If you’re anything like me, when you first start a relationship, your head is all over the place, trying to determine how your new partner feels about you.
One minute, they do something that makes you think you must be soulmates, but the next moment, you’re questioning if it’s really the real thing…
Determining the depth of love as the relationship progresses is just as challenging.
You might be sure of your feelings, but how can you tell if your love is reciprocated?
Thankfully, there has been a lot of research on true love, so we can find some surefire signs by looking at psychology.
So read on to discover what true love in a relationship looks and feels like, according to psychologists and researchers.
1) Seeing them happy makes you happy
This one seems a bit obvious, but hear me out.
Of course, we can want other people to be happy without being in love with them.
When it’s true love, seeing them thriving and winning in life makes you ecstatic.
Because you see each other as a team rather than two separate people. Thus, their wins are also your wins, and vice versa.
Because of this, you’ll be each other’s biggest cheerleaders, always encouraging each other to fulfill their potential. And to do that, you make a habit of doing the following…
2) You compromise and make sacrifices for each other
As mentioned, being in love means your partner’s happiness becomes as essential as yours.
However, your partner likely has different goals and aspirations from you. So happiness for them may look different from happiness for you.
Still, when it’s true love, this is not a problem as you learn to compromise with each other.
Through compromise, you create a balanced relationship dynamic where you both feel fulfilled.
That being said, there will likely be times that one of you will have to sacrifice something for the other to achieve their dreams.
This is the biggest test of true love.
Here’s an example…
Say your partner gets the chance to work on a high-level project in another city for a year. But you like where you live and don’t want to move, even though you have no ties there.
In the name of true love, you would decide to make the temporary sacrifice required to allow your partner to elevate their career.
Of course, these types of sacrifices should not be happening all the time, nor should just one person be making sacrifices in the relationship.
3) You respect each other’s independence
Neediness is not healthy or cute in a relationship.
While you may think wanting to be with your partner 24/7 is a sign of love, it’s just a sign of an unhealthy relationship dynamic and an insecure attachment style.
A couple that truly loves each other respects each other’s need for independence.
They know their partner needs space to pursue all their goals and hobbies.
Therefore, they don’t make excessive demands for time and attention or make their partner feel bad when they don’t spend time together.
Of course, being comfortable with your partner having their own life outside the relationship also comes down to the next sign of true love…
4) There is 100% trust
While love can sometimes exist without trust, true love between BOTH partners requires total trust.
Research shows that lack of trust is one of the most significant predictors of romantic relationship problems.
Lack of trust lowers commitment levels and decreases the amount of effort the partners put into making the relationship work. As a result, without trust, the relationship is likely to break down.
It is possible to regain trust in someone who betrayed us, but it is challenging. Plus, in most cases, the person who betrayed us does not truly love us.
Therefore, if your partner did something to lose your trust, it’s likely not true love.
5) You REALLY listen to each other
In this day and age, finding someone who properly listens to you is not easy.
Most people are constantly distracted or too caught up in themselves to stop, put their phones down, and listen to what we have to say.
So, it’s no surprise that active listening is a sign of true love, according to psychology.
Active listening is when you are fully present when conversing with someone.
You focus on what they are saying, giving them space to express themselves freely rather than trying to interrupt them or interject with your thoughts and opinions.
Research studies have found that couples who practice active listening have higher relationship satisfaction than those who don’t.
The researchers also found that the active listening couples were better able to solve problems as a couple.
6) The relationship feels calm and secure
Forget the high-drama relationships portrayed in movies and TV series; true love feels safe, secure, and peaceful.
Arguments are a normal part of any relationship, but conflict will be more occasional than frequent when it’s true love.
True love feels calm and comforting thanks to the high level of emotional intimacy you share.
American psychologist Dr. Lisa Firestone explains that when it’s true love, we can express ourselves freely without our partner being defensive or discouraging.
This is because when someone truly loves us, they accept us unconditionally.
Even if they do not agree with everything we say and do, they will show empathy and not invalidate our feelings.
This leads to a sense of security, and when you feel safe and at ease in your partner’s presence, you notice the following…
7) You can be totally yourself around each other
When you think of the people in your life that you feel most comfortable being yourself around, it is likely those you love, such as your parents and closest friends.
The same is true in romantic relationships.
In a large-scale study examining how people perceive true love, researchers found that the most prominent sign the participants reported was authenticity.
This suggests that the more you can be yourself around your partner, the likelier true love is.
Many psychologists and relationships experts, such as Barry Hammer, believe that the person we should feel most authentic around is our partner.
As Hammer writes in his paper ‘The Essential Basis of True Love,’ true love is when both partners achieve a state of oneness or union.
When we are in love, being with our partner feels as comfortable as being with ourselves. Thus, we can let down all our guards.
8) You’re growing in the same direction
As individuals, we’re constantly growing and evolving. So, trying to maintain a partnership with someone else who is growing can be extremely challenging.
That’s why one of the biggest signs of true love is when you grow together, not apart.
What does this mean?
First, while you may have different goals, your values, priorities, and overall vision are aligned.
Two people prioritizing their careers work well as a couple because although they may have different professions, their values are aligned.
But what if one partner prioritizes their career and the other prioritizes family?
In this case, there is more chance that both individuals will grow apart rather than together.
Another way a couple grows in the same direction is by having some shared interests.
These shared interests, whether hobbies, causes they are passionate about, or something else, become the string that holds them together as they grow.
Another thing that results in a couple growing together is when they do the following…
9) You’re ALWAYS there for each other
A relationship built on superficial love cannot survive hard times.
When times get hard, such as when we experience depression or a loved one passes away, it’s typically only those who genuinely love and care for us who stick around.
If you, your partner, or both of you have been through challenging times and you’ve come out stronger, this suggests it’s true, unconditional love.
10) You both are proactively working on the relationship
Many people believe true love means everything works out without any effort.
This is not the case.
No matter how deeply a couple loves each other, both partners must work to maintain and strengthen their bond.
Think of a couple you know who initially were head over heels in love but, several years later, amicably broke up.
Neither partner betrayed the other, but the once passionate love fizzled out because they stopped trying.
Therefore, the biggest sign of everlasting true love is when both partners continuously try to keep the relationship fresh and exciting.
This might look like:
- Weekly date nights
- Scheduling time to sit and talk about any issues each week
- Setting relationship goals together
Do you see these signs in your relationship?
If so, congrats, as your relationship is the real deal.
But remember that love is never perfect. Every relationship has ups and downs, and as the relationship progresses, it’s normal for the overall feeling to shift.
That being said, true love should never feel like you’re constantly trying to move mountains. Authentic love should feel transparent, supportive, caring, committed, and unwavering.