Mature love is hard to come by.

Mostly because we’re tricked into believing in the all the wrong markers of love. We’re tricked into believing real love is all about romance and grand gestures, that it’s about strong, passionate feelings that move you into doing things you never saw yourself doing before.

We believe Real Love is not only a thing, but that it’s signified by a fixed set of attitudes and values. We believe Real Love makes you want to spend every waking second next to your significant other, that it makes you jealous and deeply afraid that one misstep might cause you to lose the object of such passion.

And that’s when you trip, when you mistake passion for love.

Real Love, first of all, is not a thing.

There is no Real Love because it’s either love or it isn’t. It’s either love or it’s passion, possessiveness, an ego boost, or any other unhealthy relationship not marked by trust, respect and genuine giving.

There’s a palpable difference, however, between mature and immature love.

Here are the signs you have one:

1. You ‘re able to discuss anything and everything

As humans, it can be hard to talk about certain topics. In a relationship, conversation topics can range from what’s with that coworker you’re mad with, to that ex of your partner’s you’re still jealous of; from who should be doing the laundry this week, to why you’re afraid you might die alone; from why didn’t your partner call to let you know they were late, to how come you didn’t like their new haircut.

Being able to calmly talk with someone about what’s bothering you, outside and inside the relationship, is a precious gift. It goes beyond just being able to blurt out your unfiltered thoughts, in fact, it isn’t even about blurting out anything.

It’s about feeling safe and accepted. It’s about being individually mature enough to know how to articulate what troubles you and mature enough as a couple to know how to listen to each other.

It takes skill. It takes practice. But it’s a wonderfully beautiful thing to achieve.

2. You respect each other’s need for alone time

Mature love is about spending quality time together, but it’s also about spending quality time apart.

Being alone is an essential human need. Time spent with ourselves, whether in silent reflection or engrossed in healthy activities we enjoy is time spent in self-improvement.

Healthy, mature couples use their respective alone time grow as individuals. They also take time to miss each other so that they can gladly meet again as improved individuals who can truly appreciate each other’s company.

When couples manage to respect each other’s need for alone time, neither being clingy or needy, demanding attention when the other can’t give it, then they know they have a mature love.

3. You respect each other’s need for personal space

Just as with personal time, personal space is a human necessity.

Sure, mature couples can talk about anything and everything, but that doesn’t mean they should be in each other’s business all the time. Each person in a couple has their own time to process things, and each one knows which subjects they need to share and which subjects they need to keep to themselves.

When couples are able to respect each other’s personal space, the relationship grows stronger because it means that anything that’s shared is shared voluntarily, and that makes all the difference.

4. You respect each other’s need for having friends outside the couple

Having friends outside the couple doesn’t mean there’s something lacking in the relationship.

Humans are social creatures, we’re not supposed to rely on a single person to satisfy all our needs. That’s why our relationships with family, coworkers, friends and significant others are shaped so differently: because they are different relationships with different people. Each has its own dynamic.

It’s healthy for a couple to have individual friends outside of the relationship. To be able to go out, share experiences and come back renewed, loaded with stories to share.

5. Basically, you just have a lot of respect for each other

Respect, more than communication, is the basis for any healthy relationship.

When couples respect each other as individuals, they cultivate patience and understanding. When respect is present there is no fear of how one might react when approached with a problem, a dilemma, or any dark issue.

Where there’s no respect there’s no maturity. Where there’s no respect there can hardly be any love.

6. You have that tranquility that comes with absolute trust

In a mature love, trust is essential.

When you cultivate respect and openness, you cultivate trust. When you know you can open up to each other on any issue, you eliminate doubt. What’s left is a blissful state of mind that only absolute trust can provide. There’s calm, there’s tranquility, and there’s a sense of safety characteristic of mature love.

And it is wonderful.

7. You focus on fulfilling your partners needs, not your own

The reason why couples in mature relationships have an easy time respecting each other’s need for personal space, for alone time and for friends outside of the couple is that they know they will always come back to each other.

They know that if they don’t nurture their relationship, it will wither and die. They understand that the purpose of a relationship is to fulfill their partners needs before they seek to fulfill their own.

Giving, not taking, is the purpose of a mature relationship.

Still, there will be obstacles

Having a mature relationship is no guarantee against the hardships of life. There will be disagreements, there will be hard times, but the difference in a mature relationship is in how the couple deals with these obstacles: with dialog and respect.

If you recognize your relationship as a mature one, congratulations. If you don’t yet, don’t worry, you can work your way there one step at a time.