Less pressure, friends ... More education on what love IS NOT ... Maybe then we will understand what we’re really feeling.

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OK! So! A few months into dating this HUNK … and you’re wondering what … the heck … is going … ON!? ...

Are we a couple? Can I say WE? Does saying "we" make it official? Or are we just friends? Or maybe we are friends with benefits? Are we ride or dies? Wait ... What exactly does "ride or die" mean? Where we riding to? Why do we have to die? Can we stop for food?

Where is the line drawn and what do we do? … Is it love, yet? Will it ever be love? Or are we just wasting time until one of us finds someone better? ... Come on, life, get it TOGETHER! I’ve got places to go, things to do and babies to make … Ughhhhhhh! 30 going on 50 … any time now, universe! This is relationship numberrrrr ... 12? … when will I FINALLY find THE ONE?  

… So … once you come down off that unicorn in fairytale land, get it together and realize that, first, lasting relationships take time … and second and third … patience and faith are about the only things you can have and believe in to keep you sane … after that, you may still find yourself asking how you know when you truly love someone. Like, really … on a serious note … Think about it.

The term is used SO loosely in the English language, so, it’s hard to refrain from the word love when we live in a world that loves everything. We love food, songs, make-up, movies, celebrities, places, sports, people … It’s hard to make the word feel meaningful in a relationship when nearly everything can be loved.

So, again, how do you know when you love someone? And how do you know when you’re loved back? And how do you know when you’re supposed to say it? When is it the right time? Is there ever really a right time? Are we ever really ready?

As I get older, and with every relationship I enter, I find myself puzzled when it comes to understanding love. I think I know what I’m really feeling and what others feel for me in return, but more often than not, I am dead wrong. So, for my next relationship, I decided the best way for me to understand what love is, is to understand what love is not.

WHAT LOVE IS NOT 

Through the years, I’ve learned that real love is not hateful … unless it’s toward your mutual enemies. It is not rude … unless it’s to the waitress for putting lemon in the water that you so kindly asked her not to do since your partner hates lemon. Love doesn’t make you feel bad … unless it’s in the bedroom and you’ve been a baaaaaad girl … Just kidding … but really …

Love definitely does not EVER intentionally hurt or diminish one’s worth … unless it’s to help you better understand your potential and even then, it shouldn’t hurt. Love doesn’t like to argue … unless it’s about who loves each other more … love doesn’t purposely cause grief and aggravation … unless it’s an intentional fart battle or joke here and there to make your partner laugh. Stinky farts aren’t always funny, though, just for the record.

Love doesn’t cheat … unless it’s in a game of Uno or something where maybe you’re being nice and letting your lover win just this once. Love doesn’t lie … unless it’s in bed at night gazing over how incredibly beautiful your partner is right there next to you, sleeping in peace. Love doesn’t give ultimatums … unless it’s maybe to get chores done or to reward your man for remembering to put down the toilet seat … but keep in mind … love doesn’t command or demand.

Love doesn’t criticize, push or pressure … unless it’s constructive criticism, positive pushing towards goals or there’s baby oil for a pressurized back massage.

Love doesn’t doubt. Love doesn’t seek revenge or harm. It doesn’t keep record of wrongdoings or mistakes. Love is not jealous. It is not arrogant. It is not spiteful. It is not selfish. Love doesn’t break promises. Love doesn’t choose. Love doesn’t decide.

Love just happens ... When it’s right ... When it’s time ... When it’s meant to.

You can like someone … and that just includes intimacy …
Or you can have infatuated love, which only includes passion …
Then you can have empty love … which may be the worst because that lacks spice … empty love is just commitment …
Romantic love … now, that sounds a little better … because that includes both intimacy and passion, but the commitment isn’t there.
Companionate love is a little nicer than romantic love because now, you have intimacy and commitment … but still, no passion …
Then there’s fatuous love, which includes passion and commitment and lacks intimacy …

But … The love we all seek to have is true love … consummate love … the only love that includes all three: intimacy, passion and commitment.

So, when you’re building with someone and you’re sort of … in limbo … just kind of waiting for time to be on your side at that place that’s clearly more than friends, but not yet a solid, committed relationship … first, remind yourself to be patient. Then, think about where you’re at. You'll realize it's either:

A.) not what you thought! K, move on ... game over ... back to the grind ... OR
B.) Exactly what you thought ... Just a matter of time before it evolves ...

If you take anything away from this post, it's to know that when you come to that crossroad where you start to wonder ... what's next ... Stop and realize what's present. Is it worth continuing? Is it building? Is it getting better? Or are you just helping one another waste valuable time?

The words "I love you" should come up like word vomit ... where it just happens and, sort of, seems like the only logical thing to say because you can’t think of any other word to use to better describe what you’re feeling … but, remember to think about what you are not feeling before you take the leap and say what you THINK you're feeling. ... That's the true indication of what love is ... what love is not.

Vocabulary is a powerful thing and when we realize what our feelings are not, that’s when we’ll find the words … that’s when we’ll find what our feelings really mean.