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What Does It Mean to Love Someone? 21 Good & Bad Ways to Define It

What does it mean to be in love and to love someone? Being in love is broadly seen as this feeling that cannot be compared to anything else, but what is it?

what does it mean to love someone

Love means a lot of things, and we have our own different definitions of it. Most times, it is used to describe intense feelings of care or closeness to something or someone. You love your new shoes, and you love your parents. You love your pet. And you love your partner. But what does it mean when you’re in love with someone? How do we go about defining how it feels to be in love?

Because all of those types of love are different, they are all strong and impactful but vary from person to person and situation to situation. [Read: How to tell how you feel about someone]

What kinds of love are there?

The types of love that exist are endless. There are familial, platonic, romantic, and so on.

But, even though love is mostly seen as a positive thing, it is treated differently by everyone.

Love is not just a good feeling. Unfortunately, with love comes the risk of being hurt. It can be used as an excuse to treat someone a certain way, sometimes even in a toxic or hurtful way. Or it can be confused with infatuation. It can even lead to dysfunction and disrespect.

Just like anything else meant for good, in the wrong hands, it can be twisted into jealousy, control, expectation, and other things that make romantic relationships become worse rather than better. [Read: The ways toxic love can harm you]

What is true love?

Before we get further into what it really means to love someone, maybe we should discuss what love actually is. Essentially, it is described as an intense feeling of deep affection. That is not limited to sexual or romantic attachment. It has components that make it complicated, fundamental, and of course, mysterious.

Love is a word we use quite often. You love your favorite show. And you love your grandmother. You love your bestie’s new hairstyle. But fondness and love are not the same. Being in love is much stronger and can be all-encompassing. [Read: What is love? Signs you’re experiencing it right now]

This isn’t love

Now that you have a better understanding of what love really is, it is also important to know what it isn’t. There are a lot of things that are often confused with love.

Some people use love to excuse bad behavior or act a certain way toward another person. But love is not these things:

1. Love is not ownership

Just because you love someone does not mean they are yours. You may call someone your boyfriend or girlfriend, but other than an understanding of mutually shared respect, they do not owe you anything, and vice versa. 

Loving is based on mutual respect, trust, and all other things. [Read: The signs what you’re feeling is lust and not love]

2. Love is not control

Many unstable or weak people use love as an excuse to control their partner’s actions, saying something like, “you would do that if you loved me.”

But when someone says something like that, they’re not acting like that out of love. Being in love with your partner means respecting their choices and decisions. [Read: The signs you’re being coerced into a controlling relationship]

3. Love is not complete selflessness

This is a common misconception. Of course, it sounds nice to put the wants and needs of the person you love above your own, but that is neither healthy nor functional. Taking care of yourself and being happy outside of that love helps real relationships thrive.

Loving someone does not mean being selfless and always putting them first. It means knowing when you need to put yourself first, too. [Read: How to read the signs of self-centered and selfish people]

4. Love is not sex

If someone is using love to pressure you into sex before you are ready, once again, love is not really at stake here.

Love doesn’t always need sex to be prevalent and meaningful. It is not conditional. And if someone you love does not see that, they’re probably not worth it. [Read: Just the tip sex – Why guys use this excuse and why girls always fall for it]

5. Love is not power

Loving someone does not mean you have power over them. And if someone really loves you, that does not mean they have power over you either. Although love can certainly start to feel that way sometimes, it should not define your life.

There is no such thing as loving someone less so you can keep the power. Love is not about that, and it never should be. [Read: Relationship power plays]

6. Love is not blind

Being in a relationship might make you wear rose-colored glasses. It can prevent you from seeing red flags and sometimes the truth. And although it can aid in forgiveness, it is not 100% unconditional.

Love does not excuse abuse, infidelity, and anything else that crosses the line. Remember that. [Read: Emotionally abusive relationship – 15 signs you just can’t miss]

What is it like to be in love with someone?

There are a lot of things that love isn’t. But when you love that special someone, it means quite a lot as well. If you have ever been in love, you will recognize some of these things. Otherwise, this list serves as a guide for your future to help you identify when you are in love.

1. You care about them

We know, we know, this is a given. But being in love with someone means caring for them. This means you care what happens to them, and you care that they are safe and healthy. You care about their boring work story because it is coming from them.

You also show that you care, be it by putting extra effort into waking up early because you know your partner enjoys their coffee in the morning or checking them from time to time even if you’re both busy with each other’s lives just to make sure they’re okay.

2. You compromise

Love means taking into consideration your significant other’s needs and wants. You compromise and discuss with your partner so you can meet halfway when you can’t agree, and you make concessions for them.

They do the same for you. And you don’t worry about having to do this, and you don’t feel like you are giving anything up in the process.[Read: The honest truth about true love most people don’t expect]

3. You trust them

Trust and love go hand in hand. Although you can have one without the other, it never seems to work out that way. Loving someone doesn’t mean you automatically trust them, but it helps the trust to form.

4. You communicate

Wanting to share yourself, your past, and your stories is all part of it. Literally just about anything and everything is something you want to tell your partner.

When you’re in love, you want to rave about a good day at work, you want to complain about the traffic, and basically, just share your thoughts with them.

Part of communication is also how you express love for them and battle through any disagreements or arguments. [Read: A guide for effective communication]

5. You want them to be happy

Loving someone means you’re happy when they’re happy, so you make an effort to show your love by doing everything you can to make them happy. It doesn’t always have to be an elaborate, glamorous, and over-the-top act, but small sincere gestures can go a long way.

6. You forgive them

As we mentioned earlier, love does not require forgiveness, but it helps when called for. You want to forgive and move forward from each argument, not dwell on them and let them drive a wedge between you two.

Focusing on the good is easier when love is involved. Also, remember that no one is perfect and true love takes a lot of patience and a forgiving heart. [Read: How to know if you’ve felt unconditional love before]

This doesn’t mean that love makes you forgive unforgivable actions, such as infidelity. It just means that you and your partner are able to weather the inevitable arguments every couple faces rather than separating at the first sign of struggle.

7. You learn from them

Long-term relationships also involve a lot of learning. Specifically, you want to know what your partner thinks about certain problems and situations. You want to learn from them, and they want to learn from you. You teach one another.

8. You invest in them

This does not mean investing money but, rather, time with your partner. Loving someone requires taking the time to spend with them. If you live far away, you take the time to visit. You put the effort to maintain those strings attaching the two of you. [Read: How to have a good relationship]

9. You laugh with them

Laughter is something every loving relationship benefits from. Furthermore, laughter lets you share a light side of each other. It brings joy and thus is a simple but important aspect of every relationship.

10. You are comfortable with them

Being completely yourself around someone is so much easier. Long-term love feels comfortable in the best way possible.

You feel safe and like your bond cannot be broken by a snorting laugh or loud sneeze. That’s just how the feelings of love evolve from being self-conscious to achieving a comfortable level of closeness that you sometimes feel like the two of you are a single unit.

11. You are better with them

It makes you a little less selfish. You’ll know you have a blissful love life when you want to invest time into this person, and when you are with them, you want to be better overall. [Read: How to become a better and happier person]

12. You want to be around them

You want to spend time together, and with that, you make the effort to see your partner as often as you can. That doesn’t mean all of your time, but it means you thrive just being near them, and tough times get a little easier whenever you’re together.

13. You miss them

You always find yourself thinking and daydreaming about them when you are apart and can’t wait until you will see them again, and you know that the feeling is reciprocated.

14. You do nothing with them

Romantic love creates a sense of comfort. You can sit in complete silence and do nothing but still enjoy that time because you are together, and your partner feels the exact same way.

Sometimes, all it takes is a loved one’s presence, without having to worry about what to do or what to say, to make your day better. Just the two of you together may just be what you need for a perfect day. [Read: Signs of true love that might make you a believer]

15. You like them

Like and love are not the same thing. But both add to your life. One cannot be defined to you.

Liking someone means that beyond those strong feelings, you simply enjoy their company, and that feeling may fade. They don’t always coincide, but when they do, it is magic.

[Read: 20 feelings that best describe what love feels like]

What does it mean to love someone? It means a lot of things, but it is all about what it means to you.

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Vinod Srinivas Serai
Vin Serai
Vin Serai is the founder of LovePanky.com, and has delved deep into the working of love and relationships for almost two decades. Having dipped his feet in almo...