The main criterion for discernment in love lies in the quality of your love.
When discerning your romantic life, the question is not so much, “Is this the right person?” as there’s no such thing as one “soul mate.” You could marry a number of people and still build a magnificent marriage. Rather, “What is the quality of our love? Is it a ‘good’ relationship?” are the better questions.
Alex Deschênes is a specialist in John Paul II’s theology of the body and founder of Ignis, a Canadian organization dedicated to counseling people on their relationships. He shares with Aleteia a few tips to help people in their romantic lives and questions you can ask yourself to discern whether you are really in love.
For Deschênes, the main criterion for discernment in love lies in the quality of love between two people. To measure this quality of love, we should ask ourselves if our relationship is really a loving relationship, turned towards the good of the other, or is it a utilitarian relationship, turned towards our own good, our own interests.
This vision of love is inspired by John Paul II. “The person is such a good that only love can dictate the appropriate and valid attitude towards him or her,” wrote the holy pope. Since each person is unique and irreplaceable, and of immeasurable value, I cannot use the other as a means.
“Use is the opposite of love,” says Deschênes. Love says, ‘You are good and your existence is precious.” That is why true love constantly seeks the good of the other.
Here is a list of questions that can help you to measure the quality of your relationship with another person:
Do I love the other as he or she is, and does the other person love me as I am?
Am I able to forgive the other person and is the other person able to forgive me?
Do I really want what is best for the other person, and do they want what is best for me?
Am I helping the other to be a better person and are they helping me to be a better person?
Am I with the other out of fear of being alone?
Am I simply being myself, or am I being someone else to please them?
Is it really love? Or are we just using each other for a while?