From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
The first hint that this may be love is manners, [innocent] bean-counting, and runs something like this: “I’ll be happy to scratch your back if you’ll be good enough to scratch mine.” Hard on the heels of this phase is the Look-Good-Always phase [I’ll never see her without her face on; she’ll never see me without my stomach tucked in]. Hopefully, with time, the real thing reveals itself as my love and I step out into the abyss and the one asks for, and the other confers, forgiveness [because sooner rather than later each of us is going to screw up].
How real the real thing is depends on the extent to which forgiveness – defanging the screw-ups - becomes habitual. That’s a hard standard; many settle for some optical illusion that, in the small print, allows for the opposite, holding grudges.
But be warned: holding grudges is sugar in the gas tank.