Love is a very wonderful and beautiful feeling. It’s perhaps one of the most indescribably deep emotion that one can feel for another. However, many people find it extremely difficult telling the difference between “being in love with someone,” and “loving someone.” It’s very tempting to believe that they are both the same. But while the passion may feel just about the same, the intentions are often very different. It is very unnerving to see the amount of confusion that these two seemingly similar terms are creating. There is so much mix-up about the two concepts online today. As a result of the confusion, a lot of people find it hard deciding which argument to follow.
So, What Does Being in Love and Loving Someone Really Mean?
To help you solve this dilemma, the best thing would be to find out the etymology of the terms in question. Psychologists have established the fact that “being in love” is a term that is usually used to describe another related term — “romantic love.” In the literature and other scholarly works concerning love, “romantic love” is interchangeably used with other terms such as “falling in love,” “infatuation,” “limerence,” and several others. Passionate love (sometimes called “obsessive love,” “infatuation,” “lovesickness,” or “being-in-love”) is a powerful emotional state. It has been defined as: A state of intense longing for union with another… Reciprocated love (union with the other) is associated with fulfillment and ecstasy. Unrequited love (separation) is associated with feelings of emptiness, anxiety, and despair.
–The Concept of Love Viewed From a Prototype Perspective
For the most part, relationship experts generally consider “being in love”; to be the usual first phase of a love relationship. This is the phase that is usually characterized with all the rush of emotions that comes with a “new love.”; Being in love is however fleeting and does not last that long. Most experts are of the opinion that on an average it usually lasts for about six to nine months at the most. The generally accepted idea is that the feeling of “being in love”; generally gives way to a steadier kind of love called companionate love. This is the type of love where one can be said to be truly loving someone. Companionate love is a less fiery type of love. It lacks the emotional fluctuations that generally characterizes the feeling of “being in love with someone.”; It is a steadier, more attached kind of love that is usually longer lasting. Companionate love is a far less intense emotion. It comprises feelings of deep attachment, commitment, and intimacy, and has been defined as “the affection and tenderness we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply entwined”.
Love, Sex, and Intimacy: Their Psychology, Biology, and History
The Wedding and Married Life Analogy To get my head around them, I often liken “being in love” to a wedding and “loving someone” to the marriage itself. Naturally, one comes before the other — that is, the “being in love (wedding)
” usually comes before the “loving (living together as couples)
.” This is simply because one is so easily short lived but gets majority of the attention. The other is however more long term but generally receives the least attention. Also, they seem similar in a kind of way because most people get over thrilled with the preparations for a wedding day. Conversely, most people getting into a marriage give little or no thoughts to the days after the wedding. Thus, it’s sad to discover that very few ever give enough thought to the days after the wedding and the enchanting honeymoon. In like manner, people get very thrilled with the feeling of “being in love”; experienced during the early phases of their love relationship. However, with time these feelings start to fade. But for lovers who, during this initial phase of “being in love,” are able to build strong bonds through understanding and accepting their differences, a successful transition can be made to the next level of truly “loving someone.”
Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being ‘in love’ which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away… –Louis de Bernieres, Correlli’s Mandolin
6 Important Differences About Being in Love and Loving Someone As has somewhat been highlighted above, loving someone can last a lifetime while being in love with someone is something that is easily short-lived. Being in love with someone is simply a phase at the beginning of a romantic relationship and which is mostly influenced by brain chemicals. But with time the chemicals soon wear off as all those neurotransmitters start to normalize. And then the high intensity of romantic love fizzles out as it simply cannot last forever. It is at such points that many people fall out of love. In fact, several researches suggest that many people file for divorce after falling out of love with their partners. Conversely, loving someone is something that takes time to develop. Essentially, truly loving someone is a process that involves the development of trust, kindness, patience, and also a personal motivation to make it work. Although the feelings of loving and being in love with someone might be similar, they are nonetheless significantly different.
Below are some of the reasons you may want to take note of.
1. Loving Someone is Selfless Loving someone puts you in a frame of mind where your concern, affection, and love towards your partner is evident to all. But when you are just in love with someone, you want that person to love you back with essentially equal fierceness. Stating it more clearly, reciprocity of expressed affection towards a potential love mate is key to sustaining the flames of the “feeling of being in love.”; The Subtle Possessive Nature of Being In Love But when you actually love someone, you love them relentlessly without expecting them to reciprocate the amount of love you’re showing to them. Thus, being in love is essentially wanting to own the other person. However, you may not be consciously aware of exhibiting this tendency most of the times. But on closer and honest introspective analysis of the true reasons behind your actions, you’ll discover that you truly want to own this person. You feel that this person has some great qualities and that you need to have them in your love life. You basically feel like consuming or owning this person in any way possible. This is mostly because you feel you need this person in your life in order to be happy. In another sense, you ideally want the whole world to know that they are yours. As a result, there’s a strong overriding tendency to want to label them and make them your property. You practically want them to always reaffirm to you that they are yours. Loving someone entails you not only wanting to have this person in your life but you more particularly because you actually need them. While you need this person to live happily, it’s not because you own them but because you want to give a part of you to them. When you are in love, labels such as boyfriend and girlfriend do not matter. Both of you do acknowledge that you are an item, but you both do agree that you are still your own person.
2. Loving Someone Requires Daily Decision Making People usually say that love “shouldn’t be this hard.”; And they are right, it shouldn’t — but to a certain point. It’s during the dopamine phase — con, infatuation phase — of a new love relationship that it can actually feel not difficult. In fact, the chemical effect of certain neurotransmitters helps to ensure this condition. For instance, a particular chemical makes sure that you overlook all the bad sides of your love object and focus solely on the positives. During this phase, love isn’t really that difficult owing largely to Mother Nature’s design. The chemical interplay from the get go work to make sure that a bond can be established for a potential propagation of the human species. When this phase starts fading and reality starts setting in, the game begins to change. For the most part, the fiery flames of “being in love”; must give way to the steady embers of “loving someone.”; For the being in love feelings to survive past this stage, it must do the works that loving someone requires. Love Is No Joke! You need to come to terms with the fact that love is no joke. Love is something that requires a lot of hard work to make it succeed. To truly love someone is to make series of choices on a daily basis. You want to try as much as possible to once again experience the original rush of love you felt at the beginning. Our ability to sustain our love for our partner depends largely on the cultivation of certain personality qualities. We need to develop qualities such as kindness, patience, and trust for each other. We also need to find ways to experience joy and to keep ourselves motivated and inspired to remain in the relationship This is obviously why anyone can easily “fall in love“; but few there be that actually get to “love someone“; for who they truly are. Thus, to love someone seems to be a privilege only few — that are truly willing to put in the works — get to really experience.
3. You Care More Than You Think You Do The feeling of being in love actually makes you believe that you actually care more about your love object than you actually do. Conversely, truly loving someone puts you in a situation where you actually care more about this person than you think. This is mostly evident during periods separation or loss. Such moments can often fill you with overwhelming emotions. It’s at such moments you come to realize how difficult it would be living without them.
4. Being in Love is a Rush, Loving Someone is a Steady Stream of Emotions Being in love with someone is generally associated with a high rush of love hormone flooding the lovers. It’s characterized by having some great highs and then experiencing some low moods and spirit depending on the reaction of the love object. On the other hand, when loving someone you experience a steadier kind of emotions. Since loving someone usually takes time to truly achieve, your emotions also tend to grow over that time period and becomes steady. The often crashing and burning as well as the ebbs and flows of emotions in a new relationship soon gives way to a steadier flow of emotions as the relationship matures into loving your partner. And alas, the rush of dopamine — which is what mostly influences the state of being in love — soon gives way to the lasting trust building influence of oxytocin
in loving someone.
5. It’s About How They Make You Feel vs. How You Make Them Feel The feeling of being in love is more about how your love object makes you feel. Your overall happiness is relies heavily to the way they make you feel loved, special, or appreciated. But when you love someone, your focus is on how to make them feel happy even when it’s at the cost of your own happiness. Your concern is about how to make him or her feel loved and happy at all times. When you love someone, it’s more about your lover’s well-being and happiness. You simply want the best for them, irrespective of whether they are still with you or now with someone else. Falling in love consists merely in uncorking the imagination and bottling the common sense.
6. Loving Someone is a Choice While Being in Love Isn’t Being in love with someone can happen to you at any time and without warning. Most times, you can even pinpoint a good rationale for it yet it can be very difficult to walk away from. The feelings of being in love can sweep over you so powerfully that it overshadows almost everything in your life. This is obviously the reason for the popular saying that “love is blind.”; You often have no choice in the affairs of the heart… at least during the initial stages. However, loving someone is a deliberate choice you make. The decision to love that person is often based on their overall personality including their morals and abilities. Loving someone can at times involve letting them go in situations where things do not work at well. Yet, this act does not necessarily stop you from continuing to love them. The love for that person kind of sticks with you forever even when you may be in a new loving relationship.
The reality is that telling the difference between loving someone and being in love with someone can sometimes be subtle. Also, it’s necessary to appreciate the fact that both of them have their places in our love relationships and lives. Yet, it’s important to be able to tell the difference between being in an enduring love relationship and simply being in love with someone. This knowledge can greatly help one in navigating his or her love relationship much easier.
Also keep in mind that there’ll be those times when you’ll feel that you know you truly love your partner, but the feeling of being in love with them may no longer be there. At such times, try to remember that it’s pretty normal to feel that way once in a while. Practically, partners in every successful long-term love relationship must experience this feeling at one point or another in their love journey. Of course, there are those “lucky” people who experience both of these types of love at the same time for quite some long time. However, it’s necessary to understand that the relative importance of both of these loves will shift as the relationship grows and goes through its different phases. So, while treasuring the memories of being in love with your partner, it’s also important to make an effort to embrace what is. Maintaining a long-term love relationship requires lots of commitment and a personal decision to make things work. So, make the decision and commitment to continue loving each other and you might also just keep that actively in love feeling blossoming as the years go by.