4009889190_43d18dfa97 In my journey to true love I must have thought I was in love at least nine times. Of those nine times, once was really close to the real thing but I was in high school at the time and not ready to settle down. All the other so called boyfriends I had, I look back and ask, “What was I thinking?”

Ha! I doubt I was thinking at all! While the guys were nice enough, those relationships usually fell under one of three categories:  1. They were convenient, 2. I was lonely or 3. the sex was good but not much else was.

When I was twenty-nine years old I was in a relationship with a guy who was smart, attractive, funny, immature and self-centered. At the time I thought, “This is as good as it’s going to get. Maybe it’s time to settle down.”

Then I met John. It wasn’t fireworks or love at first sight. It was and still is, as Miss Etta James sings, a Sunday kind of love. Warm, sure, safe. The longer we are together the more precious our relationship is to me. I couldn’t ask for a better love.

That’s why I encourage people not to ‘settle’ for less than good, solid love. And how can you tell the real thing from the cheap impostors? Mira Kirshenbaum, Women & Love, Finding True Love While Staying True to Yourself,  helps us do that with this list of qualities to look for. She wrote it with women in mind but it is true for men too, for everyone, gay or straight. Love is love is love. I could not improve on her list so here it is, in its entirety:

It’s not just how you feel about him. It’s about how he makes you feel about yourself.

It’s not about losing yourself in him. It’s about becoming true to yourself with him.

It’s not about how great he is. It’s about how great you can become along side him.

It’s not about how much you love him. It’s about how much he helps you love yourself.

It’s not about his finding room in his heart for you. It’s about his finding room in his life for your energy, drive, ambition, passions and interests.

It’s not just about how good he is deep down. It’s about how you experience his goodness as you live your life together.

It’s not about how he makes you hungry to be with him. It’s about how much he makes you feel at home when you are with him.

It’s not about the love you share. It’s about your ability to fully, equally, deeply share your life together.

It’s about falling in like.

Photo courtesy James P. Wells via Flickr