Whitney Houston once sang, “How Will I Know If He Really Loves Me?” And its a pretty legit question. How DO you know if he really loves you?
Some might tell you that you feel butterflies or a sense of excitement when he walks into the room. Others tell you he isn’t afraid to brag about you, while others may believe that subtle gestures such as kissing you on the forehead or a caressing touch are signs of love.
All could be true of love but not necessarily that of a healthy romantic love.
Any woman who has lived with a narcissist or a manipulative man will tell you that these things are not necessarily the things that make up a loving relationship. Love is more than just a kiss here or a loving caress there. Love is a genuine appreciation for an individual.
So, how do you know you’re in a healthy relationship?
Glad you asked! It took me a long time to figure this one out. I had to have several intentionally sought after relationships that wound up unhealthy before I fell into the healthy one and figured out the major differences. It is easy to fall into a sequence of foul relationships because they become what you know. It is the unknown of the healthy relationship that can catch you off guard! The healthy relationship is uncomfy at first but it does grow on you once you realize that you being you is vital to the relationship, not you being who Mr. Unhealthy wants you to be! So, what should you keep your eyes peeled for?
He encourages you to be you.
Anyone who has actual love and admiration for you will not try to change you to meet their narrative. When you are with the right person, the person who aligns with you, they are not worried about changing you, rather they are interested in the person you will continually evolve into. They want to be a part of that and they know they are not the only influence when it comes to you being you. There are friends, family, and other people that have a hand in your development and the right guy values that.
He listens to you when you speak.
Any guy that is consistent about interrupting you, talking over you or cutting you off versus listening to you is not interested in you. Those types of guys are more likely threatened by you and look to exert their false sense of superiority over you. Even if you are a “chatty-Kathy” there is no need to shut you down because he is bored. If he can handle your rambling then he is worth your investment; just try to ramble to a point.
He cares about your interests.
The guy who loves you will show support for your interest and passion. He will offer you praise when you get involved and make a difference in the lives of others because he understands your interests are factors in who you are. He also gets that your interests will change and he is fine with that. If it gives you a reason to be happy he will support it. Don’t be fooled, though! Just because your loving man supports you doesn’t mean he follows you, watches you or is even your biggest fan. The man with a genuine love for you will be perfectly okay not leading the parade in your honor though will be your biggest supporter and he will find a way to show you that support.
He gives you space.
We all need space whether in a relationship or not. If space is not something you are familiar with or you don’t recognize it as being part of a healthy loving relationship you might reconsider your readiness for commitment. Spending every moment of every day with the same person day in and day out is asking for a “blah” kind of relationship and is a key component to stalling your sense of self. Personal space is necessary to be alone with our thoughts and reflect on how our lives are proceeding. We need to be able to have those moments to get in touch with our inner selves. The same is true for time with friends, family and anyone else that brings out the genuine pure side of our individuality. If he consistently impedes upon that space he likely has motives that don’t include you being you.
He provides for you.
He is a gentleman and understands what it means to take care of a lady without insinuating you are incapable. He won’t ask to order your dinner without your permission. He will extend an arm to open the door or pull out a chair. He will offer to drop you off and walk you to your door. He will offer to get you a cup of coffee, pour you a glass of wine or even make you dinner and he does so with the right attitude. It is not about controlling you and making decisions for you. It is about asking you what you would like and delivering to you because this is how he pampers you, particularly if you are the independent or self-sufficient type. He also understands that when you reject those chivalry-esque gestures you are exerting your independence and he won’t take it personally.
He doesn’t rush things.
The man who loves you and understands healthy love, will not rush you into any decision, pressure you into his desires or steam roll you to get his way. He will show patience for you and your timeline even if it is an inconvenience to him. In his mind, you are worth it and he honestly believes you would do it for him, though its unlikely he would ask you.
LOVE is more than just an emotion. It is a healthy attachment to someone who is eager to provide you with an opportunity to be you. They embrace you both physically and emotionally. Love is about boundaries. Love is about respect for those boundaries. Love is about tolerance when things get annoying or ugly. Love is about patience when tolerance is necessary. Love is more than simply telling someone you love them or hearing it from another. It is a connection that is natural and peaceful.
It is easy to believe those butterflies are indicative that you’ve hit the love jackpot but what happens to those butterflies when the “honeymoon phase” ends? Are you at peace or do you feel lost and need to know what happened? Does the person you met initially stand before you or are they someone else entirely?
The biggest key to a healthy relationship is to know you deserve to be loved for you and that love should start with you first. If you don’t love you for you finding a healthy relationship will be that much more difficult. It is also important to understand that you deserve the kind of person that will give you the healthy love and attention that encourages you to be you.
What are your experiences with healthy and unhealthy love?