True love: what it is and what it isn’t. Do you know? I can picture the day. Rice flying, a limo pulling up to take him and me to the airport, white clusters of flowers on the pews, tears in my mother’s eyes, my bridesmaids in lavender chiffon….

All the details of my wedding day are worked out in my head. All of them that is, except for the groom. Oops. That’s an important part, huh? Love. It’s a commonly thrown around four-letter word. “I love macaroni and cheese.” “I love their music.” Sometimes, we even say, “I love him” or “I love her.”

What is real love?

Is it the heart-pounding adrenaline rush you feel when you see…? You know the person I’m talking about. That hot guy playing basketball at the gym… the cute girl who makes eye contact as she passes by… the friend of a friend of a friend… maybe a best friend. It’s that person we keep track of when he or she is in the same room, whose comments and actions we analyze to no end. But is that love or the beginning of it? There are a few things love isn’t. Love isn’t a feeling. Although strong feelings often accompany real love, love does not equate with the sense of floating on clouds. Unlike the type of love that movies, television, and songs portray, people in love don’t always feel ooey gooey around each other.

Knowing about the person’s personality and character are so important.

A relationship wouldn’t last long on emotions. In fact, knowledge is the basis of a healthy relationship.

Knowing about the other person is key. I used to and sometimes still do “fall in love” with guys that I have never had a conversation with, whether it be a movie star in the latest romantic drama or the guy sitting behind me in a calculus class. I would know his name and his face, and that was the extent of my knowledge of him. If I were to start a relationship with him, who knows where that would lead us!? Knowing about the person’s personality and character are so important. One good test is to list the qualities that attract us to that guy or girl. If the list is long, we know a lot about them and like those things. If the list is short, we either don’t know a lot about them or we know a lot but aren’t attracted to his or her personality.

Another important factor in a love relationship is common life goals. If the relationship is going to be long-term, we need to be going in the same general direction as the other person. If his dream is to travel as an international businessman and she wants to be a realtor in a single location, conflict could arise. If she wants to live in the countryside with nature and he likes the hustle and bustle of a big city, there are potentially serious problems with the direction of the couple’s lives.

Related stories — Dating the Wrong Guy: It Felt So Right. or Being Single: Alone, Everafter.

Love isn’t sex. That statement alone goes against a lot of what the entertainment industry feeds us. Whenever two people hook up in pop culture, they have sex. Without showing some of the unpleasant realities of premarital and extramarital sex, it is drawn up to be a wonderful, fun, recreational activity.

Sex is created for marriage — a long-lasting commitment between a couple. Outside of marriage, sex can have harsh consequences. Pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, guilt, insecurity, and shame can follow. A relationship based on lust can only last as long as the two are physically close and find each other sexually attractive.

Love is a choice. It’s a commitment.

Although feelings will accompany love, and although sex will be a part of marriage, a lasting, healthy relationship cannot be based on these things. The firm foundation of any love relationship is the choice to be in love every day, no matter what we are feeling. It is a choice to put the other’s interests above our own and work beyond the inevitable hurts and disagreements that will happen when two personalities become intimate. It is worth preserving and nurturing as you face the world together, hand in hand.

The Bible says that God is love. That as our designer and creator, he made us with needs for love. Do you ever wonder why we constantly seek love from others but never feel completely satisfied? It’s because God designed us to need unconditional love, and we, as people, are flawed.

People, whether friends, family, or your significant other, will invariably let you down at some point. God wants us to find our need for unconditional love and acceptance primarily in him. One person cannot meet all our needs, even if he’s funny or she’s thoughtful. To learn more about experiencing the unconditional love of God, read A Conversation about Love and God or Picture Perfect.

TRUE LOVE 101: Is it love or simply infatuation?

Find out if you’ve got the real deal. Try out our short course on “True Love 101.” It’s like the love litmus test for your relationship.

Infatuation can be so tempting. But the question is, do I want a lasting, satisfying relationship? If so, infatuation isn’t the answer. Look at your relationships through the grid below. Infatuation isn’t a bad thing, as long as we don’t base a relationship on it.



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This article was written by: Harriet Sun

Photo Credit: Wyatt Fisher