- lasts more than a year
- can't be categorized as New Relationship Energy (NRE)
- has withstood difficult times
- happens with only one new person at a time
I don't mean that these voices say one of these conditions must be met. Most of them go for the entire list.
And this, friends, is complete bullshit.
"Real love," for you and your beloveds, is whatever you think it is. So you've been dating for a month and she's the most fantastic person you've ever met and you now can't imagine life without her? Awesome. That's real love. You've been dating a couple for the past two years and you all think it's time to move in together and share your home, family, and finances? Wonderful! That's real love. You just got over your first fight with your boyfriend and you're not thinking of breaking up with him, and you've never experienced that before and it excites you? Great! That's real love, too.
Love is whatever the people experiencing it define it as. And I'm beginning to think that people who say, "It's not real love until..." are insecure about their own feelings and commitments. Why else would they need to attack those of people they don't even know?
I challenge you to stop defining anyone's relationship that isn't your own. You don't know anyone else's experience. If you want to apply these bullets to yourself and your own relationships, by all means, go ahead (although you might want to alert new partners to your definitions so they're not taken by surprise).
But, just as you don't want others to judge the validity of the most important aspects of your life, you should stop judging anyone else.