Such a broad and abstract topic as love, not surprisingly, is hard to define. And, of course, many writers, artists, musicians and psychologists have tried. Tons of theories exist and persist. (Here are four theories of love.) We spoke with two couples therapists to get their thoughts on this elusive subject.
“Being in love is an agreement — made consciously or unconsciously — to participate in the experience of personal growth and transformation,” according to Judy Ford, licensed clinical social worker and author of Every Day Love: The Delicate Art of Caring for Each Other. “When we are in love we are saying ‘yes’ to the process of becoming our best selves.”
Terri Orbuch, psychologist and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great, believes that true love includes both the arousal-producing, can’t-stop-thinking-about-you passionate love and the supportive and emotionally intimate companionate love. She underscored that both do “wax and wane,” and may need work. In fact, a decline in excitement is “a typical progression or development of a long-term relationship,” she said. (Here’s Orbuch’s advice on reigniting the passion in a relationship.)
6 Signs of Love
Orbuch shared six signs that indicate a couple is in love. She said that a couple might have some or all of these signs. (In other words, if your partner isn’t much of a sharer, it doesn’t mean he’s not in love with you.)
1. Personal information. You reveal intimate information to your partner that you don’t tell others, and they do the same.
2. Mutuality. “You think of yourself as a couple rather than two separate entities or people,” Orbuch said. In other words, you think in “we” terms, not “I.” If someone asks what you’re doing this weekend, you consider your partner in your plans, and respond with something like “We’re not sure yet.”
3. Affection, caring and support. Do you both care if the other has a bad day? Do you automatically turn to your partner for support?
4. Interdependence. “You’re interdependent with each other socially, emotionally and financially,” Orbuch said. So whatever you do will affect your partner, and vice versa. If you’re offered a new job in a different city, the decision you make affects your partner.