1. True love is not new — it is lasting.
It's true that all love starts out as new love. But new love is easy. It’s expansive and romantic. In a sense, it’s what the hippie generation used to call "free love."
Everyone feels these emotions in new romantic relationships. It’s just the way our brains are wired. Meanwhile, true lasting love is earned love. It takes intentionality.
You have to decide: do you want to spend time and effort to achieve lasting love, or do you want to live in the fantasy that true love is simply going to happen to you?
2. True love means being emotionally connected.
Research has shown that emotional connection is the single most important factor for creating true, lasting love. It’s the glue that binds relationships together. You can have great conversations about life, politics, sports, or goals, but if there is no emotional connection, there will be no sustainable attraction.
What does love mean in a relationship? Well, emotions are the glue that bond relationships together. They are the primary way we express our deepest joy and fear. Love in a relationship means expressing these emotions in a way that connects you, and responding to your partner’s feelings with support, trust and respect.
Though emotions aren’t a love language, they are the language of love. They make you trust and believe in the sincerity of your partner’s love. They tell you that your partner cares about you, even when you hurt.
3. True love is accessible.
You need to know that your partner is available to you when you need them. What good is it having a Lancelot if he doesn't rescue you when the dragon comes When we bond as a pair, we expect our partner to be the first responder when we are afraid.
When the World Trade Center was burning, the lion’s share of the calls going out were expressions of love to husbands and wives. Being able to connect with the person you love the most when you need them the most calms your emotions and makes you feel safer, even in the face of the worst kinds of danger.
4. True love is responsive.
If your partner is in the room with you, you expect them to respond to you when you are trying to talk to them. If you hand them the ball and they drop it, you will be angry.
Most men tend to emotionally withdraw in the times when their partners need them the most. They struggle with handling heightened emotions in themselves or in others. From the time they were young, they learned to stuff their emotions and not feel them.
Meanwhile, most women do the opposite. When they are emotionally distressed, they put it all out there. They express their emotions and expect someone to be there for them.
If your guy is in the room and is acting like a dead fish while you're expressing yourself to him, you don't feel his love. Because of this, you'll ask yourself where your Romeo went. He was so responsive and thoughtful when you were dating. During that time he was amazing. What's happening now? Are you not attractive enough to hold his attention any longer?
True lovers learn how to work through "the pursue/withdraw phase" of the relationship that occurs once newness wears off and the dopamine tapers off. So, don't attack your partner when he's struggling to not shut down when you're expressing your strongest emotions. He demonstrates his loving feelings for you by telling you how scary it is to feel his emotions and yours at the same time.
In time, you will feel good about being safe with each other and respond naturally.
5. True love is engaged.
You can be accessible and responsive to your partner but still be tuned out if you aren't engaged with them. Engagement is all about paying attention and being present.
In our current age of smartphone information access, how many times have you been in a restaurant and noticed both members of a couple searching their cell phones during dinner? They should be together during quality time, right? Your social media, your game, or news searching must take a back seat to engagement with your partner.
This isn't easy. Companies invest a lot of money to psychologically manipulate you to engage with them. And, of course, pictures of your friends can be quite engaging.
True love means being able to let go of other distractions like the phone or the TV or anything else that gets in the way of you listening when your partner is talking. You need to know that your words are important.
6. True love is always growing.
My parents have been married for 65 years. They both say that they love each other now more than ever. Watching them together, I believe that is real love.
True love grows until the end of life. Everyone agrees that life is difficult. Things happen that are hard to deal with, and no matter how old we are, we struggle with getting older. When a couple is there for each other during life's challenges and through the process of aging, they grow closer.
Knowing that you can depend on your partner to meet your needs makes you love him or her more and more. This is really important to understand if you're in a new relationship. What you thought attracted you to each other early on in your relationship becomes less and less important over time.
You're going to become fat and wrinkled, but if you have the money for cosmetic procedures and treatments, you can prolong your youthful appearance. And, yes, exercise will help you keep the weight off.
But, over time, how you both look on the outside becomes less and less important than your growing love for each other on the inside. Your memories of sharing life’s most important times together will be irreplaceable.
True love is a journey together through mountains and valleys. There's nothing more bonding than helping each other through life’s challenges. This often requires that you let go of ego and what you think is most important to you. Couples who grow and survive life’s challenges learn to do what’s best for the relationship.
7. True love is faithful.
For starters, couples need to have faith in their relationship, which really means having faith that the other person will be someone you can trust as the years go by. Trust is the key to success and foundation of every lifelong healthy love relationship.
When you say "I do," you are putting your future and well-being in the hands of another person. That may sound contradictory to the modern perspective on relationships, but think about it. You will share a house, friends, family, money, and emotions.
You may even share your DNA, from which you'll make the babies that will belong to both of you. With the exception of your jobs, everything that matters to both of you will likely be shared.
So, there's a lot that you need to trust your partner with, and you need to have faith that your partner will be a good parent, housekeeper, friend, and co-provider.
You put each other first, above anything else. If you feel this way about someone, whether you just started dating them or have been married for years, there should be no doubt in your mind that you really, truly are in love with them.
8. True love is transparent.
Intimacy has been defined as "into me, see." You need to be open and transparent with your partner for them to see and respond to your deepest needs and desires. When there’s distance in the relationship, it's probably not about your waistline, but more to do with unmet needs that are not being expressed.
There’s nothing more precious to offer to your partner than your deepest needs, fears, and desires. In her book, "The Power of Vulnerability," Brené Brown talks about the importance of transparency in relationships. And to feel safe enough to be vulnerable and transparent, you need to work on everything you just learned above.
What is the best definition of love? The best definition of love is having a deep bond based in commitment, respect, trust, and acceptance. Love means being dedicated to someone else’s well-being, holding their desires and dreams in high esteem, accepting them for who they are without judgment, and trusting them to do the same for you.
Though many tend to think of love as just being selfless and having a deep devotion to your partner, anything less than lasting and affirming love is not true love. If love hurts you or prevents you from becoming the best version of yourself, then it really isn't true love.