The second is responsibility, responding to his or her expressed and unexpressed needs (particularly, in an adult relationship, emotional needs).

The third is respect, "the ability to see a person as he [or she] is, to be aware of his [or her] unique individuality," and, consequently, wanting that person to "grow and unfold as he [or she] is." These three components all depend upon the fourth, knowledge.

It allows you into another person's world and opens you up to perceiving his or her goodness.

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"Mom," she said hesitantly, "I really appreciate your feelings, but, in all honesty, how can you say you love someone you've never met?

At the end of the conversation, her mother said, "Darling, I want you to know we love you, and we love David." Susan was a bit dubious.

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On another occasion I read something she'd written and offered feedback and praise. Because deep, intimate love emanates from knowledge and giving, it comes not overnight but over time ― which nearly always means after marriage.

The intensity many couples feel before marrying is usually great affection boosted by commonality, chemistry, and anticipation.

"Tell you what: I'll define it, and you raise your hands if you agree. When she called her parents to tell them the good news, they were elated.

Obviously, there's a huge distance from here to the far more profound, personal love developed over the years, especially in marriage. Susan learned about this foundation of love after becoming engaged to David.

Likewise, the best way to feel loving is to be loving ― and that means giving.