good all round good loving person, that's when i think love will find them....I enjoyed reading your thread, & a lot of it is true in my opinion....I do have doubts about scientific studies done on people, that profess to being in love....I mean did they/can they test these people before hand, just to make sure their actually in love in the first place?. :-)
Amy Magness Alaoui from United States of America on February 12, 2014:
Using Robert Sternberg's detailed graph, I would just like to announce my love for this hub. It is a beautiful and quite understandable definition of something almost always so undefinable.
Luvtoo Write from Chicago, IL on February 12, 2014:
Some people believe they are in love, when it is just the heat of the moment. I agree with you, if you don't have more than just passion, it will eventually burn out or just fade over time.
Ed Palumbo from Tualatin, OR on February 10, 2014:
When people consider marriage, they better have more in common than an athletic sexual dynamic. Long after you've explored every imaginable position, you've got to consider that you are planning YEARS together, and you need someone with whom you can share, and grow…someone with whom you can travel without whining about minor discomforts, who brings out the best in your efforts, whose opinion you trust and who trusts yours, simply because you want the best for each other. And when children come along, it's a team effort. You love each other, and here's the product of that love - someone else to love. The young expect a lifetime of searing heat; the more seasoned are thankful for lasting warmth. If you're going to measure love by the intensity of the orgasm, you will always be looking to the past. Build a future instead. When the children grow and the nest is empty, you're hopefully still a married couple in love.
Yves on February 10, 2014:
As I was reading this article, the word "humble" kept coming to mind; I kept reading and learning and toward the end, you used the word which had latched onto my mind: Humble. And that's our biggest problem. We lack humility. We want him this way or that way. We fail to see "the forest for the trees." (my favorite cliché) Our nitpicking is disastrous. Sometimes a man is so good and we don't see it and thus fail to love him as we should--like married people must.
This article is lovely, and I appreciate it. Another thing you mentioned--Fighting fair. Oh so important...! Up, useful, beautiful.
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on February 10, 2014:
Thanks for the compliment Cre8tor,
We're on our 10th year. Congrats to your 12....and still going strong.
R U batty? Ok just kidding. Maybe a little bitter "rubitter"? So I got a quote for you that sums it all up: "Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don't blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being "in love", which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” Pay attention rjbatty to that last sentence. I've got a 2 and a 6 yr old so I feel your pain, but I also know love has an opportunity to grow stronger when put under some stress (kids are source of good and bad stress). I've also known illness and disability within my marriage but came out stronger so I guess you get what you put in and if you are the way you speak here, I don't think you are capable of love here. It is rosy when I think of all my husband and I have overcome and came out better for it. And you have to know there are many phases in a relationship- babies aren't babies forever.
rjbatty from Irvine on February 10, 2014:
Your article is not without merit but its terribly contrite and naïve. Harlan Ellison once wrote, "Love ain't nothing but sex misspelled." I wouldn't go that far, but once the lust phase disappears or diminishes, what you've got is a partner of the opposite sex who you may hardly know - and certainly not understand. People tend to look after their individual needs first. If there is anything left over, they may lend you a hand (or not). The best that any couple can do is to make the relationship civil/cordial. If you can't do that, it's time to throw in the towel. Eventually, the relationship - if based on mutual respect - will evolve into a long-term arrangement of co-dependency. You can try to soften up this term, but that's really all it is. And that's not an entirely terrible way to spend one's years. My wife and I don't spend much time together - and we're okay with that. We have our separate interests, and we give each other time to pursue them.
Although it's next to impossible, young people need to have some education about the differences between lust and love. They need to understand that everything gets pretty damn dull (usually sooner rather than later) and prepare for the long haul of being in a committed relationship.
And if you should have children, God help you because your life is essentially over. Once you have a baby, EVERYTHING revolves around the child. Maybe you used to like watching a 30-min. sit com. Forget it. It's over, along with every other little pleasure you used to enjoy as an individual. A full-night's sleep will become a vague memory. This, if nothing else will eviscerate your once happy relationship (if you had one). Mere months later you will find yourself in a mom and pop role, and good luck trying to muster up ANY sex with a baby squealing.
Thus, I find this article to be pretty rosy. It doesn't really point out the many, many pitfalls that can cause a marriage to end up in a garbage heap. I could go on forever, but this isn't my Hub, and I don't want to hog the whole thing with my observations.
Dan Reed on February 08, 2014:
This is such a well written Hub and I love the pics you've chosen. There is some great information here for lovers. Married for going on 12 years now and still going strong.
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on February 05, 2014:
I love M.Scott Peck. Great quote. I remember that from one of his books. I especially like the "commitment to action". People often take a backseat to their own relationships. Haven't read the other book but thanks for mentioning it.
Dr Billy Kid,
Interesting. I know this all too well. I married at 30. Love did come for me that age. Now that I'm nearing 40 a ton of my friends from high school are still WAITING. That's why I mentioned that "plan ahead" type of life in the beginning- it doesn't always work out that way. Kind of like those graduating college now hold a preconceived notion that they're guaranteed a job when they get out. Yes, times are changing and I hope this hub is a dose of reality. That love doesn't always wait for us or our plans. I also mentioned that I had some silly notions in my 20's as well. Truth is many women could stand to grow up too...considering their unrealistic expectations. I was once one of them. Singlehood IS a choice, but love is not. You can go pick someone out when you're ready and it falls into a life plan, but is that love? Or you may be stuck waiting and waiting like many friends of mine. The college lie and the love after 30 lie...our society needs to get realistic.
Thanks for the food for thought...
So good to see you on here. I wish there was a course of some sorts out there on this topic. It should be mandatory.
L Izett (author) from The Great Northwest on February 05, 2014:
Edward J. P.,
Glad you liked the hub and already have your true love...something special. I really agree with your about the "required course"- yes it should be.
Thanks and even though I'm married these are great reminders for me as well- it's a compass of sorts.
Thanks for stopping by. I always appreciate your feedback.
I love the blind date story. Truly awesome!
I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all approach so if you get along with your partner better while separated then that's what works for you two. I remember your situation too.
Martie Coetser from South Africa on February 05, 2014:
Absolutely brilliant! You've said it all, Izettl.....
This hub of yours about true love should be part of a compulsory subject in the syllabus of schools.
Dr Billy Kidd from Sydney, Australia on February 04, 2014:
Excellent discussion of the traditional ideas about love. Congratulations!
Yet today, half of all Americans are single. In interviews with young adults (18-30) the word Singlehood came up often. That's about a sizeable group of people who believe in the growing power of single people.
The idea of commitment was rare. For instance, one 26-year-old woman said: “Commitment to what? Waiting 5 years for my boyfriend to grow up?”
Young women seemed more interested in establishing their own economic security than in having a traditional relationship. They generally agreed that marriage would come at about 30. Most said that it’s no problem today having children after 30.
This spun my head around. I was especially stunned that it didn’t matter if I interviewed young adults in San Francisco or in Atlanta, Georgia. Same story.
Most of these millennials said that they rely on their friends for the advice and compassion that used to come from a well-functioning traditional relationship.
It’s just a thought. But times appear to be changing.
Windclimber from my boat somewhere on the Chesapeake Bay on February 04, 2014:
Great hub! I'm going to send a link to my two nieces!
Btw, many times I've shared M. Scott Peck's definition of love: "The will to extend oneself for the spiritual benefit of another, or oneself." Note that "will" is not just desire; it's the commitment to action, and note that "spiritual benefit" includes, metaphorically speaking, first putting food on the table and a roof overhead.
Also, your readers interested in this topic may want to check out Harville Hendrix's book "Getting the Love You Want", which I think is one of the most sensible books on the subject I've ever read. Note the title is "Getting the Love . . ." not "Finding the Love . . . " - it's about what we're searching for, not how to search.
Anyway, izzetl, great hub!
Nell Rose from England on February 04, 2014:
Yes love is a very funny thing, it can make you have a wonderful life with your partner, or actually trap you in situations that you would rather get out of, I used to argue with my partner, now we live in the same house, but are separated, and we get on so much better! lol!
WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 04, 2014:
I met my wife on a blind date that neither of us wanted to go out on, but our friends insisted. That was many years ago, and we are both grateful that fate intervened.
Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 04, 2014:
Comprehensive on the topic of love. Thank you for the detailed explanations; the chart is very insightful.
Mary from Cronulla NSW on February 04, 2014:
Good job with this one you've given us much food for thought here izetti..it is difficult to know if it's true love and I do think we can use all the help we can get..great pointers to look for..VUAI&shared..cheers
Ed Palumbo from Tualatin, OR on February 03, 2014:
My wife and I were married 31 years ago, and she continues to tolerate my sense of humor. We learned quickly, "Is this worth arguing about?", and the answer was usually "No". Before we were anything else, we were friends who saw the humor in Life. You could say I married my best (female) friend, and still celebrate Life together, travel well together. I enjoyed this Hub. There really ought to be a required course, some counseling and a test of compatibility bore marriage!