How do you know you love someone?

Infatuation that never matures.
Dear Edahn,
How do you know you love someone?
ARE WE TALKING ABOUT being IN LOVE, or just LOVING? They're different. Being in love is pretty easy to identify, but I think it's less significant. Loving people is a little harder to identify -- and achieve -- but it's much more important.

Being in love is really a product of desire and longing for a person. You need to be with them. Being apart from them fucks with your head and your emotional composure. It has a very obsessive quality. When they're not there, you feel incomplete and you hurt, physically. Loving people -- family, partners, friends -- is almost the opposite. You feel complete without them and yet they're critical in how they add value to your life . Feeling complete without them is actually a prerequisite for loving them. Knowing you'll be okay without them frees up your mind so you can be your natural, caring, spontaneous self and care for someone else in a simple, pure way.

When you love a person, you feel settled around them. You feel close to them without trying. You can be quiet around them without privately worrying that something bad is going to happen. When you're in love, being close takes much more conscious effort. People work harder to find similarities between each other and are resistant to perceived differences. That leads to moments of high intensity and closeness, but when it fades, the parties feel detached and scramble to find another way to reconnect, like conflict. Over time, you start seeing cycles of highs and lows develop, then break-ups and reconciliations, and so on. Those couples don't really feel safe around one another, so they never build natural closeness. The feeling of being in love ("infatuation") can mature into the more wholesome loving, and I'd argue that it has to for the relationship to survive.

You sound like you're trying to make a big decision in your life. When I make decisions in my romantic life, I try to avoid being guided by the more unstable infatuation and instead search for the more stable but less intense love. It's more nourishing.