How to tell if you’re in love?

Thursday, October 26 2017

How to tell if you’re in love?

When personal banker Suhasini Krishna* broke up with her college sweetheart at age 24, she found herself single after a long time. “I waited a few months, and then started dating Siddharth*, a colleague, who was really caring. It took me a year to realise though that I didn’t love him and was more attracted to the idea of being in a relationship.


There was nothing to look forward to other than the feeling that I was romantically involved with someone. It was painful, but I decided to end it before things got more serious.”Krishna isn’t alone. Many of us in our 20s and 30s are desperate to fulfil the fantasy we see played out in countless movies, books and social media posts by friends who seem to have near-perfect lives! In a psychological environment like this, you’d be trapped into thinking that having someone in your life is better than having no one at all. But you don’t need us to tell you that a relationship built on such shaky grounds won’t stand for long. To save you the time and heartache, we’ve asked mental health experts to identify the signs that betray you’re infatuated with a feeling, not a person.


He’s perfect—only on paper Most of us have a checklist for an ideal love that ranks potentials on appearance, interests, attitudes etc, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem arises when you place all that above the actual person. How well the two of you get along is often more important than a checklist. Psychologist Manjula MK says, “In India especially, there is so much pressure to ‘settle down’ with the right kind of guy on paper. So women often look for family background and financial stability—which is not unimportant—but there’s more to a happy relationship than just that. Despite his meeting requirements, he may not share your temperament, or live up to your emotional needs and expectations.” You’re trying to make this work You’re not completely happy in this relationship, but denial keeps you from examining your own feelings honestly.



You’d rather be somewhat-happy than be single and believe that things will get better eventually. Shwetha Parekh, a 34-year-old graphic designer, says, “Ever since I touched 30, my parents have been paranoid that I’ll be single forever and all the ‘good guys will be gone’. So I looked around, and started dating a friend of a friend, a nice-enough person who was potential marriage material. It was nice at first because we were getting to know each other, but within weeks, the magic wore off. He was boring, and we didn’t really get along that well. It became an effort to date him.


I kept thinking it was just a phase—after all, he was perfect in every other way, and my friends and family loved him. Then again, it was my life and I wasn’t happy, so we broke up, but not before prolonging the agony for two years.” He makes you feel better about yourself Sometimes, you may just want to feel worthy of being loved, and that could stem from a deep-rooted problem.



Relationship counsellor Karpagam Madhivanan says, “Often, childhood problems like neglect or being cheated on by a former partner can make you feel unworthy. This can take its toll on your self-esteem and make all relationship decisions based on your need for feeling loved.” Your sense of self-worth should always come from within, and relying on a relationship for this is a bad idea. You don’t miss the person, you miss the perks There are definite perks to being in a relationship. RK Narendran, a psychologist and psychology professor at a private women's college in Chennai, says, “Over time, we get used to having someone to accompany us on outings or shopping expeditions, to call and talk to when we have a bad day at work, to remember our birthdays and buy us thoughtful things, and to generally make us feel loved and appreciated every day. Once a person gets used to these, it’s almost terrifying to navigate these waters alone, without a significant other. You’re also faced with the prospect of finding another person, and the idea of starting over might seem daunting.” Manjula MK, says, “People who are used to being in a relationship don’t like being single, and usually start dating someone new the minute they find someone halfway decent. Not only does this dull the pain of your previous relationship disintegrating, it allows you to continue feeling secure.”It’s natural to crave security, but it’s healthier to seek this comfort from within yourself than from a partner.


You worry someone better may come along. If you view your significant other as someone who is just fulfilling a stop-gap role in your life, chances are you’ll constantly worry about missing out on someone who can do this job better. If that’s what is going on in your mind, then you’re obviously not in love with him—you’re just in love with the idea of love. Moving on If you’ve realised that you’re not in love with your significant other, but like the idea of being in love, it’s a good idea to gently disentangle from this relationship. Here’s how to minimise the pain for both of you:Tell him in person. Don’t just disappear or break up over text because you can’t deal with the consequences.

Give him concrete reasons, tell him why it isn’t working out, and be firm even in the face of drama.Be honest, but not brutal. Let him down gently. Remember, he didn’t drag the relationship — you did. Don’t blame him. Keep it dignified and non-committal. After the breakup, if he tries to call you, but you are firm in your resolve, don’t answer his calls or respond to messages in a moment of loneliness or weakness. Ignore guilt pangs, or if he sends you on a guilt trip, don’t respond. Spend quality time with your family, your girlfriends, or take a short vacation on your own.