WHEN IS IT LOVE? HOW CAN I KNOW IT IS LOVE?
by Keith Hunt
Many years ago there was a popular song called "True Love"
that started, "I give to you and you give to me, true love, true
love. For you and I have a guardian angel on high with nothing to
do, but to give to you and to give to me love forever true."
There have been countless songs written about love -- strong
love, never-ending love, never-fading love, between two people.
Maybe these songs had more meaning twenty or thirty years ago.
Is true love a thing of the past? Is it possible today to find
true love? What is it, anyway? Can you be sure you know what true
love really is?
First let's look at what LOVE is not! LOVE is not spelled
There is a difference between LUST and LOVE. It's easy to
confuse the two terms. The dictionary defines LUST AS "a strong,
urgent desire to possess, as a lust for gold; impure desire; to
have a very strong desire...." LOVE is described as "warm and
tender attachment... passionate devotion, strong liking ... to
delight in...." Some of the phrases used to describe love and
lust are similar, but there is a big difference.
In magazines and newspapers many of the advertisements use
the embracing of two people to catch your eye! Book covers leave
little to the imagination.
A young man may say, "I had a girl out last night and LOVED
her up." Newspaper headlines read, "TWO DIE IN KEEPING LOVE
TRYST." Movie placards scream, "LET'S MAKE LOVE." A song title
pleads, "LET ME LOVE YOU TONIGHT." Or how about the suggestion in
the song "We're Not Too Young to Love?" All of these examples
suggest that if a person excites you, it must be LOVE. You are
bombarded with T.V; radio; and records; that try to convince you
that lust is love. You are told from all sides that passion and
thrills is real love, that the tingle that goes up and down your
spine by the way he or she walks or smiles is the real thing --
You are led to believe that you fall in love--much like a
fall into a pit -- SUDDENLY! One day you are not in love, and the
next day - BAM!! Some person enters your life and you are in
There IS physical attraction in true love, but it is not
everything. You must also consider character and personality and
not be unduly swayed by appearance.
It is possible to have an immediate attraction with a
certain magnetism toward another, but be very careful that you do
not let your heart rule your mind. You may be in for a big
surprise, if you don't take your time and consider all aspects of
the person you have been smitten by! TAKE TIME TO GET TO KNOW THE
Now let us consider what LOVE is:
The finest amplification of LOVE is found in 1 Cor.13:4-13
(LIVING BIBLE translation).
"Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious,
never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude.
Love does not: demand its own way. It is not irritable or
touchy. It does NOT hold grudges and will hardly even notice
when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice,
but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone
you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will
always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and
always stand your ground in defending him.
"All the special gifts and powers from Cod will someday come
to an end, but love goes on forever. Someday prophecy, and
speaking in unknown languages, and special knowledge --
these gifts will. disappear. Now we know so little, even
with our special gifts, and the preaching of those most
gifted is still so poor .... There are three things that
remain -- FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE -- and the greatest of these
Let LOVE be your aim.
The first attribute of love is PATIENCE.
Oh, how hard it is to be patient, to take your time to find
the right person for you! When you're fourteen or fifteen, you
think life is passing you by if you are not "GOING STEADY." The
biggest mistake that can be made by a young person is to become
paired off. Do not fall into the trap that is set for you and
ready to spring. Keep your teen-age years for increasing your
knowledge and enjoying yourself with many others in groups and
activities. NEVER, NEVER allow yourself to become involved with
another person in steady dating when you're still in your younger
to middle teen years. There is a Chinese proverb that has been
adopted by all, "TOO SOON OLD, TOO LATE SMART!" This is so true!
Ask anyone who married young if he or she would do it over again
and their answer will invariably be "NO. I wish I had waited" --
or, "If only I'd known."
Yes there are exceptions to the rule, just about any rule.
And I know if you have studied from this Website long enough or
just came across it on your own, it is true that in the time of
our Lord's life on earth, it was the custom for the Jewish
population at the time, to marry young, while in their teenage
years. But that was a much different society back then. Different
is outlook, different in parenting, different in its school
systems. Teenagers in Jesus' society were much more mature at a
much earlier age than in OUR society.
In the Western world today, you are not looked upon as an
adult until at least 18 years of age. Even then many (most -
according to the latest statistics) are waiting to marry till
their middle to latter 20s.
There is another factor to consider, and that is the fact
that statistics show that teen-age marriages are more likely to
end up in the divorce court. So why take the chance of being a
divorce statistic? Give yourself a better chance at having a
successful marriage by being patient.
The second attribute of love is to be KIND.
Are you kind in all your relationships? The dictionary
defines "kind" as "doing good, friendly, sympathetic, fond,
affectionate, loving characteristics or attitude." This is a tall
order -- to be KIND!
The third attribute of love is that it is never JEALOUS.
Jealousy is such an insidious foe. It is a powerful force
that must be reckoned with. No one wants to lose the one he
Loves. When a person threatens our relationship, (or seems to) we
grow anxious, concerned, suspicious, resentful, fearful -- the
whole gamut of emotional responses that we call JEALOUSY. Often
we suppress the feelings of jealousy and try to ignore them, but
it is better to ask WHY? Sometimes jealous feelings are a
reflection of insecurity within. Try to analyze why you are
insecure and do something constructive to remedy the situation.
Some girls worry about not being clever enough, and they do
nothing about it but worry, when the answer is to act -- do
something about it. Take a course that will increase your
knowledge and build your self-esteem. Most average Schools today
will give girls the opportunity to acquire the same amount of
"knowledge" as boys. Then again there is knowledge and there is
"knowledge" if you get what I mean. If you study from this
Website, you'll get a lot of the right kind of knowledge (if you
apply it of course).
To interject for a moment. Some "school systems" .... well I
find them "strange" to say the least. I once had a 14 year old
young lady taking guitar lessons with me. At one lesson she was
telling me about the "math" she was having to take at school. It
was math that I'd never heard of. Her parents had to hire a math
tutor to come in twice a week in their home, to get their
daughter through this math course. I said to her, "Natasha, you
may as well stop trying to explain this math to me. I haven't a
clue what you are talking about. Does your school expect or want
all of you to work for the Space Program?" She was to say the
least very frustrated with school at that juncture of her life.
So there is knowledge and there is knowledge. You need to
acquire true knowledge as well as ceratin academic knowledge that
will lead you towards what life in the working world.
Back to our main thought. We need to realize that no one can
meet all the needs of the person he loves, and vice versa. We
need to have faith in God -- and set aside jealousy and replace
it with confidence.
The fourth attribute of love is that it does NOT ENVY.
The word "envy" can also include COVETING, which is
forbidden in the TEN COMMANDMENTS. Someone who envies or covets
the good fortune of another is breeding discontent, resentment,
and even hatred. You can imagine the harvest that he/she will
The fifth attribute of love is that it is not BOASTFUL OR
To boast is to brag, exaggerate and praise one's self or
accomplishments. Teamed up with pride we see emerging a picture
of a vain, insolent, overbearing individual. A person who is
truly loving will not exemplify these characteristics, but will
be of a humble, contrite spirit.
The sixth attribute of love is that it is NEVER HAUGHTY,
SELFISH OR RUDE.
A haughty person is motivated by the feeling that he is
superior to others -- more important -- and has a domineering and
insulting way. The selfish individual is chiefly and solely
interested in NUMBER ONE -- SELF! A rude person is also caring
too much for self and too little for others -- he is not
courteous. In fact many people have forgotten what the word
"courteous" means. Have you seen very many men holding the car
door open for ladies? People who are truly loving will think
first of others and be mannerly, considerate and kind.
The seventh attribute of love is that it is NOT DEMANDING.
If you are loving, then you will not demand your own way. Do
you have to tell everyone that you're the BOSS around here? Or do
they look to you with love and respect? Most people follow their
leader. Are you worthy of a following?
The eighth attribute of love is that it is NOT IRRITABLE OR
"Irritable" implies that someone is impatient, easily
annoyed over little things, and can become angry at the slightest
excuse. A touchy person is irritable, peevish,and takes offense
at the least provocation -- he is entirely too sensitive. If this
describes you then you need the LOVE OF GOD to change your
attitude and life.
The ninth attribute of love is that it does NOT HOLD
To hold a grudge is to feel anger and dislike toward
another. In Eph.4:26, we are advised never to let the sun go down
on our wrath (anger), because that would be giving the devil a
foothold on us. If you really love, then you will not even take
notice (most of the time - serious wrongs towards you are to be
handled as Jesus instructed and are covered in my studies
"Offending and Being Offended") when others do you wrong, let
alone keep meditating on it. Learn to say, "I forgive!"
The tenth attribute of LOVE is that it that it practices
JUSTICE AND LOYALTY.
We are fair, and true, and faithful to our promises, duties
or obligations? These attributes are so important a commitment
between two people.
The eleventh attribute of LOVE is that it has THREE
There are numerous definitions of love -- fond or tender feeling,
affection, etc. These may be grouped into three basic categories
of love. Just as there are different dimensions to our
personalities (spiritual, psychological, and physical), so we
have sex, "eros" and "agape". The sexual aspect of love may be
only lust or sensual desire, totally selfish and experienced only
for the excitement or experience, not taking into consideration
that there is more to love than sexual impulse with no discipline
or control. We need to learn "the art of love" as something
willed and planned by God, not to be exploited or hidden in a
hush-hush manner. We must add "EROS," which is an activity of the
human spirit between two people. It never aims at satisfying
merely individual desire, but is concerned with the other person
as a whole -- body, mind, and spirit.
Now we shall add the third dimension, "AGAPE," which is the
spiritual aspect of love. Sex has its centre of gravity in the
ego -- SELF; "eros" has its centre in -- WE TWO the human couple;
"agape" has its centre beyond the human -- the DIVINE. While
"eros" produces passion and ecstasy it is "agape" love that
produces loyalty and faithfulness between a couple and is the
basis for friendship. We need each part to make the whole
complete. Sex without love is self-centered. It is damaging to
your self-esteem and it is deadly to the spiritual dimension of
your personality. The union of two people as one flesh is the
deepest communication one can experience. It should be the
culmination and expression of total love.
People who just "sleep around" or flit from one to another
never experience the intimate, ecstatic closeness that comes to
couples who wait for the marriage commitment. To really satisfy
the emotional needs of your partner, you must be concerned for
his or her welfare and future.
Linking the three aspects of love means choosing between
sensual enjoyment and peace of soul. You must have the "agape"
love. When you commit your life to GOD, your love for each other
will grow to magnificent heights and, like a stool with three
legs, will stand firmly. Without this third aspect of love, you
will topple over! Or you will be prone to topple over more
easily. "And now abideth three things -- FAITH, HOPE, AND LOVE
AND THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE."
SIGNS OF LOVE - SIGNS OF LOVE - YES THERE ARE SIGNS !!
Now let's get down to specifics. How can we know when we are
1. ABIDING SENSE OF COMRADESHIP:
Sweethearts are real pals. Over a period of months they have
learned to share many interests and good times together, doing a
variety of things. They enjoy being together more than being with
anyone else, although others are not excluded from their lives.
In fact, a strange phenomenon takes place -- they find
themselves enjoying activities which they never enjoyed before!
For example, a girl will take interest in football or hockey
or baseball, because her man enjoys it. Or he will attend a
concert or the ballet with her and find out to his surprise that
he enjoyed himself.
When they are absent from one another, they anticipate being
together to share their thoughts. There is an eagerness to see
things from the other person's point of view. They find great
satisfaction in the "we" feeling. When opposite viewpoints arise,
they show a spirit of thoughtfulness in either accepting the
other's view or reaching an acceptable compromise.
They are at ease in each other's company, and no hypocrisy
or airs are needed. They are themselves and they are not afraid
to express themselves and share their innermost thoughts.
Knowing that God created men and women to complement each
other, they are satisfied mentally, emotionally and physically
that they have chosen the right person to share their life, the
one they want to be their sweetheart, friend, companion, and
2. FEELING THAT LIFE HAS BEEN LIFTED TO HIGHER LEVELS:
Sweethearts realize that each brings out the best in the
other. They encourage and inspire each other to greater
achievement, higher virtues, a greater sense of honor, respect
and loyalty. They feel free to share their goals, ambitions, and
aspirations with each other.
Their loved one is the "apple of their eye." Their greatest
aim is to please, help, and give happiness to the other because
they respect, admire, and appreciate the other. All that they do
lifts the other to higher levels.
When you observe older couples who have been together for
decades you will notice that each brings out the best in the
other. They inspire and plainly make the other happy. Each
unselfishly lifts the partner to higher ground.
A tremendous example of a long-term marriage is the famous
KING OF THE COWBOYS, Roy Rogers, and his wife Dale Evans (both
now sleeping in death). Their marriage endured in sickness and
health, and in sorrow and happiness. You can observe that they
respected each other in their book about their lives. I quote
Roy, "..marriage and book writing are fifty-fifty propositions"
(page 17). "She (Dale) had become an inspiration to us all
without even knowing it. All I had to do when I felt myself
falling into a state of being tired or discouraged by all that
needed to be done was to look to her energy and enthusiasm and
draw strength from her" (page 150). "Dale worked with God to
bring me something I had longed for all my life, ....I guess if
we spend another thirty years together I'll still find myself
amazed at the lady."
Now quoting Dale, "I have never been prouder of my
husband." (page 156). "I could read him like a book." (page 361).
"...I have never met a more giving person." page 113).
About both Dale and Roy, "Together, they stand as a solid
example of what the family unit is supposed to be and as a
steadfast witness to the faith that has sustained them" (page
And may I add that they were a tremendous example for us to
follow. They shared their faith, and all the major goals of their
lives were mutually agreed upon. Their work was also a shared
experience. So many of the HOLLYWOOD MARRIAGES end in divorce
due to the partners being separated while on location. The same
thing can happen to any marriage if the work of the partners
separates the couple unduly.
It is pretty hard to lift your spouse to higher levels if
you are thousands of miles apart. If you must be apart for any
length of time, remember to telephone each other -- keep those
lines of communication open! Usually, during the courtship years
(to the consternation of the parents), the telephone calls are
long and often! You want to share every detail of your day.
The couple who make life an adventure in companionship will
strengthen each other's character. They will inspire each other,
which will increase their relationship in quality, depth, and
3. SELF-RESTRAINT AND PATIENCE:
The young couple who think they are in love may well ask,
Are we impatient with each other? Love is defined as being
patient. Any two people will have their differences, which they
can discuss without becoming impatient or angry. The couple who
frequently disagree and often become embroiled in quarrels will
not change when they become married. The wedding vows do not
magically make a quarrelsome couple into a loving, kind and
Some time ago, there was a young man who became engaged to
marry a girl, although in his father's words, they fought like
cat and dog (I worked with the father of the young man). They
were at each other most of the time -- quarrelling and impatient
-- even during their courtship and engagement. But they went
ahead and married anyway, probably hoping they could change each
other and have a happy marriage. This is very unrealistic and
dangerous -- to contemplate changing your mate after marriage. IT
VERY SELDOM WORKS! This young couple found that out, and after
three miserable years, they separated and divorced. This is not
what God intended for us. Seek guidance from those who know! Your
parents, pastor, and friends can give you invaluable counsel as
you contemplate one of the most serious decisions of your entire
4. SIMILARITY OF IDEALS:
The young person who feels he or she is in love will do well
to ask himself or herself WHY DO I LOVE THIS PERSON? Do I love
the WHOLE person, his or her philosophy, ideals, and thoughts?
True, lasting love is a meeting of minds, not just bodies! In
fact, the meeting of minds and personality in friendship,
cooperation and comradeship is far more important than the
meeting of bodies, as all happily married couples will attest.
This is not to say that sex is not important in love and
marriage, but remember that the act of sexual love is the end
result, culmination, or summit that is experienced by two people
who have grown in love.
Like attracts like. You join a club (swimming, tennis, stamp
collecting, book club, etc.) because you have something in common
with individuals with like interests and ideas. When you have
chosen to spend your life with another person, you have joined an
elite little club consisting of TWO! These two should share the
same basic interests and goals, although no two will be exactly
alike in all ways, tastes, ideas, and interests. It would be a
dull world if we were! There may be differences, but they should
not be major ones that you can't adapt yourself to. In other
words, you must not say, "That's O.K. I'll change that later!"
There is only one person you can change, and that is YOURSELF.
Remember that. It is an impossible task to change another -- only
God can do that, by His power and conversion. Many people have
experienced dramatic changes in their lives, but it was God who
made the change! Often, people of totally different faiths have
tried to say, "It doesn't matter. Our love will live above these
differences!" But as time goes on, and the years roll by, they
discover that these differences are damaging to the foundation of
their marriage - likewise for an atheist and Christian, or a
Communist and an advocate of free enterprise. How about a
non-smoker and a smoker? Or the drinker and the non-drinker?
Believe me you would be wise to find a person who has the
If you desire harmony and unity, you must be realistic in
your evaluation of your basic interests and determine whether it
is infatuation or true love that is motivating you.
5. CONFIDENCE AND TRUST:
Two persons in love learn that they can count on each other
at all times. Think twice before dating and especially marrying
an untrustworthy person. The individual who does not keep his
word, tells untruths, or is deceptive can not be trusted, and
cannot give true love. This type of relationship will not be
lasting. No one is perfect. It's true that there will be times of
misunderstanding and times to forgive and forget. But in the
main, true love between two people has CONFIDENCE AND TRUST.
These are the ingredients that bind the couple in unity and
build a strong foundation!
6. KINDNESS AND COURTESY:
Are these traits something of the past ages? Or can we still
find GENTLEMEN today, in every sense of the word? "It takes two
to Tango," as the saying goes. Women who act independent and
ungrateful can hardly expect their men to behave courteously!
I know of a husband who had gotten out of the habit of opening
the car door for his wife. They decided one day that from then on
he would open the car door for her, as he had done during their
courtship. One day he hopped out of the car and was almost to the
building when he realized that his wife was still patiently
sitting in the car. She waited for him to come back, and like a
shining knight in armor, he ran back and graciously opened the
car door for her.
You may think this example is a little "extreme" - we have
gotten so far away from such ways of living between husband and
wife, or even in our courtships, many may laugh at the example,
or think it mighty strange. Some may wonder, "Do some couples
really live like that, and do such things for each other." But
yes, well indeed they USED TO, in an age back when ... to many
that must have been in the "stone age."
Many of the SMALL things can be really BIG THINGS in
establishing love, and keeping love burning. There are MANY
little things a man and woman can do for the other in the area of
kindness and courtesy. You just have to be willing to think of
them and DO them!
Too often, women have been guilty of rushing ahead and not
allowing their men to show courtesy. Even though much has been
said about WOMEN'S LIB and women's rights, be assured that women
still appreciate a true -- gentleman, and gentlemen in turn
appreciate a true lady! Yes, they do, deep down they do, it makes
life a little sweeter. Think about have nice it is to work with
people who are friendly, kind, thoughtful, and courteous.
Hopefully you have experienced it. Then think about the times
when you may have had to work with people who are un-friendly,
impatient, rude, and not a bit courteous. Do you get the picture?
When dating, some persons have shown contempt or sarcasm and
have given the impression that their dates were "stupid" or
"dumb." For some reason, a few dates tolerate this treatment, but
it is foolish to become serious with a person who does not
understand the basics of courteous behavior.
If your partner does not show signs of courtesy before
marriage, you can be sure it will not - by some magical formula -
appear after marriage!
Better by far to make sure that your love has lots of
kindness and courtesy before you marry.
7. PHYSICAL ATTRACTION:
Real love is more than being attracted to a beautiful or
handsome face or body. Some put beauty as number one in their
criteria for choosing a date. But be assured that looks are just
skin deep. The person should have good character, honesty, and
kindness. Too often, the sad tale is told of people of great
beauty not being the greatest marriage partner. I can remember in
my life meeting or working around females who were physically
VERY attractive on the outside, but being around them for even
only a short time, and WOW! I could only feel sorry for their
husband, or if they did not have one, or a boy friend, I could
Of course this applies on the other foot also. Some men I've
known have been "handsome and dashing, butter melting in their
mouth" on the outside, but ... I think you know ... yes, felt
sorry for their wives or girl-friends.
In the Bible, you will read many stories of true love -- for
Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob and Rachel, Zechariah
Physical "looks" is okay you know ... when ...
God made men and women. Some women and some men are indeed
very physically attractive. Nothing wrong per se in that, if
that's how you were put together. Then of course sad to say some
just do not look after themselves in the physical part of life,
food, exercise, sleep, grooming, and just become very "un-
attractive" to look at.
The physical is there and I certainly am not trying to take
away that part of the equation in this issue of mating and
We just need to remember there is MUCH MORE to LOVE and
finding the right mate than the outward form of a person.
For an in-depth look at the word of God in regard to LOVE,
read the SONG OF SOLOMON in several translations. You will be
surprised that God does not frown on physical beauty and
attraction. There is nothing wrong in making yourself look your
very best. Physical attraction is a PART of true love.
The most important thing, though, is to have a beautiful,
contrite nature of mind that exhibits the fruits of the Spirit of
NOW THAT personal fruit, the Lord can bless, and can provide
you with the love of your life in due time.
First written 1983, revised and updated 2007
Entered on this Website September 2007