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Can it be love?

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Relationship advice So I like this friend and he likes me. We aren’t dating because of a mutual agreement and understanding based around life circumstances. We kind of act like we are though, holding hands and stuff- but no kissing. For reference we’ve known each other a total of three years now.

Anyway, I just have this feeling like I could say I love you in that empty space of conversation and really mean it, and looking it up is sort of unhelpful but what I can find supports the thought.

I am happy when he’s happy and his smile is contagious for me. Around him I feel at peace, like all my troubles are, well I wouldn't say gone but a hundred times more dealable, like we can make it through this tough patch and end up together forever. I wouldn’t be uncomfortable or lying if I said I’m perfectly willing and happy to marry this boy someday. I seek every opportunity to be with him but I don’t flaunt his company to other people, I just want to make him happy, as well as that being around him makes me happy.

Is that what love is? Can I love him already even though we haven’t had a real relationship yet? We’ve never even had a real date or anything.

Can it be love?

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Added to that... despite the fact that we aren’t really quite dating, I have absolutely no trouble thinking about him being in my future even up to marriage. Not in a day-dreamy “we’ll have two kids three cats and a hamster” king of way but in a “you know I think I’d be happy marrying this guy, not now but in a few years maybe” way.

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