What is the difference between loving someone versus being in love with them? Think about how often you say you love something. “Ooo I love that dress”, “I love you Dad”, “I loved that burger I ate last night”. If you actually think about it humans have the capacity to express strong affection for all manner of shit that we aren’t in love with.

You may think that is stupid but it is important to actually consider the distinction so you can work out whether you are in love with your partner or just love them. Loving someone is easy. Women tend to express love for their friends more than men, but in reality most people probably love quite a few people in their lives. Shit most couples only love each other but it is the rare couple that are actually in love.

We all probably know a couple that is truly in love with each other. They are the ones that never seem to argue and seem to prefer to be together than apart at all times to the point it can become a little annoying to those around them. But they are usually not insufferable about it as they are totally secure in the knowledge that their partner is indeed in love with them. As a result, the monsters of ego and jealousy do not impact on their relationship.

A lot of couples get this wrong. How many of you have been in a relationship where you feel obligated to do something with your significant other, or actually feel a sense of peace in being apart? I know I have in a number of relationships, where I mistakenly thought I was in fact in love. Those experiences gave me the realisation that there is a difference between the two, because when I finally fell in love it changed my outlook completely.

For me, I was sitting in a hotel room in Singapore staring at the wall. The thought that I may never fall in love crossed my mind and I realised I’d have to be ok with that. The following day I met my partner on a Tinder date and we fell for each other hard. Since then we have realised that we are meant to be together.

Both of us have seen other relationships that our friends are in and it has led us to wonder if many of the long-term couples we see are in love. The answer in the majority of cases is clearly a resounding no. Endless bickering over pointless shit, tension where there really shouldn’t be any and a willingness to belittle each other all the time. These aren’t the hall marks of someone that is in love. Shit this is barely the hall mark of a couple that loves each other.

We put so much stock on being in love that we sometimes force ourselves to believe that a person who is not ideal for us is in fact the one we should fall in love with. We fall in love with our idea of who the person is rather than the reality, then we wonder what is happening when things are going wrong.

As lame and cheesy as it sounds, when it is the right person for you to fall in love with you just know. You’ll know within a few months of spending time with them, because you’ll have time to assess the compatibility points I have addressed in another article. Things will just fit, arguments won’t happen and the hardest time you’ll have is deciding what to eat for dinner.

Some of you might think this is bullshit, but from my own experience in the dating world this is most definitely the case. I regularly tell people that continual disagreements in relationships will lead to feelings of obligation and those obligations will lead to feelings of resentment. True love shouldn’t have to be that way, and if you are experiencing that I do question whether you are actually in love.

I say this, not because I’m a prick, but because I truly believe that most people sacrifice the opportunity to be in love for the security or safety of something that they feel is close enough. No one should have to feel that way.

Although it was not relating to this specific case, I feel that Benjamin Franklin put it best, “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” Replace liberty with love and you have a good quote to apply to your love life.