How Do I Know If I’m Really In Love?

Photographed by Savana Ogburn.
If you've seen Netflix's Love Is Blind, you may be familiar with Jessica's infamous quote (that she jacked from the Olsen twins' hit movie, It Takes Two). "I want that can't eat, can't sleep, reach for the stars, over the fence, World Series kind of love," the 34-year-old says as she leaves her 24-year-old fiancé, Mark, at the alter.
Don't we all? But while you may feel that kind of rush in the beginning stages of a relationship, it doesn't always last. Or maybe you never feel those intense feelings at all, and instead grow to love someone over time. With all the different forms affection can take, how do you know if you're really, truly in love?
There's no set checklist you can use to answer that, but there are some questions you can ask yourself to help reveal your true feelings, says Rebecca Alvarez Story, sexologist and founder of Bloomi, an intimate wellness brand and online retailer.
Like this one: What would you do if this person wasn't in your life anymore? "If it feels almost like a physical pain to imagine that person not being with you, that's a sign that you're in love with them," Story explains. Can't eat, can't sleep, world series kind of love? Sure sounds like it.
Another helpful question: Where do your values and interests overlap? "The reason you can look at that is because oftentimes when we are in lust or the honeymoon phase, we are attracted to people who are very different than us because we are intrigued by them," Story says. "But what you need for true love... is enough overlap in common interests."
Of course, that doesn't mean you two have to be the same person. You can still have your own hobbies. Look more at core values and goals — how you each feel about family, career, personal health, and how that influences the way you live your lives.
You can also ask yourself how willing you are to compromise about issues. For example, if your partner gets a new job — the job they're been dreaming about their entire life — but it's all the way across the country. Would you move with them? Would that be an easy decision, or a hard one?
"Sometimes when you love a person, you're willing to compromise in certain areas but not all," explains Story. "But when you're in love with someone, you're usually willing to compromise with them on every aspect."
Another important part of determining your real feels for someone else can be your sex life. Ask yourself: How comfortable do you feel fooling around with this person? How enjoyable is sex, and do you feel free to ask for what you want? "Having good sexual communication and being sexually compatible are not only signs of a healthy relationship, but an indicator that you are in love with the person," Story says. Of course, it's definitely possible to be in lust with someone — but a fulfilling and open sex life on top of an otherwise happy partnership is a good sign.
If you can't stop questioning whether or not you're really in love with someone, it doesn't mean you definitely don't. (Relationship OCD is also a thing.) There is a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone — and your feelings can go back and forth between the two, Story says. Plus, romantic love feels and looks different for everyone. One person may want their love to manifest as a stable, enduring bond. Another person might see it more as an adventure, one that might not last forever but should be thrilling and all-consuming while it does. Some people only love one person at a time; others have no problem being in love with two or more people at once.
The important thing is to figure out what you want from love, then to ask yourself whether your current situation lines up. Love Is Blind's Jessica craved an intense, fireworks kind of emotion — and while Mark was a nice guy, what she had with him wasn't that. Her decision to break things off and try to find her version of true love was controversial on the show. But in real life this can be a seriously difficult issue to wrestle over. If you're flip-flopping about how you feel, hopefully Story's questions above can guide you a little closer to clarity.

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