How do you know when you love someone?
The Angry Therapist
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While I’m no expert — I’m a DJ, not a counselor — I do think people have some odd ideas about love. After all, we’ve romanticized about it so much that it is almost mythical! And it shouldn’t be, because it is simple in the extreme. I’ll sum it up in one word: emotion. Yes, it’s nothing more than how you feel. Let’s compare it to others.

Nobody is unsure whether they’re afraid or not. If you’re fearful, you simply ARE. Something frightens you and you react. The same holds true for hate; we have all met or seen someone who instantly raises our hackles. We may not be able to articulate WHY we feel hatred, or maybe we can, but in either case, we acknowledge and accept that it is what it is: it’s how we feel.

And that is ALL that love is. If you have felt a strong liking for a friend (as opposed to a sex partner), it is the SAME emotion. We love our kids; we love our parents; we love our friends… all the same emotion. And just as we may find something a LITTLE BIT frightening and others scary in the extreme, love also runs in a range. There are those we love enough to want to hang out with for long periods of time, and others we can’t imagine life without. Some we would go out of our way to help them with something, and others that we’d give a kidney to. Or take a bullet for. There is a range, and again, it’s nothing to be proud or ashamed of. It is simply how you feel, and feelings require no justifications or excuses.

When sexual attraction enters the picture, we seem to think of it as a “different kind” of love. But it isn’t. Sexual attraction is completely separate and apart from love. Any man who has walked into a strip club and become aroused by a total stranger knows this intuitively; they could easily have sex and not even know her name, let alone be in love! And, of course, we totally love grandma to the max, but there is ZERO sexual attraction! (At least we hope. If there is, seek professional help!) So the challenge is to not let one blind you to the other. See past the “horny haze” and really get to KNOW your intended. Find out if she’s really someone you could love if sex were not an option. If you can find that amazing balance between wild sexual attraction and love beyond all reason, you have won life’s lottery.

One more thing: just because you DO love someone does NOT mean that you can live with them without driving each other insane! Love does NOT mean “compatible.” I have loved many a lady that I could not be with 24/7 without us constantly clashing. We may vehemently disagree on many topics, yet we feel how we feel: the love is there. (And no, it is NOT a choice! The choice is how far you’re willing to go to make cohabitation work.) And this is key: when you take on someone, you take them on baggage and all. If you want to be accepted and understood, you must do the same for your love. If you don’t want to be judged, don’t judge yourself. If this has a familiar ring to it, it’s because just about every religion and philosophy in the world has a variation on this idea! Ultimately, love is acceptance. Of everything about them. And when you take on someone, then commit! It’s EASY when love is fresh and you’re just getting to know each other. When things get rough, and they will, that is precisely when your love is needed most. When you’re no longer young and pretty; when hardship strikes; when there’s a life-threatening diagnosis and all the other travails of life pile on, THAT is when really being in love is important.

Here’s another analogy: recently, a couple of friends of mine have lost pets. If you have ever lost a pet that you’ve cherished, and maybe went through all of the vet visits and other expenses leading up to their loss, you know the feeling; that there’s nothing you wouldn’t do to help. That is love. That is also commitment, which is NOT a bad word. We are all here on this planet for each other. It’s all we have. John Lennon was right: love is all you need.

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