How Do You Know If It's Real Love? Here Are The Facts
Updated November 15, 2019
Reviewer Laura Angers
When you've been involved with someone for a while, how can you tell if that person is truly into you, or if they're just playing you until someone better comes along? And if they break up with you, you may feel like you don't even know what to think anymore, like…is love real?
While passionate flings are what sell books and movies, in real life, the truth about love is that it is, in a word, boring. It's able to not only put up with each other but to help each other grow as time goes on. It's what is left over after the passion dies out, and if what is left over is healthy, then you know this is real love.
What's perhaps the most interesting thing about true love is that it can't really be defined. That's how you know it's the real thing. Passion, puppy love, volatile relationships, teen romance - all of these things have labels and signs that point them out. True love isn't so easy to put into a box with a neatly wrapped bow. True love just…is.
What follows are some additional facts about love that may make you feel warmer about it, may dispel any myths you may believe about it, and may just help you in your quest to find true love.
The Most Natural Love There Is
Did you know that humans aren't the only ones who are monogamous with each other? If you've ever thought to yourself while in a depressive state after a breakup that maybe love isn't real, you may be comforted to know that animals truly do form loving bonds with each other.
Animals like wolves, penguins, swans, and eagles, and even bugs like termites, have been known to stay with one partner for life. So the next time you hear someone say "monogamy isn't natural!" you can counter with "it is!"
Time To Hit The Gym!
Studies show that women are less attracted to men with a belly. If you've ever felt like you were shallow because you were less attracted to, say, your chunky friend with a heart of gold than you were the guy in college with the rock-hard abs, then this is one of those love facts that may just make you feel a bit better.
It turns out; you're not shallow for feeling this way. In fact, men with bellies are perceived to have lower levels of testosterone than men who keep their bodies in shape. A belly may signal to the ladies that this man, in particular, has a low fertility rate, and so if she chooses him for a mate, she may not be able to bear children.
However, here's something interesting: studies show that we tend to be attracted, on an unconscious level of course, to those who resemble our parents in either look or smell. So, if you tease your friend for being a "chubby chaser," perhaps you should pay closer attention to your friend's parents before judging…
This goes for men, too. Men tend to be attracted to women whose bone structure resembles that of their mothers. So if your boyfriend's mom is short and petite, and you're short and petite, well…you see where this is going.
Interestingly, however, is that we tend to pay more attention to how attractive a person's body is when we're looking for a casual fling. For more long-term relationships, we usually focus more on how attractive a person's face is, rather than his or her body.
With all of these different things going on at the same time, it's no wonder that love can be such a complicated mess! How can you be attracted to a body that is attractive, but may also resemble the flabbier body of one of your parents, while being more attracted to a person's face than his or her body - or more to his or her body than their face - depending on your priorities? Help! One thing that's certain about love is that it is impossible to rationalize.
The Healing Properties Of Love
Love has so many healing properties that make it genuinely fascinating. For instance, cuddling with someone releases oxytocin, so the feeling we have is similar to taking a painkiller. The same goes for holding hands. If you hold hands with your loved one, this can work to dispel any feelings of anxiety or fear you may have, and it may also take the edge off of any physical pain you may be feeling.
Is your significant other away on business? No problem! Studies show that even looking at a picture of your loved one can reduce pain in a way that no other distractions can.
Falling in love with someone has been shown to have the same effects as taking a hit of cocaine. Both induce a sense of euphoria, however falling in love is, of course, the healthier option - not only because it's not an illicit substance, but also because it causes your body to release chemicals that stimulate 12 areas of your brain simultaneously! No wonder falling in love can make certain artists so creative!
On a related note, you know how, during the early days of a relationship, you tend to act less like yourself? You're trying not to raise suspicions, but then you end up doing exactly that and give yourself away? As it turns out when a relationship is still brand new, our serotonin levels drop (the chemical in our brains that make us happy), and our cortisol levels increase (the chemical that results from stress). Because of this, we legitimately display symptoms closely associated with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, rather than appearing to be in a state of pure bliss
True Love Waits…And Incubates
While you may believe in love at first sight, the reality is that love, at first sight, is more about attraction and infatuation than real love. Once you find out about a person's financial history, hygienic habits (or lack thereof), or political leanings, you may second-guess how truly in "love" you are with that person. This is why true love takes so long to realize because a lot of different factors go into what makes you truly love another person.
In fact, it takes about a year for the infatuation phase of a relationship to dissipate and for true love to creep in. Typically, you'll know when this phase is ending because this is around when the first real fights start to happen, and you start to see how you both recover from these fights. If the relationship survives these fights, that's when you both start to realize that you do love each other. You'll know it's true love when you both jive on most things,and you truly understand and care about each other.
True Love Is Not Forever
What's sad about true love is that, even if you feel you've found your soulmate and there's no one else in the world for you, it is just as possible for true love to fade as it is for a teen romance or infatuation to end. While you may be feeling a certain way right now, there's no guarantee that you will feel the same way in five or ten years, or maybe even a year from now. Life experiences can significantly change a person, which can have a profound effect on the relationships that person has.
This is why young love, more often than not, does not last. It is incredibly difficult to stay in a relationship with someone who has not experienced the same things that you have. After graduation, a girl may move out of her house, move into a college dorm, and meet a ton of new people who can change her viewpoints in ways that she never thought possible. And while she may still love her high school sweetheart, they just don't have enough in common anymore to keep the relationship strong, and she may just realize that what they had was more of an immature love than what awaits both of them in the future.
True love can also fade, but perhaps not so abruptly. Sometimes people naturally grow apart.
The good news is that it is possible to find true love again with someone else. Of course, you can continue to be happy with someone, even when your wants and needs are vastly different from those that you had when you first met your longtime love. This is because you can always find people who share similar values to the ones you hold now.
It is stubborn to believe that there's only one person out there for each of us. Think about everything you enjoy. Is there only one fan of the Steelers out there? Or one person attending a particular Broadway show? No - there are thousands of people out there who share similar interests - maybe multiple of the same ones. There are thousands of people who share your political views, your views on raising children, and your religious beliefs. Just because one relationship has ended, sad as it may be, this does not mean that your romantic life has to end here. Every day is another chance to meet someone new and be happy.
Want to learn more about real love vs. infatuation? Reach out to one of our counselors for more information and advice.