By Dina Evan, PhD

We’ve all been through hell during 2020 and 2021. But as I have said before, I feel these times of the greatest challenge are also holy moments filled with the opportunity for new awareness’ and greater levels of consciousness. We throw the word love around as if it’s something we can buy for a buck off the table on the corner table at the fair and it lasts about as long. I don’t think we mean to create this kind of jump right in love, I think many of us have no reference point for what real love looks like, feels like, or we get complacent or fearful about it.

Real love is so much more, as many of us have learned during this time while stretching our hearts in grief, offering profound presence and empathy and realizing what we lose when we forget that love is really all that matters. But, how do we tell the difference so we can push our souls forward past the initial excitement that feels so promising, but often delivers so little? How can we wait to be sure what we are feeling is the real thing? So you’ll recognize it, here are some of the gifts of real love.

One of the first things you’ll notice about real love is you have suddenly become more concerned about another’s needs, rather than only focused on your own. You desire to know what your son, daughter, mother, beloved is really feeling and you develop a deeper connection to those needs in a way so much so, that you’ll need to be careful to not ignore or stop sharing your own needs as well. Real love is balanced, and both people, whether family, friend or partner are equally important. Real love does not require you to try to make time for someone. You make time for the person you love because you love them — and you love being with them.

We all feel when we are the person someone is making time for — a sense of being a burden. Eventually, if we feel this way, we stop asking for time, because the feeling is too painful. When that happens it’s because we have forgotten that person’s worth in our life. We have stopped learning from them, enjoying them, caring about the quality of their life, their character and what a gift they are in our lives. We would rather be going, or doing anything else because we have already decided that person has nothing to offer us. And with that conscious or unconscious decision, we also miss the greatest gift, being all we learn about ourselves with real love. The most important reason for relationships is they show us who WE really are.

When love is NOT real, it becomes a chore and we can become cruel — because we resent having to take time. That’s when love becomes dark and trust goes away. We find ourselves lying even when we don’t need to, because we have lost sight of what we are losing or who WE are becoming. We can say hurtful things without even realizing it. I once heard a friend say, “I can’t believe my mom got a manicure with those awful hands.” Her mom was 80, and I wondered what she expected of those hands which held her from her first breath, through every job and challenge in her life should look like.

Real love connections fill us up, enlivens us, and adds to the quality of our life experiences no matter the age, gender or who one loves. And, no matter how old our parents are, we still have so much to learn from their life experiences.

When love is real, it makes you feel whole and not empty. The people in your life who truly love you are the most precious gifts the Universe has to offer and it is always mutual, an instant mutual forever blessing.

Perhaps, one of the gifts of this holy moment, is to remind ourselves that real love is worth creating, nurturing and sustaining, because after all, not is it the only thing you take with you when you leave, and the only thing that lasts long after you are gone, but also, is there really anything more worth having?

Dr. Evan is a marriage, family, child therapist and consciousness counselor. She has presented nationwide seminars and workshops, written several books and created meditation CDs for couples, individual and mental health professionals. She has also won national acclaim as a human rights advocate. Visit or call 602-571-8228.