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The Difference Between Loving Someone And Being 'In Love'

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Couple kissing between bikes
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Like many of you, I read a lot of dating blogs on a regular basis. One of my favorites is Evan Marc Katz, who some of you may be familiar with for having written Why You're Still Single. Although he's no longer single, having gotten married to a woman he met online, he's still dolling out excellent dating advice to his readers.

One such advice column is, "Is It Ok To Love Someone But Not Be In Love". In it, a reader asks what his girlfriend of two and a half years means when she told him she loves him but isn't 'in love' with him anymore, and how that affects their plans to buy a house together and marry within the next year. Katz's response to the reader is bang on, but that's not the reason for this blog posting today.

Rather, I want to talk about the feeling of being 'in love', and how it can blind us to a partnership of our dreams. Katz's blog posting got me thinking about this elusive but oh-so-wonderful feeling, and how we know we're in love in the first place. Also, is saying to someone that you care for them deeply, but aren't feeling that passionate oozy goodness anymore really a bad thing, or is it more an evolution of what truly loving someone is?

Its my opinion that love evolves, similar to what researchers have found when reviewing long term relationships and how feelings change throughout the lifetime of a relationship. There is the 'honeymoon' period, which can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to 18 months or so, where the 'in love' feelings are the most present. The highs are incredibly high, the lows are sometimes a bit scary, and as a whole its a pretty powerful, earth-shattering feeling. This is the stage where people act more impulsively than normal, and say things that they normally wouldn't.

Afterwards, most of us move into a more stable type of love (if the relationship can last through that crazy 'in love' process). Something more dependable, resilient, unconditional appears. Its not as heady for sure, but its the kind of love you know you can spend the rest of your life basking in, enjoying, growing old with.

For some of us, moving from the one stage to the other might feel a bit like 'falling out of love', or not being 'in love' anymore. For others, a crash not unlike a sugar high, and we crave more of that high again so we seek it out again elsewhere. Although I have yet to read any scientific proof that coincides with my feelings on this topic, but its my guess that this is why (and when) many relationships go south. To me, this is the stage where love becomes a choice, not a wave to ride, and for some of us, that wave is a bit too heady and exciting to not live with every single day of our lives. But is it realistic to think we can find that, and are we ending perfectly good, stable, loving relationships in search of it?

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