Dear Onyx,How do you know when you're really in love, instead of just really, really having a crush on a person? Is there a way to tell?
Ahh, Love. That "many splendored thing" of which the poets wax so eloquent. The ever elusive and yet oh so powerful driving force of our lives. What a wonderfully timely question, my friend.
I am not often given to quoting scriptures; but, in this case there is, in this tiger's opinion, no more eloquent expression of the qualities of love than that given by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.
"4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8Love never fails." - 1Cor 13:4-8 NIV
So, my friend, one thing you might ask yourself is whether what you feel matches up with these qualities. A woman who is very dear to me once summed it up rather succinctly. Being "in love" is a feeling, Loving is a decision. On the first look that may sound rather cold, but think about it. Feelings wax and wane, but it takes determination and resolve to want to be with someone through all of life's ups and downs.
Here is one thought experiment that might help you. Take a moment and think about all the things that turn you on about the object of your affections. Now, take them away. Can you say that you still love what is left? If he or she were disfigured, incapable of speaking those sweet nothings that make you melt, had no money or even simply held a wildly opposing political view would you still want to be with them, care for them, give your whole self to them? If your answer is yes, then, my fortunate friend, you may really love them.