What is love in a relationship?


John your astute observation might be helpful to coolduude, the OP, and probably to others reading in.

it's a real failure of reason when a person cannot differentiate-- discriminate, if you will-- between discernment and judgement.

i've known more than one woman who has hooked up with some boozer/loser/abuser under the pretense of "not judging" him. yikes.
and more thasn one fellow who has yoked himself like Hosea under the pretenses of "not judging" her.

it sounds like OP is trying to think according to God's plan. that in itself is a wonderul, positive perspective!


Often times both discernment and judgement go out the window because the couple are into the sex straight away and they think that’s love. Sex is a powerful thing and often blinds the couple to other aspects of the relationship. How many times do we see couples who begin living together and then part company, sometimes years later, carrying with them the scars of a failed relationship. Scars they will carry forever. The discerning person will learn a whole lot of other things about a prospective partner before taking those steps that provide the ultimate bonding. Stay Catholic, is my advice.


In answer to your question, what I meant by physical attraction being sometimes there and sometimes not:

Well, I don't mean that I am not always attracted to my husband in some sense. But I'm not always thinking about it, and I'm certainly not always "in the mood," so to speak. (This is all the more true now that I'm pregnant. Keep in mind that marriage has a lot of phases, of which pregnancy is one, in which sex ends up being downplayed. When you're dating, you think about it all the time and tend to imagine that married people do too. That's not necessarily so -- which is part of the reason why physical attraction is not much of a foundation. After you get married, there will be all kinds of times when you're thrown back on your non-physical relationship, which hopefully you had plenty of time to develop.)

What I mean is that some moments, I look at my husband and my heart skips a beat and I think, "Wow, I am so attracted to him!" At other moments (and this was true even when we were dating) I don't tend to notice the physical aspect at all, because I'm absorbed in the conversation or activity we're involved in.

I don't know if men tend to feel the same way ... but in my case, physical attraction is kind of a now-you-see-it-now-you-don't kind of thing. That's why it's not the most important part of love, by any means.

I fell in love with my husband by stages. First there was the friendship stage, where I developed a really good intellectual relationship with him and had a lot of fun with him. Then there was the emotional stage -- fallen into headlong when he looked at me a certain way, used a certain tone, etc. Then the physical part came last. I was watching him playing soccer and suddenly I realized how incredibly attractive I found him.

To know if you're in love (particularly in the sense of discerning marriage), I'd ask the following questions:

Do I like this person? Are they a good friend?

Do we get along well? Do we complement each other and understand each other well?

Do I look up to, respect, and admire this person? One definition of love is an attraction to the good in the other person. Do I see good in this person?

Do I feel happy when we're together, in general? (That doesn't mean at every single moment, but in general, is this a person I enjoy being with?)

Do I trust this person? Do I feel like I can tell them anything?

Am I physically attracted to this person, at least a little bit? Is there enough chemistry that I really notice that they're the opposite sex, or do I feel completely like we're brother and sister? (I say a little bit physically attracted, because physical attraction is something that grows a whole lot once it gets going ... so you really only need a bit to start.)

And of course, Do I have the most important things in common with them? Here I mean faith, the importance you give your faith, your views on children, roles within marriage, money, and so forth. You should definitely discuss these things with anyone you're dating.

Well, that's just a little advice from someone who is definitely no expert. But I hope it helps all the same.


Oh it helps :slight_smile: thanks! :smiley: :thumbsup:


Oh, you downplay your own intelligence and wisdom. Beautifully written advice. :thumbsup:


The replies were excellent; MUCH better than expected! :smiley: :thumbsup:

But I have another question that was somewhat adressed but I need more clarification.

Where does physical attraction (their looks for example) fit in? I love my girlfriend dearly, however I often find myself physically attracted to other girls, even though I don’t want to. It is my desire to be attracted only to my girlfriend, however it doesn’t play out like this.

So where does physical attraction play into love in a relationship? Especially one aimed toward marriage.

Thank you :slight_smile:


Here’s the reality:

You should feel physical attractrion to your girlfriend. That should be the case. You should feel that towards the person you want ot marry. If you do not feel that, then quite seriously, it means you probably won’t enjoy sexual relations with that person, after you marry. And that is a recipe for trouble. So if you feel attraction towards your girlfriend now, it is a positive sign. (Mind you, you cannot act on that attraction until you marry, when sexual relations is permissible.)

You will likely still experience attraction to other women. Seriously, that is natural. You can think to yourself, “That woman is quite attractive.” Honestly, that is natural, and you will experience that probably for the rest of your life.

What is not natural is lust. Lust is totally different. Lust is disordered attraction, and you should not do that with anyone, regardless of whom it is. This is true, regardless of what your life state is (single, promised or vowed.) Lust is always sinful, and I think you already know that.

Here is an anology, using the corresponding sin of gluttony. It is natural to be attracted to delicious food. If you see something that is good to eat, you will want to eat it. If you see a pizza, you might think to yourslef, “I would like to have a slice of pizza.” But that’s different from gluttony. A gluttonous person will think “I want all the pizza! I want it all! Give it to me now! I don’t care if it doesn’t belong to me, or I don’t deserve it - give it to me!” That is gluttony.

So in summary, attraction to women is natural. Attraction to the person you want to marry is essential. It is the foundation for a solid sex life, after you marry, and a solid sex life is the foundation for a solid marriage. But disordered attraction is lust, and is not permitted at any phase of your life. Clear?


Almost. That response really helped! I loved the analogy! :smiley:

One more thing. I AM attracted to my girlfriend. No doubt in my mind about that. But when I’m in school there are a few attractive women that I’m, well, attracted to. I don’t lust after them or anything, but it just hurts me that I’m pulled away from my girlfriend like that. Get it?

However, when my girlfriend and I go on a one on one date, she is the center of my world and I can’t see myself with anyone else. I am ‘lukewarm’ I suppose…

Do I make myself clear or not? :slight_smile:


Well, that is natural. Just don't lust, and certainly do not act out on your attraction. There is nothing to feel hurt or guilty about, so long as you do not lust, and do not sin.


Got it!

But I feel that if I'm around these particular women I see myself dating them and I imagine it. I guess that's what hurts me. :(

I think I have scruples...


Yes, you do have scruples. And that is a good thing. Most people in this world do not. That is a bad thing. We live in a world gone mad. Impiety is everywhere. It is a good thing that there a few pious people left in this world.

Having scruples is a good thing - so long as you control the scruples, and they do not control you.

(Now, there is an extreme form of scruples, called scrupulosity. It is actually a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD. People who have this have an extreme fear of sin, or anything sinful. But that is technical a form of mental disorder, and I am not a psychiatrist. If you get the feeling that you cannot control your scruples, then you would need to seek professional help.)

Seeing yourself dating other women is fine. Seeing yourself fornicating with them is wrong.


Well, when I first met my wife, I had eyes for no other. So be careful and open minded about your current ‘love’.


You’ll know.

Is physical attraction part of it? Yes and no. I dated some girls who most guys would call beautiful who had the personalities of dead fish. I dated some average looking girls who were warm and loving.

I married a beauty who is warm, loving and either dumb or saintly for choosing me :whacky::love::hypno:

St Paul tells us that perfect love casts out fear. The right one is the girl whom you know you can be yourself with, who your most at ease with, who you can’t imagine growing old without, who you would sacrifice anything for, and who loves you the same. She is the one you feel oneness with and have no jealousies (which are insecurities) over. And that’s just fr starters.

Make sure she loves God the same as you. Make sure hat you both desire to live marriage as a Sacrament with all that entails. And beginning tonight, start praying for her, even though you haven’t met.

God Bless


Very insightful and well put. :thumbsup:


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