What is Love? Depending on the person love can mean a variety of different things. But for the purpose of this article, the love I am going to be talking about is in the context of dating relationships.

Often when two people get into a relationship, it is because there is at least one thing in common that they both like. As people date, the goal is to see if that one thing can grow into more things. Then they eventually fall in love and get married.

The problem is, those same people often misunderstand the meaning of love. To them, love ends up meaning: “what is this person able to give me that I didn’t have before?” They fall in love with the “service” or “goods” their partner can provide but forget to fall in love with the person themselves.

If you don’t understand what I am talking about, consider this. How many relationships do you see based purely on sex? Or how often do you see people desperately trying to find a new boyfriend or girlfriend so they don’t have to be lonely or feel like an outcast? Or maybe one partner is so wrapped up on the special gifts or attention that they are getting that they start to expect those things while forgetting about the connection with the other partner.

Many of today’s relationships don’t last for this very reason. People do not take the time to really get to know their partner and form the connection that should support each other through good times and bad.

Today’s technology makes it very easy for people to “get a replacement” if their current relationship doesn’t work as desired. People are not meant to be products to be tried out until something breaks. Unfortunately that is how a lot of people treat their relationships and then they wonder why they can’t seem to find the right match.

If you want a relationship to last, consider thinking about that person like a rarity. Spend time together in a way that builds each other up and strengthens the relationship. Learn everything you can about the person. The more you know, the deeper appreciation and love you will have for them.

Don’t get caught up in what other people are doing. Why would you want to follow an example of something that is destined to fail? This means if you want to wait till marriage for sex, wait. Don’t give in because everyone else around you is doing it. If someone really loves you, they will respect that. It may be hard, because they will be tempted to conform to these cultural views also, but they will at least try harder than someone who just wants sex.

Don’t let yourself be used like an easily replaceable object. Know your value, and don’t accept anything less. Don’t stay in a relationship just because you might miss one good thing your partner provides if the rest of the relationship is causing any heart ache, guilt or worry.

Here are a few questions you may be able to ask to determine if your relationship is based on real love or based on emotional/ physical satisfaction.

If your partner stopped doing that one thing you really liked, would you still want to be with him/ her?

Do you feel connected or are you just along for the ride?

Would you be able to find happiness in your life without having a partner to date?

Is your relationship a two-way street or is one side dominating the relationship?

Take the time to think about these questions and determine what they mean in terms of your relationship. Don’t let yourself be fooled by an emotional state. Truly think about your relationship and if you would be willing to spend the rest of your life with this person with the way they act or treat you. If there is any doubt, ask for an outside opinion; one that may see your relationship with clearer eyes.

Love is a big thing that shouldn’t be handled lightly. Take chances, but be careful at the same time. You will be glad you did.