Love is one of the most meaningful emotional and mystifying experiences we can have. Whether you at the beginning stages of a relationship or have been with that special someone for a while, it is common to wonder what you are feeling. Love is a dynamic and forever changing process, wrote psychologist Michelle Drew in her Psych Central article “Love Versus Infatuation.”

Infatuation Vs. Love

The enthusiasm you feel when you are totally preoccupied and excited by thoughts of another person is infatuation. When you are in the throes of infatuation, your perception of the other person is limited and fantasy-like, wrote Drew. You don’t see him as a whole person; you only see an idealized version. Genuine love can grow from an infatuation, but it involves sharing, commitment and a realistic view of the other person. In genuine love, you are committed to sharing private thoughts and feelings with each other; this reciprocity offers the opportunity to really know each other on a deeper level.

Seeing Reality

Genuine love involves a realistic evaluation of who someone is, for better or worse. When you love someone you can see his faults and are able to accept him despite imperfections. As you get to know someone, you will discover that he is not perfect; he may even have character traits that occasionally annoy you --- for example, he may talk too much when around certain friends or chew with his mouth open. You may find that he spends too much time watching sports or not enough time. When you see his flaws, accept him as he is, and still want to be with him, you are experiencing genuine love.

Healthy Dependence

In any close relationship there is an element of dependency; in a love relationship, you do come to rely and depend on each other. However, there is a difference between healthy dependence and neediness. If you feel like someone is a lifeline, chances are that you are mistaking ‘need’ for love, wrote psychologist Erich Fromm in his book “The Art of Loving.” Although you may rely on someone, you shouldn’t feel as if you can’t live without him; rather you should feel like you don’t want to.

Mutual Sharing and Growth

Genuine love is an evolving and changing experience, wrote Drew. It always involves the ability and desire to share your life with that special someone as you both grow and mature. Life can bring challenges; when you are experiencing genuine love, you each will be there to love and support each other. In fact, you will want to be there through good times and bad. Through this being with someone, you will become closer, your commitment will be stronger and your love deeper.