Fairytales like Cinderella and Snow White romanticize love by showing the main characters living happily ever after. In Hollywood movies like Pretty Woman or How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, we see slight variations of guy meets girl, guy loses girl and guy gets girl back. In most of these movies, they live happily ever after. In fairytales and movies, we're led to believe that happily ever after means that everything is always wonderful between guy and girl.
In real life, here is the more common scenario: Guy meets girl, guy has fun with girl but wants to date others, girl just wants to date guy and tries to keep his attention, and girl may stay too long with a guy who isn't right for her. Or if guy decides that he wants girl, fears and insecurities that surface from both individuals means that things aren't the happily ever after portrayed in fairytales and movies. Placing unrealistic expectations from fairytales and movies onto your own love life when reality is different makes it hard to know if you're in love. If you believe happily-ever-after means everything always flows wonderfully, and when your own relationship ebbs and flows, you may not realize you are actually in love with a wonderful guy. Additionally, having strong feelings for someone can make you think you're in love when you're actually in lust or infatuated. Here's the important distinction between lust and infatuation:
More from YourTango: 5 Ways To Get Out Of Your Dating Rut & Start Having Fun Again
Lust is a physical emotion and reaction to someone else's physical appearance. It's when you're sexually attracted to a guy and want him only for sex. Lust tends to be short-lived and is more about immediate gratification. If it's just lust, you will have sex in the heat of the moment and only feel physically fulfilled.
Infatuation is an intense feeling. It happens when you are attracted to a guy's appearance or attracted to him sexually. Infatuation happens early on and tends to become obsessive. When you're infatuated, you see him through rose-colored glasses based on who you imagine him to be. You have put him on a pedestal and don't acknowledge him for who he really is — good or bad. You may behave irrationally, become caught up in your feelings of what you think love is and aren't living in reality.
The intensity of feelings that come with lusting after someone or being infatuated may cause you to think you're in love. When the guy you're lusting after or are infatuated with doesn't feel the same way, disappointment and heartache ensue. As a result, these lustful and infatuation experiences that don't work out, will cause you to believe, "Love is hard, painful and uncertain." The reality is love isn't any of these things. If you're experiencing love to be hard, painful and uncertain, and asking, "Am I in love?", you are not in love.
Lust and infatuation are usually fleeting and short-lived and don't tend to turn into love. When you are in love, you will have intense feelings for a guy, and be attracted and connected to him on the level of mind, body and soul. Here is my perception and experience of love.
Love is a feeling. Feelings are the most common way that people learn about and experience love. When it is truly love, you will feel good about yourself when you're with and without him. As a result, you will also feel good about him. Since you're only human, sometimes you may not feel so good about yourself or him. This doesn't mean it's not love. It just means that things are ebbing, and change and growth are taking place.
Love is an inside job. We tend to look for love from someone else, not realizing that love is actually within. Love is about loving yourself first so that you are whole and not looking for someone else to complete you. The quality of your love life is a direct reflection on how much (or little) you care for and love yourself. The more you love yourself, the more you attract a guy who will love you just as much.
Love is a way of being. Love is experienced in the present moment. When you are present, negative thoughts and feelings fall away, making space for gratitude, kindness and loving energy. Being present with your partner lets you see him through fresh eyes and keeps you in love. Being present helps you express yourself more openly, building a deeper connection.
Love is a choice. It's easy to choose love when things are going really well. And when insecurities and fears come up, choosing love is where your greatest growth happens. Love is choosing we over me, unless you're in an abusive relationship. It's being considerate of your partner and making choices for the greater good of your relationship.
Love is built on a strong foundation. Building a strong foundation of love happens by being the best version of you, taking the time to learn about each other, appreciating and accepting each other's qualities, quirks and differences, being there through thick and thin, resolving differences in a respectful manner and letting him be who he is without trying to change him.
20 Questions to Know if You're in Love
Your answers to these questions will reveal if you're in love. Answer "true" or "false" with the first response that comes up. If you're thinking about or rationalizing your answers too much, stop answering these questions. Instead, take some deep breaths and relax. Then respond from a place of inner calm.
- I am attracted and connected to my partner physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
- The thought of my partner makes me happy.
- I feel happy about myself when I'm with my partner and without him.
- I am free to be my true self in my relationship.
- I like who I am in my relationship.
- I love myself just as much as I love my partner.
- I feel good about who my partner is.
- If my partner were to lose his material possessions, I would still love him and be with him.
- I appreciate my partner and his quirks.
- I'm happy for my partner when good things come his way.
- When difficulties come up for my partner, I'm here to support him.
- I feel good about the way my partner and I interact and resolve issues.
- I choose in favor of our relationship; my decisions are for the greater good of our relationship.
- When I have good or bad news, or a challenging situation, my partner is one of the first people I call.
- When we have issues, my initial response is to resolve them, not leave him.
- When our relationship isn't flowing as smoothly as I'd like, I'm able to be with what is and trust that things are and will be fine.
- I feel content and fulfilled in my relationship.
- I know my partner feels the same way about me as I do him (i.e. we both like and love each other).
- There's no one else I'd rather be with, than my partner.
- I mostly approach our relationship from a place of love.
You are mostly likely in love if the majority of your answers are "true". If most of your answers are "false", you are not in love. You are approaching love from fear and under the belief that love is hard. The bottom line is: if you're in love with the right guy, love won't be or feel so hard. You will feel uplifted and loved for your true self. You will know how he feels about you. Your relationship will flow with more ease and when difficulties arise, they will be resolved respectfully.
What did you discover about yourself after reading this article and answering these questions? Please share your comments and thoughts.
If you're frustrated and tired about not being successful in love, get your free Monthly Guide to Love. You'll receive insightful articles, inspirational resources and best practices that support your journey to love.
More from YourTango: Dating Advice For Men: Ditch Yesterday's Rules & Find Real Love
More love advice on YourTango: