This Is How You Know If You Really Love Someone, According To A Therapist

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How do you know if you love someone?

We are living in difficult times. Concerns about hate crimes, political discord, and fear of war have led to a rise in anxiety and depression.

All of these issues take a toll on relationships, as well. The divorce rate has increased, alongside an obsession with reality shows about finding true love.

Therefore, it is not surprising to therapists that the number of referrals of people searching for advice on ways to cope with conflict and find love has grown.

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In times of war, the saying, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you may die," has been a guiding principle.

Given the disturbing news, it may feel like we're living in a state of uncertainty and flux. This may be pushing young people to make rash decisions about their lives and relationships.

The trend towards speed dating on shows like The Bachelor assume that you can hurry love by limiting time spent with a number of potential partners.

Although soldiers on their way to battle may need to rush into a marriage, it may not be the best way to make life-altering decisions.

Many couples who married quickly during wartimes were able to have happy marriages, but there were still others whose relationships ended in divorce when their spouse returned from battle.

There also opposite extremes. Some people are afraid to make any decisions.

Many are choosing never to marry and are afraid to have children. They are reluctant to bring children into an unpredictable, unsafe world.

Both extremes sadden me. The good news is that you can still find love and hope for the future.

If you want to know if you love someone, here are 5 things to watch out for in your relationship.

1. You build trust.

As the 1966 hit song recorded by The Supremes on the Motown label said, "You Can't Hurry Love.” It takes time to develop real loving feelings.

In order to love someone, you must develop trust. When you meet someone, you know next to nothing about them. You only see what they look like, how they dress, and how they speak.

Your first impression may or may not be accurate.

Love at first sight is actually infatuation at first sight. As you share more and more about yourselves and your lives, trust grows, and real love unfolds over time.

2. You're not in a rush.

Many young people compare their situations to their peer group.

As their friends and siblings begin to fall in love and get married, they put pressure on themselves to catch up. Many rush into engagements before they are really ready to commit to marriage.

The pace of your relationship is between you and your partner. The timing of when and if you are in love or ready to get married is not your family, friends', or anyone else’s business.

You can consult with family and friends if you want their input, but ultimately, the decision is yours and your partner’s — no one else’s.

3. Actions speak louder than words.

Part of the reason that you can’t hurry love is that you need time to observe your partner’s actions, not just listen to their words.

When they say they will do something, do they follow through? Do they treat you with respect? Do they arrive on time, showing that they respect your time? How do they treat their friends and family?

A simple rule of thumb for women is asking, how does your lover treat their mother? If they're rude or inconsiderate towards them, that may be how they will treat you when things get tough.

For men, how does your girlfriend treat her father?

Pay attention to their actions.

If you're concerned, talk to them about the behaviors. There may be things to take into account that will help you understand and know them better, but they could be red flags.

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4. You know that attraction is not enough.

Sexual attraction and the excitement of the early phases of relationships are thrilling, but they are not the same as love.

Attraction is an important element for a lasting relationship, but attraction alone is not enough for a lasting relationship.

If your time together is purely physical, you may not have enough other shared interests to sustain a relationship.

Wanting to spend every moment with someone is also common in the infatuation stage of romance. However, it can also be a sign of possessiveness or jealousy, which can cripple a long-term relationship.

Never disagreeing with someone may seem like great compatibility, but it can also be a sign of difficulty expressing negative feelings. You cannot be in a healthy long-term relationship without ever disagreeing or arguing.

If your relationship is 99 percent physical, you never make time for anyone else, or have never had an argument, you may be experiencing infatuation, not love.

5. You're open to each other.

The more you trust one another and share things about yourself, the more love unfolds.

When we meet, we put our best foot forward. As we get to know our potential partner, we share things we are less confident about. It takes time to share our fears, doubts, secrets, and dreams.

Each time you share deeper parts of yourself, you're testing the waters: "Can I trust this person with my unpleasant habits and things that have happened to me? Will they still want to be with me, faults and all?”

They're doing the same thing with you. As you dare to share parts of yourself and they do the same, you get a little closer to loving one another.

When you both have shared all the elements of what makes you who you are — the good, the bad, and all the in-between — you will know whether you are in love.

If you've been open, honest, and have developed the ability to talk about your feelings, you will both be ready to trust them enough to profess your love.

As you develop the skills to navigate your way to a lasting, loving relationship, you might have some difficulty or need added guidance. Consider talking to a therapist to gain additional insight on your journey to find true love.

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Dr. Barbara Lavi, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist, founder of ACT Now Psychotherapy, and author of the best-selling book, "The Wake Up and Dream Challenge," which helps people reach for and accomplish their dreams. She sees clients in Weston, CT and online.