| June 4, 2013

Don’t believe the movies and the fairytales — there's no such thing as love at first sight. While it's possible to have an instant attraction to someone, true love is proven over time through actions and behaviors, experts say.

But when it comes to those lasting relationships, how can you tell what is true love and what isn't? After all, love is a powerful thing, and can be difficult to describe.

When it feels convenient, it isn’t truly love, says dating coach Cherry Norris.  “Many couples settle for fear that they won’t find anyone else or there are external factors at play, like money or children.  But these couples lack that energy between them,” says Norris. When it comes to real love, there is a sense of knowing that it's right, she adds.  

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“When you love someone, what you are saying is, 'I accept you for who you are and you fit into my life,'” says Dr. Patricia Allen, relationship expert and author of the book "Getting to ‘I Do.’"

When you’re in love with someone, your soul feels fulfilled, emotionally and spiritually, adds Allen. "Your mind makes you feel as though you've known this person your whole life."

True love stems from emotional intimacy, and can never be forced.

"You can’t make someone be in love with you, but you can inspire love in the other person, by just being and loving yourself," says relationship coach Virginia Clark.

Lust isn't love.  “We often think it's love when our body screams for someone.  But without the compatibility and the communication, it is just lust,” says Norris.  In her practice, Norris says the couples she works with who show true love have an energy between them.  “Their energy matches, and there is a natural compatibility.  They also just genuinely like each other.”

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On the other hand, whether someone is "your type" does not indicate true love.  “Common values are more important than personalities, or whether someone is your type," says Ann O’Brien, an energy healer and spiritual teacher. Not every person we're attracted to is meant to be a lover or life partner,” she adds. Sometimes, they’re just meant to be a friend or acquaintance.

O’Brien adds that sometimes, a strong attraction which we perceive as love is unfinished business from another life. It could also be a current part of ourselves that we see in the other person, especially a part of ourselves that we're not completely owning.  “For example, I wanted to be a musician, but until I figured that out, I kept dating musicians instead of being one myself,” she says.

It sounds cliché, but when it’s meant to be, it will be. As O'Brien says, “Love always finds a way."