Is it love, passion or just the right blend?
By Dr. Lucy Brown, PhD & Dr. Helen Fisher
Last updated on Oct 30, 2023
Photo: Vuk Saric from Getty Images Signature
During the heady, early days of a relationship, it is incredibly easy to mistake passion for lasting love.
You might feel as if the whole world revolves around your partner, stare longingly into the distance when he is away, and feel butterflies in your stomach before each date.
Yet, while passion is an important element of love, it is not lasting love, in and of itself.
7 Questions To Ask Yourself To Determine If Your Love Is Real And Made To Last
Your answers to the questions will help you understand your relationship in a new way.
1. Can we sacrifice for each other sometimes?
One of the biggest components of lasting love is the security that comes with knowing you are there for each other, day in and day out, no matter what life throws your way. While this deeper security can only develop through shared experiences over time, by the time you are ready to declare your love, you should be fairly confident in the answer to this question.
Brain scanning data suggests this is an important part of a lasting relationship.
Think through the minor crises that have arisen since you started dating. Does she bring you soup when you are sick or stay up all night helping you nurse your injured cat back to health? Will he come to a party that is important to you, even though he’d rather be doing something else?
Does he answer the phone whenever you call or return your calls quickly every time? Do past and current behaviors indicate that your partner can put you first sometimes?
2. Am I ready to share my entire life with my partner?
During the early dating phase, both partners tend to become the best possible versions of themselves, smoothing the rough edges and leaving out gritty details. They also tend to lead very separate lives.
This is healthy and normal, but love means sharing all aspects of your life, openly and honestly.
Are you ready to take that next step? What about finances? Many couples keep their money separated but make bigger financial decisions together.
Are you comfortable telling your partner about the low credit score that could keep you from obtaining a mortgage, or sharing the fact that you have a trust fund?
3. Does my partner make me feel better when I am down?
In a true love relationship, your partner becomes your confidante. The relationship is a safe place to share not only your hopes and dreams but also your fears and doubts.
Do you naturally turn to your partner when you are passed over for a promotion at work or have a fight with your mother? Does he know just how to bring you out of the doldrums and make you laugh?
Does she take your emotions seriously while helping you find a healthier way to cope?
4. Is my partner an important part of my long-term plans?
Many relationships ultimately end because both partners have very different long-range plans.
If you want to launch a new career in New York City, while your partner plans to dedicate her life to travel medicine in third-world countries, it might be difficult to sustain the relationship long-term.
Honestly assess where each of you sees yourselves in 5, 10, or even 20 years, and determine whether you fit together over time.
5. Do we truly know each other?
It is not necessary for loving couples to know every single experience that has occurred in 20 or 40 years of life, but it is important that your partner knows the highlights of your past, as well as who you are today.
Do you understand each other’s values, views on child-rearing, spending habits, and personalities? Have you seen each other at your best and worst? Do you know about each other’s emotional entanglements with exes, ailing relatives, and overly dramatic siblings?
In the harsh light of reality, do you genuinely respect and even celebrate each other as complex individuals?
6. Can I overlook my partner’s faults?
Am I very critical of my partner, or can I overlook the little annoying things easily? Can I compliment him or her easily? Do I judge him or her negatively a lot?
It is important not to criticize too much, either openly or to yourself.
Ask, “Can I do that?”
7. Can I enjoy my partner’s successes and celebrate them?
It is very important to share the good times and successes of your partner. Can you do that? Can you plan celebrations for a promotion? Can you enjoy their small accomplishments with them?
If you can, this is the sign of a lasting love relationship.
Passion is an important ingredient in a love relationship, but it is not enough on its own.
Yet it is easy to mistake passion for the love needed for a lasting relationship.
Before declaring your love for your new partner, sit down and honestly answer the questions above. You might realize that your love is true, or you might discover that you need a bit more time for it to develop.
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The Anatomy of Love is a collaboration between Lucy Brown, PhD and Helen Fisher PhD, a biological anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute and Chief Scientific Advisor to the dating site Match.
This article was originally published at The Anatomy Of Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.