How Do You Know If It’s Really Love?


How do you know if it’s really love?

The crazy thing about love is, lots of people aren’t even sure if they are in it or not. So elusive, so averse to definition, love confounds us to the degree that we don’t even know when we are experiencing it. Right this very minute, millions of people are walking around in a daze, asking themselves, “Why do I have this feeling in the pit of my stomach? Am I in love or am I just hungry?”

My advice to these people is Honey BBQ Fritos. I’m serious guys, they are freaking incredible. The Frito-Lay Corporation has really outdone itself this time – they’re all twisty and flavorful and some kind of toxic burnt orange color. These things make regular Fritos look like Communion wafers.

Okay, now that you’ve had your fill of corn oil and monosodium glutamate, how’re you holding up? Still overwhelmed with potentially love-related torrents of anxiety and anticipation and joy and fear? Are your thoughts perpetually revolving around that one particular person?

You know who I mean: the one who seems super into you despite being so out of your league that you’ve begun to suspect they are harboring some crazy, dark secret, like maybe they used to rob convenience stores or they’re Wiccan or dead-set on moving to Idaho in the next 6 months. You’re stricken with terror that one day they’ll make some casual remark that will ruin everything like, “You know, dubstep really saved my life.”

But so far, so good. You both love cheap Mexican food, margaritas, and spending the entire walk home from the restaurant mocking the couple that sat next to you. It’s perfect, actually. So is it love?

Unfortunately, we can’t swab your mouth and certifiably say, “She’s in love!” the way we can take some of your blood and say, “She’s got herpes!”

Herpes 1, Love 0.

With that in mind, I’ve tried to create some helpful guidelines:

  1. Listen to The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” paying careful attention to the lyrics. What does it make you think of? Are you still thinking about those Honey BBQ Fritos? That’s not a good sign.
  2. Watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – in my humble opinion, the most romantic movie ever made. Do you feel a desperate urge to text someone and tell them you miss them, you’re thinking of them, you’ll always keep them in your heart and never let go? That’s great. Was the person you texted your old college roommate J-Dawg? Not so great.
  3. Unless you just realized that you’re actually in love with J-Dawg. Then I’m really happy for you guys!
  4. Imagine yourself in twenty years: What do you envision? Other than disposable clone servants and Fast and the Furious XXII with Vin Diesel in a flying Prius and the ability to print takeout Chinese food from your own 3D printer? Who’s there with you, petting your hologram pet dinosaur?
  5. What is the very first thing you think about every morning when you wake up? I mean, other than “NO NOT AGAIN I HATE MY JOB I HATE MY LIFE PLEASE PLEASE GOD TAKE ME NOW!” That’s everyone’s first thought. But what comes next? Who do you need to mentally conjure just to summon the strength to get through another day?
  6. Picture all of your favorite activities – maybe hiking, traveling, and cooking. For me it’s Netflix, rum, and sitting down, but whatever. Is there anyone with whom you love sharing those pursuits, watching their face for a flicker of the happiness these hobbies bring you?
  7. Who in your life do you know will stick with you no matter what? Who has seen you at your worst – brutally hungover or sweating profusely after 2 flights of stairs or weeping uncontrollably during a Pixar movie – and still thinks the world of you? If you’ve got anybody other than your mom, hold on to them.
  8. Here’s a question: What do you see when you turn out the light? If you answered “that special someone,” you’re probably in love. If you answered, “You stole that from a Beatles song, you jackass,” then I think it’s time for me to wrap this thing up before the crowd begins to pelt me with metaphorical tomatoes.

You get the idea. This article is a fraud, folks. True love isn’t quantifiable, but that’s what we like about it – it’s mysterious, inexplicable, unpredictable. It’s like the Joaquin Phoenix of emotions, but with slightly less incoherent mumbling.

Okay, one last honest question: does this person make your life a thousand times more enjoyable, fulfilling, and all-around worth living? Because that’s how I knew I was in love. I didn’t want to be alone anymore, not because I was lonely, but because this incredible alternative miraculously materialized out of thin air. Like some love-struck Copernicus, I discovered that I was not the center of the universe, but a lucky satellite orbiting something far brighter.

If it feels too good to be true, it is – unless it isn’t, and then it’s love.