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S2 EP196 – How Do You Know When You Are in Love?

Episode Summary

Do you know the difference between real love and infatuation? The answer to whether or not you are really in love depends upon which part of you feels in love and which part of the other person you are in love with. Do you find yourself attracted to the same kind of person over and over and it never works out? Learn why! 


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding Podcast. Frequently, my clients who are dating or who are married or in a committed relationship, ask me how to know if they are in love. This is what I want to address in this podcast.

Many people start to date in adolescence, and the feelings you get when you have a boyfriend or girlfriend are often exciting – the stuff that love songs are made of. But this exciting, floating off the ground feeling is often infatuation, not real love, and when you feel it as an adult, it’s often coming from the adolescent wounded aspect of you. The adolescent idea of love and the adult idea of love are two very different things.

I’ve worked with many people who question whether or not they are in love with their partner. They might tell me that they feel safe with their partner, that their partner is kind and caring and they can talk about anything, that they have a much in common, but that they don’t have that ‘in love’ feeling that they remember feeling as an adolescent. What they don’t realize is that being in love as an adult means being able to see, connect with, and value the soul essence of their partner. This is what I want to talk about today – what real love feels like.

“How can I know when I’m really in love?” asked my client Ruby. “How can I know if what I feel for Jim is really love or just infatuation? How can I know if this feeling will last?”

Ruby and Jim had been dating for 11 months and were considering marriage. Ruby, 32, felt “head over heels” in love with Jim, but she had felt head over heels in love with Adam, as well as with Mark.

“That feeling didn’t last with Adam or Mark,” she said. “How do I know it will last with Jim? How can you tell when it’s the real thing?”

“Ruby,” I told her, “the answer to this important question depends upon which part of you feels ‘in love’ and which part of Jim you are ‘in love’ with.”

I explained to Ruby that she can be in love from her ego wounded self, or she can be in love from her true self – her essence, her soul self. If she is in love from her wounded self, it will be about external things, such as how he looks and what he does for her, and the love will not last. But if she is in love from her soul self, it will be about internal things – about who Jim is in his soul, and it is very likely that the love will see her through all the challenges that come up in relationships.

“Ruby,” I asked her, “What do you love about Jim?”

“I’ve been thinking about that a lot,” she answered. “It’s kind of funny some of the things I love about him. I love his walk and his smell. I love the way his eyes crinkle when he smiles, and I love his laugh. I love just being next to him. There is something about his energy – I don’t quite know how to talk about it – that I love being around. I love his touch. I love his kindness and sensitivity and his deep caring for people. Even though he would not be considered a handsome man, I love how he looks. There’s something about his mouth and the look in his eyes that just fills me with love. And I love the passion he has about both his work and his hobbies. I love his playfulness. We laugh a lot together.”

“How is this different than what you loved about Adam or Mark?” I asked her.

“I think that with both Adam and Mark I was pretty much blown away by their looks – they were both hunks. Both of them were also very successful and very social. They took me to nice places and great vacations. Jim is not as financially successful nor as social, yet I feel much safer with him. I think I also fell in love with Adam’s power in the world. He really seemed to have it together and his sense of power turned me on. But he wasn’t always nice to people, and he wasn’t always nice to me.”

“So it seems that with Adam and Mark, your wounded self was in love with their wounded selves – their more superficial qualities of looks, money and power. But it sounds like with Jim your essence is in love with his essence. The qualities you say you are in love with are qualities that won’t go away over time, because they are soul qualities. People can certainly lose their looks and their money, but it is unlikely that Jim will lose the qualities that you love in him, especially if you frequently express your appreciation for these qualities.”

“So I really am in love with Jim!” she said. “This really is different than my other relationships. You know, I think that because of my Inner Bonding practice, I’ve finally grown up. The more superficial qualities just don’t seem to be so attractive to me anymore!”

Author, editor, and publisher Margaret Anderson said something interesting about the difference between real love and what she called romantic love, which I’m calling infatuation: (quote)“In real love you want the other person’s good. In romantic love, you want the other person.” (unquote)

Author Karen Casey said, (quote)“Real love is never ownership, only stewardship of this moment’s experiences.”(unquote)

I love the quote by Margaret Anderson and I would add that in real love you also want your own good as well as the other person’s good. When you are supporting your own and the other person’s highest good, you never need to possess the other person. You want to share love with your beloved, rather than get love through owning the other person.

There is nothing controlling about real love – it supports your own and your partners’ freedom. In contrast, infatuation is often jealous and possessive, coming from fear of loss. If what you think is love comes from fear, it is not love – it is neediness. Infatuation comes from inner emptiness and expects the other person to fill the empty place that comes from self-abandonment. Most adolescents feel a lot of emptiness because they haven’t yet done the inner work to learn to love themselves and fill themselves up with love.

Real love of another comes from real love of self – from knowing and valuing your true soul self so that you can know and value the true soul self of your beloved. Infatuation often comes from projecting onto the other person the qualities that you disown in yourself. When you are infatuated, you are seeing the other person though the ego wounded eyes of your self-abandonment.

Sharing real love with a beloved partner is truly the highest experience in life. Nothing comes close to the joy of sharing your heart and soul with another while the other is sharing his or her heart and soul with you, and you are each fully receiving each other. Nothing is more profound than these moments of sharing love.

Many people sense the truth of this, but often confuse the sharing of love with the getting of love. While getting love may provide a momentary good feeling, it is a mere shadow of the joy experienced in the sharing of love.

You can’t share what you don’t have. If you are not loving yourself – through defining your own worth, speaking up for yourself, taking responsibility for learning from and managing your feelings, creating financial and relationship safety, taking care of your body, and managing your time and your environment – then you are not filled within with the love that is spirit. We get filled up with love when we are loving and valuing ourselves. Our intent to love ourselves and to learn with our higher guidance about what is loving to ourselves, is what opens our heart to being filled with the love that is God.

Real love comes only from this full place within. If you are not loving yourself, then you are abandoning yourself, which creates an empty place within. Infatuation, coming from your adolescent wounded self, comes from this empty needy place, which is why it doesn’t last.

Love that lasts is love that is not based on what you get, but on the true cherishing of your own and the other person’s soul essence. If you don’t know your own authentic self, you likely can’t see another’s authentic self. If you believe that you are your ego wounded self, filled with fear and false beliefs and needy of being seen and loved, then you have not yet done the Inner Bonding work necessary to discover the magnificence of your true, authentic self.

If you want to share the greatest experience in life with your beloved, then focus first on learning to see, hear, and value your true soul self. The Inner Bonding process is a powerful way of discovering the beauty and fullness of your soul essence so that you can share real love.

Obviously, sexual attraction plays a major part in who you choose as a partner, and it’s vitally important than you understand the major difference between sexual attraction from the ego wounded self and sexual attraction from the loving adult.

My client, Megan, asked the following questions in one of our Zoom sessions: “Over and over, when I’m really attracted to a man and I sleep with him fairly early in the relationship, I discover that he is not good husband material. What am I doing wrong? Am I just attracted to the wrong kind of men?”

This is a frequent question from my single women clients who are dating and want to be in a committed relationship.

“Megan,” I said, “Many men know how to project sexual energy in a way that arouses women. These men define their worth by their sexuality and by their ability to attract a woman. They know just how to sexually ignite a woman – it’s an energy that they are putting out that goes right into your genitals and makes you think that something real and important is happening. But they are likely operating from a sexual addiction rather than from caring or emotional intimacy.”

“So what should I be doing when I feel that powerful sexual attraction?” Megan asked.

“You need to tell yourself that this feeling doesn’t mean love – that it’s just an energy that is being projected onto you but has nothing to do with love, intimacy, caring, or marriage. Real, long-lasting relationships take time to evolve. If you feel sexual upon first meeting someone, there is a good possibility that this man just wants a sexual encounter with you rather than a real relationship with you. My suggestion to you is to not have sex early in a relationship, even if you are very attracted.” 

“Well, when do you have sex?” she asked.

“When you feel emotionally intimate. When you trust each other and really care about each other’s wellbeing. When you know that the feelings are not just sexual, and that the sexuality is coming from the emotional intimacy rather than just from a sexual attraction or a sexual addiction. Why not wait until there is a commitment to the relationship and to learning and growing with each other? How often have you slept with a man that you were really attracted to and then had the relationship not work out?”

“More often than I’m willing to admit,” she said. “This is what keeps happening. So are you saying that I should also go out with men that I’m not immediately attracted to?”

“Yes, if you like them. Often, sexual attraction grows as you really get to know a person. Many of my clients with the best relationships are people who were not immediately attracted to each other. The attraction grew as they fell in love with each other. Others, who were attracted immediately, lost their attraction as they got to know the person.

“Many men can have sex and then just move on without any inner turmoil. Yet many women feel connected to a man when they have sex with him and then feel awful when the relationship doesn’t work out. It is unloving to yourself to sleep with a man early in the relationship and then run the risk of being dumped because all he wanted was sex.

“Another factor is that sex without emotional intimacy is often disappointing for both people. When you have sex too early in a relationship, it might not be emotionally or physically satisfying. When sex is not an expression of love, it often feels empty, and then the guy might decide that you are not the right person for him because there were no fireworks. Yet if you had waited for love to develop, it might have been wonderful. You really have nothing to lose by waiting.” 

“But I always think that a man won’t like me if I don’t have sex with him,” she said.

“Well, if he doesn’t like you for not having sex with him, what does this tell you about him?” I asked her.

“I guess it tells me that he is not good husband material.”

“Right!” I said, “so you have nothing to lose by not having sex right away.”

“Okay, I see that now. I see that what I’ve been doing is never going to lead to marriage. I’m going to put sex on the back burner and pay more attention to caring and intimacy.”

Through her Inner Bonding practice, Megan was able to completely change her pattern with men and within a year she was engaged to be married.

It’s not just women who are challenged regarding when to have sex in a new relationship. My client, Brad, was just completing his divorce after having been married for over 25 years. He had not dated in what seemed like forever to him and had no idea how to start. “How do you start a new relationship he asked me in our Zoom session.

“What are you most concerned about?” I asked.

“Sex,” he answered.

“What about sex?” I asked.

He paused for a bit….”Well…performance. What if I can’t perform? What if I’m too nervous to perform?”

“Okay.” I said, “let’s start with sex.”

What I said to Brad was, “Take your time. Don’t jump into bed until you feel so safe with each other that even if the first time you make love you don’t get an erection, it won’t ruin the relationship. It may take months or longer before you feel that safe with someone.”

“Months? I’m supposed to wait months before having sex?” He seemed surprised.

“Brad,” I said. “I don’t know how long it will take for you to feel loved and loving, safe and deeply caring. It depends on how much time you spend with each other. It depends on how honest you are with each other. It depends on how you each deal with conflict. You will certainly not feel safe until you have conflict and see how the two of you handle it. What if you discover that your partner completely shuts down or gets enraged in conflict? Will you feel safe if you are worried about her reaction if you can’t perform? All this takes time. What’s your rush? Is it sex you want or a relationship you want?

“Okay, I got it,” he said. “I want a relationship. Whew! I actually feel some relief knowing that it’s okay to take my time in a new relationship!” 

As I said earlier, in the many years that I’ve been facilitating, I’ve discovered that the one mistake people make in starting a new relationship is to have sex too soon. There are many reasons why people who are starting a new relationship have sex too soon: they think it will create deeper intimacy; they are just in it for the conquest; they are afraid of rejection if they say no; they get physically carried away; they like sex. Let’s take the example of Yvonne.

Yvonne is a lovely young woman in her middle thirties who really wants to get married and have children. She has no trouble meeting men, but like with Megan, the relationships don’t last. In fact, they rarely even get started.

The problem is that Yvonne often believes what men say to her early on in the new relationship. The last man she dated a couple of months ago, came on really strong. He told her on the first date how wonderful she was, how he had rarely met anyone like her. When he came on sexually, she resisted, although she was really turned on and attracted to him. He suavely said to her “I bet you’re worried that if we have sex, I won’t call you again.” “Right,” she said. “That’s exactly what I’m worried about.” Well, he answered, “I’m not that kind of man. Can’t you tell that we’re really connected to each other? I haven’t had such a good time in years! Of course I want to see you again!” Yvonne agreed that they were having a wonderful time. She put aside her inner warning signals and had sex with him. Sure enough, he never called her again.

The reality is that no matter how wonderful things seem on the first or second date, this is not enough time to deeply care about someone. And, as I’ve said, sex without deep caring might be a physically satisfying experience, but it is flat emotionally and spiritually. Sex early in a new relationship will almost always leave both people feeling like something was missing. Without love and caring, it is easy to move on to another person, another conquest. It is easy to dismiss the encounter – since something was missing, it must not have been the right person. But these two people never gave themselves a chance to see if they were right for each other. They jumped into the most physically intimate of experiences before there was any emotional intimacy. They tried to get the intimate connection through sex, but great sex is an outgrowth of emotional intimacy, not a cause of it. Without love and caring, any problem becomes too much to handle. Any deficiency or imperfection becomes cause to move on. Physical attraction is never enough to see people through the inevitable conflicts that come up in primary relationships.

Deep caring comes through spending time together getting to know each other. It comes from months of laughing together, crying together, discovering what’s deeply endearing about each other. It comes from having conflict and getting through it to understanding each other on deeper levels. It comes when two people let each in on the soul level. As I’ve stated, you need to love someone’s soul before you will be willing to go through the challenges that come up in all relationships. Without that depth of love, it is just too easy to leave.

As I’ve often stated, we are attracted to each other at our common level of woundedness and our common level of health.

What does this mean?

For example, Jackson, a very attractive man in his early 50s, had been married three times and had been in many relationships. He consulted with me because he was tired of going from relationship to relationship. He wanted a long-term relationship.

“Even though each relationship seems to be very different than the last one, in the end they all turn out to be the same,” he said.

Jackson grew up with an angry father and a mother who, on the surface, pretended that everything was okay, but was always pulling on Jackson to make her feel loved. Not surprisingly, Jackson consistently picked women who looked all together but who were really needy. He was mystified as to why he kept picking the same kind of woman.

Through his Inner Bonding work with me, Jackson discovered the deep level of loneliness he had felt with his mother. While she was a beautiful woman on the outside, on the inside she was empty and needy. He discovered that he had been drawn to women who were just like his mother, and then, with his criticism and controlling behavior, tried to get them to connect with him. His mission with each woman he met was to find a way to heal the woman so he would not be lonely with her. More than wanting connection with a woman, he wanted control over the connection – which is not possible. In each relationship he ended up withdrawing when his control attempts didn’t work.

As long as Jackson wanted control over connection, he would be attracted to disconnected and needy women. Once he fully accepted his lack of control over whether or not a woman connected with him, he found himself attracted to an open and loving woman – a woman who connects to him because that is who she is.

Jackson was originally attracted to women who were at his level of woundedness. After he consistently practiced Inner Bonding for about a year, he became attracted to a woman at his level of health.

One of my clients, Nicole, became aware, through her Inner Bonding work, that she had an addiction to control. “I find that I pick men who lack compassion,” she said, “and then the addiction kicks in. I start trying to teach them how to be with me, or teach them about compassion, or to change myself so I’m worth changing for, or otherwise trying, tricking, manipulating, and inspiring them so they’ll open their hearts and connect with me. The illusion of CONTROL is the compulsion, the addiction. I have a very strong need to both alter reality to see these men as capable of compassion when they are not, and also to think that I can change them so they’ll connect with me and not abandon me.

“I realized that in full last night. I was with a male friend who ridiculed something I said that meant a lot to me. i didn’t take it personally at all. I just told myself ‘Oh, that’s where he’s at’ and went on my way. Then it hit me that my ex-boyfriend had done the exact same thing, about a million times. He had the exact same level of non-compassion, but instead of just moving on, I had spent years trying to change him. It made me sad really seeing him as he is for the first time, through this incident. Even now, I have delusions about the person he is, but somehow last night I saw him clearly. I think my new test is going to be “is there a connection, or am i trying to change myself or him to force a connection”?

If you are a caretaker, addicted to fixing others while ignoring yourself, it is likely that you find yourself attracted to takers – self-centered people who lack empathy and compassion and want others to take care of them.

If you are an angry, controlling person, it is likely that you are attracted to people who easily give themselves up, or to people who are very resistant.

If you are an empty person, it is likely that you are attracted to a vibrant caretaking person.

On the other hand, if you do your Inner Bonding work, healing your low self-worth, your need to control, your anger or caretaking, your resistance, your addictions to substances and processes, your fear of rejection and your fear of engulfment, and you discover how to take loving care of yourself, you will find yourself only attracted to loving, kind and secure people.

Leaving a relationship because you think you are no longer in love – other than leaving a physically abusive relationship – before discovering the inner fears and beliefs that led you to the relationship in the first place, is essentially a waste of time. You will continue to choose the same kind of person over and over – even if that is not apparent at first – until you heal the underlying issues that led you to choose this person in the first place.

Once you heal your wounded end of a relationship, then your partner’s wounded self might not be tolerable to you. While you might still love their essence, if they are in their wounded self most of the time and their wounded self isn’t tolerable to you due to things like substance and process addictions, anger issues, neediness and withdrawal, and they are not open to learning and healing with you, then leaving may be a viable option.

All of us put out a frequency that comes from our level of woundedness and health. If you tune your radio dial to a particular station, you will get that station because you have tuned into the frequency of that station. Likewise, your frequency attracts a like frequency. Woundedness has a low frequency, while emotional health has a high frequency. A loving person with a high frequency will not be attracted to a controlling or needy person with a low frequency.

If you want to attract an open, loving, and caring person, or discover whether you are in love with your current partner, then you first need to become that loving, open, and caring person through a committed Inner Bonding practice.

I invite you to heal your relationships with my 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.

And we have so much to offer you at our website at

And, if you enjoyed this podcast, I would really appreciate it if you tell your friends about it, and if you give it a review wherever you heard it.

 I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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