If you have to ask that question, you've never really been in it.
The sad thing is, some people use that rhetoric when asked straight out if they love someone. I've heard people say that practically on the eve of their wedding.
Question: "You must really love him, huh?"
Response: "Well, what's love? I mean, we like being together ..." blah blah blah. (This is one marriage that's doomed before they even start the march down the aisle.)
Question: "Do you love me?"
Response: "Of course I do. Whatever love is." (This is where a red flag should go up.)
It has been said that enlightenment which can be described isn't enlightenment. Same thing is true about love. You can only know what love feels like if you've felt it yourself. There's no logical explanation nor cut and dried criteria. Love just is.
Some folks are lonely and in such a hurry to find a partner that they don't wait for the one special person to come along. They find someone whom they like and with whom they share interests and call that love.
Many people erroneously believe themselves to be in love when they are actually in like. Or, most commonly, in lust. Sex is such a powerful magnet that it's small wonder many young people get married based on that alone. They mistake the passion and fire and "can't keep our hands off one another" for love. Then, when the honeymoon phase is over, they're left feeling empty, and they become resentful of the enormous responsibilities marriage entails. This is when the divorce rate skyrockets.
Some people, even after that initial infatuation has passed, try to rationalize their feelings for the other person by thinking, "Well, I enjoy his/her company, I enjoy him/her in bed, we have so much in common, therefore it must be love." Wrong! Love is not something you can intellectualize, analyze, or explain. It's an emotion, not a thought process. You feel it. You don't think it. In fact, at times, love between two people can even defy explanation.
There are couples who, on paper, look as if they'd be perfect for one another. They share the same interests and are so much alike that it would be difficult to imagine them not getting together. But it doesn't always work out that way.
Then there are couples who are so different from one another that it looks like they wouldn't last a day together, much less a lifetime. One is tall and thin, the other is short and stout. One watches sports, the other reads. One loves rock and roll, the other loves country. One's a singer, the other a writer. People look at them and make jokes about the odd couple. Yet, many times, these are the relationships which are eternal and everlasting. Why? Because of the chemistry which drew these two different people to one another. They're not relying on exteriors; each sees through to the other's soul.
How can this phenomenom of love, this chemistry, this attraction which makes one want to spend a lifetime with the other, be adequately explained? It can't. But there are signs you can look for, and questions you can ask yourself.
Do you love spending every possible minute with her? Or do you barely even think about her when you're apart?
Do you enjoy going out with him even if it's to a restaurant or an event that wouldn't be your first choice? Or do you consider it a waste of time to go somewhere you're not crazy about, even with him?
Are you proud to be seen with her? Or do you feel like she cramps your style?
Do you jump at the chance to see him whenever you can? Or do you find yourself making excuses when he wants to get together?
When she telephones you, are you happy to hear from her? Or do you wish she'd leave you alone?
Is he your first priority? Or do you spend more time with your friends than with him?
Are her feelings the most important thing in the world to you? Or are your own feelings more important?
Are you happy and grateful whenever he buys gifts for you, and think of him whenever you wear or use them? Or are you disappointed because the jewel in the ring is too small or the sweater will clash with the rest of your wardrobe?
Do you love spending as much time as possible with her? Or do you find yourself telling her you need more "space?"
You get the idea. If you mostly answered "yes" to the second part of those questions, perhaps it's time to reevaluate things.
It's a natural thing to want to spend as much time as possible with the one you love. To desire otherwise is a contradiction. People who are really in love do not use phrases like "I need space" or "We don't have to be with each other every minute." This isn't to say couples should be together 24 hours a day; they shouldn't. Everybody needs time to him or herself. But if you only want to be with the other person for sex or if you won't go somewhere your partner likes but you're not crazy about just so you can be together, then you're not in love. You're just looking for companionship, a playmate.
Love is unconditional. You may become angry at a partner for something that was said or done, but unless it was a serious transgression, your feelings for that person will not change. Anyone who says, "Well, I used to love her, but she did this, this and this and I don't love her anymore," didn't love her to begin with.
If you are contemplating marriage, besides those questions, the most important things you can ask yourself are:
Do I really want to spend the rest of my life with this person?
Depending on your age and that of your partner, it could be anywhere from 20-50 years or longer. Marriage is supposed to be a permanent commitment. Anyone who goes into it thinking, "Well, if it doesn't work out, we can always get a divorce" is doomed right from the beginning.
~Am I planning on marrying this person because we can live in the same house with no problem?
That's not a compelling enough reason to join someone in matrimony. Don't marry someone you can live with; marry someone you cannot live without.
~Do I understand the responsibilities that go along with marriage?
Marriage is more than just a piece of paper or two people sharing a residence. Once you are married, your spouse comes before anybody else in your life (except your minor children). Once you are married, you no longer belong to your parents, nor should you be spending every waking moment with your friends. This isn't to say you won't have any life at all outside of your home. But leaving your partner alone every night while you go out partying with your buddies doesn't cut it.
Don't seek out a partner for all the wrong reasons. Wait for that special someone. He or she is out there. Just keep looking and praying. When your soul mate comes along, you will know it without asking. Trust me.