We're probably not going to find the answer to what love is in a blog post. It's one of those "I know it when I see it" types of things. However, there are a few key signs that maybe what you've got isn't love, but something more perverse.
Love is NOT playing emotional games and manipulating your partner. I mean it goes without saying, but yet, there would be a fair few of us who are guilty of playing these types of games. Manipulation can range from the small minor things, always crying in arguments in the hope that your partner might let legitimate concerns go, to full-on "gas-lighting" your partner. "Gas-lighting" is a term that describes deliberate manipulation, made to make the victim question their memory and perception of events. Needless to say, it's never acceptable.
If you love someone you shouldn't manipulate them or play emotional games with them.
Love is NOT about constantly making promises and then asking for forgiveness when you fail to come through. Can we just throw out the whole adage about it being better to ask for forgiveness than permission? Please? I'm not saying that we don't all make mistakes and that forgiveness and understanding aren't key components of any relationship. They are and they should be. But there's a vast difference between honest mistakes, owned up to, dealt with, and then resolved, to constantly making the same mistakes and then saying sorry. It kind of feeds back into the manipulative thing. "But you love me, it's the last time, I promise, I'm sorry". Yadda, yadda, yadda. At some point, they're just empty words.
You should not be making people who love you constantly hurt themselves whilst trying to forgive you again for bad behaviour.
If you've noticed yourself doing any of these things, firstly, stop doing them. Just stop it. It's harmful and damaging to your partner. And not just when they are with you. This type of behaviour can lead to all sorts of problems both for the person themselves and for any future relationships down the road.
The next thing to do is ask yourself why you're doing these things to someone you supposedly love. There might be a whole bunch of reasons, but I'm willing to bet that it has something to do with control. Relationships are messy. We put ourselves into them, pour ourselves out, and there's always the threat the other person could break up and leave. But that's the deal we make. I would personally argue that if you're not comfortable with the idea that your partner has the right to leave you, basically whenever (they are an adult after all), then maybe you should spend some time alone and re-assess.
Being in a relationship with someone can be a magical thing. But you need to be all-in. I'm not asking you to reveal every secret and keep nothing to yourself (an unrealistic and ultimately unhelpful approach to relationships as well), but you should be yourself, real, honest, and willing to go the extra mile for your partner. When you are both putting in your all and treating each other with respect, then you're doing it right.