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If you are simultaneously amazed, joyed, and lifted when you laugh together; if you feel a deep play in the presence of their whim and creativity; if you are pulled into their way of speaking;
If you do not ‘want' connection, but maybe already feel that the connection is there, awaiting your involvement; if their smiling, moving, thinking make you feel good;
And if, when you lie beside one another, you feel a daunting power looking in their eyes, but one that also draws courage and resolute curiosity in yourself; if you are inspirited, lifted, strengthened by someone, but also made tender, softer, and more receptive;
If you dream of a future together; if you enjoy spending time together in different ways … then you may love someone.
If you feel like it is unclear, I hope that, as you continue reading, your search for clarity will be aided or satisfied.
But before discussing how we can measure and assess our feelings for another person, we have to look at love, the content of the word and study the difference between the many aspects of what love means.
As we all know, love of family and friends, while related, feels distinct from romantic, sexual, passionate, devotional, filial love. While love in all its channels can bear a similar power, it shows different faces in different contexts. That is way the Greeks had at least ten distinct terms for these variant forms.
If you are, in your question, concerned with how much of your passion for someone is derived from sexual keenness on the part of them and/or their partner, I would say this:
Sex (Eros to the Greeks) is very powerful and important, especially when it's a place of truth and fluency between you and your partner. Sex communicates love in its own language and signs, its own dialect. But two things can help you begin to tell if your love with someone lives beyond sex.
(If it does not, that doesn't mean something ‘bad' about that sexual chemistry).
Firstly, time will tell, because it will show you, either as the sexual energy wanes or dips or as it grows and complexities, if the other flora of romantic love blossom around it, if you are, in a whole sense, in love with the person.
Secondly, you can measure how important sex is by the time you already spend with the person. Do you find joy, excitement, wisdom, in other areas of your interaction? If so, the love is not dependant on your sex, but only pouring through it as another way of binding you to your partner.
Why you're asking: am I in love?
For some, romantic and erotic feelings are synchronized with their interests and conviction of self; they do not doubt, question, or designate their attraction, but follow its course with certainty. These people are fluent in how they understand themselves and their hearts.
It does not mean their intimate lives are flawless, (confidence in one's love, alone, does not carry the entire health of a long-term relationship), but they do find themselves unconcerned with the question we're asking here.
For some, reading these feelings, attempting to assess their nature, is a confusing and worrisome matter.
Why do we wonder if we are falling in love? To rephrase the question: why do we have to track and title our relationship?
I think the first step to understanding our state is to stop thinking about how to designate it. You don't have to have a name for what you feel.
What does ‘falling in love' mean?
The verb we've chosen to describe this mysterious human state is the same one we use for sleeping at night. We ‘fall' in love like we ‘fall' asleep.
Falling only becomes negative if we see being drawn out of our usual state as a bad thing. Feelings of love stir in us a sign of something or someone else, they draw us into consideration with something beyond ourselves.
Falling in love, having a crush, being attracted – each may feel disparate in its effects.
Part of the grace of the fall – no matter how deep it ends up being – is being able to let go, to let it happen.
And this fall does not have to happen all at once, as a movie might suggest. I've watched love grow gradually, or take a sudden unexpected leap.
Before we worry about whether something will last forever, we can enjoy the fact that to spend time with someone (anyone else, really) is to get to know the world in a different way. It is in the interest of our life and learning.
Nothing is more difficult than loving what must end. Because it is the ultimate test of life, which is – how far can you go, grow, commit, invest yourself, in something that will wane and cease.
But one more thing: love is a different sensation in each person, and so, while we crave answers and diagnoses to our inquiries, the only one who can ultimately distinguish (if that's what you want to do) what love is, is you.
The simple answer to ‘what happens when I fall in love with someone else?'
Love subsumes the different parts of the body and makes it feel unified in purpose and logic. The head, heart, loins, brain, our psychology, and physical intellect all fuse.
While infatuation is desire with desperation, love doesn't waver with the weathers of our moods and daily activities. When I love someone, that love doesn't falter when we're at odds.
Whatever your state of attraction is, remember that the feeling alone is a start, but not an end. Love is just the seed. Your commitment, and willingness to give yourself over to love, and to the project of a relationship, will be just as important as you embark forward with your paramour. If you have growing feelings, watch where they go, and feed them if they are healthy and happy to your life and your lover.