When you ask “Do I love him?”, you need signs that will stand the test of time. Here’s how to know if you love someone and what you need to know about love. These tips are from relationship experts, divorce attorneys (they know a surprising amount about love!), and scientific research.
The least helpful advice I got was “I just knew.” That piece of advice came from yours truly! I just knew that my husband was the one for me. How? We were friends for 17 years before we got married – and I share a bit of our story in Are You Really in Love? 8 Signs of a Serious Relationship. So really it wasn’t that I just knew…it was the amount of time I spent with him that told me I love him. Time is one of those tests that never fails. Taking your time is the best tip for how to know if you love someone.
Here’s why the test of time is crucial: “At the beginning of a new relationship you want to know everything about your partner,” says relationship counsellor Barbara Bloomfield in an article on The Independent (you’ll find all research links at the end of this post, under “Sources”). “You are hungry to learn more about this fascinating person. But as relationships get longer, we get lazy and stop trying to understand. We fall into ruts and routines, including habitual arguments which make us scream with frustration.” If you’re already screaming with frustration, don’t assume doom! Read these 10 tips on how to know if you love someone…
“Do I Love Him???” 10 Time-Tested Tips
This isn’t a quiz, true or false test, or quick and easy “do I love him?” checklist. Love isn’t that easy! Rather, these 10 time tested ways to know if you love someone are inspired by my experience, scientific research, relationship experts, and divorce lawyers.
Most importantly, these signs you really are in love with someone are based on YOUR experience with your boyfriend and relationship. Nobody can tell you if you love him, not even a million time tested tips for love. The only way you’ll know for sure if you love him is by listening to the still small voice and your own heart.
Give yourself time to really think about these ways to know if you love someone. This is an important time in your life, so don’t rush it.
1. You can sit with the idea of NOT knowing if you love him
What’s the rush – is there a reason you need to answer the “do I love him?” question right away?
Of course, there could be valid reasons for trying to discern if you love someone. Maybe he’s proposing marriage, or threatening a divorce. Maybe he’s trying to decide if he should move to Liberia and you need to know if you love him because your answer will help him make a decision.
I suspect, however, that you don’t need to know right now if you love someone. Yes, you’re curious about your future – will you be with him or not? But you probably don’t need to rush to figure out if you love him. Take your time. Allow your love (or lack of it) to unfold naturally. Don’t push it. Don’t force it.
2. You have realistic expectations
My husband doesn’t expect me to make his lunch or iron his clothes. He knows I put housekeeping and dusting and sweeping low on my list of priorities. He’s not surprised when I change my mind about where we should meet for dinner. My husband knows me, so he knows what to expect from me. Even better, my husband loves me…so he accepts me the way I am.
Here’s how to know when you’re in love: your expectations are realistic. That means you know your boyfriend well enough to know who he is, what he believes in, why he was put here on earth, and when you will see him next.
3. You’ve spent enough time with him
I’m always tempted to encourage women to date men for at least a year before getting engaged. Then my best friend went and married a man she met on Christian Cafe (or was it Match.com? I can’t remember) after three months of dating. If I hadn’t been living in Africa at the time, I would’ve thrown my body under the wedding limo in protest.
But guess what? My best friend and her best boy have been married for 12 years (or is it 13? i can’t remember). They have two boys, a house, a supportive relationship, and many fine possessions. If she would’ve asked me, “Do I love him?” after three months of dating, I would’ve said “Most definitely not!”
My best friend is the exception. She and her husband are lucky (blessed by God, actually). It is NOT possible to know if you love him after three months of dating. Even three months of living together won’t tell you how to know if you love someone.
Only time will tell.
4. You don’t want him to change
In your relationship, what is the biggest thing you struggle with? Something things are easier to live with than others – and a sign you love him is that you are willing to not just live with but accept his quirks, weaknesses, and flaws.
Make a list of the things that bother you. Maybe he’s always late, or he insults your friends, or he borrows money and forgets to repay you. Maybe he drinks too much, works too little, or studies too hard.
Can you honestly say that you can willingly and happily live with him exactly the way he is right now? If so, it’s a sign you love him.
5. You can tolerate his quirks without feeling resentful
Here’s an important tip from a divorce attorney, to help you know if you love him:
“Can you tolerate all your partner’s quirks?” asks attorney Melissa Buchman on 11 Marriage Truths From Divorce Attorneys. “Even the ones that you don’t like, are they tolerable? Don’t marry your partner thinking that any of his or her quirks are going to change, improve or wane. As we get older, your partner’s quirks will only magnify. So if you can’t tolerate it now, you for sure are not going to be able to tolerate it in the future. Tolerance may not be romantic, but it is the key to a long lasting marriage.”
6. You believe and trust his words and actions
Can you love someone without trusting him? Nope. Love without trust is peanut butter without jam, a smart phone without wifi, a dog without an owner. Tasteless, sad, lost.
Read 5 Signs You Can Trust Your Boyfriend After He Cheated to help yourself NOT fall in the trap of thinking you love someone when really you’re just lonely.
7. You’re not desperate or lonely
It’s time for you to be painfully honest with yourself. Get your journal out, and write your answers to these questions:
- What am I overlooking in this relationship?
- What don’t I want to admit to myself about him?
- When I ask myself, “do I love him?” what is the first thing I feel?
- What is the still small voice telling me about this relationship?
- How would I feel in a year if our relationship ended today?
A good, strong marriage is one of the greatest gifts in life. Don’t cheat yourself out of a beautiful relationship with someone you love because you’re too desperate, lonely, or scared to let go of someone you don’t love.
8. You can talk to him
All good, solid, healthy relationships are build on open and honest communication. This should be the first tip on how to know if you love someone…
“When people come to my office wanting a divorce, the stated reasons often have to do with money, sex or growing apart,” says lawyer Fred Silberberg on 11 Marriage Truths From Divorce Attorneys. “The truth is that in almost every case these complaints are the symptoms that have led them to my office, not the cause. The cause is a lack of regular communication. If couples would make a point of setting aside time to talk about what is going on with each of them, to communicate their real feelings, I think that far fewer of them would end up in a divorce lawyer’s office.”
9. You’re in the third phase of love, which is attachment
According to scientific research, the three phases of love are lust, attraction and attachment.
- The first phase is lust, which is hormone-driven and full of desire.
- The second phase is attraction, which is when lots of blood flows to the pleasure center of the brain. We feel an overwhelming fixation with our partner.
- The third phase is attachment. Our fixation fades and our bodies develop a tolerance to the pleasure stimulants that were driving us mad with love earlier. Vasopressin and oxytocin – which are endorphins and hormones – flood the body at this point. We attach to our partners in healthy and committed ways.
The last is my favorite phase of love. It creates an overall sense of well-being and security, which is conducive to a time tested and long lasting relationship.
The question isn’t just whether or not you love him right now. The real question you need to ask yourself is, “Do I love him in all phases of our relationship?”
Perhaps you recognize that you’re in the third phase of love…and you’re happy there. You’re not in the first phase of love (lust). You aren’t idealizing your boyfriend or seeing only the things you want to see. This happens in the early stages of relationships.
10. You’re willing to learn what love is
Ah, this is probably the most complex tip on how to know if you love someone – that’s why I saved it for last! Do you know what it really means to love him? I’m not talking about how you feel or what you think or who he is. I’m talking about what it really means to love someone.
My only exposure to marriage or married couples when I was a child was when I lived in foster homes. I grew up with a single mom who was mentally ill and I didn’t have a dad, so I didn’t know what love meant. Since I’ve been married, I’ve learned that love is sacrifice. It’s taking risks and being vulnerable. It’s setting boundaries and allowing people to be who they are. Love is so many things on so many levels to so many people!
Read What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp – especially if you’re thinking about marriage. Love isn’t just roses and romance, kisses and chocolate, wine and snuggling. Love has to go deeper than shared interests and mutual attraction.
Be open to learn new things about yourself and your relationship. Learn if your expectations need to change. Learn how to know if you love someone by finding out what love actually is and means.
Counseling is another way to learn what love is, and it can even help you discern if you’re in love. I saw a counsellor for eight months before I was ready to get married. It’s worth the investment.
How to Know if You Love Someone
If you’re still asking, “Do I love him”, here’s a quick list of the 10 time tested tips:
- You can sit with the idea of NOT knowing if you love him
- You have realistic expectations
- You’ve spent enough time with him
- You don’t want him to change
- You can tolerate his quirks without feeling resentful
- You believe and trust his words and actions
- You’re not desperate or lonely
- You can talk to him
- You’re in the third phase of love, which is attachment
- You’re willing to learn what love is
Perhaps the best tip on how to know if you love someone is that you aren’t in the early stages of your relationship. The longer you’ve been together, the more likely you are to recognize if you love him.
It’s your turn! You tell me: do you love him?
While I can’t offer advice, I do read every comment. I encourage you to respond to other readers’ comments if you feel led, and to share your thoughts on how to know if you love someone. Writing often brings clarity and insight, and can help you process your feelings.
- I always argue with my partner – is our relationship doomed to fail? on The Independent, by relationship counsellor Barbara Bloomfield.
- 11 Marriage Truths From Divorce Attorneys on The Huffington Post, by Brittany Wong.
- What falling in love does to your heart and brain on ScienceDaily, via the Loyola University Health System.