Falling in love is a universally amazing experience. But it's different for everyone.
Some of us fall easily and without reservation. Some people aren’t quite as trusting; for them, falling in love is a more gradual process.
Sometimes it’s not difficult to allow yourself to fall in love, but it's difficult to accept that you're in love.
When you ask people how they know they’re in love, the most common response you’ll get is,“You just know.”
But do you really "just know"?
I’ve met people who claimed they were in love but clearly weren’t yet. I’ve also met people who refused to accept that they were in love. They claimed that their relationship was nothing serious, but they showed signs of being in love.
Sometimes it's easier for outsiders to see that you're in love than it is to recognize the signs yourself.
Is this denial? Maybe. Is it a lack of self-understanding? Possibly. But the most likely reason is ignorance. You just don’t know how to recognize the signs of being in love.
Even if you’ve been in love before, that doesn’t guarantee that you’ll know love when you see it. Too often, we measure love based on what we've felt in the past. And while we certainly learn from every relationship we've had, we can't define love based on our experiences alone.
Just because you loved your ex does not mean that relationship should define love for you. Even though you felt, at the time, that romance was the greatest of your life, you need to open yourself up to new possibilities. By idealizing your past relationships, you'll ward off new love.
All too often, I've seen friends refuse to give people a chance because they're so wrapped up in a rigid definition of love -- one that the new person doesn't quite fit. Unless their next romance follows the same trajectory as the first, they sabotage it.
A different love isn't necessarily a bad love.
In fact, "different" is often exactly what we need. If you keep dating the same people and don't change your definition of love, you'll just build more failing relationships.
So maybe it’s time to create a new definition of love. Maybe it’s time to try something new, to let go of the ghosts of your past relationships and to truly start over with a clean slate.
Your past relationship may have been enjoyable, but it wasn't right in the end.
And it’s not enough to assume that things were just missing. Adding or removing a few ingredients from a recipe doesn't equal the perfect dessert. Maybe the problem is that you’re looking for cake when you should be looking for ice cream. Maybe you've never even tried ice cream, and you're too afraid to take the first bite.
There are a million ways to define love, but there is always one factor -- one ingredient -- that remains the same: Your person isn't just a person. Your person is your home.
If your partner's presence makes you less anxious and worried, you're in love.
Excitement is a necessary ingredient in romantic love. But true love isn't always exciting. Love and excitement complement each other, but you need to consider them separately.
Love comes in different shades. As we date different people, we change, too. And this means the love we’re capable of experiencing also changes. It makes adjustments based on our new perception and new reality.
Sometimes our definition of love becomes tainted. It becomes unhealthy, dark and painful.
So it’s important to take a step back and reassess your definition of love. Think about what you want your lover to bring to the table.
Life can be incredibly difficult. Disasters happen on large and small scales. And when things get especially hard, having someone to rely on -- someone who makes you feel like you belong -- can literally save your life.
One of the reasons we fall in love in the first place is that having a partner simply makes life easier. Why do you think everyone is so desperate to find someone? Marriage means a guaranteed support system for the rest of your life, and your heart grows when you accept responsibility for your partner's happiness, too.
You’re going to meet many people in life. Many of them will want to date you. Many of them will actually date you. Just do yourself a favor and don't repeat your past mistakes. Create a new pattern -- one that doesn't fall into the grooves of your past, failed relationships.
If you need to start fresh, then start fresh. Let go of the negative, and find someone who feels like home. That’s what love truly is.