How Do You Know You’re In Love?

love, relationships, Valentine's Day, Modern PhilosopherValentine’s Day is rapidly approaching, Modern Philosophers, so I wanted to write about love and relationships.

Unfortunately, there’s not much new to report on those topics in my personal life, other than that I finally gave in to my friend Kori’s suggestion to try a dating app.  More on that later, when I have a better grasp of what the hell I’m doing.

Recently, a close friend admitted that she has never been in love.  I thought she was messing with me because she has been with the same guy for as long as I have known her, and they have kiddos together.

We got to talking, though, and she truly believes that while she loves her boyfriend, she has never been in love with him.

Which got me to thinking: How do you know when you’re in love?

I want to quickly mention that my friend encouraged me to write a blog post about what she told me.  So she is on board with this, and asked me to tackle the topic.  I will, however, keep her identity a secret.

The first Deep Thought that popped into my head was that the idea of “being in love” is different for every person.

love, relationships, Valentine's Day, Modern PhilosopherFor me, being in love means wanting to be with someone all the time, thinking about her constantly, getting butterflies in my stomach when I’m around her, missing her when she’s gone, putting her needs ahead of mine, wanting to be with her physically and emotionally, and carving our initials into the tree under which we shared our first kiss.

There are other aspects to my “being in love formula”, but those are the first things that come to mind.

Next, I thought about all the times I’ve been in love in my life.  I counted six.  Then I really pondered each circumstance and wondered if I’d truly been in love because now my friend had me thinking.

Was I just loosely tossing around the term “I’m in love?”  Had I thought I was in love in the heat of the moment?  Would hindsight make me judge those relationships differently?

Now that I’ve had some time to put my emotions under a microscope, I’m going to amend my original number.

I’ve been in love three times in my life.

How did that total get cut in half?

Well, the first time I thought I was in love, I was 16.  Looking back on it now, it was a very one-sided crush with someone who couldn’t return the feelings because she was 20.  Let’s just say that summer camp makes the heart think crazy things.

love, relationships, Valentine's Day, Modern PhilosopherThe second instance that has been removed from the list was a case of really caring about someone, and having her only want to be best friends.  I pined after her, I was attracted to her, I wanted her to be my girlfriend, but it wasn’t love.

In the third relationship, we both said we loved each other, we dated for a while, and I was sure it was serious.  Looking back, however, I realize it was more of a powerful attraction and infatuation.

Perhaps this was a case similar to my friend’s.  She loves her guy, they are together, and they are serious, but she just isn’t in love with him.

I’m still not one hundred percent clear on the difference between loving someone and being in love.

In my mind, it certainly helps if the term “I love you” is uttered.  However, I’ve just shared two cases where I thought I was in love even though I never told her how I felt, and she never told me she loved me.

Even though I’m foggy on the concept, I am certain I was in love with the three women who still remain on the list.

One of them, would obviously be my ex-wife.  We were together for sixteen years, I was definitely in love with her, but over time, I believe that evolved into just loving her.  And I say that because I knew our relationship had changed.  When things weren’t going well between us, I’d think about life without her, but when I did that, I’d get upset and cry.

I couldn’t possibly see myself without her.  I took that to mean I was in love with her.

Fifteen years after our divorce, I understand that meant I loved her, but was no longer in love.  We’d been together for more than half our lives.  She was important to me.  She had become family.  I might’ve been dependent on her.  Or at least thought I was.

But I was no longer in love with her.  I’m not exactly sure when that all changed.  If it happened gradually, or all at once.  But it happened.

love, relationships, Valentine's Day, Modern PhilosopherEven though her cheating on me and divorcing me broke my heart, it was for the best because we weren’t in love anymore.  And I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with someone if we weren’t in love.

This got me to thinking if I could ever again be in love with the three women on my list.

My ex-wife is a definite no.  I stopped being in love with her, and then she did things that made me doubt I could ever love again.  As a result, it would be impossible for me to come around and ever be in love with her again.

As for the other ladies, I was still in love with both when our relationships ended.  When I think about them, which happens from time to time, it is clear that they still hold a very special place in my heart, and very well might still control he butterflies in my tummy.

Should they ever magically appear in my life again, falling in love would be a possibility because I don’t think I ever quite fell out of it.

But that is me and my definition of being in love.  I’m curious to know how you define being in love.

Have you ever been in love?  Looking back now, would you change your thoughts about a relationship where you thought you were in love?

About Austin

Native New Yorker who's fled to the quiet life in Maine. I write movies, root for the Yankees, and shovel lots of snow.
This entry was posted in Dating, Humor, Love and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to How Do You Know You’re In Love?

  1. Ocean Bream says:

    After reading this, I don’t actually know if I have ever been ‘in love’. I have had crazy crushes before. I even crushed hard on my current husband when I was 11 years old. He had no idea, and he still has no idea because I would never tell him such a thing! And I had this insane infatuation with somebody Very Bad and Very Terrible when I was 17. That ended horribly and left me with Terrible Issues, but looking back I can see I was deluded and infatuated but definitely not in love, because it died as swiftly as it kindled. It’s crazy. I love my husband horrendously but I don’t know if I am ‘in love’ with him, and you know, I am ok with that. I really am. Because maybe ‘in love’ doesn’t exist? Maybe it is just ‘in lust’, and real love takes time to blossom? How would you differentiate the feeling of being ‘in love’ to just ‘loving’?

    • Austin says:

      You see, I was right about in love meaning different things to different people. I couldn’t imagine myself marrying someone if I weren’t in love, but perhaps that’s just what in love means to me. Thank you for sharing. It will make my friend feel better!

      • Ocean Bream says:

        Yes, you are right, it does mean different things to different people!

      • Austin says:

        I’d love to open up the conversation about this, especially for my friend who thinks she is odd since she’s never been in love..

      • Ocean Bream says:

        I would be very interested to see what others have to say about this. I don’t think your friend is odd at all, I think very few people can actually say they have been ‘in love’, and perhaps others are in love but don’t recognise it for what it is? In the movies they always say ‘you just know’, but do you?

      • Austin says:

        My friend is odd, but for other reasons. 🙂

        They say so many things about love in movies. How much of it is actually true, though? I think movies are written to give us all hope that love can find us at any time…

  2. ksbeth says:

    i have been and knew it without explanation or thought. the times i thought i might be, but wasn’t, i was never sure.

  3. markbialczak says:

    Too deep for the few moments I have before leaving for work, Austin …

    • Austin says:

      Then you will have to get back to us when you have more time. The more deep thoughts, the merrier. 🙂

      • markbialczak says:

        I know I’m in love now, Austin, for many reasons that reach from the first thing in the morning to the last waking moments of my day. It’s the little things and the big things in my mind and my heart, that seem to grow with my dear wife Karen. As a reminder for you, we started our relationship when we were in our 40s …

      • Austin says:

        That is very sweet, and it gives me hope. So glad you found love… 🙂

  4. grannyK says:

    Just my opinion…I think people have unrealistic expectations about a relationship. I do believe we come to love people over time and we have a hard time seeing our lives without those people. That to me, is love. It’s not the silly fairy tale stuff. That strong attraction you feel when first meeting is probably your sex drive kicking in. It takes time to know if you will be close enough to someone to say you love them.

    • Austin says:

      I like they way you think. Love is so many different things. It’s interesting to read what other people think. Love seems to be very hard to define, but also has so many meanings…

  5. Adele Ankers says:

    Interesting discussion! Some people love the idea of being in love, but it can be difficult to pinpoint what that truly means — as so many others have said before me, it’s different for everyone. I think an immediate connection is important for the ‘falling’ part, then if that connection develops and deepens over time, two souls can become entwined. 🙂

    • Austin says:

      That is a very interesting answer, Adele. This topic fascinates me, and I’m enjoying reading everyone’s deep thoughts on it.

      My friend thinks herself odd because she’s never been in love, and it’s my hope that these comments are making hear realize she’s not an oddball.

      The whole two souls becoming entwined idea really speaks to me…

      • Adele Ankers says:

        I agree, the varied responses in the comments are really interesting to read. I don’t think your friend is odd in the slightest, and just seeing all of these different answers should reassure her that there isn’t a singular definition for being in love. If she feels she hasn’t been in love, then she most certainly hasn’t, as many say, “you just know.” And that’s OK!

      • Austin says:

        I have been telling her this, but maybe she will believe me now that my wise blogger friends are agreeing with me. 🙂

        So have you ever been in love?

      • User 136789 says:

        Yes, absolutely. Just the once for me! 🙂

      • Austin says:

        Adele, how come this reply is from User 136789 instead of from you? Weird…

        Also, I’m glad you have been in love. That makes me smile. 🙂

      • User 136789 says:

        Oh, how bizarre. 😕 I will look into my settings; I may have knocked something off, as I was looking into a few different things with my blog this morning since it has gathered quite a bit of tumbleweed in the last year.

      • Austin says:

        Okay, User 136789. 🙂

  6. Anika says:

    Now that I think about it I realize that I have never been in love. I just haven’t met the Right person, I haven’t felt the magic we’re supposed to feel when we are in love. I hope that someday I could fall in love for real. I think love makes us better.

    • Austin says:

      Anika, thank you for joining the conversation. I’m told love is out there waiting for us all when we least expect it. I know I’m hoping it finds me. 🙂

  7. Shutterfly says:

    I once had someone tell me they were waiting to have love hit them when they met the one. I was actually going on dates with this person, ugh. I actually laughed out loud. I do not believe that love will just reach out and smack you in the face. I believe true love grows overtime. It starts out as a strong attraction and blooms from there. The more time you spend getting to know someone the more your heart is giving itself away. Or maybe…. it starts to build up bricks to protect itself and then run, run fast!

    Do you think about this person when you wake up and before your head hits the pillow after a long day? Do you smile when this person smiles? Do you take time to do something for this person, just because you want too? This is in my opinion love. Just wanting to be near that person and having their hand in yours.

    We are still animals and I think sometimes we let lust get in the way and mix up our brain signals to our hearts. This is not love and usually lasts about 3 to 6 months. After that, you probably can not even stand to hear that person breath? Right?

    This Austin, actually brings me to another interesting idea. Not everyone experiences love the same way. Not everyone shows it the same way either. Some show it physically, some verbally, and yet, others with large and small acts of love through actions. There is no right or wrong.

    I have been in love with someone. I have fallen out of love. I have had my heart broken. Now I am currently in love. The key in my opinion is to find someone that shows love the same way you do. This leaves out the guess work and makes for a strong loving relationship. I wish everyone the best at finding and staying in love.

  8. Am in love but don’t know if I really love him or maybe it infatuation

  9. Luigia Di Ienno says:

    L’innamoramento per me è stato il primo amore, che definisco incosciente e spontaneo. Inoltre ho avuto altri amori, più consapevoli e comunque belli. Per me, essere innamorati è una condizione del momento, per cui dal tuo articolo si deduce che sei stato innamorato in passato ma, a posteriori, la relazione è più obiettiva. Buon San Valentino!

    • Austin says:

      I wish I spoke Spanish so I could translate this…

      • AAristizabal says:

        Translation attempt:

        “Falling in love, to me, has been related to the first love; which I define as unconscious and spontaneous. I have had other loves, more aware but still beautiful and worthy. For me, being in love is a condition of the moment; and I conclude from your article that you have been in love in the past, but your relationship had evolved into a more objective one. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

      • Austin says:

        Thank you, Alejandra. That is a beautiful sentiment that I can now appreciate because of your translation…

  10. AAristizabal says:

    I believe love is, for me, something more homely or wholesome: is taking care of the well-being of the people we choose. I don’t believe in the “star-crossed lovers” tale all girls have been told the last couple thousand years. Instead, I believe love brings peace and tranquility: when you meet the right person, you will feel happiness, well-being and will experience synchronization; which means most things you do not only will interconnect, but also will fall into place: you will meet the right people, and feel in the right place. And something like that will help you take care of your special person’s well-being more effectively. I don’t mean, by my words, that there won’t be any troubles or challenges in the relationship; I just mean more things will naturally fall into place.

  11. The Hook says:

    I’ve been in love with my wife for over thirty years, though it took us years to get it “right”, or at least right enough to be married for twenty-four years.
    But love is a challenge that no one can ever truly “solve”.
    Just stay open to it and you’ll be all right.
    Eventually.

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