I’ve always been fascinated by love. I’ve often wondered what love actually is. How does one describe the feeling? What are the symptoms? And are they the same for everyone?

I think of love as describing a color. You can’t, really. You can point at a nearby tree and say, “That’s green.” But describing the color always leads to further comparisons.

The same goes for love. We can read novels and listen to songs. We can watch a couple pass us by on the sidewalk. We can watch romantic movies that make us feel.

But everyone just guesses as to what love is.

I’ve been in relationships where I thought I was in love. Then I began new relationships and decided the former was not love.

And I don’t think I’m alone in this. All anyone can do is guess at what love might be through experience, error, and vulnerability. That can seem scary, putting your heart out there, unsure of where it might land.

But when you do find the elusive feeling, love makes the journey worth it.

And luckily, along that journey, you can at least know what love isn’t and through that realize what love looks like.

1. Love Isn’t A Game

Love isn’t about keeping score. It’s not a back and forth of who can one-up who. There’s no time to wait to text back and no reason to act like you don’t care.

Love is when you’re on the same team. Sure, you may disagree, but your goal is the same. You want the best of one another and the relationship.

2. Love Isn’t Forced

Love isn’t coerced. It’s not something you can make someone feel. It’s also not something you should dread having in your life.

Love comes naturally. It’s not always easy, but there’s no question of whether either person wants to be in it. You look forward to your time spent together.

3. Love Isn’t Crying on the Floor

Love isn’t a rollercoaster. It’s not passion in the form of fights that end in tears.

Love is supportive, caring, and selfless. It’s wanting the other person’s happiness. Passion looks like supporting each other and loving unconditionally.

4. Love Isn’t Rushing Through Milestones

Love isn’t a race. It’s not measured by how quickly you move in together. Your devotion is not determined by how quickly you walk down the aisle.

Love unfolds at its own pace. It’s feeling secure with one another to make decisions when you’re both ready. You don’t compare your love to others’ timelines because you know what you have will last forever and is not something to rush through.

5. Love Isn’t Becoming One

Love isn’t about finding the person that completes you. It’s not about enmeshing with your partner.

Love is about being whole with another whole person. It’s about loving yourself as much as you love your partner. Your love is made stronger by being the best version of yourselves, and you both support that individuality.

6. Love Isn’t Ownership

Love isn’t marking your territory. It’s not trying to keep everything to yourself.

Love is respecting your partner’s life outside of the relationship. It’s knowing you’re both individuals with differences that are respected. You don’t belong to each other; instead, you choose each other.

7. Love Isn’t Conditional

Love isn’t expecting things to fit into a neat box. It’s not loving one day and withholding it the next.

Love is messy. It’s accepting that sometimes you’ll have bad days. It’s supporting each other through those hard times, instead of hurting one another. It’s unconditional.

8. Love Doesn’t Hurt

Love isn’t throwing word daggers at your partner. It’s never causing pain to each other.

Love is about helping one another avoid pain. It’s realizing that sometimes your words accidentally hurt your partner and apologizing because you care for them.

9. Love Isn’t The End Of The Story

Love isn’t about reaching a happily ever after. There’s no end goal to reach.

Love is a lifetime. It’s working through obstacles that come your way. It’s choosing to care for your partner every day. You both know the journey doesn’t end at the aisle or the first “I love you”; that’s where it all begins.

10. Love Isn’t Perfect

Love isn’t pristine and shiny. It’s not fight-free.

Love is arguing and disagreeing. It’s learning to admire each other in new ways when your partner surprises you. It’s an adventure of unknowns that you wouldn’t want to do with anyone else.

People may not be able to define what love is but at least we know what love isn’t.

And through knowing what love isn’t, we can be a little more clear on what love is, even if it takes a bit of explaining.

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