Moving from “like” to “love” is one of the most important transitions a couple can make. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most misunderstood ones.
Too many couples think that love is the same as infatuation. This equates love with the ooey, gooey excitement and breathless anticipation that usually occurs at the beginning of a relationship.
Unfortunately, defining love this way makes it into a feeling. The down side of that is that feelings come and go. If you don’t want your love to wax and wane with your emotions, you probably don’t want to define love solely as something you feel.
Our culture doesn’t give us a lot of other options for a definition of true love, though. If it’s not just a feeling, then what else is it?
Love is a Feeling . . . and More
Fortunately, you don’t have to lose the concept of love as a feeling altogether. Most of the time, when you are experiencing true love, you will feel positively about your significant other. You may not feel head-over-heels in love with them, but you will think well of them, want to be with them and, overall, feel good about being with them.
The difference between true love and defining love as only a feeling, though, is that true love continues even when you don’t have positive feelings about your partner. In fact, you can experience true love even when you’re furious at your partner or when they have just hurt you deeply.
The thing that causes this difference is commitment. When you’re truly in love with another person, you commit to staying with them even when things are hard. You decide that the person you’re with is a person you want to continue to be with, and you choose to stay.
Note that there are usually some caveats to this decision. You should, for instance, not choose to stay with someone who is abusive. Some people choose not to stay with a partner who cheats on them. Whatever your caveats, you can build them in to your original decision.
How to Decide
Since committing to love someone is a big decision that will affect all aspects of your life, it’s not one you want to make quickly or without some knowledge that the other person will return your commitment and is someone you want to be with.
Luckily, there are some things you can do that will help you decide whether or not to commit to a partner you’re in a casual relationship with. These same things will help build your commitment once you’ve made it.
First of all, you’ll want to build trust. After all, you don’t want to commit to someone who isn’t worthy of that decision. Secondly, you’ll want to get to know your partner well and to let them know you. It will be easier to commit to someone who knows your quirks and loves you anyway. Finally, you’ll want to build a strong friendship with your partner. This friendship will help you hold to your commitment even when you’re not sure you want to.