Love can be an enigma. Sometimes you can experience it without knowing, while other times you can think you’re experiencing it when you’re not. So how do you ever truly know if you’re in love?
Having clarity about how you feel can help you see the difference between that intense, lusty passion and genuine companionship. Because let’s be honest—emotions are tricky and it’s easy to mix feelings up. To help you ditch your second-guessing for good, here’s what mature love feels like and the signs you found it.
You’ll stop trying to be perfect.
It’s normal to want your partner to think you’re perfect. No question, being placed on a pedestal makes us feel more validated and special. But when dealing with mature love, you won’t be playing these silly worship-me games. You’ll be too busy growing with your vulnerabilities—not hiding them and prancing around like you’re perfect.
Slowly, your ego becomes secondary to the importance of the relationship. You’ll care less about being idolized and more about appreciating your partner. By investing more time and energy valuing your partner’s happiness, you’ll spend less time focusing on your insecure need to appear perfect. You’ll fully expose the real you—flaws, weird habits and all.
You become less selfish.
In a mature relationship, you’re more focused on your partner’s needs than your own. Needless to say, this concern must be mutual, of course. As Relationship Therapist Meridith Shirley explains, “Authentic love is based on a selfless admiration and fondness for the other person.” Basically, most of your ‘me thinking’ is replaced by your desire to positively impact the person you love
Your inward needs are replaced by outward generosity. In turn, your dependance on attention and flattery fades away and you sacrifice more brainspace considering their well-being and happiness. You’ll know you’ve found mature love because you’ll be less selfish, while your relationship grows more stable.
Your priorities will change.
Our priorities are always shifting, but real love can make them transform. Things that felt important when you were single or casually dating become less crucial in a mature relationship.
Psychologist Dr. Samantha Joel discusses this change in her article, How New Relationships Can Shift Your Priorities. In her study, she found that couples will adjust their life goals to grow more compatible with their partner. For example, Joel notes that, “One partner might list goals like saving money and eating healthier.”
Your new goals might be a far stretch from your pre-relationship self. Maybe before, you were more concerned with petty distractions, like scrolling through social media or gossip at work. Yet, once you’re committed to a deeply fulfilling relationship, one that’s mature and positive, you no longer care as much about these shallow diversions.
You become less shallow.
In a healthy relationship, you might become less critical about your appearance. Although nobody is 100% immune to being self-conscious, this condition improves in a mature relationship. Why? Well, back to Dr.Joel’s idea about shifting priorities, a serious relationship can distract us from superficial concerns.
What’s more, a mature relationship can make you feel more confident about your inner beauty. As your partner continues to adore the depth of your character, the value of your looks will wane as you take more pride in the value of your soul. That’s why real love makes you feel beautiful inside and out.
You care about their family.
A family symbolizes the people we respect and love. In a mature relationship, you’ll feel a strong desire to connect with your partner’s family support system. As you envision a future down the road, this picture will include their family, so instinctively, you care more about them.
Obviously, they won’t feel like blood relatives right away, but with time and bonding, you’ll start embracing them. You’ll love having a personal relationship with them—a rapport that remains strong, even separate from your relationship with your partner.
You talk about the future.
Mature relationships have plans. Nothing too set-in-stone, but you should have some clarity about your future together. And no—idealizing your fantasy of shacking up in a dream mansion one day, after you’ve had hot sex, doesn’t count.
When we get carried away in the raptures of passion, it’s easy to talk about exciting possibilities. But that’s just your hormones talking. In a mature relationship, your conversations about the future should be more practical.
You don’t necessarily need to set a date, but you should have a reasonable notion of when a ring might make an appearance. And if you’re not already living together, this topic will become a priority. Other clues of real love are instances where it feels organic and realistic to say things like, “I think we’d be great parents,” without any ounce of weirdness at all.
You’ll (almost) never get sick of them.
Mature love is immune to the ‘ick factor’. Never heard of it? It’s the condition of suddenly feeling grossed out by your partner for no explainable reason—an experience also known as “Sudden Repulsion Syndrome” (SRS).
According to Urban Dictionary, SRS is, “a condition many people experience after dating an individual.” Basically, out of nowhere, everything about the person makes you physically nauseous. Their smell is obnoxious, their touch makes you shudder, and even their face somehow loses its appeal. Suddenly, the thought of kissing them seems like an unbearable chore.
This change in attraction doesn’t have to be triggered by something logical. According to some psychologists, the ick factor can be triggered by something unconscious, a type of protection mechanism that prevents us from ending up with the wrong person. It’s our body’s way of telling us that the partnership is toxic.
Yet, when we’ve found the right person, our bodies can’t experience the ick factor. Instead, your partner’s presence will continue making your life feel lighter and easier—well, most of the time.
Whenever your intuition feels cloudy in your relationship, use these signs to gain some clarity. Sometimes you can’t always trust your gut, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past. So instead of relying on that age-old advice, “You’ll know when you find it,” just trust these foolproof signs to know how mature love should feel.