Love has more than one meaning. You love your new shoes, and you love your parents. You love your pet. And you love your partner. But what does it mean to love someone?
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]
As I said, the types of love that exist are endless. There is 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 but also means you risk being hurt. It can be used as an excuse to treat someone a certain 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 relationships worse rather than better. [Read: The ways toxic love can harm you]
Before we get further into what it means to love someone, maybe we should discuss what it actually is. Essentially, it is described as an intense feeling of deep affection. That is not limited to sexual or romantic attachment.
According to the doctors over at Psychology Today, it has components that make it complicated, fundamental, and of course, mysterious.
Love is a word we use quite often. You love This Is Us. And you love your grandmother. You love your bestie’s new hairstyle. But fondness and love are not the same. Love is much stronger and can be all-encompassing. [Read: What is love? 12 signs you’re experiencing it right now]
Now that you know what love 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:
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 someone is not conditional. [Read: The signs what you’re feeling is lust and not love]
Many unstable or weak people use love as an excuse to control their partners. Saying something like, you would do that if you love me. But when someone says something like that, love is not part of it. [Read: The signs you’re being coerced into a controlling relationship]
This is a common misconception. Of course, it sounds nice to put the 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 is what helps relationships to thrive.
Loving someone does not mean always putting them first. It means knowing when you put yourself first, too. [Read: How to read the signs of self-centered and selfish people]
If someone is using love to pressure you into sex before you are ready, once again, love is not really at stake here. Love is prevalent and meaningful without sex. And if someone you love does not see that, they are not worth it. [Read: Just the tip sex – Why guys use this excuse and why girls always fall for it]
Loving someone does not mean you have power over them. And if someone loves you, that does not mean they have power over you either. Although love can certainly 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]
Again, love can 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]
There are a lot of things that love isn’t. But when you love someone, it means quite a lot as well. If you have ever been in love, you will recognize some of these things. Otherwise, this serves as a guide for your future.
I know, I know. This is a given. But, caring is just one aspect of it. 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 compromise or meet halfway when you can’t agree, and you make concessions for them. They do the same for you. 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]
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.
Wanting to share yourself, your past, and your stories is all part of it. With this, you want to rave about a good day at work, you want to complain about the traffic, and you want to let them know how you’re feeling. [Read: A guide for effective communication]
Loving someone means you’re happy when they’re happy, so you do everything you can to make them happy.
As we mentioned earlier, love does not require forgiveness, but it helps when called for. You want to forgive and move forward. Focusing on the good is easier when these feelings are involved. [Read: How to know if you’ve felt unconditional love before]
Specifically, you want to hear their opinions. You want learn from them, and they want learn from you. You teach one another.
This does not mean invest money, but time. You take the time to spend with them. If you live far away, you take the time to visit. You put the effort in. [Read: How to have a good relationship]
Laughter is something every relationship benefits from. Furthermore, laughter lets you share a light side of each other. It brings joy.
Being completely yourself around someone is so much easier. 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.
It makes you a little less selfish. 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]
You want to spend time together. That doesn’t mean all of your time, but it means you thrive just being near them.
You think about them when you are apart and can’t wait until you will see them again.
Love creates a sense of comfort. You can sit in complete silence and do nothing, but still enjoy that time because you are together. [Read: 10 signs of true love that might make you a believer]
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 deep feelings, you simply enjoy their company. 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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