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How to Know if You`re Really in Love/Is he my soulmate, or is it too late?


Hi, thank you for answering as I've been stuck for a while. My boyfriend and I have been together for about 21 months. He has been in love with me for close to three years. I know for a fact he is in love with me. When we first started dating, things were great and I knew he was the man of my dreams. However, he has a lot of family issues. He was taught to never show emotion, to never show love, to be cruel, and to never let anyone in. I loved him so much I was willing to teach him how to open up and follow his heart. It took about a year, and I won't lie, it consisted of a lot of being lifted up, than let down, than hurt, than apologies, remorse, guilt, and back to hope. I still do fear him returning to the man he used to be, and everytime he slips up, I do get nervous. I know I shouldn't, but I can't help it. Now it seems we're almost at the end of this transformation, however, I'm still pretty miserable. After all the time he shut me out, it numbed me. Now, I don't even know how I feel. I know I love him, but I just don't know if I am in love anymore. I've tried to rekindle it, but it doesn't seem to work for me. I feel like I went through all of this for a relationship that's not gonna even work. I'm filled with doubt. Is there anyway we can make this last? We've been there for eachother through thick, now I want to feel in love again and have no more drama. I feel so guilty, and I need to know that I am in love, things will get better, and our relationship will thrive and be happy for more than a day... I dont want to lose him, after everything we've been through, I should feel more in love. I just want to be happy and head over heels for him.... Please, please, help

Dear Jill,

Love is not just a feeling....

I hope you are peaceful, at the moment. Are you? If not, take a few slow, deep breaths, and then sit in a relaxed way, and focus on your breathing, and just breathe. When stray thoughts, images, and ideas come into your head, be thankful you are conscious, that your mind is open and receiving, creating, remembering, and offering you imagery, but let it go. Don't attach thoughts to those things in your mind. Think of them as clouds, passing by in the blue sky. You have no influence on the clouds, yet you appreciate them. And you 'let' them drift by... on their way to wherever they are going; letting them go doesn't mean losing them, it means letting them become what they would and will and must; the way children are allowed to "become", by good parents!

Do you feel peaceful? No? You keep thinking about those clouds; those stray thoughts? You keep worrying, dreaming, fantasizing, maybe "freaking out" over worries that you are reminded of--when they come into your consciousness? Not to worry! Just return your mind (your focus is your mind) to your breathing. Or, concentrate on your heartbeat. Or, say a mantra, under your breath, like, 'Peace, love, and joy, are in me, around, and emanating from me....' 

What have I taught you to do, here? That's right: meditation. 

Please ask yourself if what I think you said is correct; that you want this love to continue. If you do not, then just let him go. If you do want it to continue, answer this question;

What do you feel guilty about? Do you not know if you want the relationship to continue? Ask yourself why, and then stop thinking and meditate. Because often, the things we want, reflect social programing, or inner programing, based on issues we have left in us, unresolved. So, sometimes, active thinking about it only puts that programing in motion. So, meditate. Meditation is not thinking--though thoughts do come to us during meditation. It is just being, stilling the mind and body--so that true feelings can emerge, which were lying hidden, buried under our social programing.

If you want this relationship to move to the next level, then read on. 

Now, your boyfriend is someone special to you. Congratulations for caring about love--enough to write to me, about yourself and about him. 

Congratulations on wanting to overcome the primal feeling that sometimes drive us in times of difficulty, to overcome the precept of discipline, in love; that instinctive reaction to seek pleasure elsewhere. 

Congratulations on wanting to grow in love, and for wanting to love your boyfriend more. Anyone can love when things seem "perfect". True love is the work you have done, when things are challenging!  

Give this time. 

Love him.

Continue investing in what you've worked so hard on.

Don't give up when you have come this far in the work of love.

Often, people--especially women--I think, want to start anew, because they lose that "warm feeling". It is normal. Problems--challenges, really--arise, and they want to seek out a new picture-perfect-romance scenario. But, won't they encounter other, different--possibly more difficult--problems with a new love, especially after the initial, heady, dreamy, lust-filled "honeymoon" ends? 

If we don't do the work of love in our present relationships--or we do it and quit thereafter--won't we likely have to do the same work in the next relationship, or perhaps similar work, since likely, we were in some way a part of the problem in the last relationship? And this is exactly when your True Love is tested. This is when you see your partner and your partner sees you... are not made of dreams, but that you are real people with unresolved issues; issues that you resolve together so you can become real matches... to one another...rather than "matches" for some stranger in some Disney or Hollywood fantasy. 

I don't believe a couple is composed of two perfect matches. The members of a couple are two possible matches. They need to go through adjustment periods, wherein the differences under their similarities--which make them both individuals and "challenge-teachers" for one another--come to bear!

Maybe you are looking for perfection where none exists. We humans, in all our beauty and potential, are flawed. This is a blessing, for it tests and teaches the ones we love and whom love us--as well as ourselves--so we can change, grow, and acclimate to one another's differences--to appreciate one another's strengths, see the fallibility in the beauty we fell in love with--teaching us the reality of the nature of all things (that they are imperfect), and it allows us to learn what potentials we have inside, to strengthen ourselves and our relationships. 

If you take my advice--since you expressed a wanting desire to be in love again--remember to be supportive, less reactive to your fears, and romantic in mind--not just in "reaction" to feelings. We are not victims and slaves to emotion. We can guide ourselves; a relationship needs guidance from the soul, and the mind, not just the hormones. And you can focus, like in meditation, on the compassion, love, and passion--necessary... to rekindle what you have worked so hard to build--your fire of love, which is now only glowing and not an inferno--naturally, because you have been gathering the wood. 

Now, set that fire ablaze, again! Find new things to do and new places to do them in. Don't think of it as getting off on a footing once tread (starting up again with the same old guy), think of it as starting a new relationship with a new and improved guy, or a different guy altogether! People change!

I could never understand people who say, in effect, 'Oh, this isn't working, after all this time. I had better find someone else to start over with.' Basically, these people are saying, 'I want the ignorance, the blindness, the infatuation of new love, where, two souls come together with passion, commonality, and abandon...and I want to start the work of love all over again, after that ebbs, when the passion of the hormone-drunken beginning ends, so I can break up again, because, I don't like doing the work of love, I just like the fun part!'

Now, you may be asking yourself, 'Why is Carl suggesting I keep working on this relationship?' The answer is, because you said you want it to work--it seems to me, unless you were asking for validation to break up?) Remember, nothing "works" on its own, especially a relationship. We make it work.

Now, it seems to me you did the loving, mature, intelligent thing; You made this relationship work, by loving your boyfriend and helping him grow "into you". Now you want to leave? You don't want to reap the benefits of your labors of love? Are you the local, charity repair-lady?

Let me know what you think and feel! 


How to Know if You`re Really in Love

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Mando (Carl Atteniese Jr.)


I've read, thought, written, and taught about love for over eleven years. I've had thoughtful love-oriented relationships only--for about twenty-eight years. I struggle endlessly to be a supremely thoughtful, compassionate, fair, and empirical thinker. This is crucial. I believe in the feeling and process of love. This is also crucial. As an artist, a poet, and an essayist--as a teacher of ESL in other cultures--I have had ample opportunity for the analysis of love... personally and inter-culturally, and this has made my introspection and analysis of relationships--with original ideas and those of my favorite psychotherapists--very fruitful. I will tell you three things, which will help you now--before you even write to me: To have true love in yourself and with another, you must: 1. Be Free. 2. Be Adult. 3. Be Honest. 4. Be Disciplined. 5. Find numbers 3~5 easy, because you are overcome with love. 6. Be willing to do virtually anything reasonable (and many things unreasonable from the point of view of others).7. Never settle (in other words, be with someone you do not love), thinking that you will grow into love. 8. Never take a match made by another; your heart and mind must choose your love--period. 9. Never allow yourself to be put into temptation--ever (this is also natural--if you are in love). 10. Be able to listen like you never listened before--to yourself and to your beloved. 11. Love humanity--both the conditions & qualities, and all people.


I've been fortunate to have helped many people around the world and I love to do it. I will be happy to help you, too--no matter whom you are. If I am busy or unable to help you right away, consider these books to help you help yourself--until I can respond: "Being Happy", by Andrew Mathews; any books by Dr. Wayne Dyer; "The Art of Loving", by Dr. Erich Fromm; "Love", by Leo Buscaglia, "True Love", and "Anger", both by Thich Nhat Hanh. Also Read "The Beloved" and "The Prophet", both by Khalil Gibran. Read "The Road Less Traveled" and "People of The Lie", both by Dr. M. Scott Peck.... Learn more about me at

Amnesty International Partner of Conscience (, Union of Concerned Scientists ( and (htp://

Korea Herald (, New York Newsday, The Planetary Review, The Long Island Catholic, Wake Up And Laugh (, The Ocean And The Stars (, Cradle of The Universe (

Certificates in recognizing violence in the home and child abuse, in preventing violence in school. Raised with an emphasis on loving all people and to be politically active. Studied Zen at Hwa Gye Sa Temple, Han Maum Zen & Culture Center, and The Buddhist English Library of Seoul, in South Korea. Taught seventeen years in the US and South Korea. Teacher Training in the U.S. at Berlitz and the Center for English Studies, NYC, and at Inlingua, Princeton. Studied Drawing, Photography, and Painting at the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and basic Psychology at Nassau Community College, Long Island. Fifteen years of experience teaching English as a Second language--many of those years abroad--has helped as well, as people from other cultures help us see ourselves and other human beings in a different light.

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My reward is knowing I have helped people.

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I have taught and counseled people of all ages, experience-levels, professions and religions, and consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity and thankful to those who have shared with me. Every such interaction is a learning experience, and an opportunity for growth and improvement.

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