7 ways to know if it’s real love, according to psychology

People say that you will feel a deep sense of certainty when you’ve found true love.

They say that somehow, you’ll just know. And then… everything will effortlessly click into place.

Here’s the thing, though.

Our brains love to trick us.

When you’re infatuated with someone, you might feel certain they’re the love of your life, but it might be just your brain urging you to procreate, feel-good hormones flooding your body and messing with your senses.

This is exactly why it’s so important to take a step back from the situation at hand and double-check whether you’ve found something real or whether you’re just high on oxytocin.

Here are the 7 signs it’s real love.

1) You feel safe laying yourself bare

One way to tell if you’ve found true love is to check in with yourself when you’re around your partner.

Do you feel safe enough to let your inner child come out? Can you be playful and silly around them? Do they reciprocate your energy? Do you speak with no filter, certain that your significant other won’t judge you?

If your answer to these questions is a resolute “yes”…

Congratulations! You’ve passed the first test.

And why is this sense of safety so important, I hear you ask?

Because it paves the road toward vulnerability, which opens a door to a strong connection based on trust.

As the couples counsellor Kari Rusnak MA, LPC, CMHC, says:

“Being vulnerable creates emotional intimacy and connection. Opening yourself to your partner shows and builds trust and helps them understand you on a deeper level. A way to increase trust is to test it out, and by letting your partner in, you are giving them an opportunity to earn that trust.

“This can increase empathy from your partner as they get to understand you in a new way. It allows them to be there for you and meet your needs. For yourself, it can improve self-acceptance, and things that once felt vulnerable can no longer feel that way.”

2) You nurture a sense of mutual respect

Listen up. This one’s incredibly important.

All healthy long-term relationships are based on a strong foundation of respect.

If you don’t respect your partner, the relationship may be poisoned with resentment or the dynamic might shift in a toxic direction without your realizing.

This sense of mutual respect manifests in various different kinds of behavior, such as:

  • Speaking in a respectful and kind manner (i.e., you don’t insult each other or use a passive-aggressive tone when you don’t like something)
  • Admiration for what the other person does with their lives, be it their career or hobbies
  • Approaching problems like a team
  • Respecting each other’s privacy and boundaries

As for the benefits, psychologists say that mutual respect makes it easier for us to solve problems together, accept our differences, and develop stronger resilience as a couple.

A good way to tell if you respect your partner is to ask yourself, “If someone told me I was a lot like my significant other, would I take it as a compliment?”

If your thoughts immediately go to “yes, definitely,” it’s yet another sign you may have found yourself in a relationship that could very well last a lifetime.

3) You both feel seen and understood

Last year, I learned a harsh truth.

You can love someone with all your heart, but that still doesn’t mean they’re the right person for you.

Even if you feel safe with them and respect them… your differences can still be too large, the gap between you too wide to bridge.

Oftentimes, the best way to tell you’re simply too different to make it work is to compare how you feel around your closest friends to how you feel when you’re with your partner.

Why?

Because you’ve chosen your friends for a reason – they are on the same mental wavelength as you.

There is no sexual attraction or romantic ideas to muffle the connection, so you can be certain that the bond you have is based purely on your intellectual, spiritual, and emotional understanding.

Your closest friends make you feel seen, heard, and wholly understood.

And your partner – the person you might spend the rest of your life with – should offer the same.

It’s a hard truth to accept, especially if everything else in the relationship works perfectly. But if your partner’s core self doesn’t align with yours…

You will always feel like you’re translating yourself.

4) You’re growth partners

signs a woman will always love you according to psychology 7 ways to know if it’s real love, according to psychology

According to therapist John Kim LMFT:

“In a relationship, growth and change are essential for both individuals to thrive and reach their full potential. When one person in the relationship is not actively growing or changing while the other is, it can create a power differential where one person feels more parental, and the other feels more childlike. 

“This dynamic is not healthy for a romantic relationship because it prevents both individuals from evolving and reaching their full potential together.”

Feeling understood by your partner is wonderful, but again, it only goes so far.

And that’s because we all change and grow over the years. If your partner understands you now, there is no guarantee they will understand you three years in the future.

…unless they make an active effort to evolve alongside you.

And therein lies the secret to long-term happiness. Someone who actively works on themselves, who tries to heal and grow, and who openly communicates throughout the whole process…

That’s someone with whom you can not only *find* but also *build* true love.

5) Your communication game is getting stronger

Speaking of communication, the way you and your partner voice your feelings and react to one another’s concerns says a great deal about how strong your relationship is.

As psychologist Randi Gunther PhD writes, “Open and vulnerable communication between intimate partners is at the core of a relationship’s capacity to survive and thrive. It is what builds trust, clears the way for authenticity, and opens the gates to true intimacy.”

So, does this mean you both need to be absolute communication experts when you get together?

No.

As highlighted in the previous section, partners often grow together. If you struggle to communicate effectively at first, it isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker – all it means is that you’re still getting to know each other.

What is important, however, is that your communication game is getting stronger – not weaker – as the months and years go by.

As you explore the shades and shapes of each other’s souls, you should be growing more resilient and stable as a couple. Not the opposite.

6) You tackle conflicts as a team

Of course, communication skills are most evident during some sort of conflict.

It’s all fun and games until all hell breaks loose and you actually have to work together in order to make it out the other side.

What many people get wrong about conflicts is that they view every kind of argument as a sign they may not be right for each other.

The truth is that it’s not really about the argument itself – that’s just an inevitable part of getting to know someone on a deep and intimate level – but rather about how you approach it.

If a disagreement turns into a battle of two stubborn egos, it could very well end in a shouting match.

If you both try to work as a team and believe you can overcome this if only you put in the effort, though…

You’re immediately increasing your chances of making it work in the long run.

7) Your intuition is telling you that the relationship feels right

As I said at the very beginning of this article, you can’t always trust your brain where love is concerned.

However, that doesn’t mean your gut feeling shouldn’t be taken into account. Quite the opposite.

If you’ve ticked off all the six previous signs, it means your relationship is headed in a good direction.

The final question to ask yourself is, “Does this relationship *feel* right?”

When you slow down your breathing, close your eyes, and reconnect with yourself for a bit, what does your body tell you?

Do you feel that this relationship serves the highest version of yourself? Are you certain in the marrow of your bones that this could truly be it?

Or is your intuition whispering that something isn’t quite right?

Oftentimes, our bodies know that something’s off long before our brains manage to catch up. Don’t underestimate the power of your intuition.

It may hold all the answers you need.

Picture of Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase

Isabella Chase, a New York City native, writes about the complexities of modern life and relationships. Her articles draw from her experiences navigating the vibrant and diverse social landscape of the city. Isabella’s insights are about finding harmony in the chaos and building strong, authentic connections in a fast-paced world.

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