What is true love, or romantic love? The truth – everyone communicates and receives love in their own unique way. You have many different types of love in your life. Love for family, love for your job (maybe), love for hobbies, love for pets, and maybe even love for your favorite sports team. But the love you have for your significant other is different. It’s special, and often the strongest.
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The problem many people have is figuring out the meaning of true love and the signs of true love.
- How do you know you’re in love?
- How do you know if someone is in love with you?
It’s important to be able to be able to identify true love and what love is NOT, especially if you’re considering taking your relationship to the next level.
The Signs of True Love
Anyone can blurt out the words “I love you,” but a person’s actions speak far louder than these words. What is true love? Am I really in love? Is my significant other truly in love with me? Here’s a look at some of the most common signs of true love.
Sign #1 – The Relationship is More Important Than “Winning” or Being Right
It’s normal for any couple to get into arguments from time to time . You’re not always going to agree. But there shouldn’t be derogatory language, low blows, or focus on trying to hurt your partner. When you’re really in love, your relationship is a lot more important than “winning” the fight or being right. And even if your partner did something that hurt you, according to Rubin’s Love Scale, real love means you’re willing to forgive your true love for nearly anything . Forgiveness, kindness, and valuing the relationship are the real signs of true love.
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Sign #2 – Prioritizing Your Significant Other’s Needs
Another sign of true love is prioritizing your significant other’s needs. You see, true love goes beyond just passionate or romantic love to something known as compassionate love, which inspires positive behaviors towards your significant other, such as support, charity, self-sacrifice, and attending to your significant other’s needs, even when it involves a cost to yourself .
Compassionate love involves feelings and actions that focus on concern, caring, and an orientation towards understanding, supporting, and helping your significant other when they are in need. Instead of a quid pro quo relationship, real love involves taking care of your loved one’s welfare and needs, while also knowing that they will do the same when you are in need. Real love involves giving and caring for each other without expecting or demanding anything in return .
Sign #3 – Deep Investment in Your Significant Other’s Growth and Success
True love involves being deeply invested in your significant other’s growth and success in life. To survive and thrive, everything needs to grow. When you’re truly in love, you’ll want to help your significant other grow . You’ll support your loved one’s goals in life. True love will grow together without fear or resistance. When your significant other succeeds, you’ll be happy for their successes in life and you’ll be committed to helping them achieve it in all areas of their life.
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Sign #4 – Honesty and Deep Trust
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Real love brings with it honesty and a deep trust, and this works both ways. If your partner loves you, they’ll be honest with you, even about things that are difficult to discuss. If you’re really in love, you’ll be honest with your loved one, even when it’s tough . True love also involves trusting each other. If your significant other constantly has to know everything about your whereabouts, what you’re doing, and who you’re with, they don’t trust you. And a lack of trust is a lack of love.
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A look at Rubin’s love scale also notes that a sign of love is the feeling that you can confide in your loved one . Are you holding back with your significant other? Do you worry they aren’t confiding in you? If so, then this may not be the true love you’re looking for in life.
Sign #5 – It Goes Beyond Sex
Literature and studies support the idea that physical intimacy and sexuality are an important part of romantic relationships . The importance of satisfying sex should not be discounted in a loving relationship, and while it’s long been assumed that sexual activity impacts quality of life in men, recent studies have reported very similar findings for women . However, while sex is important, true love goes beyond sex.
In some surprising studies, it was found that the most desired trait when falling in love is personality, while placing a priority on physical attraction is associated with lust . While a good sexual relationship is definitely important, true love goes beyond sex, focusing on the personality traits, such as fun, kindness, humor, and intelligence, in the person that you love.
Sign #6 – Your Significant Other’s Pain is Your Pain
Do you feel emotional or physical pain when your significant other is in pain? That’s a sign of true love. Looking once again at Rubin’s love scale, true love involves feeling responsible for a loved one’s welfare, and when a loved one is feeling bad, you want to cheer them up . You can’t ignore it when someone your true love is hurting because you are right there with them, feeling their pain. And so, you work to comfort them, and if possible, remove their pain.
Incredibly, science has found that just the touch of the one you love helps to reduce pain. A recent study discovered that when an “empathetic partner holds the hand of a woman in pain, their heart and respiratory rates sync and her pain dissipates.” The more empathy that partner has for their loved one, the stronger this analgesic effect is and the greater the synchronization between the two when they touch .
Sign #7 – Willingness to Compromise
Even when you share many of the same values, you won’t always agree on everything. You may have different ideas of what you want to eat. Perhaps you have different ideas on how you should spend money. Real love will involve a willingness to compromise because when you’re truly in love, you’re committed to the relationship . Compromise involves working together to come to an agreement that you’re both comfortable with, and this doesn’t mean that one person is giving in all the time. Both partners must be willing to compromise.
While a willingness to compromise is an important sign of true love, it doesn’t involve feeling like you have to compromise your beliefs or values for your partner . It’s about trying to understand your partner’s point of view. It’s about coming to an agreement together or at least agreeing to disagree to preserve the love you share.
Sign #8 – You Work Together as a Team
True love is all about working together as a team. Sometimes one partner needs to step up and help out more, and at other times, the other partner needs to take over. This is teamwork. When two people are in love, they combine strengths and work together as a team, and together they’re able to create something very special. They work together to achieve goals and life objectives.
While teamwork strategies are often discussed for professional development, teamwork is also important for personal development and the success of relationships. Some of the qualities of a good team player include communication, adaptability, commitment, selflessness, relationship, enthusiastic, discipline, and dependability, and these are qualities that are an important part of good teamwork in a loving relationship .
Sign #9 – You Want to Be Together Even During Tough Times
Every couple is going to go through crises in their relationship, but one of the signs of true love is wanting to be together, loving each other, and supporting each other when those tough times come along . Hard times in life create stress, and stress can be difficult on a relationship. Some of common stressful events you may experience include:
- Financial strains (i.e. job loss, medical bills, debt)
- Death in the family
- Serious illness in a partner or child
- Job changes
- Having a child
Unfortunately, life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, but no matter what stressful events you’re dealing with, true love means offering support and protection, even when failures, losses, and challenges come along.
Sign #10 – Showing Respect
True love means showing respect for each other. In fact, one of the most important questions to ask about your significant other is, “Does this person truly respect me?”  Respect involves respecting your partner’s right to be himself. It involves striving to treat each other as equals . When you truly love someone, you’ll respect and value their opinions and listen nonjudgmentally . A partner who respects you will be proud of you, want to hear your advice, communicate with you, and respect your boundaries, physical and otherwise.
Read More: What Are Boundaries in Relationship?
What Love is Not
While it’s important to know the signs of true love, it’s also important to know what love is not and the signs of an unhealthy relationship (signs here). While real love is based on respect, equality, and selflessness, unhealthy relationships are based on control and power.
Love is NOT Jealousy
Although you may feel a bit possessive about someone you love, true love is not jealous. Extreme jealousy and feeling like you cannot hang out with a friend without your significant other being jealous is a sign of an unhealthy relationship. If you’re constantly being accused of being unfaithful and your partner gets angry when you’re around members of the opposite sex, that’s a big warning sign – not a sign of love .
You can learn how to cope with jealousy, however.
Love is NOT Isolating
True love isn’t isolating. Someone who truly loves you won’t keep you from seeing family and friends or going to work or school . They won’t delete contacts from your email or phone. They won’t encourage you to constantly stay home with them. If someone is isolating you from other people, it’s an unhealthy relationship you need to exit.
Love is NOT Hurting You
Love does not include someone hurting you, physically or emotionally. Abuse of any kind is not love. Someone who says they love you should not be slapping, kicking, biting, shoving, punching, or hitting you. They should never threaten to hurt you. A person who truly loves you will not hurt you emotionally by constantly criticizing you, blaming you for things that go wrong, or forcing you to have sex against your will [, ].
Watch out for these symptoms of an emotionally abusive relationship.
Love is NOT Controlling or Manipulative
True love will never be controlling or manipulative. If your partner is trying to control or manipulate you or you’re using this behavior on your partner, it’s not true love. Your significant other shouldn’t try to control your behavior, your friendships, how you dress, or any other part of your life . While compromising is a sign of love, you shouldn’t be the one who is manipulated into giving in all the time.
Avoid men who display these signs of being controlling.
Love is NOT Belittling
If your significant other belittles you by making you feel worthless or calling you names, this is not love . Someone who truly loves you will build you up, not put you down. They’ll work to help you grow and improve, not make you feel like you are worthless or tear you down in front of other people .
Frequently Asked Questions About True Love
FAQ #1 – Can a marriage survive without true love?
Truthfully, the answer is complicated. Many marriages have survived without true love, but they don’t always thrive without it. In some cases, as in the case of arranged marriages, couples go into the marriage without any love, yet through the years they often grow to love each other and have a strong bond. In other cases, couples are passionately in love when they get married, yet the flame goes out, and they find themselves divorced a few years later. For a marriage to survive, love often changes and grows through the years. It may begin as romantic, passionate love and slowly develop into compassionate love that keeps the relationship thriving for a lifetime .
FAQ #2 – Does true love last?
We know that feelings of love create hormonal changes within the body. When falling in love, specific chemical substances within the body, such as dopamine, phenethylamine, and oxytocin play a big role in behaviors and experiences associated with love. When you fall in love with someone, it’s often associated with positive feelings, a racing heart, increased energy, and even sweaty palms.
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The triangular theory of love, which was designed by Robert Sternberg, a well-known psychologist, notes that the three components of real love are commitment, passion, and intimacy. While over time, those hormones involved with falling in love may wane, when you have commitment, passion, and intimacy, it is possible for true love to last. However, for true love to last, you have to keep putting time and energy into sustaining the love .
FAQ#3 – How can you keep true love strong?
Like we just noted, true love can last, but you have to put time and energy into it. When the hormones associated with falling in love decrease (after the honeymoon period), then it’s going to take some commitment and energy on your part to keep true love strong.
Find out how to make your relationship last.
One step suggested for renewing true love and keeping it strong include taking time to look into each other’s eyes, syncing up, and making that sensory connection through eye contact . Taking time to have fun together, do new things together, and appreciating each other and the good things they bring to the relationship can also keep that love strong through the years.
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