In 1993, artist Haddaway asked a profound question through his song, What is Love (followed by “Baby, don’t hurt me” but that’s for another time). Before him, thousands of poets, authors, and philosophers have pondered over the same question. The only way to find an answer is by understanding the qualities of love that seem almost universal to its experience.
Genuine love, the enigmatic force that entwines hearts and souls, has long captivated humanity’s imagination. What are the characteristics of love that distinguish it from mere infatuation? How do we recognize the attributes of a genuine connection? And what are the hallmarks of mature love, capable of weathering life’s storms? In this exploration of the 15 characteristics of true love, we delve into the depths of this extraordinary emotion, uncovering the secrets that unveil its essence and power.
15 Characteristics Of True Love — Identifying Real Love
Love, true and everlasting, is a tapestry woven with threads of trust, mutual respect, genuine happiness, and empathy. It requires more than fleeting passion; it demands maturity that withstands the tests of time and eliminates fear.
So, let us venture forth, unraveling the intricacies of genuine love and illuminating the characteristics that set it apart from the ephemeral whispers of romance:
1. Trust and honesty
One of the first characteristics of love is the active presence of trust and honesty. Partners in love have faith in each other’s intentions and there is transparency in the relationship about their thoughts, feelings, and actions. They trust one another implicitly, knowing that they can rely on their partner to be truthful and loyal when indulging in romantic love.
Trust and honesty in a loving relationship also allow space for spiritual growth. A sense of security enables you to strengthen your faith in the philosophy of love and further recognize love in your surroundings.
Related Reading: 10 Things That Make A Good Relationship – As Per An Expert
2. Mutual respect
Another attribute of love that is imperative for a healthy relationship is mutual respect. Genuine love encompasses respect for each other’s boundaries, opinions, and individuality. Partners honor and appreciate one another, recognizing the unique qualities that make them who they are:
- Love intertwined with respect creates a safe and nurturing sanctuary, protecting partners from harm, both physical and emotional
- Mutual respect acts as a shield against manipulation, control, or abuse, fostering an environment where both partners can seek genuine happiness
- It is through respect that love becomes an unwavering sentinel, guarding the cherished bond and ensuring its longevity
3. Open communication
Open and effective communication is one of the primal qualities of a good lover. Partners can express their needs, desires, and concerns openly and respectfully because it eliminates the fear of judgment. They are good listeners of one another and make an effort to understand each other’s perspectives, fostering a deep sense of connection and understanding.
Jia, a lawyer from Massachusetts, shares her secret to a long-lasting relationship. She says, “I have been lucky in love because my partner and I consistently practice the art of open communication. It is one of the qualities of love which separates flings from meaningful relationships. At the end of the day, I can say what is on my mind and so can he. We share our disappointments and fear-based emotions and listen to each other with an open mind and compassionate heart. That, I feel, is the secret to us being happily married for 20 years.”
4. Support and encouragement
The philosophy of love can be encapsulated in a simple truth: partners in a loving relationship celebrate each other’s achievements. They genuinely rejoice in each other’s triumphs, big or small, knowing that shared happiness multiplies joy. This celebration of success is not based on comparison or competition but on a deep-seated belief in the unique and individual growth of each partner.
A partner’s support and love protect you on days when you feel low, when motivation is abysmal, and you need a cheerleader to get you back on the path of growth. This is perhaps one of the best qualities of love because you have someone by your side to gently nudge you, pick you up when you fall, and also celebrate your victories.
5. Empathy and compassion
Per research, love and compassion contribute to profound autoregulation. The study says, “Love, attachment, and compassion can be highly effective in stress reduction, survival, and overall health.” These are acts of genuine care that extend beyond superficial gestures, as partners wholeheartedly understand and validate each other’s true selves. Let me share a heartwarming anecdote that illustrates the power of empathy in a loving relationship.
Sarah and January, a couple from LA, have been together for several years. In the initial days of their relationship, Sarah was struggling with anxiety. One day, after a particularly challenging episode, she found herself feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable. January, aware of her struggles, sat beside her, gently held her hand, and said, “I may not fully understand what you’re going through, but I’m here for you. We’ll face this together.”
January showed empathy by acknowledging Sarah’s feelings, even if she couldn’t fully comprehend them. Her willingness to listen, offer comfort, and be a source of strength made Sarah feel understood and supported. You, too, must seek this quality in a romantic relationship.
6. Shared values and goals
In the world of true love, finding someone who shares your values and goals is like discovering the perfect partner in crime. It’s like being on the same wavelength, with your relationship dial set to ‘epic adventure’ mode. Picture this: You and your partner are like two peas in a pod, navigating the rollercoaster of life together. You both agree that pizza is the ultimate food group and binge-watching Netflix series is a legitimate hobby.
But it’s not just about the small stuff. You and your partner also have a shared vision for your bright future. Whether it’s dreaming of traveling the world together, building a home filled with love and laughter, or conquering the universe (hey, why not?), you’re on the same page. You support each other’s dreams, cheer each other on, and eagerly desire the amazing adventures that lie ahead. This is one of the qualities of love which helps you feel the power of unconditional love.
7. Holistic intimacy
One of the most important mature love characteristics is intimacy at all levels: emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual. In the realm of true love, intimacy is a secret love language that only you and your partner understand. It’s like having your little bubble of inside jokes, cuddles, and sweet moments that make your heart skip a beat. And let’s not forget the power of physical closeness. A study states that “touch is an extremely prevalent behavior in romantic relationships and people need more touch from a romantic partner than from other interactions.” It has physical and mental health benefits for both partners.
However, it is about more than just romantic gestures and stolen kisses (though those are pretty awesome too). It’s about feeling comfortable in your body. You embrace your partner’s unique quirks, from their forever bedhead hair to their adorable snoring symphony. It’s like having a front-row seat to the quirkiest show on Earth, and you wouldn’t want it any other way.
But intimacy is not just fun and games; it’s also about being there for each other during tough times. It’s about creating a safe space where you can let your guard down because love banishes fear. It’s like having a cozy blanket of love and understanding that wraps around you, providing comfort and strength when life gets challenging.
One of the essential characteristics in the context of romantic love is acceptance. It means recognizing and embracing a person’s good virtues as well as their negative emotions.
It entails understanding that they are unique, with their own set of strengths and weaknesses, experiences, and perspectives. True love rejoices in both the light and shadow within a person, acknowledging that no one is perfect and that imperfections are an inherent part of the human experience:
- Acceptance extends to accepting your partner’s past, mistakes, and traumas, and their healing journey
- Acceptance recognizes that everyone carries their baggage. It shows empathy and compassion
- Acceptance doesn’t imply complacency; it supports growth and personal development
- It involves embracing change and transformation, individually and as a couple
- Acceptance creates emotional safety and freedom in a relationship
Related Reading: 60 Affirmations To Attract Love, Romance, And Relationship In 2023
9. Compromise and Flexibility
Compromise and flexibility reflect a willingness to navigate differences and find solutions that benefit both individuals in a relationship. Of course, there are certain things you should not compromise on in a relationship. For instance, we aren’t talking about making great sacrifices like getting off the plane to Paris just to rekindle the love with the father of your child (like Rachel in Friends).
Imagine this: A loving couple in a loving relationship are poles apart. Charlotte is a social butterfly while George is an introvert who enjoys quiet time in his observatory. Both individuals deeply love each other but find themselves at odds when it comes to their social preferences.
In this scenario, compromise and flexibility become essential to fostering a harmonious relationship that eventually rewards genuine happiness. To enable each other to lead an honest life, the couple must find common ground. True love brings people together when combined with equal compromise and flexibility from both parties involved.
One of the qualities of a good lover is that they can also be your friend. According to Terri Cole, psychotherapist, and relationship expert, “All of the things that make up a good relationship — trust, mutuality, respect, caring, compassion, vulnerability, open communication — all of those things should be in your best friendships, your regular friendships, and your romantic relationships.”
A dear friend is more important sometimes than a romantic partner. In an ideal scenario, a romantic relationship can last an eternal life and to embark on this journey, you need a companion with whom you can share the many ups and downs.
Like Chandler and Monica’s relationship was built on the foundation of honest friendship, you should also seek true love in a person who has all these virtues of being your companion. When combined with friendship, true love eliminates the fear of not being understood by someone.
11. Independence and Autonomy
While love binds people together, it should also empower and support each person’s independence. It is one of the key characteristics of genuine love because it is not self-seeking and recognizes the person’s sense of individuality. Independence and autonomy are important characteristics of love because they help establish healthy boundaries within a relationship. It allows individuals to maintain a healthy sense of self and prevents codependency, ensuring a balanced and sustainable partnership where both of you are dearly loved.
Love makes us feel that we are God’s chosen people for each other and that we must be the yin to their yang. But we must not abuse God’s power of bringing people together by expecting the other person to dance to your tune.
When I was in college, I had a friend who once told me how some Bible verses presented the ideas of freedom in love and their power to strengthen relationships. In a more modern world, autonomy in a relationship is often an important topic of concern. If both psychology and the Holy Bible reiterate the importance of independence in true love, then we must acknowledge and actively work toward finding true love which does not cage you.
Related Reading: The 36 Questions That Lead To Love
12. Shared Laughter and Joy
In romantic love, being together in sickness and in health is important, but being able to share silly moments and laughing is equally necessary. One of the characteristics of love is the ability to make each other laugh and find humor in the most banal moments of life.
My colleague has been in the happiest relationship of his life for 3 years. He says, “A man falls deeply for the woman who can make him laugh. This, God bless, is why my girlfriend and I are at our happiest. We are dear friends and actively find ways to have fun by indulging in new hobbies and activities. Even when we are not doing anything, we can be joyful in each other’s presence. That, I feel, is the most important quality of love. It’s like watching a good stand-up comedy, all the time.”
Marriage counselor and psychologist Everett Worthington created a workbook to help people let go and forgive. A study conducted among 4,598 participants asked half the participants to complete the exercises in it. After two weeks, it was found that the workbook promoted forgiveness and there was a statistically meaningful reduction in depression and anxiety symptoms among users compared with the control group.
True love knows that no bond is immune to disagreements or mistakes. But what sets it apart is the ability to forgive and let go of past hurts. Love endures minor errors because it acknowledges that another person is human and can make mistakes. Holding grudges is not one of the qualities of love.
It is a slow poison which rots the very foundation of a romantic relationship and makes both people miserable. This does not mean that you turn a blind eye to everything. Allow the space for an explanation before giving your verdict. Occasionally, you or your partner might do something which the other person dislikes; that is normal. As long as it isn’t morally or ethically wrong (or goes against your philosophy of love), forgiveness is the secret sauce that makes a relationship last forever.
14. Emotional stability
Remember that iconic When Harry Met Sally scene where Harry finally realizes he’s in love with Sally? Emotional stability is like the calm and collected holy spirit that gently nudges you, whispering, “It’s love, my dear.”
Amidst the swirling whirlwind of emotions, this trait acts as your level-headed sidekick, helping you distinguish genuine love from passing infatuations or casual flings. It’s like having your very own emotional GPS that keeps you headed in the right direction.
It is an important characteristic of love because rollercoasters belong in an adventure park, not a relationship. Emotional stability in true love can mean many things:
- Ability to remain calm and composed during challenging situations
- Capacity to handle stress and pressure without becoming overwhelmed
- Skill to regulate and manage one’s emotions effectively
- Resilience in the face of adversity, which allows for quick recovery and adaptability
- Enhanced problem-solving and decision-making abilities
- Increased self-awareness and understanding of personal emotions and triggers
- Improved communication skills, enabling constructive dialogue even in tense situations
- Empathy and understanding toward others, fostering healthy relationships
- Reduced likelihood of impulsive or irrational reactions
- Greater mental clarity and focus, leading to improved overall well-being
Related Reading: 13 Incredible Things That Happen When You Meet Your Soulmate
15. Long-term commitment
Love is a marathon, not a sprint. And in this metaphorical Olympic event, long-term commitment shines as the tenacity, endurance, and commitment to reach the finish line together. It’s the determination to lace up your emotional sneakers and keep going, even when your partner’s snoring resembles a chainsaw orchestra.
Long-term commitment teaches us that love is not just about grand gestures, but also the everyday choices we make to stay in it for the long haul. It is one of the qualities of love which separates it from the fleeting crushes that you have for the tenth time in a week.
While wrinkles may appear and hairlines may recede, long-term commitment ensures that love continues to bloom like a fine wine. Is that something your lover and you imagine together?
- True love is different from infatuation or fleeting romances and is more intense
- Friendship, laughter, and the ability to understand each other are important to identify a true love
- When a couple is emotionally stable, has clear boundaries, and the ability to forgive and compromise, it is a true love relationship
- Being intimate with your partner at all levels and honoring their independence outside of the relationship can help enhance love
- Just like a commitment at the gym shows dedication and passion, in the same way, a long-term commitment toward a relationship demonstrates a true love for the other person
While there are many characteristics of love, your personal philosophy of love can differ and there is no right formula for a long-lasting love. Remember, seek not a romance that will leave you with the first ray of sun, but a love that will endure even the strongest storms and will hold your hand as you look into the gentle night. Au revoir, dear friends. May you find the love you seek.