Navigating the complexities of emotions and relationships often leaves us pondering the age-old question Taylor Swift croons about — how can we truly know if we’re in love? Whether it’s the early stages of romance or a well-established partnership, distinguishing between attachment and genuine love can be challenging. We’ve turned to relationship experts to shed light on this intricate matter and help us unravel the threads of our feelings.
Defining Attachment Versus True Love
According to Thomas Edwards, the founder of The Professional Wingman, strong romantic attachment is intricately linked to feelings of abundance and scarcity. When the fear of losing someone becomes all-encompassing and triggers changes in our behavior, it can sometimes be confused with love.
Psychotherapist and relationship coach Dr. Zoe Shaw further dissects this concept, explaining that attachment often arises from a basic human desire for companionship. True love, on the other hand, goes beyond mere companionship; it involves a deep commitment and investment in the other person’s well-being. Dr. Shaw emphasizes that love entails caring for the other person’s needs and welfare as much as one’s own.
Differentiating Infatuation and Love
The initial rush of intense infatuation that characterizes the early stages of a relationship is often mistaken for love and referred to as limerence. Dr. Shaw describes this phase as one of obsession and a desire to impress, often leading to presenting a polished version of oneself. This emotional high can skew perceptions and create an idealized image of the partner.
Thomas Edwards further refines this distinction, highlighting that true love transcends the initial “puppy dog phase” of infatuation. It evolves into envisioning a shared future where the thought of separation feels incomprehensible due to the profound connection shared with the partner.
Identifying the Hallmarks of True Love
Dr. Shaw identifies several key markers of genuine love, including the eagerness to introduce one’s partner to friends and family, a genuine curiosity about the partner’s life, and the willingness to reveal vulnerable aspects of oneself. She underscores that true love is not confined to feelings alone; it is inherently tied to actions and the desire to serve and support the partner.
Incorporating individuality within the partnership is another significant facet of true love, according to Dr. Shaw. She describes it as a balance between maintaining one’s individual identity and being an active participant in a shared bond.
Ultimately, true love is unconditional and unwavering. Edwards states that it entails a deep-rooted sense of support, willingness to make sacrifices, and an unwavering commitment to weathering life’s challenges together. It is an ongoing journey that involves growth, mutual understanding, and a deep emotional connection.
In a world where attachment and infatuation can often blur the lines of genuine love, the process of recognizing true love requires introspection, emotional intelligence, and a commitment to nurturing a meaningful and authentic connection.