We’ve all probably sat in a wedding and heard First Corinthians, all about how love is patient and kind and does not envy and blah blah blah. But how do you know that is exactly what you have? Maybe you’ve even sat next to your honey in that very wedding and wondered, “Is our love patient?” and not even known what the hell that means. You might also be like me and want markers, things that make sense, that are practical and measurable.
When I was contemplating my relationship with my now husband, I thought a lot about trust, boundaries, and respect. Beyond those, understanding whether you have true love is also about being mindful of your thoughts and feelings about the other person, both when you’re with them and away. Too, it is about where they place in your life: both in the present and the future.
Here are some things to look for and consider in your own romantic relationship to give you a sense if what you have is true love:
1. You feel light around them.
Pay attention to how you feel when you’re around your partner.
Feeling light regularly around your partner is a good sign that what you have is solid and supportive enough for you to be able to feel carefree around them.
If you dread every time you get in the car to go see your honey, that’s the opposite of true love. That’s a sign of something really not so right at all. A heaviness over an extended period of time should clue you into something not being right with your relationship. Maybe you have some needs not being met or maybe it’s just not right.
2. You can’t imagine a future without them.
When you hear from your job that you might get offered a promotion that could take you out of state, what do you think about your romantic relationship?
Do you think, “Will they be able to get a job transfer as well and/or come stake out a cool new apartment with me?” or do you immediately jump to imagining a nice studio loft that you can decorate to your tastes?
What about kids? Do you imagine looking down into your child’s eyes and they’re the same color of your honey’s or is that a big fat no?
If you consistently think of a future that includes your partner and can’t imagine one that doesn’t include them, that’s a sign that your love is true.
3. You really feel like a team.
A team supports and encourages each other through the wins and the losses. You know it’s true love when your partner feels like your teammate and that you are on a team together.
This means that when you have something great going on in your life, they support you in that because that’s good for the both of you. They tell you how awesome it is. They open the champagne. They don’t make snide comments rooted in some jealousy or tell you they wish you would do something else.
It also means when you lose your job, they hold your hand while you cry (or valiantly try not to cry), and then help you comb the job listings and spruce up your resume.
Your partner knows that a happy you is a better member of your team than an unhappy you.
4. You give and take.
It’s important to recognize that relationships are a two-way street. And some days you are going to be able to give a lot more to your partner than they can return, and other times, vice-versa.
Relationships that have true love within them are not solely one-sided.
You work with each other. You give to each other, and you also enjoy the benefits of receiving too.
5. Your relationship is a priority.
True love brings us closer to ourselves, our sense of purpose, and our sense of a higher power. It lets us know that things are working out.
When we make our relationship a priority, that means we set time aside for it. We do things to make it better. We nurture it like it was literally another person that was dependent on us to take care of it.
We don’t put it above our own needs and desires, but we see it as something that needs to be cared for just as much. We don’t let things or situations or other people invade what we hold the most dear. And we, of course, see our partner doing the same thing.
We all have different ideas of true love. Fairy tales teach us that we just need a chance meeting and speaking animals to make it happen, but we all know it’s got to be a bit more complicated than that.
True love often takes the right chemistry and work ethic. You both have to be willing to put the work in to foster a true partnership. This means communicating, listening, giving, respecting, and honoring your partner and your relationship.
Once you have that as a foundation, check in with yourself as you go and figure out if it’s really true love — a sustainable, possible, workable, forever kind of love.