THEY say all you need is love -- and having practiced psychiatry for 16 years, I can say it's at the center of the biggest question people struggle with: Have I found love? In my life, have I been really, truly loved?
So many of us are told in childhood that we are loved -- when instead we're being manipulated, taken for granted or hurt. When we grow up, sometimes our radar for finding the genuine stuff can be unreliable.
Have you found the real thing? Here's a way to tell:
1. When you speak from your heart about something troubling you, the other person makes eye contact. A person who loves you wants to look into your soul.
2. When you talk about anything meaningful to you, you get at least one question back from the person. It makes you think a little more deeply, so you can answer that person honestly. Someone who loves you wants you to dig for your own truth.
3. You don't find yourself consistently called upon to bend your will to accommodate the needs or desires of your family member, lover or friend. Someone who loves you won't consistently put himself or herself first.
4. When you ask advice, you notice the person you're asking working hard to understand all the facts. Someone who loves you will struggle with your decisions as much as his or her own.
5. Sometimes, the opinions or choices of the other person cause you distress. Anyone who loves you, instead of worshipping you or depending upon you, will end up making you stretch to understand him or her.
6. You realize you feel better about yourself because that person is in your life.
Consider these six points of light. They can be the signs that tell you when you've found love in a world that, too often, offers too little of it. Use them to light your path away from anyone who claims to love you, without the proof.
Keith Ablow, MD, is a psychiatrist, Fox News Channel contributor and founder of livingthetruth.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.