Does my partner really love me? How do you know when you’re in love?

27. October 2009


Sometimes it’s difficult to know the difference between love, lust, and infatuation. According to Nathaniel Branden in his book What Love Asks of Us, “Romantic love represents the integration of three factors: 1) a strong sense of affinity, a sense of being ‘soulmates’ 2) the presence of admiration 3) strong sexual attraction.” Lust simply refers to strong sexual attraction without affinity and admiration. Infatuation refers to a strong attraction to another arising from our focusing on one or two aspects of the other, not the whole person. For example, you might be infatuated with someone at school who is good looking and great at sports, but you really don’t know much else about him or her. Generally, healthy loving relationships share the following characteristics (brace yourself – it’s a long list): mutual respect, trust, honesty, commitment, faithfulness, being able to apologize and forgive, genuine care for the well-being and feelings of the other person, feeling safe and at ease with one another, being able to freely spend time away from each other, maintaining other friendships and not feeling guilty about them, being able to freely express your opinions and ideas, being able to say and accept the word “no”, being able to listen and empathize with the other person, making your own decisions, deciding together what to do as a couple, talking out problems, not feeling pressured to do something or act a certain way, a sense of balance (giving and taking equally), and acceptance of the other person for who he or she is (not for who you want them to be). If you have all of the above, then you just may be in love. Did you notice that having sex was not even mentioned?

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