If you show all signs of loving someone, how can you figure out why you love someone? How do you know if it's just in your head, how they make you feel, their looks, how their hair is, or personality? And what justifies the right reasons of loving someone?

I'm tempted to say that when it comes to love, all is mystery, and leave it at that. But that would be a little too quick, perhaps.

You ask several questions, so I will try to reply to them one-by-one.

(1) If you show all signs of loving someone, you probably do. However, we make a distinction between infatuation and real love, and so the real test of which of these it is will be a matter of time. Infatuation dies pretty quickly, whereas love is more durable.

(2) A good part of love probably really is "just in your head," or, more likely, in your biochemistry more broadly. When we are engaged in this way, there are very significant differences in cognition, sensation, emotion, and all of the neurological and endocrinological systems towhich these are related. It certainly isn't love if it doesn't change you in lots of ways!

(3) You also want to know what it is about your beloved that brings out these reactions in you. The answer seems to be that it is lots of things. But there is a risk of cart-before-the-horse here. It is probably true that how someone looks sometimes plays an important original role in the process of falling in love. But it is also true that falling in love plays an important role in how someone looks to you. Here's an autobiographical example from my own past. When I was in high school, I started dating a very nice girl who had a very large chip our of one of her inciser teeth. At first, I found this unfortunate--the only obvious flaw in my fair beloved! But then an oddd thing happened--I came to love that chipped tooth, and when she told me her parents were taking her in to have it capped, I was very dissappointed! I was going to miss that little irregularity!

(4) The same can be said (cart-and-horse) about peersonality traits. In some cases, these serve as initial attractants, wwhereas in other cases, these are matters for reassessment after the relationship has already gotten going.

(5) The right reasons for loving someone have to do with the sorts of things that create the possibility for personal growth--both at the sexual level and also at the emotional and intellectual levels. The wrong reasons, very roughly, are those that create the possibility of personal deterioration. We tend to look for those who share our same values, but this, too, can be a cart-and-horse matter: Those we love can help us to change our values. Those we should love would help us to change our values for the better; and those we should not love would help us change our values for the worse.

(6) Apart from the issue of values, we do well to love those with whom we are compatible, sexually, emotionally, and intellectually. The most dangerous kinds of love-affairs are those with toxic inconsistencies here: for example, falling in love with someone wwith whom we feel deeply sexually compatible, but with whom we are deeply emotionally or intellectually incompatible. Again, because love can change us profoundly, it may be that such incompatibilities ccan be worked out between the people in love. But strong initial incompatibilities are very serious negative indicators, to be sure, especially because lovers are notoriously wishful thinkers--the experience of strong attraction always somehow seduces us into thinking that what isn't really right will somehow become right if we are just patient and supportive. Well, sometimes that works, but...

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