We’ve all probably sat in a wedding and heard First Corinthians, all about how love is patient and kind and does not envy and blah blah blah. But how do you know that is exactly what you have? Maybe you’ve even sat next to your honey in that very wedding and wondered, “Is our love patient?” and not even known what the hell that means. You might also be like me and want markers, things that make sense, that are practical and measurable.
Here are some signs to look for in your own romantic relationship to give you a sense if what you have is true love:
1. You feel light around them.
If you dread every time you get in the car to go see your honey, that’s the opposite of true love. That’s a sign of something really not so right at all. Try paying attention to how you feel when you’re around them. A lightness is a good sense that what you have is solid and supportive enough that you can feel carefree and light-hearted when you’re around them. A heaviness over an extended period of time should clue you into something not being right with your relationship. Maybe you have some needs not being met or maybe it’s just not right.
2. You can’t imagine a future without them.
When you hear from your job that you might get offered a promotion that could take you out of state, what do you think about your romantic relationship? Do you think, “Will they be able to get a job transfer as well and/or come stake out a cool new apartment with me?” or do you immediately jump to imagining a nice studio loft that you can decorate to your tastes? What about kids? Do you imagine looking down into your child’s eyes and they’re the same color of your honey’s or is that a big fat no? If you consistently think of a future that includes your partner and can’t imagine one that doesn’t include them, that’s a great sign.
3. You really feel like a team.
A team supports and encourages each other through the wins and the losses. You know it’s true love when your partner feels like your teammate and that you are on a team together. This means that when you have something great going on in your life, they support you in that because that’s good for the both of you. They tell you how awesome it is. They open the champagne. They don’t make snide comments rooted in some jealousy or tell you they wish you would do something else. They know that a happy you is a better member of your team than an unhappy you. It also means when you lose your job, they hold your hand while you cry or valiantly try not to cry, and then help you comb the job listings and spruce up your resume.
4. You give and take.
It’s important to recognize that relationships are a two-way street. And some days you are going to be able to give a lot more to your partner than they can return, and other times, vice-versa. Relationships that have true love within them are not solely one-sided. You work with each other. You give to each other, and you also enjoy the benefits of receiving too.
5. Your relationship is a priority.
True love brings us closer to ourselves, our sense of purpose, and our sense of a higher power. It lets us know that things are working out. When we make our relationship a priority, that means we set time aside for it. We do things to make it better. We nurture it like it was literally another person. We don’t put it above our own needs and desires, but we see it as something that needs to be cared for just as much. We don’t let things or situations or other people invade what we hold the most dear. And we, of course, see our partner doing the same thing.
We all have different ideas of true love. Fairy tales teach us that we just need a chance meeting and speaking animals to make it happen, but we all know it’s got to be a bit more complicated than that. True love often takes the right chemistry and work ethic. You both have to be willing to put the work in to foster a true partnership. That means communicating, listening, giving, respecting, and honoring your partner and your relationship. Once you have that as a foundation, you can figure out if it’s true love—sustainable, possible, workable—if you check in with yourself as you go.