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I’ve claimed to be in love more times than I care to remember.
For me, no other high can top the feeling of falling in love - it’s completely intoxicating, which is why I think our culture’s so obsessed with new relationships.
If you need convincing, consider the fact that ITV2’s recent final of Love Island beat BBC1, BBC2 and Channel 4 with a record 3 million viewers.
However, it will be interesting to see how many of those couples are still together a year on.
The problem is, because falling in love is such an overwhelming experience, we often get confused about whether it’s real, genuine love we’re feeling, or just infatuation and obsession that will inevitably burn out under the weight of its own intensity.
In the early months of my courtship with my now-boyfriend Joe, I panicked that perhaps I was undergoing the same old pattern from previous relationships.
The first three months were always magical, but the moment the passion and excitement started to wear off, I mentally and emotionally checked out of the relationship, certain that real love was waiting for me in the arms of someone else.
Having played out this scenario one too many times, it soon become apparent that couples who managed to go the distance had an entirely different approach and understanding of what being in love really means, and I became determined to learn what they seemed to already know.
The following list is comprised of my tried and tested research in to the difference between ‘faux’ love, and love that’s the real deal (and therefore more likely to stick around).
If you currently find yourself in the early throes of a new relationship - or you just want to reevaluate how you feel about your current partner, I encourage you to bite the bullet and see how many of the ‘real love’ indicators below seem to resonate for you.
IF IT’S REAL LOVE…
1) IT’S EASY TO BE YOURSELF AROUND THEM
I’ve spent far too much of my time on dates (or even relationships) trying to be the person I believe the object of my affections wants me to be, rather than who I actually am. The reality is, ‘faking’ it like this is only sustainable for so long; sooner of later you’re going to be found out, and it’s likely going to affect the dynamic of the relationship in a negative way. When it’s real love, you instantly feel you can be yourself around the other person, which means if they do fall in love with you, it’ll be the authentic you, not an idealised version.
2) YOU CAN SEE THEM IN YOUR FUTURE
We live in such a ‘McDonald’s’ culture nowadays; everything is so instant and we’re growing increasingly fixated on getting what we want now with little thought for how this fits in with who we want to be and where we want to go in the future. If the love between you and your paramour is real, you won’t be able to stop yourself from picturing your future together, because it’ll feel so exciting and expansive. On the other hand, if it’s faux love, you’ll likely stop yourself from looking too far in to the future because deep down you know the relationship’s probably got an expiry date. Most of the time, this is a highly inconvenient truth because it means we’ll have to endure a break up at some point (ouch), which is why we tend to dismiss the voice for so long.
3) YOU’RE NOT INTERESTED IN OTHERS
From my own experience, I’ve learned that infatuation is a fickle beast; one minute you’re in complete obsession over one person, certain that no one else could ever bring you happiness. However, it doesn’t take too long before they start to irritate and annoy you, or they fail to match up to your idealised perception of them. This inevitably leads your eyes and attention to wonder off to pastures greener elsewhere. When it’s real love, your focus remains solely on the person you’re with, because even in the rocky phases you know they’re the right person for you.
4) THEY INSPIRE YOU TO BE A BETTER PERSON
When I met my boyfriend Joe, I was really struck by how many great qualities he had that seemed to come so naturally to him. For example, he doesn’t care what other people think of him, which makes him really easy to be around because he’s not trying to be someone he’s not. Being a chronic people pleaser, this was not a quality that came so easily to me, but the more time I spent with him, the more inspired I became to try and let go of other people’s opinions of me. When it’s real love, you’ll be more drawn to the inner positive qualities of the other person than the external markers of success, and you’ll no doubt want to become a better version of yourself as a result.
5) YOUR FRIENDS APPROVE OF THEM
My friends have always been pretty spot on when it came to calling who was (and who wasn’t) a good match for me in the long run. Sometimes we’re so blinded by our infatuation and obsession with our new partner that we cannot see how totally not right they are for us. Our friends and family can be far more objective, however, one - because they’re not emotionally invested in the relationship like we are, and two - because they know what and who is most likely to make us happy. Whilst your opinion is ultimately the most important, don’t completely shun advice from your loved ones - they really do have your best interests at heart.
I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU:
Which of these 5 ‘real love’ indicators most resonated for you - and why?
Do you have any other insights around how to know if you’re in love? If so, I’d be super grateful if you’d share them with me below :)
All my love,