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We want to feel deeply connected to other people, fully seen and appreciated by them, and secure in those relationships. We can have a million and one acquaintances online, but if none of our connections feel intimate and meaningfulwe will ultimately feel alone. They truly are the most valuable things in our lives. I remember when I completed my last promotional tour.

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Whether it's your first real relationship or just your first in a while, it's normal to find yourself in the midst of a new romance wondering, Is this love? While it's possible, and even incredibly easy, to experience a "love at first sight" connection, true love looks and feels a little different from the warm feelings we usually associate with falling in love. Here's what true love is all about, plus 10 s you're in it. It's important to clarify that everyone experiences and expresses love in their own unique way.

However, with that in mind, clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner, Psy. The attachment stage is key for long-term love, Wegner adds. Attachment is about feeling deeply connected to someone more than your physical lust and attraction. d marriage and family therapist Linda Carroll M. A couple must go through deep interpersonal connection but also doubts, disillusionment, and ultimately a decision about whether to stick it out, all before experiencing true, wholehearted love.

Notably, both experts note the idea of one soul mate seems to be a wash: "I think you can make a choice to spend your life with another person," Carroll tells mbg, but "I think there's more than one right person—I think there are many kinds of soul mates. It's important to recognize the difference between lust and love. While lust is one stage on the way to love, you're going to need more than physical attraction to make it last. In time, the deeper you get to know them and the more you bond, the more you'll grow to care for who they really are—and the more they'll care for who you really are, too.

If anything, risk is what makes it exciting. Love pushes you to open yourself up completely to another person, to really be seen and understood. And in spite of the possibility of heartbreak, we do it anyway. Love is a huge risk, but it seems to be the one we're all willing to take. Eventually, as the honeymoon phase dissipates and you and your partner really begin to see who the other is, there's a sense of calm familiarity.

You feel grounded and content in their presence.

10 people explain what love means to them

This is partly due to the hormones released during the attachment phase that facilitate bonding, oxytocin and vasopressin. Love doesn't always have "good reasons," which is where the idea of unconditional love comes from. As holistic psychiatrist Ellen Vora, Ph. It doesn't always feel easy or even necessarily positive, but it always feels like I'm right where I need to be. Your partner shouldn't "complete" you; in fact, feeling that way is a good that you're more in the infatuation phase than true love.

Love happens between two whole people, which is why Carroll refers to it as "wholehearted love. Couples experience "true individuation and self-discovery" when they're truly in love, explains Carroll. In this way, you don't feel incomplete without them but rather that you're two whole people who work well as a team. Before getting to the wholehearted stage, couples have to go through disillusionment the end of the honeymoon phase when faults start showing up and ultimately, a decision about whether to stay together.

There's really no way around it.

Once you've accepted those things about your partner that aren't exactly your favorite—congratulations! Long-term love is very much a choice. Carroll notes, "I think there's more than one right person—I think you can make a choice to spend your life with someone. Despite the risk and any other difficulties, there's a deep knowing that you want this person in your life, and trust they'll be around for the long haul. And building this trust is no easy feat, according to Carroll, who notes it's a process that takes time. Carroll explains that developing true love takes going through rough seasons and finding out all the ways you're not compatible.

But the more your relationship is put to the test, the stronger you become as a pair.

13 scientifically proven s you're in love

Of course, every relationship still takes effort, but once you reach wholehearted love, you've really sharpened your communication and conflict-resolution skills. Going back to the idea of being a complete individual with and without a partner, there's the part of you that knows you would be OK without your great love. But with that said, you know this isn't what you want because you simply, genuinely love having this person in your life. How long it takes to fall in love will depend on the individual and the couple. There's no set timeframe that applies to everyone.

Physiologically speaking, the dopamine rush begins to drop off after about four years together. Dopamine plays a big role in the attraction stagebefore oxytocin and vasopressin come into play to allow for true attachment. There's really no script dictating when the right time is, Wegner adds. Is it true love, or are you repeating an old relational habit? If you've made it this far and believe without a doubt you're in love, you might just be thinking about how to tell your partner. As with any big relationship step, keep things honest and open. If they don't feel the same way, you want to know that sooner than later.

Take some time to really think things through. Once you're sure it's love and usually, your gut will give you a pretty good idealet your S. After all, that's kind of the point, isn't it?

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Our online classes and training programs allow you to learn from experts from anywhere in the world. Explore Classes. d Marriage and Family Therapist.

Weena Cullins, LCMFT, is a d marriage and family therapist with over 15 years of experience working with individuals, couples, and families. July 26, What is true love? What love feels like:.

What does love feel like? 27 s you’ve fallen head over heels

It's more than lust. You're not concerned with the risk. You feel calm and content around this person. It just feels right. You feel like a complete individual.

What does love actually feel like?

You accept the good with the bad. You actively choose them. You trust your love will last. You've overcome obstacles and challenges.

How long does it take to fall in love? How do I tell someone I love them? More On This Topic Love.

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