“When you fish for love, bait with your heart, not your brain.” ~ Mark Twain ~
When you’re first falling in love, how can you tell whether this person is “the one”? How do you know whether you’re in love with a real person or just in love with love? If you’ve been burned before, how can you avoid repeating your mistakes?
Listen to your body, not your mind
We choose a mate for reasons that have to do more with what we think than how we feel. We conduct our relationships based on how things should be or have been. This is exactly where we go wrong. We don’t lose at love because we let our emotions run away with us, but because we let our heads run away with us.
People think they’re in love for many reasons—lust, infatuation, desire for security, status, or social acceptance. They think they’ve found true love because the current prospect fulfills some image or expectation. But unless they know how they feel, their choice is destined to be wrong.
Whenever your daydreams of a prospective lover take the form of mental debates justifying your choice or agonizing over it, breathe, relax, and focus to get out of your head and check in with your body. If a feeling that something’s wrong persists or grows, chances are your choice is probably wrong. If you let mental images versus physical sensation guide you, you’ll never know what you really want.
Heed the messages from your entire body
For most people it’s hard to get clear signals from the whole body during new love, because they’re often drowned out by sexual desire, which is why it’s important to notice other, more subtle feelings. Muscle tension, migraines, stomach pains, or lack of energy could mean what you desire is not what you need. On the other hand, if the glow of love is accompanied by an increase in energy and liveliness, this could be the real thing.
If it’s more than infatuation or lust, a benefit will be felt in other parts of your life and in other relationships. Ask yourself these high-EQ questions:
Is this relationship energizing the totality of my life? For example, has my work improved? Am I taking better care of myself?
Is my head on straighter? Am I more focused, more creative and responsible?
Do my “in love” feelings go beyond feeling positive caring for my beloved? Do I feel more generous, more giving, and more empathic with friends, coworkers, or total strangers?
If the answers you get from your body aren’t what you wanted to hear, try to push beyond the natural fear of loss we all experience. Finding out now that you haven’t found true love can spare you the pain of a pile of negative emotional memories—a legacy that can keep you repeating the same mistakes or sour you on love altogether.
Take a chance on reaching out
We’re often on guard with someone new, and we automatically build barriers to getting to know each other. Leaving yourself open and vulnerable at this stage can be scary, yet it’s the only way to find out if real love is possible between you, and if you’re each falling for a real person or a façade. Try being the first to reach out—reveal an intimate secret, laugh at yourself, or show affection when it seems most frightening. Does their reaction fill you with warmth and vitality? If so, you may have found an empathic, kindred soul. If not, you may have found someone with a low EQ, and will have to decide how to respond to them.
What you need to feel loved vs. what you want
To find the person who is really “the one”, know the difference between what you can’t live without, versus what you’d like. The following exercise can help.
Select five qualities or characteristics in descending order that feel most important to you in a lover. For example: neat, humorous, adventurous, considerate, emotionally open, athletic, attractive and/or stylish, protective, creative, conversational, smart affectionate, monetarily successful, well known, well respected, popular charismatic, maternal/paternal, spiritual, nurturing, empowering.
As you consider each characteristic, ask yourself whether it energizes, calms, and stirs you emotionally. Is the experience pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral?
A desire will be fleeting or rather superficial, while a need will register at a deeper feeling level.
Do the exercise several times to get an even clearer understanding of the differences between your desires and your felt needs in love.
Does this person you think you’re in love with fulfill these needs?
Be honest and truthful in your assessment for an honest and real love.