Love. All We Need is Love. I Will Always Love You. Crazy in Love. Endless Love. Love Story. There are so many songs above love, stories about love, movies about love. Thanks to the media, there is a distorted message of love. It is all around us. And so is this pressure to search for love, to find love, and to be in love. But how do you know if you love someone? And what if you aren’t sure?
Initial Stages of Love: Lust, Desire, Passion
Lust, Desire, Passion… these are descriptors of the initial stages of love. At this point, we are excited, nervous, and running on initial attraction- physical, emotional, or intellectual. It can be difficult to be objective because, well, we are so excited. Both parties are showing up as their best selves, maybe even different versions of their authentic selves.
Attraction, Romance, Fantasy
Attraction, Romance, Fantasy… this is what the previous feelings can lead to. This is when the initial excitement starts to wear off and we try to look objectively at our partner. The passion changes to romance and there is more conversation about history and long-term goals. We start to fantasize about what a future with this person might look like.
Commitment, Attachment, Longevity… these are characteristics of established love and the time frame for each range. We find comfort in the other person, we are open to being depended on and putting our trust in them. We start to make the future plans happen, whether that is a verbal commitment to monogamy, moving in together, being each other’s primary relationship in a polygamous situation, engagement, marriage, etc.
Then How Do You Know if You Really Love Someone?
So these are the containers for the stages of love, but how do you know if you love someone? The reality is that love is a social construct and at any stage you can re-evaluate the way you feel about your partner. Ideally, we are growing and changing with our partner and within ourselves throughout the relationship. Check-ins, doubts, questioning is normal- no matter the stage. It means you are aware, curious, and looking for answers on your true thoughts and feelings.
Having a safe space with a trusted therapist can help you sort through all the feels. Having a mirror or reflection can help you see your thoughts and feelings clearer and maybe even figure out that lifelong question “how do you know if you love someone?” Check out the relationship or individual therapy section of our website. Connected, Seen & Heard can help sort through these important thoughts and feelings.