Am I Really In Love? 4 Signs For What Is True Love

» Posted on Jan 23, 2015 in Change Your World, Situations we find ourselves in | 0 comments

First off, What Is True Love?

There is no word constantly used by society that is more ambiguous than the word love. To most of the population the word is subjective, when it’s certainly not.
Perhaps due to being raised by my traditionally masculine father who loathed laziness, I deduce that to offer simple answers such as “love is relative,” is laziness. This type of answer is given by someone who lacks the desire to evaluate their relationships or superfluous value they may be putting into inanimate objects, all of which they ‘love’. Can one really love an inanimate thing such as a purse, a car, or a house, and turn to their spouse or children and say it again with the same meaning? And please don’t say there are different types of love. No, there aren’t.

Either it is truly love, or it isn’t.

Psychiatrist and bestselling author, Dr. M. Scott Peck, had a very concise way of explaining this paradox in his classic book, The Road Less Traveled.  With the help of Peck, I’m going to shed a big fat spotlight on what love is, and distinguish it from what it isn’t, and doing so with hopes of sparing all my readers countless wasted hours in their lifetime stressing on whether or not you love this girl or that guy… leaving no room for ambiguity.

Just for the sake of it, let’s define a noun. A noun is a person, place, or thing. Love is a noun. Agreed? Good. Let’s move on with it.

Love is not a feeling. Feelings are emotions. Emotions are mental reactions to outside influences and they are, by nature, easily distorted and always fluctuating, and typically they’re accompanied by physiological and behavioral changes in your body.

Does love as a feeling, an emotion, sum up for you what you have between you and your spouse or you and your children – a fluctuating, subjective reaction? When you’re fed up with Sharpie artwork on your wall, wouldn’t this logic say that your feeling of anger has now, at least temporarily, replaced your feeling of love? Is that true? Of course it’s not. Your love exists regardless of any circumstance. It is never-changing.

Even though you can have a feeling of love, love is not a feeling: “The feeling of love is the emotion that accompanies the experience of “cathecting”; which is the “process by which an object becomes important to us.” Likewise, the process by which an object is no longer important to us is known as “decathecting”. It’s easy to see how cathecting and love can be confused, especially when you can cathect anything from a human to an electric toothbrush.

You don’t want to waste your time.  What is true love? Here are 4 simple ways you can tell if what you have is true love, or isn’t:

#1 – You’re not ‘self-sacrificing’

Another popular misconception about love is that love is self-sacrifice, or being unselfish. But if there is genuine love, this will not be true. Everything you do for wife is a choice you make; you make that choice because it fulfills a need you have. The need you have to feel good. Loving that person is pleasurable to you. Waking up in the middle of the night to change your friend’s flat tire in eight feet of snow is something you’re doing because it feels good. You do it because you want to, and because not doing it would hurt you on a spiritual level. Peck sais, “In a real sense love is as selfish as non-love.”

#2 – Are there clauses to your commitment?

How many times have you heard couples say that they’ve fallen out of love? The loving feeling is gone so they assume that person wasn’t their ‘soul-mate’ and they move on vowing to not make that same mistake with the next person. Well, the cold hard truth is that sooner or later couples always feel they’ve fallen out of love. The good news is that “it is at this moment when the mating instinct has run its course that the opportunity for genuine love begins.” When you can distinguish the butterflies as “cathexes,” and not genuine love, you will see that the glue that holds you and your partner together is the commitment. In a marriage, the spouses “have made a commitment to be loving whether or not the loving feeling is present.”

#3 – Does listening feel like work?

“If an act is not one of work or courage, then it is not an act of love.”
The most prominent form of work in any relationship is attention. It takes work to truly pay attention to someone. When my six-year-old daughter tells me about one of her dreams, I have to physically work at paying attention to her. Her “dream-stories” can go on for an hour and they jump around completely free of sequential order. There are long pauses of silence while she tries to remember all the pieces to her dream puzzle – then bursts of words a mile a minute. Even though I usually end up with a headache, I listen.

My listening to her is absolutely an act of true love.

#4 – How much risk do you take?

It takes courage to change and when there’s love, there is going to be change. No doubt about it; it takes courage to love – to extend oneself. Self-love takes courage too – a lot of it. If you find yourself miserable twenty years from now having realized that you spent most of your life chasing success only to prove someone wrong who didn’t believe in you when you were twelve-years-old is not self-love – you have not been true to your self. To be true to who you are is absolutely courageous. As a psychologist, Dr. Peck often mentions a common theme among many of his patients who were depressed was these people had been living their lives not being true to themselves—many times out of fear or spite. They realize they’re depressed because they’ve spent their entire life trying to please someone else.

Live your life courageously. I personally believe you have to love your self first before you are able to know the pleasures of loving someone else. Loving the unique and wonderful person who you are, and loving other people takes commitment, work, and risk, but it is a decision, a choice you make. You can choose to love someone or not to love someone.  That being said, “True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed,” says Peck, “It is a committed, thoughtful decision.”

Choose wisely.

By: Lauren Schroth

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