A good friend of mine asked me, "How do you know if it's true love?"

Considering the fact that she was trying to decide if she should marry someone, I took her question seriously.

My first answer to that question is usually - "Do you like the person?" If you don't, then it can't be love.

The second answer is a little more involved - "Does he make you feel special, happy, and safe?" If you don't feel special, happy, and safe, then he's not the one for you.

And, the third and final answer is - "Do you trust him without a doubt?" For, if you are not completely secure in the relationship, then jealousy and insecurity will tear you apart.

So, after I answered my friend with those three questions, she started to cry. She said, "I can't answer any of those questions with a "Yes." So, I put my arms around her and let her cry on my shoulder.

Ultimately, my friend did not get married. She decided against it. I felt bad for her, but I knew that she had probably done the right thing.

In the scheme of life, getting married is a VERY BIG deal. The bride and groom are committing themselves to a life together. They have decided that forever and ever they will be best friends, lovers, and caregivers.

When I watch young couples, I can usually tell by their interactions if they will have a future together.

If the boy requires blind, slavish obedience from the girl, the relationship is doomed. Sooner or later, the girl will develop a backbone and refuse to be a doormat. Hopefully this will happen long before they get married and have children.

If the girl is insecure and thinks that the boy is cheating on her with every pretty face that passes by, the relationship is doomed. The boy will know that she does not trust him. He will feel as though he is being watched and judged every second. Soon, he will chafe under that microscope and probably end up cheating for real. After all, if he's being accused of it, he might as well do it.

If the couple does not enjoy spending time together, the relationship is doomed. When a soon-to-be-married pair would rather spend time away from each other, something's very wrong. If the boy doesn't want his girlfriend to join the same gym or participate in the same activities, he is asking for trouble. If the girl would rather sit and gossip with her friends than spend time watching sports with her boyfriend, trouble is afoot.

How about language? If a couple consistently call each other vile names or speak ill of the other, the relationship is doomed. Calling your significant other "fatty" or "stupid" or "mental case" cannot be good. Being critical of your loved one's behavior or intelligence is also a sign of a lack of love. I once overheard a husband say, "Why can't you dress like her? She looks like a real woman. You look like a frump." Those words are not conducive to warm feelings.

In any relationship, both parties should feel appreciated, accepted, and cared for by each other. To me, love can be shown in many ways, but when it is all said and done, the couple should be contented, safe, and secure in the knowledge that their partner cares for them more than they care for anyone else.

I hope that my friend will someday find a partner, get married, and live happily ever after. I also hope that she doesn't settle for someone who isn't the right one for her. After all, the old saying is - "There's a lid for every pot."

If you would like to contact Dr. Smith, she can be reached at her email address:jsmith133@cfl.rr.com or in care of this newspaper.