Things You Think Are Love— But Aren’t

Originally posted on Bustle.

There are a lot of emotions that can be confused with love— lust, infatuation, or in my case, whatever happens in my heart when I see bagels. But there are also a lot of behaviors that can be confused with love. Especially when you’re in a new relationship, if you have very strong feelings for someone you really, really want to see the best in them. So you sort of interpret everything as being representative of how much they love you or how amazing your relationship is. It can be hard to be honest about the motivations behind your significant other’s actions, especially if you’re feeling deeply in love yourself. And if other people point out to you that something is a bit wonky, you probably don’t want to hear it— it’s really easy to develop an ‘us against the world’ mentality.

But sometimes you have to be realistic about the fact that your boyfriend randomly surprised you on girls’ night isn’t just because ‘he loves you too much to be away from you for one more second,’ or that your girlfriend suddenly developing a love of your spin classes has nothing to do with the fact that you just told her you need some personal space. You have to open to seeing what’s really going on behind their actions, because you should be with someone who actually loves you, rather than just needs to be around you all time.

Here are five things that you think mean they love you, but actually don’t:

1. They Want To Be Around You All. The. Time.

This is the classic one. Yes, you probably have an amazing honeymoon phase where you’re spending lots of time together. But if they want to be around you all the time, if they are actually trying to monopolize your calendar, it’s not so much a love thing as a control thing. They’re either needy or so possessive they don’t like you being out of their sight. You need some breathing room in a good relationship.

2. They Tell You “You Can Do Better” Than Them… Constantly

It’s not that they’re so completely in awe of you they can’t believe how lucky they are, this behavior is actually emotionally manipulative. They’re just trying to make you reassure them constantly and it puts a lot of pressure on you to never leave them or mess them around. By putting themselves in this weaker position, it forces you into taking care of them.

3. They Insist They Just Want What’s Best For You, Even When It’s Something You Don’t Want

Are they encouraging you to distance yourself from your friends or family, saying “they’re not good enough” or insisting they’re treating you badly? Or wanting you to get a new job that you don’t want? Again, it’s a control issue. Or, in some cases, an isolation issue. Creating distance between you and the people you love, being divisive, can easily be veiled as being for your benefit. Yes, sometimes people close to you point out things you don’t see, but creating a rift between you and people you care about it is never OK.

4. They Take Up Your Hobbies

It’s so sweet, they want to be interested in your interests! They want to understand your passions! Nope. Look, if you love rock climbing and they go with you every once in a while, that’s great and really cute. But if they start to tag along to all your yoga classes, join you and your friends in your favorite activities, or suddenly profess an interest in things only because you mentioned it, that’s not love. That’s being needy. It’s great if you have some passions that overlap, but they need to comfortable with you having your own things as well.

5. The Sex Is Amazing

Yes, sometimes the sex is amazing because you love each other. But sometimes you have amazing sex with someone even if you don’t like someone very much. A relationship needs to be built on more than sex alone. My friend dated a guy for a year and a half because the sex was amazing, and she conflated it with loving each other— when they just didn’t. Make sure there’s actually common ground and passion outside of the bathroom.