10 Questions to Help You Tell If It's Really Love

Ask yourself these 10 questions if you're wondering if it's love or lust.

Posted May 04, 2018

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There’s something about the lushness of spring, when the grass turns from brown and patchy into a deep green that sprouts up almost overnight that makes the world feel a little kinder. As early spring flowers begin to bloom, and trees begin to bud, almost all of us feel a little lighter inside and somewhat hopeful about our futures.

The old saying that our fancy turns to love when spring arrives still has the ring of truth to it. Mating season and mating rituals are instinctually bred into every species, although humans tend to put a unique spin on these behaviors in each generation. Cultural norms shift, and what we think is “okay” in terms of sexual behavior, and what we say out loud about that behavior, are often markers of these shifts. Although marriage isn’t as popular a goal for young people as it once was, our human instincts still encourage us to seek companionship and connection, sooner or later, with a romantic partner.

When You Thought It Was Love, but It Wasn’t

Some of us may still get confused about whether a new relationship is love or lust. For some, the distinction never even matters; for others, it can be a painful awakening to realize we’ve been misled by our hearts or our partners.

Being infatuated can feel like what you think “real love” should feel like, but it’s not going to turn you into a better person the way true love will. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself if you are wondering if what you’re feeling is genuine love that will have you poised for growth or frantic infatuation that might make you feel alive at the moment, but will burst like a bubble when the thrill is gone.

Love’s Litmus Test

1. Are both my partner and I mutually engaged in this relationship? Are we both on the same page regarding the depth and intentions we hold about the relationship?

2. Do I fully trust that my partner cares as much about me as I do about him or her?

3. Does this relationship encourage me to bring out the best that I can be and to treat myself with the same tenderness with which I treat my partner?

4. Does my partner see me clearly and encourage my strengths, while minimizing judgment of my shortcomings?

5. Do I feel energized, not overwhelmed, by this relationship and feel that I am more than I was before this relationship began?

6. Is the relationship strengthening over time? Are trust and mutuality deepening, even if the demands of the world require us to spend less time together than when the relationship first began?

7. Do I feel that I am growing as a person, expanding my perspectives, and feeling more self-assured and confident in who I am as this relationship has continued?

8. Does this relationship encourage feelings of bonding and connection that motivate us to build new connections with others as a couple?

9. When spending time alone after time spent with my partner, do I feel drained and empty or fortified and strengthened?

10. Does this relationship make me feel as if I need only this single relationship in order to feel satisfied? Or, does this relationship motivate me to experience new opportunities for engagement with life, friends, and inter/intrapersonal growth?

"Instant love” or “love at first sight” is an indication that a new person has triggered an instinctual response within you, and due to the primal nature of the response, it can feel like a life-changing event. Lasting love may begin with such a tidal wave of instant attraction, but while its force may begin at tidal wave strength, its power is not through destruction, but through the ebb and flow, like waves in the ocean, over time.