Do you love your partner or are you in love? What’s the difference between the two? We’re looking at 5 differences most people don’t recognize.
It is surely a question for the ages. Not knowing the difference between loving someone and being in love can cause a lot of heartache for both of you.
In order to be in a happy, healthy relationship with another person, you really do need to have a clear, in-depth understanding of yourself and your feelings. A lack of self-awareness can totally cripple your ability to create a solid connection with someone else.
Trying to create magic with a person you love is just as impossible as forgetting about a person you are in love with. Being in love is what makes us do stupid things and forget about all the things we used to care about. Loving someone is what pushes us through all the struggles that come with a relationship. While being in love is a rush, loving someone is all about feelings of loyalty that make you stick together through thick and thin. [Read: What are you feeling? Is it love or lust?]
Love vs. in love: how do you see the difference?
Here are five signs that that will tell you the difference between “love” and “in love.”
#1 Loving someone is a commitment. Being in love is compulsion. You can love your grandmother. You can love apple pie. As much as you might care for a nice sugar high or a hug from nana, it probably isn’t the first thing that you think about in the morning. Even if you are a lifelong chocoholic and tend to think about getting a hit of the sweet stuff before noon, you can probably move on from it. If your health depended on it, you could probably give up on sugar and eventually start to crave sweet fruit in the morning.
Ultimately, many things we claim to love are a bit random, and it is important to recognize all of the varying degrees of love. You can choose to stop loving someone and ultimately move on if you aren’t really in love with them. If you are in love, it’s a bit like being drunk. You can’t just decide you don’t want to be drunk anymore. You are under a spell that has totally taken over your mind. The heady feeling of being in love is unlike anything else in the world.
#2 Someone you love is a priority. Someone you are in love with is your top priority. When you love someone, you want only the best for them. You always hope that things go well for them in life. You are always ready to help them with anything that they might need. When you are in love with someone, they are the top priority. You are always ready to do anything that you can to help them. Whether that means giving them the last slice of pizza, or giving them a kidney, you are always ready to do absolutely anything within your power to make their life better. [Try: Infatuation vs. love – 14 ways you can tell the difference]
So, what’s the difference between love and in love? When you are in love with someone, their needs suddenly become more important than your own. All of those natural, selfish instincts are suddenly replaced when you are in love. There are a lot of things that we would do for love. We’d certainly spend a couple of hours of our time to see a movie that we love. We would spend an afternoon helping a beloved friend move up to a 5th floor apartment. There is a limit to love, but when it comes to being in love, all logic goes out the window and we are ready to do anything.
#3 When you love someone, you accept their flaws. When you are in love with someone, they are flawless. Being in love makes you blind. It is impossible to see all of the flaws in the object of your affection. While they might hit you later on, you just can’t see them when you are in love. You might know that he is a bit lazy or she is a bit selfish, but it just doesn’t matter when you are in love. It is all just part of your lover’s charm.
On the other hand, when you love someone, you can see their flaws loud and clear. You know your partner’s flaws and they irritate the hell out of you! But… it’s okay. You know everything that irritates you about your lover, but it isn’t enough to push you out the door. You accept their flaws because you love them. If you are wondering what the difference between love and in love is, ask yourself how much your partner’s flaws really bother you and try to imagine how much they will bother you in the distant future. [Check out: Limerence and love – the real difference]
#4 Being in love is senseless and a bit random. Love is predictable and logical. We love our families because they are related to us. Most people love their families and, unless something has gone seriously wrong that has cut off the relationship, it is safe to assume that most of us would say we love our families. It is logical and predictable.
Likewise, we love our friends because they are supportive and fun. We love our pets because they are loyal. We love our favorite sweets because they leave us feeling good. Ultimately, it is quite easy to see the cause and effect relationship in relation to most of the things that we love. When you ask yourself what the difference between love and in love is, think about this cause and effect relationship. Do you love this person because of something that happened, or because they are simply the most amazing person you can imagine?
Falling in love is totally random. It was about the way the sun hit her hair, or the fact that he showed up at just the right moment. We never really know who we are going to fall in love with and that is all part of the magic. [Try: How to stay in love forever with your lover]
#5 You can leave love. Being in love is irreplaceable. If you love someone, you can accept when they are better off with you. While you might be inflated and not want to go, if the relationship isn’t right for you, you can move on from someone you love.
When you are in love, the idea of leaving kills you. It is impossible to imagine having a life worth living if you have to be apart from your loved one.
So, what is the difference between “love” and “in love”? Only you can really say for sure. Everybody experiences things a little bit differently. You can look for signs to decide if you love someone or are really in love, but only your gut can tell you for sure. [Read next: 12 real signs of true love in a relationship]
If you want to have a happy and healthy relationship, trust your instincts. If you are happy in your relationship, don’t go searching for a fairy tale because you feel like you could be more in love with someone else. If your relationship has been without a spark for way too long, it is time to think about what you are really looking for.
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Nicci Mende is a lifestyle writer. Originally from the United States and currently based in Ireland, she is a digital nomad who keeps us current on all things f...