The Romantic Love Test:

How Do We Know If We Are in Love?

Copyright © 2014 by James Leonard Park 

   This test names 26 features of romantic love (A-Z),
each with a few question to help us examine our own feelings
to see if we have what many regard as "true love".
But before looking at the test,
we should distinguish romance from three other phenomena.


THREE OTHER FORMS OF LOVE
OFTEN CONFUSED WITH ROMANTIC LOVE

1. SEXUAL ATTRACTION

    Human sexuality has been active for about 100,000 years,
ever since the human race began to speak.
Before that, presumably, our ancestors' sexual experiences
were more akin to the sexuality of animals.

    We respond to other persons sexually
when they trigger our imprinted sex-scripts.
These sex-scripts are stories, scenarios, & fantasies
that were imprinted into our minds at an early age.
We did not choose the nature of our sexual responses.
And that is why sex sometimes
seems to surprise us or even overwhelm us.
Depending on the exact nature of our sexual imprinting,
we may respond to certain bodily types
—or perhaps we respond to certain parts of a body.
We can discover our sexual imprinting by noting what 'turns us on'.

2. MATE-SELECTION & MARRIAGE

    People have been selecting each other as mates
since before the beginning of recorded history.
Thus some form of marriage has been around for several thousand years.

    If we have been looking for a man or woman with whom to spend our lives,
we have imagined an ideal Mr. Right or Ms. Right.
If someone corresponds with this internal Dream Lover,
we might easily 'fall in love' with him or her.
And we might be sexually attracted to him or her.
But the marriage decision itself is more rational and organized
than either romantic love or sexual response.
We can easily 'fall in love' and 'get turned on'
by men or women whom we would never consider marrying.
Looking for a life-partner involves compatibilities
of personalities and purposes, which do not always correspond
with our romantic and sexual responses.
Marriage is a more practical affair.
We need to know whether the potential spouse
has any bad habits that would make it difficult to live with him or her.

    If we have decided that we are going to spend
most of our adult lives married to one man or one woman,
we have built up some clear ideas
about what kind of man or woman that should be.
We see such men or women married to others.
And we hope that we will be able to find such a person for ourselves.

    The desire to get married is relatively easy to explain.
It is the result of explicit instruction and example:
We learn how people ought to behave when they grow up:
We are supposed to find a good person to marry.
Marriage is a social phenomenon we can all understand.
But marriage itself sometimes gets confused with
sexual responses and/or 'falling in love'.

    In the minds of many of us, the ideal mate would be someone
who 'turns us on' sexually, who would be a good parent,
and about whom we could feel romantic.
How often do all of these features arrive in the same person?
The rational person may select for a spouse the one he or she can live with,
even if their sex-life and their romantic feelings
are not as intense as with other people, some of whom,
of course, would not make good spouses.


3. FAMILIARITY

    Familiarity has been a part of human experience
from the beginning of our race some 7 million years ago,
when we branched off from the other large apes.
Familiarity is a feeling we share with all animals that live in groups.

    If we have lived with someone in the same household
for a few years, feelings develop that arise only from that specific relationship.
These are similar to the feelings that develop in loving families.
When the siblings get along well, they like to be together.
They do things together because they enjoy being in one another's company.
Married or living-together couples develop familiarity with each other.
And if their regular interactions make them both happy,
they will want to continue to be together.

    Good marriages and good long-lasting relationships
can have a sense of a loving togetherness
not based on the fantasy of romantic love,
not based on the imprinted sex-scripts they had before they met,
not based on their pre-existing ideas of who would be a good spouse.
Being comfortable together is based in reality.
From their past experience of being with each other,
the partners know they like each other.
The fantasy of romance might be gone.
The triggering of their sex-scripts might have been replaced
by a special kind of sexuality that they could not have predicted
before it actually happened between them.
And whatever prior expectations they had for a marriage partner
has been replaced by real information about this particular person.

    One important part of familiarity is raising children together.
Two people who have shared the trials and rewards of parenthood
may develop feelings for each other
that will never be repeated in any other relationship of their lives.


AND NOW FOR ROMANCE

    Romantic love is the most recent addition
to these other feelings with which it is often confused.
Romantic fantasies were invented about 800 years ago in Medieval Europe.
Since then these delusions have spread over the whole world.
Almost everywhere, people 'fall in love'.
And they regard it as a natural response,
perhaps in part because they confuse it with
(1) sex, (2) mate-selection, and (3) familiarity.
The Romantic Love Test is intended to highlight our romantic feelings,
as defined in the 26 section-headings within the test.



THE ROMANTIC LOVE TEST

How Do We Know If We Are In Love ?

by James Leonard Park

    The following questions should help us determine
whether our feelings correspond with
the conventional experience of romantic love.
Answer each question "yes" or "no"—agree or disagree.
Keep a count of your "yes" answers.
The scoring is explained at the end of the test.


A. Romantic love arises from pre-existing yearnings.

1. Before I 'fell in love', did I feel within myself
    a mysterious urge to find someone to love,
    an emptiness or longing to connect with someone?

2. Before I met the one I now love, did I feel lonely?
    Did loneliness cause me to 'fall in love'?
    Did I sometimes feel an emotional hunger, an emptiness
    in my heart, which I wanted to fill with another person?

3. Did I enter the 'love-market' with strong expectations
     of what love was supposed to feel like?

4. Did my present love begin shortly after the end of a previous love?
    Did I 'fall in love' on the 'rebound'?
    When one love ended, did I just begin loving the next
    available person who did not have too many negative qualities?

5. Did I simply tell myself that I was ready to 'fall in love'?


B. Romantic love begins suddenly, creating instant intimacy.

6. Did I 'fall in love' with _____ when I first met him/her?

7. Do I experience love as an emotion happening to me?
    Is 'falling in love' a passive experience
like falling asleep?

8. Is love a deep response arising from my soul?

9. Did I just let myself fall madly, passionately, gloriously in love?

10. Have we experienced instant intimacy,
       the feeling that we know each other immediately?

11. Have we been soul-mates from the beginning of the world?

12. Do we have a sudden feeling of agreement about everything?


C. Romantic love is blind.

13. Was I temporarily blinded by an intense flash of love
       so I could no longer see who the other person was?

14. Do I prefer not to know everything about the one I love?
       Am I afraid to know more about _____
       because the facts might undercut my feelings?

15. Is _____ the most wonderful person I have ever met?


D. Romantic love is often one-sided; it loves from afar.

16. Do I have obsessive day-dreams about a distant love-object?
       Do I imagine how it would be for some distant person
       to notice me
and 'fall in love' with me?
       Have I worked out a whole story of how I might meet
       my love-object and begin a long life together?

17. Have I ever been 'in love' with a celebrity?
       For instance, have I sent love letters to famous people,
       hoping they would miraculously respond to me?

18. Do I gloss over the fact that thousands of other people
       are also 'in love' with the same person?
       Does being in a crowd of people all 'worshiping' the same person
       make me feel even more 'in love' with him/her?

19. If there is no real relationship, if we have never even talked,
       does the image of my love-object keep appearing in my mind
      
unbidden, sometimes unwelcome
       because it prevents me from getting on with my life?

20. Have I sometimes wanted someone to love me
       even tho I did not want to love him/her?


E. Romantic love watches for small signs of reciprocation.

21. Do I examine carefully the behavior of the one I love
       for signs that he/she really cares about me?
       Do I manufacture signs of love from almost nothing?

22. When I am ignored or rejected by my love-object,
       do I look for subtle signs of love even in the discouragement?

23. Do I interpret any response
       as a sign that he/she really notices and cares about me?
       Do I sometimes keep a 'love' going for a long time,
       sustained by mere crumbs of hope?  
 
24. Do I sometimes spend hours pining for my secret love?

25. Do I become more obsessive, the less response I get?


F. Romantic love is often uncertain and fearful of rejection;
     it is exclusive, possessive, and jealous.


26. Do I worry about the depth of my beloved’s feelings for me?

27. Do I wonder if I love him/her more than he/she loves me?

28. Do I often ask "Do you love me?"
perhaps phrasing it some other way?
       When my beloved tells me that he/she loves me,
       do I wonder what that means?
       Do I want something more than mere words
       to convince me that my beloved really loves me?

29. Do I create little tests of my beloved's emotional involvement?
       Do I worry that my beloved does not care enough about me?
       Do I watch for signs that my beloved
       is 'falling out of love' with me?

30. Does the intensity of his/her emotional response
       seem more important than the day-to-day activities we share?
       Even in the midst of an enjoyable activity together,
       do I sometimes wonder about the emotional commitment of my beloved?

31. Do I sometimes resist phoning the one I love
       because I want him/her to care enough about me to take the initiative?

32. Do I keep track of how often he/she spontaneously says "I love you",
       without first hearing that I love him/her?

33. When preparing to get together with the one I love,
       do I worry that I will look wrong or say something foolish?
       Do I worry that something about me will 'turn him/her off'?

34. Do I spend considerable time rehearsing an encounter
       to make sure everything will be just right?

35. Does my fear of rejection cause me to distort myself
       in order to be a better match for the one I want to love?

36. Can I love only one person at a time?
       When I 'fall in love' with someone new,
       nothing further need be said about my old relationship
      
it is automatically over.

37. Love means that we belong to each other;
       that's why I will feel jealous if a rival tries to steal my beloved.


G. Romantic love is a fantasy-trip,
     a prefabricated emotion projected onto others.


38. Do I censor myself, concealing the things _____ will not like,
       in order to seem more compatible?

39. Do I sometimes try to create feelings of love?
       Do I want to believe that my feelings are "true love"?

40. Do I sometimes confuse being in love with pretending to be in love?

41. Does 'falling in love' transport me to a dream world?

42. Am I enchanted by _____'s appearance?

43. When I think of us together, does it sometimes seem like a fairy tale?
       Am I clinging to an illusion, something that was never really there?

44. Do we sometimes remain silent
       because speaking might break the spell of love?

45. Does love seem like a stage play already in progress:
       We slip into our costumes and begin to enact our ready-made roles?

46. Do my friends sometimes wonder what I see in _____?

47. Are my feelings based more on fantasies than facts?

48. Is my love a wander-lust, always pursuing new fantasies?

49. When I reach out for love, does it sometimes disappear like a mirage?


H. Romance creates an illusion of oneness.

50. Have I found the lost half of my being?
       Do we merge with each other?

51. Can I see directly into _____'s soul?
       Is communication no longer necessary
       because we have become one person?

52. Do we cling to each other for security?


I. Romantic love depends on imagination.

53. Before I 'fell in love', did I have a Dream Lover in mind?

54. Did _____ seem to be the fulfillment of my dreams?

55. Did I have elaborate love-feelings before I found a target for them?

56. Do I sometimes dwell in a self-contained dream-world of love?

57. Is my Dream Lover mostly a projection of my imagination?

58. Might my handsome prince/princess turn back into a frog?

59. Does romantic love sometimes seem to be an artificial feeling?

60. Do I feel we will have a perfect future together?


J. Romance is being in love with love
    —attempting to actualize a feeling learned from others.

61. Do I like the emotion of being in love?

62. Do I feel tuned like a harp,
       ready for my Dream Lover to play songs of love?

63. Do I feel set like a mouse-trap, ready for "my intended" to come along?

64. When I imagine 'falling in love', do I get a warm glow?

65. Am I enjoying primarily my own internal feelings of love?

66. Is 'falling in love' an enjoyable emotional game?


K. Romantic love sometimes depends on manipulation.

67. Do I sometimes wonder what I should do
       to make my beloved 'fall in love' with me?
       Do I strategize various things I could do or say
       to bring about the response I want from my beloved?

68. Have I sometimes played 'hard to get'
       in order to intensify the feelings of my beloved?

69. Do I sometimes refuse to return phone calls
       in order to make my beloved more desperate to please me?

70. Have I sometimes used my sex-appeal
       to get someone to 'fall in love' with me?

71. Do I sometimes play games
       such as pretending to draw back from the relationship
       or trying to stimulate jealousy in my beloved
       in order to intensify his/her feelings for me?


L. Romantic love is like watching a movie.

72. Do I feel I am re-enacting a movie I once saw?
       Am I sometimes trying to re-create a story
       I saw on TV or read in a novel?

73. Am I the stage-manager of my drama of passion and suffering?

74. Do I enjoy allowing myself to fall gloriously in love
       the way it happens in the movies?

75. Am I trying to reproduce a feeling of love that others have had?

76. Do I sometimes filter out negative facts
       to make my love-scene closer to what I imagined beforehand?

77. Does my relationship with _____ sometimes resemble a soap opera?
       Do I sometimes feel that I am pulled along
       by a simple-minded script I cannot escape?

78. Have romantic songs and movies prepared me
       for an ecstatic romantic release?


M. Romantic love is an ecstatic feeling.

79. Does love seem to dominate my whole heart?

80. Am I euphoric whenever I am with _____?

81. Does the thought of _____
       make my heart beat faster or even skip a beat?

82. Does it take my breath away?

83. Do I seem to melt when I am in the arms of _____?

84. Do I feel light-headed when we embrace?

85. Do I want to maintain my emotional 'high' as long as possible?

86. Is being assured of love the best emotional fulfillment?

87. Do I sometimes float away in the rapture of love?
       Does love lift me into the clouds?
       Do I seem to be walking on air?

88. Does being in love make me ecstatic?
       Am I a little delirious when I am in love?

89. Does being in love lift me out of humdrum reality?

90. Does love make me feel temporarily insane?
       Do I feel deranged, irrational, irresponsible, slightly crazy?

91. Am I transported to another level of reality when I am with _____?

92. Does something special, even magical, happen when we are together?

93. Do I accept the suffering of love
       because I enjoy the ecstatic feelings so much?

94. Does love raise my emotional level from depression to ecstasy?

95. Is being in love the happiest experience of my life?
       Does it feel so good to be in love that I want to return to love
       (or remain in love) for the rest of my life?

96. Was the peak of my passion just before the open declaration of love?


N. Romantic love is an altered state of consciousness.

97. Does my mind seem to be in a whirl?

98. Does the intensity of my emotion sometimes surprise me?

99. Is the power of my feeling sometimes exhausting?

100. Does being in love feel like intoxication?

101. Does the whole world reflect my emotional state?

102. Does love raise me to new levels of suffering and joy?

103. Am I more concerned with how I feel at the moment
         than about the long-range future?


O. Romantic love sees the beloved as perfect.

104. Do the wonderful things about the one I love
         seem even more wonderful under the influence of romance?

105. Do I sometimes almost worship the one I love?

106. Do I overlook his/her faults or interpret them as charming?
         Do I sometimes transform the negative dimensions
         of my beloved into positive attributes?

107. Do traits that would normally 'turn me off' in other people
         become more attractive in the one I love?

108. Will I later say that I was suffering "selective perception"?
         Did I see my beloved thru rose-colored glasses?


P. Romantic love causes violent mood-swings.


109. Am I subject to abrupt changes of emotion
        
from elation to despairdepending on the response of my beloved?

110. Do my feelings for _____ seem like a roller-coaster ride
        
momentary weightlessness at the peak of feeling,
         followed by crushing pressure at the bottom of the slide?

111. Was the highest point in our relationship the declaration of love
        
perhaps symbolized in the marriage ceremony?

112. Do little misunderstandings between us cast me into despair
        
because I think he/she no longer loves me?

113. Is my emotional condition completely dependent
         on the response of my beloved?
         Can I be as high as a kite or a low as a mole
        
depending on the responses I get from my beloved?

114. Does my beloved control my level of feeling far more strongly
         than I can understand rationally?


Q. Romantic love causes preoccupation and distraction.

115. Am I always thinking about _____?
         Does the image of _____ pursue me everywhere?

116. Do I want to be with _____ every moment
day and night?
         Would I like to spend the rest of my life
         linked with _____ like Siamese twins?

117. Does being in love distract me from my normal activities?

118. Do I have trouble sleeping or eating because I am in love?

119. Do I enjoy being in love because it drowns my cares?


R. Romantic love causes intrusive thinking.

120. Does a movie keep repeating in my head with minor variations?

121. Do these compulsive thoughts keep coming back
         even tho I try to dismiss them and get on with my life?
         Does my mind seems to have "a mind of its own"
        
so that love-fantasies take overlike the wrong radio station
         breaking into the program I was enjoying?
         When I am involved doing other things,
         do thoughts of my beloved come crowding into my mind?

122. Does his/her image come to the surface without being invited?

123. Does my mind lock on the image of my beloved?

124. Is my beloved always on my mind?
         Do I spend more than half of my free time thinking about my beloved?


S. Romantic love causes compulsive, neurotic,
    dependent thoughts and feelings.


125. Do I brood every day about my relationship
         and the level of my beloved's feelings for me?

126. Do I wonder about what will happen next in our relationship?
         Do I run various scenarios thru my head
        
with small variationsuntil I have a story that pleases me?

127. Do I find that every thought relates back to my beloved?
         Do I process all of the events of my life
         in terms of how I will share them with my beloved?
         For example, when I read a book or see a movie,
         am I preparing in my head how I will discuss it with my beloved?

128. Have I lost a sense of being a separate person,
         with private thoughts and feelings?

129. Have I spend hours going over a simple encounter,
         attempting to make it mean something that it does not obviously mean?
         For example, do I sift and re-sift the fragments of a conversation
         for evidence of what my obsessive minds wants to find
        
either proofs of love or proofs of infidelity?

130. Do I sit by the phone, hoping he/she will call?

131. If my beloved forgets to call,
         does this mean that I am not always on his/her mind?

132. Do I think of him/her all the time,
         whereas he/she easily puts me out of mind?
         Am I more involved in this relationship than he/she is?


T. Romantic love is an overwhelming experience.

133. Do I feel gripped by a cosmic emotional force,
         overwhelmed by a power larger than myself?

134. Do I feel out of control, swept away, by love?

135. Does 'falling in love' feel like opening the flood-gate
         to release the water behind the dam?

136. Is my mind totally consumed by my fiery passion?

137. Does love feel like a magnetic force drawing us together?

138. Was 'falling in love' easy and automatic?

139. Does my romantic response arise from deep within myself?

140. Do we create an emotional feedback-loop between us,
         each reinforcing the romantic response of the other?

141. Do I sometimes resist the overwhelming feeling of 'falling in love'?

142. Am I swept along by a surging power I could never control?
         Is love like riding the crest of an ocean wave?

143. Do my emotional responses
         feel like a computer program running irresistibly thru my self?


U. Romantic love is the most important thing in life.

144. Has love finally given me something to live for?

145. Is being in love one of the highest goals of my life?

146. Has love replaced other activities that used to be important?

147. Has my passion become so strong
         that all previous concerns have fallen by the wayside?
         When I am in love nothing else matters.

148. Am I willing to make more sacrifices for love than for anything else?

149. Is the emotional fulfillment of being in love
         more important than sexual fulfillment?
         Is hearing a deep and convincing declaration of love
        
having my romantic feelings reciprocated
         more fulfilling than an orgasm? 
         Do I want to hear "I love you!"
         more than "I want to have sex with you!"?


V. Romantic love includes suffering.

150. Does my emotional attachment to _____
         cause me to overlook conflicts, unhappiness, and even abuse?

151. Are my feelings of love chaotic and stressful?

152. Am I desperately unhappy when we must be apart?

153. Would I be devastated by the loss of this love?
         If my beloved left me for another, would I want to kill myself?

154. Have I ever considered suicide because love went wrong?
         Have I wanted to kill myself because my love was not returned?

155. Have I wanted to die because the one person who mattered abandoned me?
         Have I considered suicide because my only reason for living was gone?

156. Have I sometimes threatened to kill someone else
         if I did not get my romantic dream?

157. Can I empathize with the feeling:
         "If I can't have him/her, no one else will either!"?
         or "If you won't live with me, you won't live with anyone!"?
         Can I imagine killing the one I used to love because he/she abandoned me?


W. Near its end, romantic love clings to any shred of hope.

158. Do I keep coming back even tho we have terrible fights
         because once that part is over, we love each other even more intensely?

159. Do I interpret ill-treatment (physical or mental abuse) as signs of 'love'?

160. Am I attached to _____ in a way that I do not understand?

161. When I fear that I am about to be replaced,
         do I cling even more strongly to the one I love?

162. Does competition from rivals intensify my feelings of love?

163. When I feel love slipping away, does my heart ache?
         When I believe that he/she has 'fallen for' someone else,
         do I feel sick?
         Do I get other psycho-somatic reactions
         whenever I get some sign that our love might be over?

164. At the end of a relationship, do I cling to the smallest gleam of hope?


X. Romantic Love is temporary
lasting 18 months to 3 years.

165. Did we both 'relax' once the commitment had been made,
         perhaps in the form of marriage or a promise of marriage?

166. When the magic and mystery have gone out of a relationship,
         do I begin to think I should be moving on?

167. Do my love affairs last about two years or less?

168. When I have 'fallen out of love',
         does it seem that scales have fallen from my eyes,
         so that I can see the one I used to love as he/she really is?


Y. When romantic love is over, it sometimes becomes hatred.

169. After a romantic affair is over, do I find it impossible to be "just friends"?

170. Once my passion for _____ has passed,
         do I feel an irrational urge to inflict pain, hurt, and harm on him/her?

171. Near the end of a romantic involvement,
         do my feelings oscillate between irrational love and irrational hate?

172. After love is gone, is my emotional orientation reversed:
         Do I then exaggerate every fault I can think of?
         Does it seem that nothing about a former lover is good?
         Am I somewhat disgusted by the one once 'loved'?

173. Could my passionate love turn into profound hatred?


Z. Romantic love resists analysis.

174. Do I believe that 'falling in love' is a natural phenomenon?

175. Do I reject any suggestion that romantic love is an invention of culture?

176. Does love seem self-validating
when it has happened I know it?

177. Is love mystical and mysterious
        
something that should not be analyzed?

178. When I question whether I am really in love,
         do my doubts threaten my emotional well-being?

179. Do I fear thinking too deeply about love
         because questioning any part of the myth
         might cause the whole house of cards to collapse?

180. Do I want to be 'in love' even if it is an illusion?      


Scoring:

More than 150 yes   
You are in romantic love.
100-149                       
You are only half love-sick.
50-99                            
You are recovering from being 'in love'
                                       or you were immune to this disease.
less than 50                
You are emerging from the illusion
                                       (or you were never deluded by romance).
                                       And you may be ready for loving beyond romantic illusions.

Conclusion

     Romantic love can be an enjoyable and harmless emotional game
as long as we do not attempt to construct our lives around it.
When we look deeply into the causes of romantic love,
we see that it is a complex, conventional set of feelings
implanted in us by popular culture.
This emotional response is private and self-contained,
sometimes stimulated by another person or an image of our Dream Lover.

     But instead of 'falling in love',
we can create unique, singular relationships
reality-based interactions, free, loving commitments,
based on knowledge, respect, and mutuality.


AUTHOR

    James Park is an existential philosopher and author of
New Ways of Loving: How Authenticity Transforms Relationships,
the first chapter of which is called
"Romantic Love is a Hoax! Emotional Programming to 'Fall in Love' ".

    The essay above has also become a chapter in a new book:
Loving Beyond Romance, Sex, & Marriage.
If you have appreciated this critique of one dimension love,
you might also enjoy the deconstruction of other illusions.



    If you would like to have your own printed copy of the whole test,
send $1 for each copy, plus $2 for postage and handling to:

Existential Books
Lofts on Arts Avenue #218
1829 Third Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404-2185
Minnesota residents add 8 cents for each copy
for state and city sales taxes.

    The printed version of The Romantic Love Test
is a tall book of 12 pages inside a red card-stock cover:
11 inches tall, 4-1/4 inches wide.
ISBN: 0-89231-511-3.
It will not be reprinted when the current stock is sold out
—unless there is an unexpected surge of demand.

    If you have already decided to get your own printed copy
of The Romantic Love Test,
you might want to consider other related books
such as New Ways of Loving:
How Authenticity Transforms Relationships

or Growing in Love:
21 Ways to Become Less Dependent & More Authentic
.
The publisher's website gives full information:
www.existentialbooks.com
All your books can be sent in the same package,
thus saving you shipping costs. 



Full information about New Ways of Loving by James Park.
This link will also lead you to the contents of Chapter 1:
"Romantic Love is a Hoax!  Emotional Programming to 'Fall in Love' "


Go to a complete listing of resources critical of romantic illusions:
The Romantic Love Portal .


Return to the LOVE page.


Go to the opening page for this website:
An Existential Philosopher's Museum .



 
 
 
 
 

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The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by the University of Minnesota.