What is the meaning of true love really? Have you felt the signs of real true love, or are you still looking for it? Learn the definition of love and you’ll know for sure!
Scientists, sociologists, and just about every other field of science attempt to answer the question of why you love someone or the reasons for it.
They’ve researched what makes someone’s heart go pitter-patter, and there are theories of attraction and likability factors, but the answer remains a mystery.
It isn’t something that can be quantified or defined in one way.
There are different types of love, from affectionate to platonic to sexual and everywhere in between. There are no rules to it, though, which makes figuring out why you love someone so curious and unpredictable.
Love is commonly defined as an intense feeling of affection, but if you’ve ever felt it, you know it is so much more than that.
Merriam-Webster may define love as a strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties, but is it just that?
Why do you love someone? The reasons are endless in a way.
Some would say love is a choice, while others would say it is out of your control. It is a feeling that goes above and beyond joy. It creates a bond that is incomparable to others.
To define love would mean to strip it of all its magic. It is different for everyone and every situation and relationship. Therefore, it cannot simply be summed up with a few words strung together.
The psychology of love
A big part of the psychology of love is attachment to another person. Most mammals create attachment bonds because it is a form of social connection that helps them survive.
There are four types of attachment bonds that can be created:
1. Pair bonds – people form a close, long-term social connection
2. Parent and their infants/children bonds
3. Peer bonds
4. Conspecific bonds – between individuals of the same species
Human love usually falls into one of these categories. For example, you might have a love for a close friend, and that would be a peer bond. Romantic relationships have a pair bond.
The theory of love
There is a famous theory of love, called the Triangular Theory of Love. It was proposed by Robert Sternberg in 1986. In this model, all love is composed of three different elements – intimacy, passion, and commitment.
Intimacy involves caring, emotional support, and closeness.
Passion refers to being emotionally or physiologically aroused by a person. This would, of course, include sexual attraction as well as other emotional experiences.
Commitment involves a decision to commit to another person and to love them long-term.
Sternberg described eight different kinds of love:
1. Non-love – low on all three elements
2. Liking – high on intimacy only
3. Infatuated – passion only
4. Empty – commitment only
5. Romantic – intimacy and passion
6. Companionate – intimacy and commitment
7. Fatuous – passion and commitment
8. Consummate – all three together
Difference between liking and loving someone
In 1970, psychologist Zick Rubin proposed an explanation for the difference between liking and loving.
There are times when we experience a lot of appreciation and admiration for other people. We enjoy spending time with them and want to be around them. This is “liking,” according to Rubin, and doesn’t qualify as love.
On the other hand, love is much deeper. It’s more intense and includes a strong desire for physical intimacy.
If you just “like” someone, then you enjoy their company, but if you are “in love,” you care as much about the other person’s needs as they do their own.
The bottom line is that when you like someone, you enjoy their companionship and care about their well-being. But when you love them, those feelings are unconditional.
Many reasons to love
The reasons why we love someone are vast and wide. But in general, why do you love someone? Is it because of the intensity? Perhaps it is the giddy feeling you can’t quite describe? Or maybe the connection you share?
It isn’t like other emotions that come and go. You can hate, dislike, be enraged, and still be in love.
But why do you love someone?
Reasons to love someone
If you’re wondering why we fall in love, or why we actually love someone and stay in love in the first place, here are all the reasons why.
1. Love connects people
The bonding experience you share with a child or sibling is a reason to love. You hate them sometimes, but something binds you together.
No matter how much you argue or fight, there is a deep-rooted bond that just can’t be broken.
There are times you may hate someone, but that doesn’t negate your love for them. The connection love forms can block out all the bad and bring you together when you need it to.
2. It makes you feel safe
You should ideally love someone because you find stability, comfort, and safety in them. They should be your “emergency contact” that you feel safe telling your deepest, darkest fears.
You love someone for the feeling of security you have when you’re with them. You aren’t at risk of being hurt. The safety love provides gives you comfort only it can.
3. Loving someone helps you trust
You love someone because it helps you trust. In good cases, as love grows, so does trust. You want to be there for someone, and they want to be there for you.
The closer you become, and the more trust is earned, the safer you feel. Putting that trust into someone other than yourself is a relieving sensation that only comes with love.
4. You always have a friend
You love people because they care about you. Whether it is romantic or platonic, they have your best interest at heart. They worry about you, and you, them.
The friendship that often comes with love is what you need and want. The closeness and honesty, and support are what we all crave.
5. Love enriches your life
You love someone because they make you feel good about yourself and seek to make your life better and more enriched. It isn’t just about having a full life but feeling fulfilled.
6. Love will give you inspiration
You love someone because they inspire you. You look up to them or admire them. They make you want to be better, for them and yourself. They challenge, support, and encourage you to be all that they know you are capable of.
In fact, they see in you what other people might underestimate and work to bring the best out.
7. You won’t be lonely
Sometimes we love someone to cloak the feeling of loneliness we otherwise feel. You feel you need to love someone, even if they’re not right for you so that you are not alone.
Forcing feelings to fight fear is only masking something. Those feelings will never soar or be healthy because it is generated by fear, not true feelings for the other person.
8. Lust and physical attraction
Lust and physical attraction can spill into love. Being intimate ignites emotional responses in many people. Simply being attracted to someone and touching them, kissing them, or having sex can mimic the sensation of love.
But, in this situation, if you ask yourself, why do you love someone? The answer will be hard to come by.
Intimacy isn’t just about sex but about closeness. This includes feeling familiar. The more time you spend together and interact with each other, the more likely those feelings will grow.
This is why many people fall for people they spend time with at work or their own friends. That closeness and comfort put you at ease and let your guard down.
Being compatible is one of the biggest things that lead to love. This is also the key to staying in love. This is the ease of communication. It is the level at which you relate to each other or how things flow.
You simply understand each other in a way that feels good.
11. They are your emergency contact
When filling out paperwork at the doctor’s, there is always the box that says “emergency contact.”
Are they the first person you think of? The person you should hold onto forever is the first person you want running to soothe you in an emergency of any type.
12. They look past your idiosyncrasies
It isn’t about someone being able to look past your idiosyncrasies or loving you despite them.
The person to hold onto and love forever loves you because of them. It is in those silly and quirky things you do that they find you most lovable.
13. They do things without being asked
If you notice your partner does little things for you without you asking, then you know they pay attention to your needs.
It isn’t about flowers on Valentine’s Day.
It is about finding your dirty car washed, or the keys you couldn’t find found, and sitting by the door. The small things are the ones that mean the most.
14. Even when they smell, you love them
If you can stand their morning breath, post-workout stink, or yard-work-all-day odor, that says a lot. If you aren’t turned off by their most disgusting phases, hold onto them.
15. You can tell them anything
There are some things too embarrassing to tell anyone. If you find you confide even those things in the person you love, hold onto them forever.
That is a signal you feel unconditional love, which is key to a happy union.
16. You have gotten to know them more
It’s always great to know people on a deep level. And in our technological world, some people are too busy with their noses in their phones to have meaningful conversations.
But when you love someone, you will want to get to know them on a deep level, and you do. Having that kind of emotional intimacy is priceless.
17. They complement your personality
No one is perfect, and we all have our flaws. So, there’s a chance that the person you love can complement your personality.
For example, if you’re not good at finances, maybe your partner is. And if they are bad at planning, you can make for them in that area.
18. It’s human nature
As humans, we are wired to seek emotional connection. Even before words and communication were what they are now, Neanderthals formed bonds, families and enjoyed that connection.
19. Happily ever after
We all want to be happy. But, at the end of the day, we want to walk off into the sunset with the person that makes us happy.
We want the words “happily ever after” to be scrawled on the end screen of our lives. And as we’ve all been taught, seen, and even felt, love is the way to do that.
Signs that you love someone
Now that you know all the great reasons to love someone, how do you know that you are actually in love? Here are all the signs, so you know for sure.
1. You want to look nice for them
If five months into the relationship you don’t care about the way that you look when with them, it may not be the best situation.
Finding someone with who you always want to strive to be the best you when with them, says something about your relationship.
2. When something great happens, you want to call them
Think about when something amazing happens to you, who is the first person you think about sharing it with? The person who you know delights in your accomplishments and good news is the person who supports and cares about you most. Hold onto them.
3. When something bad happens, you want to put your head on their shoulder
When something sad or miserable happens to you, the person you hold onto is the one who you know not only cares but will be there to soothe your wounds and make you feel better.
Someone who knows just the right thing to say to pick you up is the person to stay with forever.
4. The person you want to spend your free night with
If you have an unexpected free night, the person you stay with forever is the first person you think to spend additional time with.
It isn’t about not being able to get enough of them like at the beginning of the relationship. It is about wanting to spend time with them every chance you get.
5. You defend them valiantly
You know how you cut your family down, but no one else is better? The person you love forever is someone you defend just as earnestly.
You also know they will do the same for you. If they have your back and you have their back, you will always be a force to reckon with.
6. You want to see them happy
If you think of things to do to make them happy throughout the day, then they are someone you think worthy of the extra effort.
7. You can talk to them about anything
Communication is key. If you find conversation never lacks or that you are comfortable enough to sit without saying anything, hang onto them.
Being able to voice a concern without fear of their reaction is also an excellent sign you should be together.
Signs that your love will last long-term
Just because you’re in love doesn’t necessarily mean that your love will last long-term. You can love someone but just not be compatible. So, here are the signs that you are on the right track and your love could last forever.
1. You like their family
You don’t just marry a person, you marry their family.
If you don’t like their parents or their family, it makes you miserable while dating, and it puts a lot of strain on your marriage. Think carefully about the extended people in your significant other’s life.
2. You have the same political affiliation
It may seem entirely unrelated, but having the same political ideology is a predictor of the success of a relationship.
The way that you think politically becomes a hot button as you get older. Being on the same page helps to strengthen your relationship over time.
3. You have the same idea of how your family looks
If you want two children and so do they, then you will disagree less about your future than if they want eight and you want none.
Finding someone who wants similar things for the future is a sure sign you are probably meant to be together forever.
4. You have the same religious preference
You may not attend church every Sunday, but having a similar religious ideology is important.
It may not seem like a big deal when you first fall in love, but having a family and children means you make decisions about what to teach them.
Having the same beliefs about what goes on after you leave this earth may be more important than you know.
5. You share the same hobbies
Having similar interests means you never run out of things to do together. A couch potato and an adventurer are going to have a much harder time getting settled in together than if you both want to climb Mount Everest.
6. They know when you are upset
If you don’t even have to say a word, and your significant other senses you are upset, love them forever.
Being on the same “wavelength” or tuned into each other’s feelings is a rare thing few couples share. If they ask you what is wrong before you speak up, they are a keeper.
7. You trust them
If you know they would never lie, steal, or cheat on you, that is worth its weight in gold. Trusting another person wholly is the key to a successful relationship.
8. They remember important dates
The person who remembers an anniversary, your birthday, or even the day Kurt Cobain died because it matters to you, is a person to hold onto.
Caring enough to take note and try to make certain days a big deal, is a signal they keep you on their mind.
9. They include you
If they always try to add you to their lives, it shows their willingness to share everything with you.
Asking you to do things you may not necessarily want to do like hunting or shopping, is a beautiful gesture and lets you know they want you to be included no matter what it is.
10. If something bothers you, they stop doing it
If there are things about the person you are with that bother you and you have made it known, but they continue to do it, then they probably care little about keeping the peace or respecting your needs.
Find someone willing to meet you somewhere in the middle to find a resolution to problems is worth their weight in gold.
11. They don’t ask you what they aren’t willing to do themselves
If the person you love wouldn’t ask something of you that they wouldn’t be willing to do themselves, then they are worth holding onto forever.
Sacrifice is a two-way street. If only one person sacrifices, there is potential for resentment.
12. They not only talk nicely to you, but they also say nice things about you
Finding someone who speaks highly of you when you are around and especially when you are not, is not always easy.
It is nice for someone to say nice things to you, but even better when you hear they have been saying nice things about you to others.
13. They keep things between the two of you
Everyone needs to vent occasionally to a friend or a family member, but you want someone who will know when not to say things outside of your relationship.
There should be a certain sacredness to what you say to each other as a couple and the struggles you encounter.
Signs that it is NOT love
Most people think that they know what love feels like, but sadly, many do not. Instead, what they think is love, is definitely not.
So, if you’re still having a hard time figuring this out, here are signs that what you’re experiencing is NOT love.
There are also times when we think we love people because we should. Either because we committed to honor and cherish them, or we have familial ties.
So, for example, you may love your nosy and judgmental mother-in-law because she is family and raised your partner, but for no other reason than you should.
This isn’t the same as how you feel for your own parents, even if they were less than perfect. It is an emotion that comes with a commitment you made. It is real but does not come with the same depth.
There are times when partners can be highly manipulative. They make their partner feel as if they will be lost without them, that they can’t do better, or that they don’t deserve more.
Although this sort of manipulation can be as overwhelming as love, it is a facade. When it is brought on by manipulation and rooted in control and abuse, it is nothing more.
Sometimes people think they are in love with one another, but they are codependent instead. It is like being with someone who feels like they are your yin to their yang. You need each other to be what you are. But, this again, is a farce.
Codependence can grow out from something more, but loving someone because you feel as if you are nothing without them, is not real.
There are times when you can be addicted to love. That is a rush like any other drug. Instead of loving someone, you love to love. This is an addiction to the surge of emotions, the brain chemistry, and the physical feeling of it all.
These people may jump from relationship to relationship, craving that initial sensation. But, as it wears off into something more comfortable and safe, they lose the high.
Being a couple that satisfies society, can lead to you loving someone. Having praise from peers and friends can induce feel-good emotions that convince you of feelings that may not be there.
For instance, you meet someone and get along. You are both successful and come from good families. There is nothing wrong, so you get married. It all makes sense and is supported by history, the public, and eventually, you.
All said and done, if you’re looking for reasons why you love someone, chances are, you would find your answer in the signs and reasons above. Also, if it’s not love that you feel for each other, you would know that by now as well.