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We have all heard the phrase, “I love you, but I’m not “in love with you.” Being “in love” is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Moreover, just knowing that someone thinks glowingly of us in return is a blessing.
Yet, just the statement alone of loving someone while not being in love with them, shows us that there are differences between the two. It’s important to recognize these differences to avoid hurting someone who may not be on the same page as you… or prevent yourself from being the one that gets hurt.
Why Do We All Crave Love?
Affection and emotional intimacy are innately woven into the fabric of our being. From birth, we receive a loving attachment, which begins a life of being drawn to it even more. Furthermore, giving and receiving love is a pleasure and delight that we grow to enjoy as children and increases as we age.
Imagine when you were a child, and it was Christmas time. You couldn’t wait to receive gifts under the Christmas tree from parents that loved you. For me, it was always great to be able to give gifts to my parents and others in return as a show of love. Just the joy on their faces from our display of love to them warmed our hearts.
As we grew older, we desired to be in love and have someone be in love with us too. And while unrequited love can be heartbreaking, mutual feelings of true love is one of the most satisfying things a person can experience.
Love can be expressed in many different ways. Some of which is through acts of service to one another, physical touch, and spending quality time with one another. Other forms of love are through gift-giving and words of affirmation and praise. These five ways of expressing love are what author Gary Chapman calls the 5 Love Languages.
It is also interesting to note that we often show love in how we feel love from others. For instance, if we feel most loved when others give us a gift, that is usually the way we show others love by giving them presents from the heart.
However, not everyone feels loved the same way, so it is important to pay attention to those we love and show love in a way that will make them feel most loved. This can be done by paying attention to how they offer love to you.
For example, your best friend always compliments you and showers you with praises and affirmation. There is an excellent possibility that your friend craves love in the same manner. Therefore, you can't go wrong by spreading love to your friend the same way.
Being in love can often take us on a rollercoaster of emotions. In contrast, love in its truest form can be the stabilizing force in our relationships. Lastly, we all know some love can be strictly platonic and others romantic. So, let’s take a look at love vs in love.
Love vs Being in Love: 11 Basic Differences
There are different levels to love that it is essential to mention. So, let's look at the fundamental differences between loving someone and being in love.
1. Being in love can center around a romantic attraction
When you are in love with someone, there is usually an attraction there in a romantic way. It is a more profound emotion than simply loving someone in a platonic way.
When you are in love, there is an indescribable way in which you crave intimacy with a person. You want to be close to them, and they occupy your mind and thoughts throughout the day.
Furthermore, when you are in love with someone, you get distracted when they walk into the room. On the contrary, love doesn't require an attraction to another person to be love.
2. Love is centered on who a person is. Therefore, being in love may focus more on the idea of who a person is.
When we are in love, we can often be blinded to another person’s faults, even when those faults can be harmful to us. We look at them through rose-colored glasses and make excuses for their shortcomings.
You can best describe being in love as being infatuated with a person. However, loving someone is the ability to see their flaws and weaknesses and still feel strongly for them. You could say love is loving the person as a whole.
3. Being in love claims a person as their own. Love simply focuses on growing together.
When many of you are in love, you want to tell the whole world that “he is all mine” or “that is my woman.” We claim ownership of the person, which is not necessarily bad.
However, love simply focuses on building a relationship with a person, not focusing on who they belong to as if they are property.
4. Love keeps you grounded when you come down off the emotional high of being “in love.”
When you are in love, it can feel like you are on cloud nine. You walk around with your head held high. Being in love will also turn you into an optimist if you are usually cynical or pessimistic. It will make you feel there is hope for world peace and as if gas prices will get back below a $1.00 gallon.
However, love itself will keep you grounded. It is steady and consistent. You love and care for someone no matter external circumstances or what emotional state you are in.
5. Being “in love” is for relationships. Love is for everyone.
We can love our family, friends, community, and fellow man. But we all know that our love for an uncle varies from our love for a boyfriend or girlfriend. Being in love is usually a result of a relationship.
It is remarkable when you can look someone in the eye whom you are dating and say, “I am in love with you!” But, of course, that type of love is not reserved for mom and dad. But we share those particular emotions with people we share a romantic interest with.
6. When you love someone, you want what's best for them. When you are “in love,” you simply want them.
Being in love can blind us to circumstances and can be all-consuming. We can want someone because we are sincerely in love with them but being with us may not be what is best for that person. For example, when you are in love with a person, you may want them to live in the same town as you so that you two can be together.
Even though they have been offered the job of their dreams in another city far away. On the contrary, to love them is to say, “Though I want you here with me, this new opportunity offered is what you have always wanted and have been working hard to obtain. I wish you the best. We'll stay connected.”
7. Being “in love” is like a wildfire that grows, but love is a slow burn.
Being in love can have us all twisted up inside. It starts like butterflies in our stomachs and turns into a burning, unquenchable blaze within us. It is like an emotional high that you feel. However, love is work. It is consistency.
Furthermore, love is that thing that keeps you trying when you want to give up. Love is more of something you are doing, not something happening to you. Unlike “falling in love,” love is like a steady walk or a slow controlled burn.
8. Being “in love” can feel like a prison, but love can be freeing.
When you are in love, you hang on to every emotion of the person you love. If that person disapproves of something you have said or done, you can be handicapped by their opinion as you seek to “please them” or “make them happy.”
In addition, when you are in love, you will do all you can to make it right to stay in your love's good graces. You do this because you fear the ending of the relationship if you don’t.
On the contrary, love frees you to be you and your special someone to be themselves. Conflict is not chaos, it is simply a matter of you two working through it, and it strengthens the bond of your relationship. This type of healthy relationship is freeing and longer lasting.
9. Loving someone is a partnership. Therefore, being “in love” make one obligated to be a hero.
When a guy is in love with a woman, he often feels as if he needs to be her “knight in shining armor,” her “white knight,” or her “hero.”
Making her feel safe and secure in the world as a provider and protector. This is an excellent desire from a guy in a relationship.
However, when in a truly lasting and healthy relationship, a strong woman wants more than a hero; she wants a partnership. She has aspirations, dreams, and goals for herself and looks for a love with which she can build and grow.
Not to be treated as if she is hopeless or helpless.
10. Being “in love” can make you clingy. But when you love someone, you can simply give them space.
Being in love can often make you desire to cling to the person you love in a way that may not be the healthiest for the relationship. You always want them around, and if you’re not careful, you can become controlling and manipulative of their time and activities.
Moreover, you always want that person by your side and can even be intrusive and in their space.
However, loving a person enables you to give a person space without affecting the relationship. Furthermore, if you see your love talking with someone else, you are secure enough not to feel the need to always invade their space and make your territory.
Lastly, you understand and respect the need for space in a relationship.
11. Absence makes the heart lonely and needy when you're “in love.” However, love in the absence of your special someone makes the heart grow fonder.
When you are in love and still infatuated with someone, you can feel empty, needy, or begging for attention when they are not around. Because through the infatuation, you have allowed yourself to become so wrapped up in them that when you are with them, you're up.
But, when you are away from them, you become depressed. That is simply too much power to give another person over us long-term.
But to sincerely love someone, absence can make the heart grow fonder. Being away makes you love and appreciate that person even more and the joy they bring into your life.
Final Thoughts on Love VS Being In Love: 11 Basic Differences
Love can take many shapes and forms. Most all of us have platonic love for friends… and a special (I’m here for you) type of love for our families. Besides that, it is in our nature to desire to be “in love,” like a kid wanting candy.
But to have genuine, lasting love that reaches beyond the superficial is what our souls undoubtedly long for above all else. Falling in love is often the gateway, or the beginning. What we really desire is for that love to become something real, true, and unconditional.
In addition, being “in love” can be a fun, adventurous, and an exciting. Still, the kind of love we need to have to sustain the relationship and grow old with another person comes when we push past the infatuation “in love” stage.
Then we can seek unconditional love in its purest form… a place where we work to become selfless, caring, thoughtful, and servants to one another.