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How Do You Know When You’re In Love?

by Penny Cohen, LCSW

How do you know when you’re in love?  This is a question I get asked very often.

Some people may answer that it’s when you want to be with someone for the rest of your life. Or, you adore the person and you want to care for that person forever. True, these are aspects of loving another. But what does it mean to connect with and feel “in love” with another?  What’s the difference between loving and being “in love?”

I had a client who was in what she described as a great committed relationship for about a year. She said it was very close, she truly cared about him, wanted to take care of him and nurture him, but she still wasn’t totally “in love,” with him. Then one day she came in excited to tell me about the shift she experienced. She said she was feeling overwhelmed with buying a new house and moving, having exorbitant expenses and just budgeting her money. She shared this with her boyfriend, who is an accountant. He went with her to help negotiate the mortgage loan, helped her move, and also helped her set up a budget. She said when she thought about how much he did for her she had tremendous love and respect for him. She shared with me that when they made love after closing on her house, “It was the first time that I truly allowed him to love me.”  But then she added, “I realized it was the first time I truly opened my heart to him. The passion was incredible.”  And then she paused with a sigh, “I allowed myself to be vulnerable.”

What really happened is she let her defenses down. She allowed his energy to merge with hers. There were no, judgments, criticisms, expectations, boundaries. The two souls merged. That’s when we feel “in love,” and loved.


The most impressionable experience I had regarding “receiving love” was at a workshop I attended many years ago on Unconditional Love.

There were twelve people taking the workshop including three friends who had come down from Boston together. They were the grossest looking people I’ve ever seen: purple streaks in the woman’s porcupine hairdo, the others in dirty, unkempt clothes, etc. I think you get the picture. Anyway at one point we had to choose a divine quality we wanted to meditate on in groups of three. I chose love. Two of this gruesome threesome chose love. I couldn’t fathom the thought of meditating with them. I told the facilitator. She told me everyone had chosen a quality and that I could sit it out if I wanted to. She reminded me however, that this was a workshop on unconditional love.

Duh!!!  I gave in.

Upstairs in a bedroom we were instructed to lie down with our heads close together like the hub of a wheel, then we were to meditate on the feeling of love for approximately twenty minutes. When we started the meditation I kept thinking of sending love. About ten minutes into the session, one of the men said to me, “Penny your energy just changed. You have an incredible amount of love coming from you.” I started to ponder what transpired. I realized that the more I relaxed I stopped sending love and was open to receiving the love in the room. He felt my love, not while I was sending, but when I was open to receiving. That’s when a closeness pursued.

Now the question is how do we maintain this intimacy with our partners in everyday communications.

To love is to care for each other. To be “in love,” is to have a deep soul, emotional and sensual connection. In order to accomplish this, we have to be open to our own soul; the love within ourselves and be a coach for each other. What emerges when we’re in touch with our own innate love is a deep desire to give rather than get. A way of giving is by valuing another by receiving their words and feeling their energy with them. It happens by listening, validating, empathizing, giving effective inspirational feedback and support. It also involves forgiving from the heart, not just the head and being non-judgmental, non critical, non controlling, and grateful. Staying centered within ourselves and tuning into our partner helps us stay open to our own love, give love to our partner, and in return receive love. It becomes a cycle of receiving love, sharing love, and being “in love.”

Much love, peace, passion & purpose,


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