Love looks different for everyone and love can look different from day to day. It is deep and sometimes complicated, blissful and fulfilling. But how do you know if you really are in love?
If you even need to question it, you might feel like you aren’t in love. But Jay Shetty explains it’s an essential and healthy question because it requires you to consider how you feel about the relationship.
In this article, Jay Shetty unpacks four signs that mimic love and four real signs of love that will make a difference in your relationship.
How Do You Know If It’s Love?
When you first meet someone you like, you feel giddy with excitement. The chemistry sizzles, and you think it could be love. Jay Shetty says before you leap, wait. It could just be infatuation.
Infatuation occurs when the brain releases dopamine, a chemical in the human brain known to stimulate the pleasure center. When coupled with a decrease in serotonin levels, it adds a dose of obsession and an urgent feeling of love. This is infatuation. Too often, we mistake that feeling for love.
“Labeling that experience ‘love’ is very limiting,” explains Jay Shetty. “[With that definition,] one person could be in love with someone new every month or every year. And one could be out of love with someone because that same feeling doesn’t last. So what we have to ask ourselves is are we in love with that feeling? Or do we really truly want to fall in love? Are we in love with that chemical makeup? Are we in love with that chemical release? Or do we want to understand what a loving, healthy relationship looks like? It is a love-like feeling that we’re experiencing.”
A study by Richard Schwartz at Harvard Medical School explains that serotonin levels gradually return to normal during the first year of love. The more silly, obsessive aspects of infatuation also begin to moderate during that period. This is followed by increases in the hormone oxytocin, a neurotransmitter associated with a calmer, more mature form of love.1
Love changes as you grow in your relationship. The initial feeling shifts from the exciting, urgent passion you felt in the beginning to a mature form of love. This may leave you feeling like you are falling out of love, but the truth is you are growing in love.
“We’ve been conditioned to believe that a long relationship is a healthy one,” Jay Shetty explains. “As opposed to believing that a healthy relationship is a long one. Think about that for a moment. How many of us believe that they’ve been together for such a long time, things must be great? But we all know people who’ve been together for a long time who are unhappy or dissatisfied. Longevity doesn’t equal happiness.”
No one knows exactly what love looks like, so we are always searching for things to define what love means. You are the only one who can decide what love looks like for you, but it helps to know the signs of things that can be mistaken for love. Here are four things Jay Shetty says people confuse with love.
Validation is Not Love
We all want to be validated. It feels good to get a nod of approval from others, but don’t confuse it with love.
“Validation is not a bad thing,” Jay Shetty shares. “If someone validates you, it’s not an unhealthy thing, but don’t equate validation on its own to being a sign of love. It’s a useful part of love, but it doesn’t make you know you’re in love.”
Validation is often connected to something you have achieved or accomplished. You need to question why you are being validated. Is it for who you are or what you have achieved? When others validate you, it is generally based on what they value about you. To determine whether someone is validating you for who you are or what you’ve done, Jay Shetty encourages you to ask yourself three questions:
- What is this person validating, and is it your wish to have it validated?
- If you lost what the person is validating, would they still value you?
- Are you in the relationship because you receive validation from this person? If that’s the only thing you like about them or the only thing you appreciate about them, you risk falling out of love with them.
Validation should come from within. Give it to yourself. Don’t rely on others to give it to you. The person who loves you will validate you for you, not your accomplishments.
Don’t Confuse Like and Love
When you connect with someone and find them interesting and entertaining and enjoy being around them, it can be easy to confuse like with love. You like the parts of them they present to you, but what about the things they keep tucked away– the complex, messy, real-life stuff that makes you see them in a different light.
Being liked is beautiful, Jay Shetty shares, but at one point, a relationship has to evolve from being liked to being honest and displaying flaws. We have to let people experience us at different times.
When Jay Shetty started dating his wife, he would do any- and everything to make her believe he was perfect. As time went on, he realized he was so obsessed with being liked that he had not allowed her to see his flaws. He could not see how she would deal with them.
It is easy to get caught up in wanting to be liked. We think if others see our flaws, they will no longer like us, so we keep them hidden. The fear and insecurity of sharing your authentic self with others holds you in a state of uncertainty, which is not healthy.
There is pressure to end up with someone perfect, so we feel pressure to be that person for someone else. Jay Shetty encourages you to be you, in all your messy, beautiful glory. The person who loves you will like more than just the good parts. They will love you for who you are, good and bad.
Control is Not Love
If you are in a controlling relationship, that is not love. Do not confuse someone’s controlling nature with them wanting to be involved in your life. It can be exciting, initially, but will often end with them being obsessive and possessive.
When a relationship reaches that level, it affects your choices, the people you spend time with, how you spend your time, and every aspect of your life. Power over you is not love. Fear and control are not love.
According to the Vedas [traditional Hindu religious texts], there are four ways to influence people. The lowest form of influence is fear and control. Next is motivating people to work toward a result or goal. Above that is responsibility. Love is at the top. It’s considered the highest way to influence someone.
Pain is Not Love
Love is not without discomfort, but if someone is causing you pain through physical, emotional, or verbally abusive behavior, that is not love. You cannot allow someone to tell you they love you yet continue to treat you in a way that causes pain.
Like the constant need for validation, control and pain are not love. So what is? Keep reading for Jay Shetty’s four signs of true love.
Growing Together in Love
Growth is how you continue to move forward in life and relationships.
“Growth isn’t easy,” says Jay Shetty. “Sometimes growth feels like tension, but it helps you love more, love better, and love deeper. You learn to love by learning together, growing together, developing together, and growing through pain.”
Growing together means you are forced to challenge your ideas and see things differently. It requires you to step up and be more grounded and open-minded. It is a fantastic opportunity to fall more in love with your partner and yourself.
Growing together is the ideal way to reach some of the goals you set for yourself to be the best you can be for each other. It is a beautiful way to increase your love together.
Appreciation is Love
“When was the last time you showed appreciation to your partner?” asks Jay Shetty.
Our partners get the least appreciative version of us because we are too distracted by what is going on in our lives to show appreciation to them. It’s easy to take for granted the things they do.
Invest in your relationship by extending your appreciation to your partner. If you appreciate something, tell them or show them. A little gesture goes a long way.
Commitment is a Sign of Love
Commitment is showing up even when you don’t feel like it. Love drives you to be there for the other person. Don’t undervalue someone who always shows up. Being there is their love language.
Spending time apart is just as important as spending time together. Time apart fosters experiences you can share with your partner when you are together.
People grow and change over the years, so it is essential to experiment with things that interest you and share them with your partner as you go through life together. Don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same old thing repeatedly. Keep things exciting and fresh.
“You don’t have to accept things in your life that mimic love as payment for your love,” explains Jay Shetty. Validation, pain, like, and control are not love. Find someone who appreciates you for you, is willing to grow and experiment with you, and is committed to your relationship. Those are the qualities love is built on.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode on “4 Things That Are Not Love and 4 Ways to Know You Have Found the One” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.