We were sitting at my friends' kitchen table munching on warm banana bread with cream cheese frosting when my friend burst out with the Foreigner song.
"I want to feel what love is!"
That was her goal for the year. The five of us looked at each other, realizing that with roughly a quarter of our lives under our belts, we still had yet to taste something as seemingly fundamental as romantic love.
I turned to the one of us who was in a relationship and asked, "Are you in love?"
I'm not really sure how anyone is supposed to know if they're in love. I imagine that the definition is as individual as each person. Even within a relationship, I assume that the definition of love is fluid and changes with time. But that January evening, I tried to articulate a definition by asking my friend some questions that would allow her to search her emotions.
I don't know if these questions really can help anyone define love. Maybe someone who has never been in love has no right to define it. Maybe I'm looking for something that doesn't exist. Maybe one day I'll "know what love is" and it will be nothing like what I imagine it to be right now.
But for what it's worth, I think that love is in the answers to these questions.
Do you like being with him most?
Sure, sometimes you just want to be alone so you can listen to some Bon Iver and spend time with your colored pencils, but, most of the time, you want him there. When he's not around, you think things like, "This would be so much more fun if he was here" or "I can't wait to show him this because he would love it." Basically, for the majority of your activities is he the person that you want to do them with?
Are you happy to sacrifice for him?
This doesn't mean that you are thrilled about getting out of your warm bed at one in the morning to help him fix his broken down car. But it does mean that you are happy that he had someone to call and that person is you and it makes you feel good to have the opportunity to do something for him.
When you imagine yourself five, 10, 50 years from now, do you like the idea of him being a part of it? You don't have to have all the details like porch swings and 401Ks planned out, but you should like the idea of him being in your life for a long time.
Are you your truest self with him - but want to be your best self?
I think when you're in love with someone, you aren't a filtered version of yourself. You let your natural thoughts and feelings out because you're not shielding your true self from him.
However, our truest self isn't necessarily our best self. And even though you feel free to be yourself with him, he makes you want to be a little bit better. He sees the best in you, encourages you and is a good person himself so being with him also helps you to become your best self.