Whether you’re dating, catching feelings for someone, or trying to decide how you truly feel about a person, you might find yourself asking the question, “Does true love exist?” If you went looking for the answer in fairy tales, the answer would be an easy, resolute yes – but what about the real world? Technically, everyone has an idea of what love is, but the confusion lies within describing it.
The truth is that it’s hard to determine if true love exists without first defining what true love is. This definition can look a little different from person to person. In general, though, there are some basic principles that encompass what true love looks and feels like for the majority of people.
People who have true love are willing to sacrifice for one another. This doesn’t work if only one person isn’t willing to give up something from time to time. Both parties in the relationship must be willing to put their significant other before themselves when necessary. This is done in a healthy, non-codependent manner, and makes the bond between both people even stronger.
Accepting of Imperfections
Humans aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes, fail, and have flaws. What matters is how others respond to those flaws. When two people genuinely love one another, they’re able to see past a person’s flaws and accept that person exactly as they are. True love means that no one is trying to change the other. Rather, each is accepted for being themselves, flaws and imperfections included.
Loving someone and enjoying their company doesn’t mean that choosing to stick around during conflict or hard times will be any easier, but true love does ensure it will be worth it. People need other people even more when going through something difficult, not just during the good times when it’s simple to stay. True love shows loyalty even when it’s tough.
True love doesn’t always happen naturally. Most people have to continually make a conscious effort to show that they love another person. After all, love isn’t just a feeling, it’s also an intentional choice. True love also continues to grow over time because you have to have the chance to get to know the other person and develop feelings for him or her. This is true even if you experience something like “love at first sight.” Many people tend to confuse attraction with true love, but the two cannot be assumed to be the same. People come to love one another not just because of one another’s physical looks, but because of shared goals, compatible personalities, and common values. Love requires time to build but will last as long as both partners are willing to put in the work to make it last.
Spend Quality Time Together
The more time you spend with someone else, the better you get to know them. You’ll learn about the small things, like their favorite food, and the bigger things, like where they grew up and how their culture has shaped their life. It’s essential that any time together is spent being completely in the present moment— this is what makes it quality time.
Give Freedom to One Another
Everyone needs the space to pursue their dreams, stay connected with the world around them, and discover what kind of person they are. Couples that are truly in love will be trusting enough of their partner to let them grow— whether that’s through new friendships, their career, or pursuing a new degree. No one likes or wants to be controlled, and this can only be maintained with a high level of trust in the relationship.
Respect Each Other
Those who respect one another show care, empathy, and appreciation toward the other at every opportunity. Respect is shown through listening carefully, allowing someone to have their independence, and working through conflict in a healthy manner. Often, respect from one partner breeds respect from the other.
If you’ve ever been hurt by someone you considered yourself in love with, it can be hard to recover and move on. It can be even more difficult still to open yourself up to another person for fear of more heartbreak. The good news is that humans are resilient and it’s entirely possible to experience true love more than once in a lifetime. Find healing when you’ve been hurt, but never be afraid to put yourself back out there. Meeting someone new may just show you a love you’ve never known before. In other words, although it’s tough, try not to let one experience with heartbreak determine your future pursuits of true love. Keep in mind true love can describe both romantic and platonic relationships as well as friendships, and each can be equally as hurtful or fulfilling. This type of love makes both people equally happy to be in a relationship with one another. The key difference between the two is the amount of intimacy that is possible within the relationship. However, both friendships and romantic relationships are built around a shared purpose, common interests, and loyalty to one another.
If you’re ever confused about whether or not you’re experiencing true love, try thinking about someone that you’re certain you love. This could be a parent, a sibling, or someone else entirely. Then take a moment to consider why you love that person. It could be the personality they have or a character trait they possess. Compare these feelings to the person you’re confused about and see if there are any similarities. Of course, this isn’t a foolproof method. If you’ve never fallen in love before or experienced true love, it can be hard to pin down exactly what you’re feeling. If anything is certain though, true love will never make you feel bad about yourself. It’s actually quite the opposite; you’ll feel great about yourself and your partner.