(1) When dealing with almost any reality, we must first ask the Existence questions: does this reality even exist? Where is the evidence that it exists? If it exists, how can we isolate true from false copies?
(2) This question applies with tremendous force and importance in matters of romantic love. There is probably no other area it applies with more urgency. In otherwise "free countries," BILLIONS of persons are making huge sacrifices of freedom, time, money, youth, dreams, mental sanity and equanimity, and all the rest in order to continue totally mediocre to poor romantic relationships with other persons: "It was not till twenty-three hours, when he was home and in bed- in the darkness, where you were safe even from the telescreen so long as you kept silent- that he was able to think continuously." (Orwell, 1984) What (besides sexual intimacy and someone to be "seen with" in public) are they receiving in exchange for these tremendous sacrifices?
The matter is very simple: IF there is romantic GOOD love between these persons, this coupling behavior is intelligent and praiseworthy. IF romantic GOOD love doesn't exist between these persons, this behavior is senseless and banal (at best) and absolutely idiotic and tragic (at worst). If truly intelligent life exists on another planet, they would never engage in this type of coupling behavior. It is a sign of strength- not weakness- for a human person to remain single and alone so long as he or she has not found romantic GOOD love:
(3) False copies of love abound everywhere. If two persons remain together primarily for financial reasons, fear of being alone, laziness, fear of social shaming resulting from a breakup or being perpetually "single," sexual desire, or even simply the desire to "go out" with someone on weekends and vacations, then we are dealing with the false copy of romantic GOOD love. The sacrifices made to keep this type of relationship "alive" are net NEGATIVE for the person. The person does obviously gain some benefit or other from the continuation of the relationship. But they are overall in the RED, negative in the relationship in terms of its total effect on the person's mind, body, and soul.
(4) True examples of romantic GOOD love are exceedingly rare. They are so rare that many of us could live for many decades on Earth and "see" only a handful of examples. Indeed, a recent survey found that 78% of single women regard a mate with a steady job as being "very important to them," more important than any other quality in choosing a mate. If this be the genesis of a relationship, it is beyond question that romantic GOOD love can't exist between such persons.
(5) In light of the above, any romantic couple "existing" today should begin with the presumption that it is NOT in the category of romantic GOOD love. It should assume it is the false copy and not the true genuine GOOD original. The couple should not constantly flatter themselves with empty rhetoric that they are "in love" "very happy" and "perfect for each other": "But stupidity is not enough. On the contrary, orthodoxy in the full sense demands a control over one's mental processes as complete as that of a contortionist over his body." (Orwell, 1984)
(6) The couple should then carry forward this negative presumption UNTIL there has been some behavior or evidence of romantic GOOD love. What could this be? Almost all the traditional candidates- gifts, sexual favors, money, an apology, a vacation, or even spending a bit more time with the person- don't pass this demanding test.
Rather, there must be some behavior on the part of the person that is radically different and new from the person's established habits and which is specifically aimed at improving and deepening romantic GOOD love between the two persons. The behavior should usually startle the other person, being so out of character for the person engaging in it that it can only be explained by the explanation that the person loves the other so much that he or she is willing to do this for him or her. Once began, the behavior should continue and last as a continuing sign of the person's love for the other.
An alcoholic- for example- could totally quit drinking because he or she doesn't wish his partner to continue to experience the negative consequences of alcoholism. A perpetually busy overscheduled workaholic could (suddenly) take several weeks off a year and devote this time completely to the maturation of the relationship. Someone that habitually does a poor job listening to their partner could show rapid improvement in the ability to focus on what the person is saying and respond intelligently with something other than "that's awesome" or "that's cool" or "that sucks." Someone with narcissistic leanings could break out of them long enough in an attempt to genuinely understand what excites the other person, why they have the hobbies they do, what keeps them at those hobbies, and so on.