Love

How To Know If You Really Love Someone

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happy couple in front of a pink background

If you try to Google “how to know you’re in love,” you’ll most likely end up frustrated and empty-handed. You'll likely feel like you're drinking wastes of billions of vacuous pixels from the fire hose.

At best, the search results that turn up are conflicting, contradictory, or circuitous.

To be fair, there isn't a hard science set of diagnostic criteria to pin down how one can know for sure, as of yet. But some of the answers you'll find when browsing online not only seem to have little educational value — ultimately, they can leave you more confused or unclear than before.

Let's debunk a few examples of what you'll come across.

“They’re always on your mind.”

This is what's called "infatuation." If someone’s “always” on your mind, you’re not focused on other Really Important Things. And that’s a problem.

Real love fits into real life, rather than usurping it. It’s not all-consuming to the point that you're unable to think about anything else.

“You’ll do whatever it takes to impress them.”

Well. That’s scary. Why are you trying so hard? Loving isn’t about trying so hard to fit what you think is the other person's ideal partner that it's a constant effort on your end, instead of just being yourself.

And think about it: no one can keep this up forever. Find someone who likes you for who you are.

“You just know.”

Well. Thanks for the most unhelpful advice ever. To everyone who’s ever given these words of "advice," please stop.

Don’t perpetuate this nonsense and call it “romance” just because you're too lazy to come up with better, well-founded comprehensive answers.

RELATED: The 2 Biggest Things People Get Wrong About What Love Really Is

How to know if you "like" someone

1. You like them for more than just the way they look.

Being attracted to someone is often the first step in any relationship, but the next step is crossing that superficial barrier into the territory of their other traits and characteristics you appreciate.

2. You appreciate their differences from everyone else.

Once you've crossed over into this territory, you find what makes them unique and, in turn, it makes you appreciate them for who they are — in fact, you're attracted to them because of their individual qualities.

3. You’ll try new things with them.

You found someone whose company you enjoy, and you're interested in them enough that you're willing to check out why they enjoy some of their hobbies so much.

So you're game enough to go fishing with them, or to try a cooking class together, maybe spend an afternoon gardening with them even thought you'd never do those things on your own.

RELATED: 7 Things You'll Only Feel When You're In A Relationship With 'The One'

How to know if you really love someone

1. You have boundaries.

And neither one of you gets petty, manipulative or jealous.

You're both committed to the relationship while not needing to spend every minute with one another. You are secure without demanding constant reassurance.

You don't have to do everything together, you respect each other, support each other, and know how to enjoy your lives outside of the relationship.

2. You want the best for them.

Even if it isn't what's best for you. This isn't to say you should make undue sacrifices and compromises just to make the other person.

This is about taking on the responsibility that comes with a healthy, loving relationship of honoring and respecting their wants and needs, just as they do yours — even when they may include “breaking up.”

However, generally speaking, this means having each other's backs, being in each other's corner, and being able to have a bit perspective when it comes to understanding what it means to care for each other beyond your own wants and needs.

3. You learn how to fight with each other the right way.

Everyone thinks they’re in love when it’s clear skies and calm waters, but watch them when the storm hits. You know because you love even when you’re pissed. It’s love if you don’t “fight” — you disagree. Your objective is to reach an agreement, not pick a winner.

When trying to resolve an issue, you act like you’re on the same team. You listen. You compromise. You apologize. You forgive.

In thinking about how to know when we're in love, what we should really be Googling is “how to love” instead.

So if what you want is real love, then understanding the “how-to” is what really matters.

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Is there any scientific data on how to know if you love someone?

The short answer is: not definitively. We still don't have a plethora of cold, hard data for determining one's true feelings, especially considering how they vary from person to person.

However, we parsed out the findings from a study German researchers conducted among 99 participants.[1]

They developed a taxonomy of 47 characteristics or indicators to differentiate between what it means to like, love, or be in love with someone.

They noted that, overall, the most frequently mentioned indicators for liking and loving someone were having a "positive mood in the other's presence" and "arousal," while the most often-cited indicator for those who were in love was "arousal."

As far as what the most defining characteristics were for each category: "desire for interaction with the other" for liking someone, "trust in the other" for loving someone, and "arousal" for being in love.

After completing an empirical study,[2] psychologists have concluded that there is a definition they believe encompasses all types of love (romantic or otherwise): "Investment in the well-being of the other for his or her own sake."

Regardless of how you ascribe your personal views on love, acts of love are all about showing the other person care, compassion, and consideration.

And if you're in a relationship, don't forget about having a healthy, equal partnership that includes that fourth 'C' — compromise!

RELATED: The Scientific Answer To Whether Or Not Falling In Love At First Sight Is Possible

Kris Gage is a writer who focuses on relationships and love. Find out more on her website.

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