I had been in long relationships before, some of which I assumed might even last forever, and at times I even figured I had found love. I didn't realize how wrong I was until it actually did happen. I wasn't even looking for it at the time. I know it is cliched to hear this, but its true: when it does happen, you'll know.
Now that I have found my love, I don't know if I can describe it in words. It really is different than anything I have felt with other partners, even the ones I know I did love in some way.

Knowing full-heartedly and without hesitation that I would do anything for my fiance, even die for him if I had to, maybe that is part of it. That is certainly not something I have honestly felt without question ever before. I know that I could not be happy or content if he wasn't. His security is of utmost importance to me. And I don't have to give up anything of myself to achieve this, because he feels the same way. It is like this amazing freedom to be exactly who you are and know that the most important person in the world to you loves you exactly for who you are.

It is like, suddenly when you see a gorgeous person smile at you on the street or at a bar it only makes you think of your own love and how you can't wait to see him. Or, if you happen to meet someone really great, you think how nice it would be for your love to meet them as well. Like, when your love is around you everything in the background sort of melts away unless you make a conscious effort to pay attention.

It is like, all the major problems you might be facing in your life seem suddenly possible to handle, because you are no longer on your own. As long as you and your love are bonded, you can face anything and survive. Its almost ridiculous even to hear myself say something so cheesy but I know now from experience that this is how it really is. I attempted to describe this phenomenon in another node and might have conveyed it a little better.

It is like you realize that if your love couldn't be with you, half of you would truly be missing. Not just because you are lonely or miss the company, the sex, the fun, the validation, or anything else you might have loved about relationships in the past. Really, it can be kind of scary when you come to this realization. There is certainly no candy coating that part of it. Love can be treacherous, especially if it is unrequited, there is no denying that. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. But I also wouldn't want anyone to miss out on the beauty and wonder of true love. Believe me, it is worth all the obstacles and pain it might take before you actually reach it.

Being in love is sort of like an obsessive disorder. You think about the other person constantly, or at least for thirty minutes out of every hour. Any reminder of the person -- a photo, a small gift, an affectionate e-mail, a message on your answering machine -- makes you smile and start thinking about the person all over again.

It feels good. It's not exactly a "high", it's more like a really good radio station that you listen to all day long for as long as you like. It's happiness with virtue. It's not permanent, but anyone who has lost it wishes it could be.

There may be other forms of love which you actually meant to ask about, however --

  • Erotic love is, well, lust. It's desire for a sexual high which the other person provides. If it's unsupported by true love, it only lasts as long as the novelty of the relationship and the sex does, which can be a single weekend to several years. It has a lot in common with a drug high, in that it's addictive, it's obsessive, and the crash you suffer after your "fix" is cut off hurts a lot.

  • True love is commitment. It's sacrificial. It's about making another person the highest priority in your life, so that not only would you do anything this person needed, you wouldn't even have to think about why you're doing it. (This is not the same as doing anything this person would want, mind you. They have another phrase for that kind of relationship.) You aren't in love with the person on a constant basis; that would be exhausting. But certain things remind you on an irregular basis that you are in love, which is better than being constantly in love because of the element of chance.

  • Marital love is a large dose of true love combined with a few spoonfuls of familiarity, a cup of ongoing lust and a lot of communication. You can approach marital love with an SO or a live-in boyfriend/girlfriend, but to really get the full effect you need to stand up in front of all your friends and family to say that you intend to spend the rest of your life with this person and mean it. It's more work than true love by itself, but the momentum builds up faster than you'd think. Most days you wake up thinking "I'm in love with this person" without attaching a lot of emotion to the idea, but every once in a while you two get to do something together that brings all the old feelings right back. This is worth the wait.

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