When I was 15 I remember thinking I was in love if the boy across the class asked to sit next to me at lunch. It was the simplest gesture that had my heart pumping out of my chest. The first hand hold, the first kiss, the first dinner and a movie date, in which we act way older than we are - because for some reason that was really cool to do at the age of 15. Call me old fashioned but love seemed so simple then.
These days nothing is simple in love. People don't even seem to lock eyes anymore before agreeing to date. It's more the swipe of a finger on Tinder or the longwinded email exchange on Match.com that gets the emotional juices flowing. I've spent more years than I care to add up having the "love discussion" with my best girlfriends. "Is he the one?" "Will we get married, have four kids, a white picket fence, SUV and two golden retrievers?" "Will we spend every Christmas together from here to eternity?" These are the simple questions we ask ourselves in the younger years of love. They are all so innocent and idealistic. As we get older, however, the questions change as our cynicism grows. "Will we manage to stay together forever?" "Will he leave me for a younger model?" "Am I settling?" "Can I do better?" - I hear all those more at 35 than I ever thought I'd hear in a lifetime. With new technology comes an overwhelming field for choice, that never existed before. Times, they are changing and it's not just the actual technology that's changing love. I find love changes as we age. The definition, at least, is shaped with each passing decade.
At 15 there was puppy dog love. At 25 there were thoughts of marriage and children, with a glimmer from our "Rom Com" colored glasses. And at 35, I'm now part of the DINKY generation. Oh, if you aren't in with the lingo, DINKY is short for the "Double Income No Kids Yet" couple. It more or less defines a growing population of couples who are choosing to put kids on hold to pursue their careers and interests as individuals. It's not where I expected to be, by any means, but hey, I'm here and I try to bloom where I'm planted.
Saying all this, I am attempting to make my way around to a point and it goes a little something like this. I consider myself very fortunate to have had a chance to really discover the truth of what "real love" means over the past decade. And I write this today in a sort of "wish I could tell my 15 year-old self" manner. If I could go back in time and give my teenage lovesick self a manual for the "how do you know if you're in love"dilemma - it would be simple, so simple, and look like this:
Here's the one test you have to take to know if he's the one for you. Let's play pretend here for a minute. In five minutes time, you are going to either pick up the phone and discover you've come into $100million, inherited from a recently deceased relative you never knew, or you are going to hear earth shattering bad news (let's hope it's the former). When this event happens, who do you call? Who's the first person that hears the news, good or bad? This shouldn't take even a moment to picture. You know immediately. THIS is my test I run for myself, and have been running for the past decade, with every man I dated. Is he THE ONE that I call? Is he the first? If he's not, move onwards and upwards.
How do you know if you're in love? If you're in love, no matter what form it comes in, you want to share absolutely everything with that person. Looks will fade, you will go through some pretty rough times and life will move in several different directions. But through all of that, there will be one person who you want to share all the stories with, both good and bad.
Beyond that, there are probably a thousand more signs for figuring out if he's the one. Hell, Cosmopolitan have made millions on the topic. But just remember this... if he isn't your first call, he'll never be your port of call in the storm of life.