How to Know It's Really Love

Is It Really Love?

Have you been dating someone for a while? Are you starting to wonder if he or she might be the one? Are you thinking that maybe you are ready to really commit to this person? Are you wondering if the feelings are mutual? Are you questioning if what you are feeling is real love?

Or For That Matter, What Is Real Love?

Sometimes it is easier to describe something with actions than with a definition. So, if you are wondering if you are in a REAL mutually loving relationship, here are some things that you will naturally want to do for your boyfriend or girlfriend and that they will want to do for you:

  • Spend more focused time with each other than your other friends.
  • Are excited to be with each other and are happy when you are together.
  • Make each other feel special by the things you say and do.
  • Respect each other. Not only when you're alone, but also when you are around other people.
  • Are patient with each other, even when one of you makes a mistake.
  • Speak well of each other to other people.
  • Protect each other.
  • Communicate with each other frequently. Talk about what's going on in your life and what you are feeling.
  • Listen to each other, looking in each other's eyes while they are talking to you.
  • Are sensitive to each other's feelings and needs.
  • Put each other before yourself.
  • Trust each other.
  • Show respect for each other's parents and other friends.
  • Are willing to make sacrifices for each other.
  • Tell each other you love them.

Love Never Ends

This kind of loving relationship is described in the famous love chapter in the Bible..."Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends."  (I Corinthians 13)

When you read that verse or look at the list above, do those things describe your relationship? If so, then you may be ready to really commit to another person - to live your life together and walk alongside them for better or for worse. To really love someone is deciding to put another person before yourself.   True, romantic love is so much more than just a gooey, warm feeling. Those feelings of infatuation won't always be there, but a commitment to another person will.

Honestly, Is It Really Love?

So many students I talk with think they are deeply in love with someone and yet they have no idea whether or not they are being loved in return. Honestly, if you don't know if you are in a loving relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend, then you probably aren't. I actually believe that many people know, deep down, that they are not in a loving relationship, but they are resigned to being treated in a less than loving way just to keep the relationship going.

This is the situation Leah finds herself in:  I have a boyfriend and I love him, but I'm not sure if he loves me, too. He always ignores me, or I feel so left out. He used to tell me he loved me, and he missed me a lot, but he never does anymore. I really don't want to leave him because I still love him. We've been going out for four months now, today is our anniversary, and he forgot about it. But I still love him, because I know he has problems in his life. -Leah

Many of the same ways you show your boyfriend or girlfriend that you love them are the very actions or attitudes to look for to see if they love you back. If you feel you are the one holding the relationship together and have told your significant other how you feel about them and have yet to see any signs of love from them, you might have to decide whether this person is capable of showing any kind of love or if they really love you.

Maddie wishes her boyfriend would show his love for her in more consistent ways: I have a boyfriend but sometimes when I hang with my friend Nick and some of my other guy friends, I feel like they like me more than my bf. I know my bf loves me and he shows it when he's with me, but when he's not with me or he's with his friends, he just acts different to me. He won't even hold my hand or anything. It's like he's shy around his friends, and I don't want him to be. I just feel he could he show me he loves me a little more and I really wish he would. He doesn't even say I love you¦ is that bad?

The problem for Maddie is that her boyfriend is telling her that he doesn't really love her. He loves what his friends think about him, more than what she thinks or feels.

How Do They Really Feel About You?

Even if we are certain the other person knows exactly how we feel about them, it is always important for your boyfriend or girlfriend to hear or see your love demonstrated. A loving relationship that is maturing will work hard to communicate that love. Put another way, if you are in a committed relationship with someone you should know how they feel about you and they should know how you feel about them.

It takes a tremendous amount of work to continue having a loving relationship. But it's worth it. And it is the type of relationship God created you to have. So please don't settle for less.

There is nothing more powerful and beautiful than true love. Love comes first from God, because God is love. God is the one who will give us the strength to show love to others.

Still searching for answers about love and your relationship?  Read, How to Find A Meaningful Relationship to explore ways to help our relationship.

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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8 comments on “How to Know It's Really Love”

  1. I've known this girl for well over a year. I met her when she was going through a breakup, and I really liked her. We got pretty close, and I helped her through her break-up. We talked for months and months. I finally realized I couldn't love her. Or so I thought. So I pushed away my growing feelings. And we became best friends. Over the next few months we got closer and closer to the point where we talked almost everyday and could tell each other everything. We both went through relationships. I dated this exchange student, we dated for four months, but it was the closest thing I had ever had to true love. She helped me through times in life I didn't think I could get out of. At the same time, my best-friend who we'll call J was still there for me, and met her new boyfriend. It was weird, I remember feeling a little jealous when she told me how much she loved him, even though I was in a relationship I thought would last a really long time. Unfortunately, my girlfriend had to leave back to Germany after four months because of Covid-19. I was extremely depressed and I went back into this hole of sadness I had been in for a long time before.
    J was still always there for me though, and alway made time for me, fast forward a couple months. Me and my now ex-girlfriend from Germany have stopped talking long distance as it just wasn't working (we are 17, it was really hard). I hadn't done anything with any other girls yet, and I thought maybe if I went through a few one time hookups it would be better. I did, was not better, made me want something more, just not with any of these girls. Around that time, J started going through hard times with her boyfriend. I met the guy before and he seemed nice enough, he just didn't know how to treat a girl right. I helped J as much as possible ways being there for her, doing everything I could to cheer her up. Keep in mind, I've caught feelings for this girl before, she's absolutely gorgeous, and me and her personalities mix like yin and yang. I know I care for her close to as much I care for my family. I went over to her house one night, snuck into her house, and we watched movies and just hungout. We started cuddling though, and I didn't want to hook up with her in that moment, I just wanted to make her happy, keep her safe, and to let her know that I love and care for her and that I'm always going to be there for her. I knew I loved her, but I didn't know how I loved her if that makes sense. I just knew I loved her.
    Fast forward, her and her boyfriend had broken up, and apparently he had done something with some other girl. So she was hurt, I felt really bad for her. Then, I don't even really know what happened, but one day she started talking about other guys and I felt so jealous, but I obviously didn't say anything. I don't know what to say at his point, we stayed as close, and she ended up hooking up with this one guy. The one thing, the only thing I dislike about this girl, is that she likes absolute assholes. I hate seeing her go out with these guys knowing they don't care for her and that they just want in her pants. I actually hate it, I feel like she deserves way more than that and she deserves someone who will treat her right and care for her, not just someone who wants to get in her clothes. That's why I was okay and even kinda liked her ex-boyfriend. He at least cared for her, I wasn't even jealous, I was happy for her, and happy that she was happy and that he didn't just care about that one thing. Now fast forward, we are closer than ever, and she's over her ex, and I know she has been kind of wanting to go hook up with this one guy she hooked up with before. One night she comes over and we are just in my bed, and I don't know shit just kind of happened and we ended up having sex. We just decided to not tell anybody about it. Everything is the same between us now, we literally joke around about it. But I was worried about her and it came true, I really really have caught feelings for her now. We are closer than ever now, and I just don't know what to do. We always cuddle still, I have all the signs in the world that says she loves me back, and feels the same, but I just don't know what to do. I was over at her house the other night after a long night of drinking, and it was me, her and her friend. We were all in her bed, then when her friend went to bed she turned over and put her leg over me and started cuddling. I remember just laying there, and cuddling with her thinking about how much I love her. She would sometimes smooch closer to me or put her hand on my chest or abs and just try and get closer and closer against me. I would have my hand on her waist on one under her running through her hair. Every once and a while I would give her a kiss on the head. I don't think she was sleeping though, because when I did that she would move closer sometimes. I don't know, just thinking about gives me every reason to believe she likes me back. When I left I gave her the longest hug and told her "I love you" and she looked at me and said "I love you too" then I kissed her on the head, she smiled, then I left. I have every reason to think she likes me back, but I just can't bring myself to do anything about it. I can't imagine life without he and I feel like I can't risk losing her. She's my rock and I wouldn't know what to do without her. But I also love her so much and can't imagine her being with another guy. I know she's told me before that she's not ready to date anybody yet, but I don't know if it's too early even for me, or if I wait too long i'll miss a chance I've always dreamt of having. I constantly defend our friendship to others, and always say we’re just friends even when everyone says it obviously isn't. I trust her more than anyone else. I always make sure to take care of her more than I do anyone else. I notice every single little detail about her. I’m my realest self around her. I talk with her about anything. We always spend time together, including holidays. All my friends feel like a 3rd wheel when me and her are together. I’ve always tried to ignore the sexual tension between us. I get jealous when i see her with other guys to be honest. I'm always super comfortable around her. I always give her friendly compliments. We always use each other as pillows. We’ll both travel far distances to see each other. But mainly, I get confused about how I really feel, I always think about what it would be like to date her, but i'm afraid it would ruin our friendship. Someone please give me advice, I don’t know what to do, I just know I truly love her.

  2. I’m in new relationship that was a little forced. I love him, but I think he is being pressured to like me. He asks as i though we are best friends and not dating. It’s been almost a week and he has shown no INTEREST in me...

  3. This is a long one: February 22nd, 2017. My fiance tells me she is done. We live together have a kid together and just got engaged. Everything is in ruins. Our son stays in the apartment we shared while she moves in with her new boyfriend (fast huh).
    April 20th 2017. I get to bring my son to Florida to meet my grandparents for their 40 anniversary party. It's a giant affair family and friends from every where. I reconncre with people I had not seen in a long time my mother, step father, sister, her fiance, my mother's best friend who is like my aunt and her daughter who I had babysat my entire life. I have the greatest time I have had in a long time. It's nice to be blissfully content. Unfortunately my mind nags about not having my recently lost love.
    September 31st 2017. I can't stand the small town drama my job was harrassed from me, my family turned on me and I lost my home. I feel as if I have no one so I return to Florida. Hoping to do better.
    November 27th 2017.
    I ended up becoming roommates with my mother's best friend Nichole and her daughter Racheal. As life as proceeded I have become more depressed and lonely. Racheal seemed to be my only solace. And in a snap decision a romantic event occurs. I tell her it was a mistake I can't love anyone I'm too dismantled. She understands she says the same.
    December 1st 2017
    I saw Racheal with another man and realized I was jealous and wanted to be him. But it's probably just loniness.
    December 6th 2017
    I meet a girl in the neighborhood and fill what I think they void is, lonliness. She has the same distraught personal thoughts. But nothing seems right I still feel sad. I think it's because I miss Shaun it's Christmas time.
    December 17th 2017
    Turned 25. Spent it alone. I tried to cry but couldn't. Haven't been able to for awhile. I'm starting to scare myself. Thoughts of Racheal still have not subsided. Feelings have grown more intense and I'm around her less. I talked to Nikki the week before about it. She saw it. But it seems weird that we distanced ourselves afterwords. She isn't mad at us. She thinks we would be perfect.
    December 31st 2017. As the ball drops I imagine kissing her and holding her. And then I hide and wonder why I'm doing this to myself. Things have been up and down with her guy.
    January 14th 2018.
    I spend as much time as possible at work. Unfortunately I spend almost every minute that I am awake thinking about her stupidly. It's killing me. I get mad for not being able to revert back to what it was.
    February 2nd 2018
    It's that time of year it seems as if it all comes down to my depression I pawn my feeling of as confusion due to my state.
    March 2nd 2018.
    Nothing has gone right with the guy for awhile everytime she cry's I try to be there but she pushes me away. She stays busy partying and hanging with friends, going out and living life. Trying to distract herself. She handles all of it so elegantly. I attempt to rationalize why I can't hit the reset with her. Every thing I try to use as a reason to not want her makes me crave her more. But she isn't mine. And made it as clear as I did that I am not it for her.
    April 2nd 2018
    A new guy in the circle of friends points out to me that I am obviously in love with her and asked me why I haven't acted. I tell him she is like my little sister he doesn't know what he is talking about. He just shrugs and says whatever.
    April 7th 2018
    I have been hiding in my room for days I'm driving myself insane I can't sleep I don't wanna eat my mind never slows down. And I constantly think of her. I tell myself I'm just messed up and sad but I tell myself there is no point. She has had a new guy over a few times. I catch her looking at me and she seems sad. He left and we spend the day in my bed watching movies and talking. She passes out late. As she slept next to me I wrote a 12 page story about what I started realizing.
    It smacks me that I am in love with her the moment her hand landed in my lap while she slept and she grabbed my hand. My heart stopped. Goosebumps slowly crept though my entire body I felt as if I wanted to throw up but it seemed as if the inside of my stomach was starting to float. I spend all night admiring her and writing. When she awakens I have breakfast and I am still with out any sleep typing like a mad man. She trys hard to see what I am writing but I refuse to let her see it. The guy comes back and they go to her room, I proceed to write. And edit untill 9:00 p.m. on the 8th, then crash..
    April 10th 2018
    It's her birthday, I make it all about her, she tells me it was a great night and she couldn't have asked for better. Me her and her new guy friend all share my bed(no sex, alpha male here). She pushes him off the bed and cuddles to me while she sleeps. I can't sleep at all again. I just smile.
    April 11th 2018.
    I drink. I hihi. I cry. I talk to myself. I realize a lot about life and love and what true honesty is. The crying is amazing it last for hours. I haven't cried like this since last year. I realize that I have to say something I have to try. I have to tell everyone that's been asking why I have become a recluse.
    April 12 th 2018.
    At sunset I ask Racheal to go for a walk with me, I ask her sit in the field behind our house with me. She does, when we sit across from each other I ask her to just listen to me. I spill it all out. My insecurities my fears my love for her how I want to be but how I know that I messed up when I said it was a mistake. The mistake was not knowing what she meant to me before hand. She doesn't have much to say to me. But doesn't tell me that I am the only guy she actually sees in her future. in our lives we travelled in opposite directions thousands of miles and still wound up together with out any communication for 5 Years.
    She doesn't know why she can't see me as just a friend anymore. We don't like titles and we are both completely damaged. She says that she is in love with me too. But she hates it. She doesn't want to be. I completely understand.
    Now we are at the point where I have to wait. I don't know how this will go. But I do know that she is one of 2 people to actually stick by me thick or thin. No matter how mad we have gotten at each other we are always ok by the time we close our eyes. we confide in each other, vent to each other, we stand up for each other, we praise each other, we crap talk each other. But most important ofall no matter what we support each other 110%. We watch each other go through suitors and break ups and financial struggle, we are both very closed masked people, but for some reason neither of us can keep our masks up to each other. Regardless of how this goes for me. I'm glad that I realized what true love was.

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