I write this because, at some point in my life, I have mistaken all of these things for love and/or romance. And I think, because these are the kinds of relationships and scenarios we see glamorized (no one wants to watch a movie about a happy couple just being happy in the long-term and not having terrible obstacles to overcome), it’s important to remind ourselves that these are mere mind tricks when compared to the real thing.
1. Getting isolated moments of affection or attention from someone who is otherwise very distant and, because of that, makes you hang on every move they make to see if it’s going to be one that ruins or completely makes your day.
2. Having really incredible sex with someone who proceeds to turn off like a light switch once the physical part of it is over. (This is often followed by an unceremonious re-dressing and a “I’ll call you” as they extricate themselves from the cuddle attempt.)
3. Being interested in an excessive amount of the same obscure pop culture stuff. Although, if this person happens to be Joseph Gordon-Levitt circa 500 Days Of Summer, feel free to mistake that for a real connection.
4. Thinking about someone constantly, with very little interaction in real life, so that most of your thoughts and desires about them are from what you imagine them to be in your head.
5. Finally meeting someone who fits the description of “ideal partner” you have held onto, even if they are only good on paper and you don’t really feel a connection with them.
6. Having some kind of shared experience or past that enables the two of you to feel close without ever forming a bond as a couple.
7. Spending so much time together that you start to see each other as the “default” option and become incredibly comfortable with one another without really feeling any romantic emotion towards them. (This often results in the dreaded “dating-for-convenience” syndrome” that plagues many a hometown.)
8. Meeting someone again after a long separation in the kind of circumstances that lead the more reptilian part of your brain to believe that it’s “fate,” “destiny” or “meant to be.”
9. Being treated like shit by someone who has mastered the art of tearing you down and building you back up again, so you come to associate them with the “repair and soothe” feelings they provide without ever realizing that they are the ones making you feel like crap in the first place.
10. Finally getting attention from someone you perceive to be much more attractive, popular, or worthy than you. Feeling like you are honored just by getting a bit of their time, and not really caring how reciprocated the emotions are.
11. Being with someone for so long that you assume you must still be in love with them, even if it’s been a really long time since you’ve felt anything resembling connection or desire towards them.
12. Staying in said relationship more out of loyalty, comfort, and not being a quitter than anything else.
13. Seeing someone in a way that has to be discreet and somewhat hidden — maybe because one of you is getting out of a relationship, or because you work together — and being so overwhelmed by the forbidden nature of it all that you can’t really tell how you actually feel about that person.
14. Finding someone who is very stable, responsible, and perhaps financially settled at a time in your life where you have absolutely no ties to anything and can’t keep your shit together whatsoever.
15. Lusting after someone you are hot for, but who is completely unavailable.
16. Meeting someone while you’re traveling and having that perfect week-or-so slice of a relationship that allows you to feel like you love them without really knowing them at all. (This can often lead to the weird, awkward period where you try to prolong something that should have been a fling and is thousands of miles away.)
17. Wanting so badly to get back together with an ex, mostly to prove to yourself that you can do it and get back that sense of comfort, that you completely forget all of the very valid reasons you had for breaking up in the first place. Painfully re-igniting or prolonging a relationship simply to recreate a feeling you used to have.