There are many different ways you can love someone. Even though love is an incredibly powerful emotion, there’s a significant difference between love vs. in love, and it’s important to recognize which is which.
It’s not always easy to tell which is which, especially if love is a new emotion to you. If you’re wondering where your heart lies in your relationship, or you’re feeling like you may have lost the spark that comes with being in love with someone, then this article will help.
Here you’ll learn about the differences between simply loving someone and being in love with them. We’ll talk about the benefits of each type of love, common indicators to look for, and then give you several comparisons to make it easy to tell which is which.
This way, you can not only know when you have the real thing but also guard your heart if your feelings are starting to run too deep (or not deep enough) for that special someone.
The Chemistry of Love
Although you feel the emotion of love deep within your soul, it’s actually a chemical reaction that happens inside your body and brain. When you first fall in love, your body produces feel-good chemicals that make you look at the world, and the object of your affection, through rose-colored glasses.
You see all of their positive traits and attributes. You’re addicted to their voice, touch, and presence. Some people even report that they can’t eat or sleep because they are so consumed with the feeling.
During these early days, your body is trying to increase your sexual attraction and get your heart racing. It produces dopamine and norepinephrine, which make you feel giddy and euphoric.
This initial surge is what most people think of when they imagine being in love. Although it’s intoxicating and exciting, that feeling isn’t something that your body can maintain long-term. That’s why many long-term couples say things like, “I still love them, but I’m not in love with them anymore.”
Psychological experts call that in love feeling that you get the New Relationship Energy phase (NRE). Though the feeling of being blissfully in love will fade for most couples over time, it is a strong signifier that you have the start of a fantastic relationship.
Even more encouraging, many successful couples will find themselves falling back into these feelings many times throughout the years when their relationship changes and evolves into something that feels new.
Once you move past falling in love, you hit the stage of being in love. Here, your body produces different chemicals like oxytocin and vasopressin, which encourage you to deepen and strengthen your bonds.
These are the chemicals that make you want to cuddle and get to know your partner in every possible way. It’s when you’re in love that you start establishing thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that make you want to stay with someone forever.
Reasons Being In Love is Amazing
Being in love is energizing and thrilling, but it’s also the first step to fully physically and emotionally bonding with your partner. All of the feel-good chemicals rushing through your body open you up to forming a deeper attachment and help to trust more fully.
Part of this feeling includes extreme attraction to one another, and this is often where the sparks really start to fly. During the stage of being in love, not only will you learn about each other on a deep, emotional level, but you’ll likely also do a lot of exploring on a physical level as well.
Not every couple will experience the sensation of being in love. Some people are amazing friends whose relationship evolves into a committed love, and they skip over the part where they get stars in their eyes and butterflies in their stomach over their partner. Sometimes, that lack of initial chemistry may mean that they have to work harder down the road to keep the spark alive.
Reasons Loving Someone is Amazing
Being in love is a rush, but if you do it right, eventually, that heady feeling will give way to true love. Sometimes, when couples compare love vs. in love, they prefer the thrill and obsession of that initial feeling. But once you get past the outpouring of chemicals and hormones, that’s when you start to really establish the depth of your feelings and understand your long-term compatibility as partners.
When you fully love someone, you plan your future together. You’ve invested in one another’s happiness. You care deeply and are willing to compromise or sacrifice to make your relationship work.
If you have a healthy relationship, you respect and rely on your partner, and know that you can always count on them to be there.
There are endless emotional benefits to knowing that you have someone by your side who loves and understands you. Healthy relationships can help combat loneliness and depression, improve your immunity, and decrease your blood pressure.
Loving relationships where you have trust and respect can also offer financial and logistical benefits.
The best part is that you won’t completely sacrifice that new in love feeling that you had in the beginning. Couples who invest time in practicing good relationship behaviors and who put effort into communication and connection will cycle through numerous phases of being in love through the years.
Differences Between Love and In Love
Sometimes, it’s easier to tell if you’re experiencing feelings of love vs. in love by considering different emotions or scenarios. Here are many common examples that will help you to decide which is happening to you.
Are You Infatuated or Committed?
One of the common indicators that you’re falling in love with someone is that you feel infatuated with them. If you feel like you can’t get enough, want to be with them as much as possible, and miss them the minute that you’re apart, then you understand this feeling.
Even the most independent people may go through this, but a critical factor in determining if this is a deeper, more meaningful love is how you think about them long-term.
Do you see yourself with them years from now? Are the qualities that make you happy today ones that you value, or things you like this moment?
It’s all right if the answer to these questions is no. You can still feel deeply about someone and be in love with them if the relationship is meant to be more short-term or physical.
If the answer is yes, then you might be on the path to a love that will last. When you’re interested in commitment, you start to accept your partner, flaws, and all. This is where you begin to move past the initial attraction and build something together. It’s where you develop a love that isn’t dependent on conditions. It’s steadfast and won’t change no matter what trials you face as a couple.
Are You Willing to Let Them Grow?
During the infatuation stage of your relationship, you’ll likely feel an all-consuming need to be with them all the time. You want to be around them and involved in every aspect of their life, and sometimes, that can lead to feelings of jealousy or being controlled.
Although these feelings of possessiveness are common, they’re not always healthy. When you’re in love with someone, you may not always be able to take a step back from the situation and understand what’s best for you and them.
But when you’re experiencing real love, you’re able to see clearly if it’s time to let them go so that they can grow into the person they’re meant to be.
We’ve all heard the saying, “if you love someone, let them go.” In healthy, lasting relationships, that doesn’t mean that things come to an end. Rather, you give the person you care deeply about the chance to live their life the way they want and to keep you in it.
Over time, you will both appreciate your growth, progress, and evolution as both individuals and as a couple. You will support one another and be the reason for each other’s success.
Are You Able to Be Stable and Balanced With Them?
Loving someone means you care about their happiness, and sometimes you put their needs above your own to bring them joy. When you’re in love, that can happen often, and some people find that they lose themselves in the early stages of their relationships.
If you are continually deprioritizing yourself, changing plans, or adjusting your life for a chance to be around them, you’re likely in love. But that behavior isn’t healthy for the long-term.
When you truly love someone, you’re still willing to sacrifice and compromise, but you do it from a place of stability and balance where you’re also able to maintain your sense of self. Rather than changing everything for more time with your person, you’re confident enough to know that your relationship will survive if you spend hours or days apart.
You will give yourself permission to focus on the things that are most important to you, and step away from the somewhat codependent behavior that you have when you’re falling in love.
Are You Able to Be Comfortably Yourself Around Them?
In the early days of dating and falling in love, there’s a constant, underlying pressure to be the best version of yourself. You try always to be beautiful or handsome, funny, smart, and amazing to be around.
That’s natural and normal, and one of the ways that you can get someone to fall in love with you. Once you start to feel more comfortable and develop deeper feelings is when you begin to show more sides of who you are.
When your emotions become real love, bad hair days, flaws, struggles, and fights come to the surface, and you have an opportunity to be comfortable around each other. This is where you can decide if you still feel the same despite their flaws, and where your commitment to one another grows deeper.
Are You Confident in Your Relationship?
Falling in love isn’t always a beautiful, flawless process. Often, there are a lot of insecurities and doubts, as well as uncertainty about the future of your relationship. It’s normal to second guess your emotions when you’re in love.
Questioning if your partner is “the one,” or if you’re truly right for each other is natural, and can help you decide if it’s worth giving your whole heart for the long-term.
In the early days, every small fight or disagreement can feel monumental, and it could also be something that ends your relationship. However, when these small arguments morph from certain doom to just part of who you are as a couple, you know that you’re evolving into real love.
If you have a healthy relationship, you’ll start to feel confident and safe in the knowledge that you will stand the test of time. You know that you’ll experience highs and lows together, but that you’ll always find your way back to each other.
Can You See Yourself Without Them?
Although being in love is thrilling and at times, all-consuming, it’s not always the best thing for you. If you’re falling in love but realize that you’re changing the core of who you are to adapt to the person they need you to become, you might eventually outgrow them.
Although change and compromise are inevitable if you grow to love a person truly, you shouldn’t compromise your values or ideals for them.
If you reach a point in your relationship where you still feel profoundly but can also see yourself walking away and being happy, then you might not be as committed as you think.
Is it About You or Them?
Love can be a selfish emotion. If a close friend asked you why you love your person, what would you say? If the answer is “because of how they make me feel,” then it’s likely you’re still only in love with them.
As your connection to them grows, you’ll quickly discover that it’s less about how you feel and more about how cherished you can make them feel in return. When you get to the point where you’re both giving and receiving equally, then you know that your love has grown beyond just a physical connection.
How Difficult Is it to Love Them?
Love isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t be hard either. If you have a healthy relationship, you’ll invest a lot of time and energy into communicating, showing one another that you care, and making an effort to make each other’s lives better.
That might mean some occasional arguments or even big blow-out fights, but they will always have a purpose and an end result of a stronger bond between you.
If your relationship is exceptionally hard, or you constantly feel like you have to force that communication and connection, then the feelings may not be as deep as you had hoped. You can be in love with someone who isn’t meant for you long-term, and most often, that will make it feel challenging to love them through the hard times.
What to Look For in a Sustainable Relationship
Now that we’ve identified some common differences between love vs. in love, it’s essential to know what qualities will help determine if your relationship is built to last.
Here are some of the most important factors that will determine if you’ve found someone who you can grow with and potentially love forever.
Healthy relationships have:
- Open communication
- Shared responsibility
- Emotional and physical safety
- Common values
- Understanding of “deal breakers”
If you want to take your love to the next level, explore these areas with your partner.
How to Feel In Love Again
One common complaint among couples in long-term relationships is that they feel like they’ve lost the spark that caused them to fall in love in the first place. Fortunately, experts have a variety of tips, techniques, and exercises you can do to bring that magic back and recreate that feeling again. Here are a few things you can try.
Say the Things You Haven’t Said
Over time, tension can build up in a relationship when two people aren’t communicating what they want or need. It’s not always easy to have those conversations, and often, couples simply leave their grievances unsaid.
This can lead to feelings of neglect, frustration, or even anger, and that can kill the spark in anyone’s love life.
Before that happens, find a way to sit down and have a heart to heart with your partner. Communicate all of the things that you need to say to each other to get back to a place of love and communication.
One therapist recommends talking about these grievances as separate from yourself by saying things like “my ego wants to tell you” or “my heart and brain disagree.” That could make it easier to talk through issues without them feeling so personal and uncomfortable.
Do Something to Improve Their Life
Love is a two-way street, and it’s hard to rekindle a flame if you’re not also willing to put in the effort. Sometimes, it’s easiest to start with things that you can directly control, like your behavior.
Try doing something unexpected, like a chore they hate or an errand that they need to run. This gesture of kindness is not only sweet, but it will help remind your brain that this person is worth caring about.
Their reaction could also spark good feelings for you, and it might inspire them to return the favor. If you get back to a place of constantly doing nice things for one another, then you’ll be behaving like two people in love again.
Take a Little “Me” Time
The saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” is well-known for a reason – it’s often true. Although it might seem counterintuitive, spending time apart from one another can help to rekindle the spark in your relationship.
By taking the time and space to reconnect with who you are as a person, you have the opportunity to grow and rediscover the things that made your partner fall in love with you, to begin with.
After a bit of time apart, you may find that you feel more yourself, and they love you all the more for it.
Spend More Quality Time Together
If you live with your partner, chances are you spend a lot of time together. Ask yourself – is it quality time?
If you’re often in the same room but are distracted by the tv, your computer, your kids, or your phone, then you’re not connecting on that deeper level that will help keep your love strong.
Take time to disconnect from the world around you and just focus on each other. Talk about things that matter to you, and spend time actively listening to your partner. Ask them questions, engage in conversation, and be intentional about the time you spend together.
You might find that more quality time means that your bond deepens in a way you didn’t expect, and leads back to those feelings of being in love again.
Laughter makes everything better, and sharing a deep, belly laugh with your partner can help you to remember why you love them so much. Couples that laugh together often have longer, happier relationships than those who don’t. If you think back to the early days of your relationship, chances are you shared a lot of laughs then too.
Take the time to be silly, goofy, and just plain hilarious with one another and see if you find your romance again.
There are different types and levels of love. Although they feel different, they’re both based on meaningful connections. With time, effort, communication, and trust, you could build your passionate feelings into something more.
Whether you’re experiencing love or falling in love, enjoy the joy of letting another person into your heart.