It's one of the oldest questions ever asked - What is True Love? And how do you know when you have it?
In order to understand what true love is, we need to understand what it is first. You can think like a "romantic," but you'll get into trouble that way.
You might have noticed that the most "romantic outlook" tends to end in heartbreak a lot of the time. And the realists out there are no better, because their attitude often blocks them from true love - and experiencing the magic of it.
Defining love is no easy task, but let's take a shot at it...
What Is True Love?
Love is a strong feeling of attraction and connection with a person. But beyond this thin definition, there's a lot more going on.
Have you found "The One"...
If you're a romantic, you might define love as a mystical union of souls - or that it's written in the stars...
If you're a little bit more of a "realist" - you might define love as a biochemical hormone cocktail that hypnotizes you into making babies.
And both would be at least a little bit right.
If you were to go out and ask a million people out there what the definition of love is, you’d get about a million different answers. We all have our idea of what True Love is, but it’s always going to match our own needs and desires.
The Internet definition of Love is pretty lame: an intense feeling of deep affection.
That’s pretty limp. I think my 8 year old daughter could do better. In fact, here’s what SHE actually said when I asked her:
“Love is that cool feeling two people have that makes them want to be with each other."
I don’t know about you, but I’d go with her response much more than “deep affection."
A lot of people subscribe to the "least amount of work" method of defining their relationships. They use a "fantasy bond" to give them a feeling of closeness and security in their relationship.
This fantasy bond is an “illusion of connection and closeness [that allows couples] to maintain an imagination of love and loving while preserving emotional distance.”
A fantasy bond forms when couples substitute real love and closeness for the form of being in a relationship. In other words the "appearance" of relationship without the depth and vulnerability. This kind of bond feels thin and fragile.
So before we describe what True Love is, let’s go through the stages of True Love. This will help you understand what both of you experience on the path to a relationship...
True Love - Phase 1: Attraction
The first stage is when we realize there’s a spark of some feeling between us.
This could happen in the first few seconds of making eye contact across a dance floor...
Or it might happen years later in a relationship, when you suddenly see your friend in a different light. Maybe his personality grows on you and you realize you’ve got some really deep feelings.
Are we more than friends?
I will caution you that it’s pretty rare that friendships evolve into passionate romances. Most often, a woman will make a decision in the first few minutes of being around a guy as to whether or not she would hook up or even consider dating him. But, it can happen.
For the most part, you’re going to feel attraction right away. It’s that sexual tension that lights you up with excitement. This phase is also called “Lust” because you feel the initial stirrings of infatuation that will obsess you for weeks to come.
And this is assisted by some very important hormones that are released into your brain to ensure that you bond with him long enough for the next phase of love.
All of these hormones help you focus on the other person and develop this initial fascination that will turn into sexual attraction later.
These hormones are:
– Serotonin: This hormone boosts your mood; in fact, if you take drugs such as MDMA, you create a huge surge in serotonin...
– Oxytocin: This has been referred to as the "hug drug" - and the biological foundation for love. This hormone is released during cuddling and sex. Oxytocin assists in creating the bio-physical attachment to him...
– Vasopressin: Along with oxytocin, most experts believe that this hormone is also responsible for creating deep attachment to him...
– Dopamine: This hormone is responsible for the "desire and reward" loop, which means you feel a huge amount of pleasure when you receive loving actions, such as kindness, touch, gifts, or whatever makes you feel fulfilled and happy in the relationship...
– Norepinephrine: This is basically adrenaline. It's released when you are falling in love. It gives you the physical rush you feel while falling in love, such as sweaty palms or a hammering heartbeat...
This is the potent "love cocktail" that kicks in when you feel attraction for someone. It's there to start the process of connection that is meant to end in wild monkey love in bed later on.
True Love - Phase 2: Love
After the first few months of dating has come and gone, you’re probably now in the next stage.
You’re in love!
Congratulations. But don't get TOO excited. This doesn't mean you've locked him down - yet. You still need to do a few more things.
The Love Phase is the place in your relationship where you know you have a solid connection with him, and your emotions are growing stronger every day. You now have a connection that feels more stable between you.
One of the most common blocks to making True Love happen is when a woman doesn't know how to get a man who is obviously "in lust" with her to fall in LOVE with her.
Still, there's something not quite there to balance the relationship out and give you that feeling of complete security.
That comes in the next phase -
True Love - Phase 3: Commitment
The final stage of love is often the one that takes the most work - Commitment.
It’s not just about GETTING a commitment from him, either. I find that many women act out in relationships, and then blame his reaction to her as his “commitment phobia” - Instead of really her commitment issues.
It's a common pattern. This situation is not only unfair to him, it’s a deception that will leave her confused for years about why she can’t seem to make a relationship last.
You may even find yourself at this stage. You've gone through the attraction stage, you know you're in love - but you just don't know how to take it to the next level with him.
(I'll explain more about how to do this in just a bit...)
Keep in mind that it's VERY rare to ever fall in True Love right off the bat. In fact, I think it never really happens quite like that.
Sure, you can look back and say that the first time you saw each other you might have experienced love at first sight. But the truth is that you only say that now because it worked out. If it didn't work out, you would never have been able to say what it was.
In order for a romance to turn into True Love - it must go through all 3 of those stages.
So now, let's take a look at the answer for What IsTrue Love...?
What Is True Love?
It's difficult to define true love in a way that would meet everyone's desires. But there are some qualities that stand out as being essential.
Let's go through them...
Qualities of True Love - #1: Honesty
This one doesn't get enough credit when it comes to essential ingredients to love. You have to be willing to be brutally honest with yourself AND your man if you want the relationship to turn into True Love.
When I say "Brutal" I mean revealing everything.
Honesty IS the best policy.
You see, when a couple creates a "black hole" where they hide their secrets from the other partner, it starts out innocent enough. Maybe you don't tell him about that attractive friend who wants to come to your birthday celebration.
But since you hid that from him, maybe it's also okay to not tell him about those dresses you bought that were way out of the budget.
Or not tell him about that tiny scrape under the front of the car...
Or that you checked his phone the other day because you were worried...
You see how this can get out of control after a while? Where's the line between honesty and "making yourself feel better" end?
We need to make sure we're honest not only with HIM - but with yourself.
Are you really doing things for the reasons you're making up?
Is what you're about to do going to have an impact on the relationship?
What if he knew about some of the stuff you've been hiding?
These are all questions you have to be willing to answer to keep yourself honest first.
To quote Shakespeare: "To thine own self be true..."
Qualities of True Love - #2: No (Manipulative) Games
I know you're wondering about that "manipulative" I stuck in there. I mean, after all, aren't ALL games between people manipulative?
Well, not really. Some are definitely more manipulative and deceptive than others. Especially when we set out to deceive someone for our own selfish needs.
On the other hand, there are some games that are necessary in life. These are what I call the "light social games." They're not intended to be malicious or hurtful, or even to deceive.
In fact, many of them I would say are the kind of games where we are winking at the other person, where we both know what's going on.
Are you "playing" him for attention...?
For example, here's an unhealthy (AKA: BAD/manipulative) game:
You call your boyfriend up and tell him you're feeling a little sick, hoping that he will take a little pity on you and come over so you don't have to feel so lonely.
This is what many therapists call a "bid for attention." It's a light, delicate way of trying to connect, without risking too much. But the problem arises when this becomes the only way you can ask to get your needs met. When you are indirect all the time, you devalue yourself.
You have to be willing to reach out and risk a little to get what you want. The unfortunate thing is that so many people these days feel so caught behind and anxious that they have no energy to make that little bit of room to be vulnerable.
Now here's an example of a HEALTHY (AKA: good) game:
You call up your boyfriend and tell him you're feeling a little frisky. He asks if you want him to come over. You try on a baby-girl voice and say you don't know. He gets this is your code-word for "I need a little nurturing." He tells you he'll be over in a bit...
Now, you might think this is a manipulative head game, but it's not malicious.
And it's even healthy if there's some discussion in advance. In fact, all that's necessary is for you to simply tell your boyfriend what your "code words" are for being a bit needy. It makes it easier for you to put your "bids" out there - and get them met!
Qualities of True Love - #3: Mutual Respect
You know you need respect. And you may even know HE needs respect. (Probably more than you know, by the way.)
But for some reason, mutual respect is missing from a lot of people's relationships.
I think we start to lose respect when we realize:
We've chosen someone that can't give us what we need in relationship...
We resent the fact that we can't get out of the relationship easily...
There are plenty more reasons, but they always sound like we're blaming the other person for being who they are. "He doesn't call me!" or "He's not very affectionate..." We sometimes don't realize that just because WE want something in our relationship, that doesn't mean they want it too.
So you have to put respect up at the top of your list as far as necessary relationship ingredients.
Now, I'm sure you want this, too - but it's not addressing the same core need for you as it does for HIM.
Men look at respect as the true indication of how much he is wanted and appreciated in the relationship. Men sense on a certain level that they are very "replaceable" in a relationship. Besides the uniqueness of himself, you could find most things in other guys pretty easily.
So he steps up his game to help you. To give you what you need.
And yes, he really does want to support you. (Even when he's threatened by the very same thing you want his support on.)
You gotta gotta gotta give good respect. Because it's one of the reasons a guy will leave or be unfaithful, and it's pretty easy to fix.
And if you can't respect him, please don't stay in a relationship with him!
Qualities of True Love - #4: Positive Focus
It might sound kind of weak, but the reality is that positivity always works better than negativity.
It's a simple fact of life.
And when it comes to your relationship, you have to have a natural desire to focus on the strengths of your man - and your relationship. You're not focused on their flaws or all the things you'd like to change about them.
Use the tools you've learned...
Very often I hear my clients complain about a man who is just not meeting her needs. She then starts to criticize him and works to change him. Or I should say TRY to change him.
You have to keep a strong focus on the positive parts of your relationship.
The truly unfortunate situation is when I hear that a client is overlooking REAL faults, like verbal abuse, or abusive neglect. This is the distorted version of "positivity" where the person making the excuses is afraid to really own the situation they are in and tries to paint it as something good and healthy.
Please don't ever let a false positivity in your relationship cloak the really bad stuff, either. Just keep a balanced view of the complete terrain of your relationship.
And keep using me as your compass as you journey into that terrain of your relationship...
Qualities of True Love - #5: Making It Better...
There's a Japanese philosophy in business called Kaizen. It's the idea that you can make a few small improvements to a system and yield HUGE results - in both quality and efficiency.
Well, you can also do the same thing in your relationships. It's very easy to make a few small adjustments to your love relationship and feel an incredible level of passion with your man.
You might be wondering right now, What are those improvements?
But there's something even more important you have to start with...
The first, most important part is that you have the ATTITUDE of wanting to improve your relationship. Even if only in small ways, you have to devote yourself to that purpose.
You're always going to have the occasional disagreement and conflict in a relationship. That's just the way these things go.
But if you are always in motion towards a solution for these conflicts and arguments and disagreements, your momentum will keep you moving forward towards a better relationship.
Qualities of True Love - #6: Dropping the Defense...
I like watching other couples to see how well they have their connection skills polished. And I also watch for the things these couples have in common.
One that stands out is that - in strong relationships, neither person in the relationship is constantly defending themselves to the other. They let go of their sensitivities to understand that they are not ever being intentionally attacked by their partner.
They know that if they keep their defenses up, they'll never really get beyond an illusion of love - the "fantasy bond."
So keep your relationship alive and thriving by letting go of this need to defend yourself all the time. If your partner is really attacking you, set them straight or send them packing. But if they're just telling you the truth, your resistance will just look like denial.
Keep your defenses down - and choose a man that won't ever dream of attacking you...
Qualities of True Love - #7: See It From The Mirror...
The mirror of our relationship is always our partner. So when you are looking at yourself - and your relationship - from HIS point of view, you're going to be looking in the perfect mirror of your relationship. And you'll know exactly what to do.
Understand his experience...
The tricky part is that it's so difficult for most people to let go of their own point of view for another person's. We get so wrapped up in ourselves that we forget how the other person must feel.
And if OUR feelings are activated, watch out! It's going to shut out the other person completely.
If you can keep your awareness open to what his intentions actually are, instead of what you need them to be, you'll stay connected to your relationship. You won't get lost in your own headspace.
AND he will respect you so much more for it!
So you have to do your best to keep your mirror clear when it comes to seeing your man. If you can really see things from his perspective, you'll know exactly where you stand with him.
You see, True Love doesn't just HAPPEN. You have to know what to look for, and how to grow it in the relationship you have.
VERY few women have ever started out in True Love, no matter how much that guy might have felt like your soulmate.
If you hope to have True Love just fall into your lap, you're at risk of taking the lazy person's approach to romance. And what happens is that the stars never align when you're sitting back and thinking you can just expect the cosmos to give you gifts for no reason.
You're not giving off the right energy to get the universe to work with you!
Remember, Love is a verb. It's an action you take, not a thing you possess...
And if you want to create the kind of fairy tale romance that is true to you, you must know how to read your man.
The mirror he holds up for you and your relationship is critical for you to see if you're going to be successful - and really get him to desire you in true love.
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