They say when you know, you know. Well, that seems like total BS. For most of us, falling in love is not completely intuitive. People come to unions with a lot of stuff that makes it tricky to decipher if what they're feeling is the real deal, or if what their partner is expressing means they feel it, too. Stuff like emotional baggage, insecurities, biases, agendas, and timelines all make that natural notion that "you just know" seem entirely cliched. You might need some assistance in sorting out the signs you're truly in love.
The truth is, it is tricky for anyone to figure that out (even the experts), because the cues of being in love are mostly nonverbal. "Actions speak louder than words, as they say. Showing being in love must accompany any words, because no matter what people say, if they don't manifest their love in their behaviors, the words are hollow," says Dr. Grant H. Brenner, MD, psychiatrist, consultant, and psychoanalyst in NYC.
It makes sense that words alone don't amount to much. It doesn't take much effort to say something, then again, but behavior doesn't always take much effort on its own. The way we act is largely based on our personality. Say your last fling was very into PDA, but your current, more serious partner never holds your hand in public... that's a confusing non-verbal message. And in that case, just because your current partner isn't into bigger displays of affection, doesn't mean they don't love you.
Sometimes, words are usually a lot easier for some people to express their love and for us to understand. So what do you and your partner say to each other that might hint to the big L word? There are some questions and statements to listen up for.
1. "How Can I Help?"
When people are in love, they want to take care of one another. Offering support, even if that support is just listening, is something we do for the people we care about. "Good conversations are a good sign of being in love. Conversations which show a level of mutual give-and-take," says Dr. Brenner. Opening your ears is akin to opening your heart.
2. “It Just Feels Right When We’re Together.”
Bestselling author and relationship expert Susan Winter explains that telling someone what you have feels right means that "the connection with your partner is effortless." That doesn't mean it has to be all bliss, all the time, though. "True, there are challenges, but those challenges are met with conflict resolution," she says.
3. “Let’s Find A Solution.”
Being in love doesn't mean you never fight. Quite the opposite, in fact. It means you have conflicts but find a way to work past them, together. "You both have a way of diffusing each other and getting into negotiated brainstorming as an effective means to the solution of your problem," Winter says. "You can’t stay mad at each other. At the end of the day, there is more love than there is resentment or animosity."
4. "I Feel Like I Can Tell You Anything."
A willingness and desire to share yourself with your partner is a sign that you are not afraid to be vulnerable around them. The comfort expressed in your and your partner's ability to be vulnerable says a lot about how committed you both are to the relationship.
5. "I Like Learning About You."
Love takes time. If the feelings come too quickly, it is best to proceed with caution. "When someone tells you they love you really soon or quickly in a relationship, it's worth being cautious," says Joanne Davila, PhD. "The issue is this — how can you really love someone unless you really know them?" Instead of waiting to say or hear those three sought-after words, taking an interest in wanting to learn about each other is way more powerful.
"You only get to know someone over time, as you see how they behave and treat you in different situations, particularly stressful or difficult situations," says Davila. A desire to understand your partner means that your interest in them is deep and your intentions pure.
6. "I Really Like You."
Getting out the words "I love you" can be scary. In spite of that, your partner saying "I like you," while you feel the other L word can feel like a huge blow. Rest assured, though, that it could be a good thing.
"One way to know that you are truly in love is if you like the person," says Davila. "It's one thing to profess your love from a passionate place — we all know that feeling — but it's more important to actually like the person you're in love with."
Going doe-eyed for someone makes us a little bit blind, but Davila points out that the important things that matter in a relationship are feelings of respect, safety, and meeting each other's needs. "These are the things that make us genuinely like one another," she explains.
What you say and what you do are super intertwined when it comes to matters of the heart. In other words, talk the talk, but also, walk the walk. It'll bring you one step closer to spotting true love.