Is this love? Oh, that feeling. The anticipation of his calls. The butterflies in your stomach when you know you are going to see him. Daydreaming about him when you are apart. Yes, the euphoria of those early days of dating can be intoxicating.
And it can definitely feel like you are falling in love.
In our culture, many think that a person is in love when they have good feelings and are connecting with another person. But this isn’t what love is really about. That is emotion; love is deeper than the initial attraction and desire to be around someone all the time.
Love means caring for someone deeply and wanting the best for them. Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy. Love honors the other and is not self-seeking. It is slow to show anger and it does not keep a record of wrongs. It protects, trusts and perseveres.
Love is often not “at first sight” (that is infatuation) but grows as you get to know the other person, listening to their heart, and merging your lives.
So, here are some dating tips to help you navigate that “loving feeling”:
Take Your Time
The rush of infatuation often causes couples to move quickly. Slow it down. Get to know each other. Really know each other. You need to understand who you are giving your valuable attention and time to. Move beyond the outward to their heart. What are their dreams? Fears? Aspirations?
Be yourself. Do not get into the “identity trap,” where you feel that you have to play a certain role or define yourself a particular way to attract the person you really want to date. Let go of your insecurities that can hold you back and make you want to pretend to be something you are not. The person you’re involved with should know your strengths and those areas where you need to grow, and love and support you through it. They should know you and want to spend time with the real you.
Studies have shown that those that remain true to themselves report more positive dating relationships. So stop worrying so much about making sure they like you and have a good time. Secure people have secure relationships.
And relax—if they are meant to be with you, they will love you for who you are!
Manage Your Expectations
Maintaining healthy expectations in a relationship does not mean lowering your standards or bending your morals. Instead, it means allowing relationships to grow in their own way and at their own rate.
We all love a good romance. One of the most famous romantic lines is from the movie Jerry McGuire. Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, tells his girlfriend, Dorothy, “You complete me.” It is romantic and feels emotionally satisfying—but in reality, it should not be true. Our relationships were never meant to complete us but to complement us.
And yet, this is the world’s message about love. We believe the right person will take all of our pain away and make our worries vanish. Your partner should support you and lift you up, but it is wrong to make anyone responsible for your happiness.
Enjoy what life looks like today, and let the relationship reveal itself to you instead of trying to steer it where you think it ought to go.
Protect Yourself from Pressure
Pressure is not love, and it’s not even normal. Avoid situations where a guy might expect more than you want to give. If it is love, he will wait.
Give Love Time to Grow
True love grows stronger with time. The more you get to know each other, the stronger your feelings. And you will love each other for who you truly are.
Know When to Move On
There are times you have to admit the relationship isn’t working. Unhealthy conflict, controlling or manipulative behavior, jealousy, mistrust, unfaithfulness, different goals… it may be time to walk away. Sometimes staying is just easier than leaving. If a relationship is not right, then it often takes courage to end it.