I grew up thinking I knew what love is.
Love is saying, “I love you.”
It’s hearts and candy and Hallmark greeting cards.
When I imagined myself having a boyfriend, I imagined holding hands and kissing and sitting together at lunch and sharing secrets.
If a boy did all those things, then it meant he loved you.
Now I’m much, MUCH older 🙂 and I have a very different view of love.
I’ve seen marriages fail. I’ve seen the pain relationships cause. I’ve seen how abuse and trauma get passed through generations.
And I figured out that love—REAL love, the kind that lasts—looks nothing like hearts and roses.
We confuse love with romance and chemistry. But that’s just limerance. It’s a promise; it’s not the thing itself.
Love is actually a SKILL.
And it’s not an easy skill. It’s HARD.
Anyone can say, “I love you.” But not everyone knows HOW to love.
That’s why I believe one of the first things you need to do, when you meet someone new, is find out whether he knows how to love.
It doesn’t matter if he’s a great catch or tons of fun, if he’s not capable of doing the hard work loving takes.
That insight could save you so much heartache.
Don’t assume someone loves you because they say they do, or because they’re “supposed” to love you.
Set aside how you feel and pay attention to how they TREAT you.
And look for these 3 signs.
Sign #1. He reconnects when you’ve disconnected.
Relationships are an endless cycle of disconnection and reconnection.
You get into a fight, you hurt each other’s feelings, you yell at each other…
And then you’ve got to fix it.
You have to repair the damage. You’ve got to talk it out and make things right between you again.
That is a really hard thing to do.
When you’re mad at someone, you don’t want to reach out and admit you might have overreacted or said something you shouldn’t. It feels better to wait until HE reaches out to YOU and apologizes—which is never going to happen.
So you end up trying to forget it ever happened and hoping things return to normal.
I grew up in a family that didn’t know any other way to deal with conflict aside from pretend it didn’t happen and go on like normal. Eventually you get to a point where the wounds are too deep and the silence too deafening.
Don’t let it get that bad.
Every time you disconnect, make the effort to reconnect.
You don’t have to talk about it if it’s too hard. You can have a cuddle instead. You can do something thoughtful for each other. You can apologize with your actions, even if you can’t say the words.
A guy who makes that effort is a guy who doesn’t want to live without his emotional connection to you. He’s a keeper.
Sign #2. He accepts your reality.
One of the hallmarks of abusive relationships is distorting reality.
He tells you that what you experienced didn’t happen. He tells you that you don’t really feel how you feel. You’re the crazy one; he’s not.
It messes up your mind.
In healthy relationships, your guy accepts that you have a different reality to him. You experience the relationship from your perspective, which isn’t the same as his. He can’t see inside your head. He doesn’t know what you’re thinking or what you’ve been through.
All he can do is ask questions and try to understand your truth. He doesn’t get to decide whether your reality is legitimate or not, and he expect you to extend the same respect to him. There’s enough room in the relationship for both of you to see things differently.
Sign #3. He adjusts course so you can go in the same direction.
A lot of guys are dating because they enjoy the companionship and they like to have fun.
That’s fine, but that’s not love.
The Gottman Institute found that the key to a lasting marriage is the husband’s ability to accept influence from his wife and look for win-win solutions.
So if your guy always has to be right, or if he always has to win, don’t get married. It’s not worth giving up who you are just to be with him.
An emotionally intelligent guy will want to make a life together based on combining your vision for the future with his.
He knows what he’s giving up when he bids goodbye to bachelorhood. If he wanted to do things his way all the time, he should have stayed single.
But now he’s in a relationship, and relationships are built on two. You’re going to have different values and different ideas. There doesn’t need to be a power struggle where only one person wins. You can both get your way when you learn to incorporate each other’s ideas into your shared vision.
Have you seen any of these signs in your relationship? If so, tell me which one in the comments!
Let us know what you think!