It is surely a question for the ages. What are the differences between love vs. in love? These seem so close, yet their meanings can be quite different.
Not knowing the difference between love and being in love can cause many heartaches and confusion throughout your life. But, also not realizing how they overlap can do the same.
To be in a happy, healthy relationship with another person, you really do need to have a clear, in-depth understanding of what these things mean to you. A lack of self-awareness can cripple your ability to create a solid connection with someone romantically or platonically.
[Read: 18 tips to fall in love slowly like you’re in a fairy tale]
Being in love is something people dream of from a young age. It is what we see in fairy tales, watch on TV, and read in books. Falling in love is all-consuming, passionate, and overwhelming.
Being in love is what we want in a relationship. You want romance and a deep unspeakable connection.
But, this fantasy can be unrealistic. Yes, you deserve to have a wonderful love in your life, but craving that spark can actually cause you to overlook the healthier and more stable parts of love.
Falling in love doesn’t always happen at first sight or on a first date. Just as your love for friends grows with time, being in love can start small. It doesn’t have to sweep you off your feet.
So, before getting into definitions and examples of love and in love, try not to let the myth of being in love define what it really is. [Read: How to find your happily ever after]
Often, you can convince yourself that you’re in love when you’re not. You can want it so badly you make yourself believe you have this indescribable connection. But, it isn’t rare for love vs. being in love to get confused.
You can love someone, but force the signs of being in love and throw yourself into something that you’re not ready for or that isn’t authentic.
These two feelings come with so many similarities that can alter their meanings or what we believe they mean. [Read: What are you feeling? Is it love or lust?]
Discussing love vs. in love is an important conversation. These two words or phrases, as it was, are so close yet so far from each other. Love can be something so opposite from being in love, yet so many of the descriptions and characteristics are the same.
Commitment isn’t just a part of a romantic relationship. And commitment doesn’t simple mean exclusivity. Commitment is a level of work you’re willing to put into a relatitonship and both love and being in love require it.
You love your siblings, and you are committed to them. So when they call, you answer, support them, help them, and let them vent. This commitment may not look the same as it does in a romantic relationship, but it is there. When you’re in love, you support your partner in a different way. For example, you might show intimacy or just sit in silence together. Although the commitment you share with someone when you’re in love differs from when you love them, it is present in both cases. [Read: How does commitment work in a relationship?]
When you love someone, you enjoy their company, for the most part. But, when you are in love with someone, that enjoyment is lifted. The feelings you experience when you’re with them, whether you’re watching TV, or on a romantic date are intense.
You miss them when they aren’t around. You find yourself thinking about them. The euphoric feeling you have when you know you’re going to see them is incomparable. Just talking about them, thinking about them, or texting them, makes you smile.
Sure, you love your parents, but they don’t cause this reaction within you. But when you’re dating someone new, that level of tension and joy is a sign of being in love. [Read: Infatuation vs. love – 14 ways you can tell the difference]
Everyone has flaws. You do, I do, and everyone you love does. Love vs. being in love makes you see those flaws so differently.
Your sibling or roommate can do something you find infuriating, but when someone you’re in love with does it, you find it endearing, or at least, overlook it. Being in love makes you blind to an extent. You avoid red flags, ignore small irritants, and even disregard major issues because being in love is so powerful.
On top of that, the desire for being in love is so strong that once you have it you don’t want to lose it. You don’t want to point out their flaws and let it end the relationship. Being in love can make you see someone as better than they are, as loving someone can make you see them more clearly. [Read: Limerence and love – the real difference]
Loving someone is not the same as being in love with someone. That is clear, but why? Well, being in love comes with a level of what most people desribe as chemistry. You can have a friend that you love intensely, but there is no chemistry.
But, when you’re in love, there is a feeling of electricity. It just sparks between you. It can be linked to attraction, a bond, a connection, or whatever you want to call it, but it is undeniable. This is what a lot of people search for in the dating world.
You can get along with someone, and care deeply for them, but being in love comes with that little something extra. Essentially, that magic is what makes of crave being in love so badly. [Read: How to tell if there is chemistry between two people]
Safety is a huge part of loving someone. The differences between love vs. being in love may be plentiful, but safety can come with both, just in different ways.
The safety you feel when you love someone is the safety you feel at home. When you are with family or friends you’ve known a long time, there is a safety there. You aren’t worried about betrayal, being hurt, or something bad happening because you are surrounded by these people that you love.
When in love, that safety is different. It comes with a risk. You need to work you way up to feeling safe when you’re in love. It can take months, years, or decades depending on you, your past, and their actions. But, that level of safety can be even more intense. [Read: Should you follow your heart or stick to what’s safe?]
We all know that both love and being in love do not mean that trust is present. You can love someone and not trust them. You can be in love with someone and lack trust.
Sure, you can love your sibling, but not trust them to watch your kids because they’re irresponsible. You can love your partner, but not trust them because they lied to you before.
But, a healthy loving relationship does require trust. And when you do have both love and trust whether it is romantic or platonic, there is a new level of closeness in that relationship. [Read: How to get over trust issues in your relationship]
Love without effort isn’t love. When you love someone in any way and don’t put in the effort to make them some sort of a priority, it just isn’t love. If you love your friend, you will make time for them. You will listen when they need to talk. And if you love your partner, you will respect their time. You will make the effort to treat them well. You will pay attention to them.
Without you willing to put some effort into making that person happy, love doesn’t exist. [Read: How to make a relationship last]
The comfort of love is something that takes time to come when you’re in love. Comfort is a lack of nerves. It is a feeling of full relaxation. You aren’t overly aware of how you look, or doing something embarrassing.
That comfort is often built within a family. It is there with your friends. But, you can be in love and still feel butterflies. You can still get nervous. To love vs. being in love means the difference between comfort and being on edge. [Read: 20 ways to be comfortable in your own skin]
Passion is shared between two people who are in love. You might confuse this for chemistry, but it’s not the same. Passion is the intensity of the emotions you feel. It is the depth of joy, pleasure, and pain that goes along with that relationship. Passion can also be present when you love someone like your child, your pet, or a parent. It is just a different sort of passion. You may be just as prone to protecting them, standing up for them, and caring for them, but that feeling comes from a different place. [Read: How to find your own passion]
Love vs. in love is still a big question mark. All of these things can signify one, the other, or both in their own way. So, at the end of the day, 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.
Just remember, they are not mutually exclusive. You can both be in love and love someone at the same time. That may even be the best kind of love.
[Read: What is love? 22 signs of real love to know if your love is true]
If you want to have a happy and healthy relationship, knowing what the differences between love vs. in love are is important. But, remember that you don’t need one over the other.
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