At the beginning of a relationship, we tend to get overwhelmed by all the romance, sweet words, and perfect dates. Everything seems to be going so perfect, you’re even starting to think that he might be the one. Are you ready to say the L-word and tell him that you love him? Before you make the jump, you might want to step back and really evaluate how you feel—you don’t want to say it and then realize later that maybe you didn’t mean it after all. It’s so easy to get caught up in the romance, that sometimes we can confuse infatuation with love. Here’s some signs to look for that might show you that you’re just in love with being in love, and not with your guy.
1. It was “love at first sight.”
As romantic as “love at first sight” seems, it’s a myth. You can’t be in love with a person that you don’t know, can you? If you feel that you’ve fallen hard for him, but you’ve only had a few dates and you don’t actually know anything about the really important stuff in his life (his values, priorities, etc.), it’s probably infatuation, not love. There’s no rushing with love, love has to be given time to grow as you get to know one another.
2. You’re focused on physical attraction.
While there has to be some physical attraction for a relationship to work (let’s be honest, attraction is what turns someone from “friend” to “boyfriend”), it should not be the most important part. When you think about the things you like about your guy, if your top answers are all physical attributes, it’s probably not love. Love goes beyond physical attraction and involves an emotional and intellectual connection as well as a physical one.
3. He seems flawless in your eyes.
There is no such thing as a perfect person; everyone has their own flaws and quirks. You shouldn’t be in love with some ideal version of him that doesn’t actually exist. If you are truly in love with him, you will recognize his flaws, but you will also be able to look past them and learn to handle them. Believing your man is perfect is unrealistic, and acknowledging that he has imperfections is part of loving someone, not just being in love with love. Real love means accepting all of him, even the parts that you don’t necessarily agree with.
4. You never have arguments.
Believe it or not, having arguments is actually part of being in a healthy relationship. If you never talk about your problems together, you can’t be expected to resolve them. Part of having a mature relationship built on real love (and not just the idea of it) is learning to express yourself when it comes to conflicts instead of just trying to gloss over issues or pretend that everything is perfect when it isn’t.
5. You focus too much on your own feelings.
Real love turns “I” and “me” into “us” and “we.” When you’re just in love with love, a relationship tends to be self-centered. You focus too much on how you’re feeling and what he does to make you happy. On the other hand, when you’re really in love with someone, you take his feelings and needs into consideration, giving them as much or even more importance than your own.
6. You need material or showy demonstrations of his feelings.
Answer this honestly—if he stopped buying gifts all the time and taking you out to fancy dinners, giving material tokens of his affections, would you lose interest? It doesn’t even have to be an investment in terms of monetary value, but one of giving you those big kilig moments like a promposal or a showy courtship. If you answered yes, then you are just in love with love, not with him. The intense doting that is common at the start of a relationship will fade in time. If you can’t accept that reality, then you’re not in love with the guy you are with. Remember, all the gifts in the world won’t cuddle with you at night, and it’s how you love each other in between those big romantic gestures that really counts.
7. You’re overly obsessive and jealous.
Some people consider jealousy a sign of love and caring. The reality is that jealousy shouldn’t be part of a healthy, loving relationship because it implies an absence of trust, something that’s absolutely essential to a loving relationship. So if you think playing the clingy girlfriend is the answer, think again. Love isn’t that fragile, and if you find yourself constantly worrying about someone stealing him away, to the point where you’re constantly quizzing him about his whereabouts and going through his text messages, then it’s clear that there is not enough trust in your relationship to give love a chance to grow.
8. He’s not the first person you share important news with.
When you’re in love with someone, they become so important to you that they are the first person you want to talk to when something big happens; whether it’s good or bad, you can’t wait to share it with him. If your guy is second, third, or even farther down on your list of people to talk to when there’s something you want to share with the world, chances are you aren’t really in love with him.
9. Your feelings for him are conditional.
If you love someone, no petty things can change how you feel. Moreover, you don’t make demands on your continuing to love him. And you don’t try to change him, either. If you consider a breakup every time he does something you don’t like or you have a small disagreement, it’s clearly not love. True love is unconditional, and if you really love him then you will want to stick it out even when things get tough. Real love isn’t easily put aside; infatuation is. When the words “I’ll stay with you if…” or “I’ll only love you if…” come out of your mouth, then you’re lying to yourself and to him about how you feel. The only tune you should be singing is a Katy Perry-style “I will love you unconditionally.”
10. You can’t see yourself sharing your future with him.
Now, I’m not saying you have to be considering marriage already, but if you can’t realistically picture a future that includes him in it, then you aren’t truly in love with him. If you plan to be married and have children at some point in the future but can’t see yourself doing those things with the guy you’re with, then he’s not the one.
If some or all of the things on this list ring true for you, then it might be time to face the truth: You’re in love with love, not with your guy. So you need to be honest, both with your man and with yourself. Don’t say the L-word if you don’t mean it, and don’t let your heart trick your head into thinking you’re in love when it’s really just infatuation. However, don’t despair just yet! Love isn’t some magical, instantaneous connection, so give it time. Just because you aren’t in love with him yet doesn’t mean you never will be. If you’re happy and the relationship is healthy, it’s probably worth sticking it out to see where it may lead. Who knows? maybe love will grow!