Love is a behavior.

A common misconception is that love is an emotion and the best way to prolong it is to accept less and provide more. This is not true, and is the main reason there are a lot of people walking around thinking they’re in love or are involved in a loving relationship when in fact they’re just deluding themselves.

In reality, love is a verb and not a noun. Love is something people do, not just something they feel – it’s a set of behaviors that over time form a consistent way of relating between individuals. Of course there are also feelings and emotions that affect romantic relationships, but they are separate from love. This confusion occurs in part because English language has a limited vocabulary to describe this difference and correlation between emotions and behaviors. Co-mingling unrelated things is a sure way that people confuse themselves into a delusion, and then when reality bites back they are shocked, hurt and don’t know what went wrong.

Things become a lot more clear if you consider that love is a behavior instead of thinking of it as an emotion. For example, there are two things one sees in the behavior of someone who loves them: first they encourage you to grow as a person and become self-sufficient. Second is they are willing to give up unimportant to them things, so that you can have something that really matters to you. When you have a problem to solve, they suggest a solution. When you chose to do something else instead, they don’t get upset or flip out, they support your right to make that decision even if they disagree with it. If what you tried didn’t work, they wouldn’t make you feel stupid. Instead they would still help you.

If you find yourself in an emergency, they turn off the tube, close the browser and get their ass off the couch to help you. However they also don’t tolerate a habit of manufacturing emergencies on a regular basis. People learn best from their own mistakes, and allowing for those mistakes is a healthy way to support a partner.

Someone who loves you neither carries you through life nor would they let you fall off the cliff from a single bad decision.

People who really love you expect more from you over time, and they also can provide less as you grow and develop self-sufficiency. But in the end, the way you know whether someone loves you by what they do for you and how they behave towards you.