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Bonny Albo

The Difference Between Loving Someone And Being 'In Love'

By June 28, 2012

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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?

Comments
September 13, 2009 at 6:52 pm
(1) Terri says:

This is VERY true, down to the last letter…I’m 41 years old and have probably dated 50 boys, guys over the years to have been proposed to 10 times, only to have it hit that stage when the time came to marry, they weren’t “in love” with me anymore and there was usually a new female they were “in love” with that they’d been seeing at the time so yes, it’s probable.

Oh yes, let’s not forget the decades long marriage that ended because my ex got off on the “high” of becoming “in love” with his mistresses. Are there any sane men out there?

September 17, 2009 at 12:14 am
(2) Evgeny F. says:

you should exclude the aggression, it’s a first thing that prevents getting into healthy relationships. it can relate to anything which makes you unsafe and/or insecure. (no job, illness, homeless, and so on). i am not a scientist, just a thing that i know.

September 25, 2009 at 5:31 pm
(3) Alana M says:

I beleive being friends can help too. I just started dating my best friend and I have never been happier. Of course we don’t live in the same town so everytime I head back to the city I cry most of the way home and have that big lump that sits in my throat. I think of him 24/7 and worry about him. Oh I should let you know we have been friends for 18yrs and our kids grew up together. He is older then me and that bothered me a bit but now I am just glad that I have finally found what has been in front of me this whole time!

November 5, 2009 at 2:45 pm
(4) M says:

I completely agree. My ex told me this when he broke up with me not too long ago and I just remembered that my first true love said something similar a long time ago, yet he told me later on how much I mean to him and how I was the first person that he would turn to when significant event occured in his life. I guess some people just need that high and don’t appreciate the deep feelings that are between 2 people. Am I wrong to seek warmth and security? I always thought this is what love truly means.

November 9, 2009 at 5:26 pm
(5) E says:

IVE BEEN SEEING HER FOR THE LAST 4 YEARS 4 KIDS, 3 LIVES WITH HER…PROPOSED TO HER THIS YEAR…BUT SINCE THEN EVERYTHING WENT DOWN HILL FROM THEIR WHY??..I DO ALMOST EVERYTHING SHE LIKES…DOZEN ROSES EVERY 2 WEEKS..CONSISTANTLY,DRESS THE WAY SHE WANTS ME TO LOOK, TAKE CARE OF HER KIDS GAMES AND HOBBIES…BUT COME TO THINK OF IT SHE NEVER LIKE THE THING I LIKE…BUT I COME TO ACCEPT THAT…LOVE HER VERY MUCH..BUT LATELY SHE WONT GIVE ME THE TIME OF THE DAY…ALWAYS BUSY, TIRED, BUT SHE CAN MAKE TIME FOR OTHERS…LAST TIME I SAW HER WAS 3 WEEKS AGO…I KNOW SHE LOVES ME BUT LATELY I DONT THINK SHE’S NOT IN LOVE WITH ME…NEED ADVISE BECAUSE IM TIRED….

November 10, 2009 at 7:30 am
(6) Steve Bolton says:

Over time your true self naturally comes to the for – when you first meet and fall in love, you are not yourself, you make an effort to impress, you make allowances, but over time you settle back into your own ways, which may clash with how things were at the start of your relationship, and things seem worse than when you first met – never forget what attracted you in the first place, it can be easy to overlook.

August 12, 2010 at 10:37 am
(7) Veronika says:

i think that to be in love you firsf have to have loved someone, if you have to question if your in love, then your not. some people never come down off this high of being ‘in love’ but what does that mean? does it mean that they have found their solemate? being ‘in love’ is tje most amazing thing, the most powerful emotion, and the strongest hand.

February 27, 2011 at 9:51 am
(8) Kimmie says:

Ok, if you invest 13 years with someone but don’t marry them, can you question is it a convenient commitment or love? Truly, I feel he loves me in his own way which is more that giddy young love. But my feelings don’t have that romantic onlook but more of a compassion. We have many compatible areas like morals, most time God, family, some life dreams, but we differ with levels of sex desire, discipline with kids, alcohol use, ability to finance. There are days I feel I walk on eggshells but if I truly talk and open my feelings , he usually talks more too. And then we can get somewhere together for a moment. So is this true love, or the unconditional kind, or is it a relationship built on convenience and fear of looking further for a more emotional romantic love? There are warnings signs, we know each others flaws and do talk about them when on edge of giving up or terminating the relationship….and it usually buys more time….and that’s been 13 years times and raising my 4 kids together. Truly I am looking for my soulmate, is he right in front of me and can I get married with all the obstacles and two warnings that hold me back….money issues and alcohol?

April 2, 2011 at 4:28 am
(9) Rozana says:

Thank you so much, you have helped me make sense of so many things. Questions I had about my relationship have now been answered. I have been with my boyfriend for nearly 4 years and I love him so much but lately he hasnt been pouring out his love to me , hasnt been romancing me the way he use to and I thought he had fallen out of love with me, but infact after reading your article, I now understand that we have just moved from the honeymoon phase, the high stage of our relationship into a more comfortable phase and our foundations are strong enough to overcome anything ….thank you i feel at peace now.

January 24, 2012 at 12:18 am
(10) Denis says:

The notion of loving someone and being in love with someone has dominated much of the last 8 years of my dating life. I have come to realized that there are truly wonderful people out there who will be good to you and whom you may have a very comfortable life with. I have had this once but said good bye to it because what was missing was ‘the passion that I feel is necessary for a life long commitment to another person. Loving someone, to me, is not enough. Its important to have the chemistry for each other. I’m not talking about the euphoric feeling of being in love but the kind of love that has been forged over many years with someone whom you truly care about more deeply than someone you just met two months ago. True, its not the strong and euphoric love that many of us seek, but its a strong bond that some of us are fortunate to find with that special person. Its the kind of a bond that is similar to “being in love”, a bond that makes you want to have children with this person, a bond where you accept their flaws and truly want to grow old with this person. I am happy to say that, as far as I know, I have found this kind of a relationship with someone I have known and been friends with for many years. I hope that if you are reading this that I have given you something to think about. If you find yourself feeling like there is something missing, if you feel that you have given this relationship a good try and see yourself as friends but not life long lovers (yes, these relationships actually do exist) then keep looking. He/She is out there for you. You just have to find the passion and go for it because once you do, there won’t be any questions, you will just know. After all, life is too short, and you are too important not to have what you deserve; a person that you can truly call your best frined and lover.

September 5, 2012 at 2:02 pm
(11) Valentino says:

Ive read most of the comments and it makes me feel back to earth, most of you (us in the end) shows me that many, many people feel like I do! ignoring disdains, lack of appreciation, ignorance; at least I was thaught to refrain anger and being proper always, to sum it all up it has to be with the way were raised and I say all this because it took me 4 years to realize things related to my feelings for the girl I was dating, when all the family accepted our relationship, where there is a big difference in age, well… precisely then? our love started to fade, well as a couple at least; but we care fot each other in many, many ways, the passion and desire faded, but now Im sure now that either one of us wouldnt hessitate to help when in need. Indeed Im not in love anymore, but I love her anyways

September 5, 2012 at 2:42 pm
(12) Jose says:

Your article could not be more on target. I know a girl who fits the criteria of being “in love” and how this condition is blinding her to a partnership of her dreams. She is a bright, hard working, and caring human being. Yet, she chooses men who view her as something to use rather than someone to cherish. It is very sad to see her get involved with the men she is attracted to since the outcome is so predictable. I can only hope and pray that she will change and realize that being with a man is not just about how good he makes her feel in bed.

September 5, 2012 at 2:57 pm
(13) D Givehand says:

I was married for 35 years and lost my wife to a heart attacked that I blamed on her cigarette smoking. i was totally in love with her all of the time. spent countless hours having fun together, raising the kids. sex was always great. she passed in 2009.
i met someone who has great qualities. I almost wish I had met her years ago. Well truth is I did and had not seen her in more than 15 years. i asked her for a date she said yes and we have been seeing one another ever since that date. she tells me she loves me and I do the same. wonderful woman and many times I cannot see myself without her now. for a good while I though I was looking for dependency in a relationship. but it is more than that now. I have found a real Love with her and vice verso. We were about to separate a few months back over things that really had nothing to do with us. In 40 years I have had only 3 relationships of real value. I have been very cautious with my heart and feelings because feelings can come and go. We travel together, enjoy each others company and have a few things in common. I told her if we were to think alike or have everything in common I would be bored because there would not be any excitement to have or learn from. I pay attention to all she says and listen to her mind and heart…it has paid off. I am a happy man once again.

September 5, 2012 at 3:11 pm
(14) Harpyk says:

Love is an emotion that is as abstract as the concept of a freezing sun.
Nevertheless, in terms of relationships, loving someone is allowing your ego to be submissive to another’s ego occasionally and temporarily.
Being ‘in love’ is pure emotion devoid of ego. Being ‘in love’, the consumation of that love is the closest that one can get to the godhead.

September 6, 2012 at 4:00 am
(15) Marlene says:

I think “falling in love” is a hormone attack. Some people call it
“infatuation” but it’s the same feeling. Scientists call it “limerence,” to give it a neutral connotation. Not everyone has the hormones to feel this way and maybe they are the lucky ones. Animals can get the same feeling. It’s nature’s way of bringing us together. Typically in humans it lasts two years- just long enough to meet, copulate, give birth and nurse. Then it’s time to start over. There is such a thing as romance addiction too. When the romance is over the addict moves on. The other kind of love which is called “love agape” is ignored.

September 6, 2012 at 10:11 am
(16) Maria says:

I totally disagree….my parent were completely “in love” and I would not ever settle for anything less than that if I were to ever marry again. I married at a very young age and had no idea what I was doing except that ‘I thought” I loved the guy I married…as it turned out we were totally incompatible and we divorced after having one child. I proceeded to have many relationships each time loving with a deeper emotion until I met “the one” and finally had the most amazing experience of knowing what “truly being in love” was..that was almost 20 years ago and that wonderful intense feeling remains the same to this day…yes there are ups and downs but underneath it all the “in love” wins out every time. I feel sorry for those who do not understand what being “truly in love” is and I also think that not everyone has that miracle happen for them…or it does and they treat it badly and marry someone else but always think about the one they should have married. Sorry, but you are giving really bad advice to people out there…everyone deserves to know how wonderful it is to truly be “in love.”

September 15, 2012 at 4:38 pm
(17) Ash says:

I think we have to look for the ques when they start accumulating ever unchangeable in any relationship then we really need to take measures for our peace of mind and health.. right we need to be understanding but if our feelings are being undermined on a regular basis and solutions are never adopted and equal contributions then good luck in a relationship of hardship and perhaps disaster…yes its easier said than done to end things but i believe sometimes its really for the best as a last resort in a marriage because one may opt to go via other routes and lose hope and that’s unhealthy to live with a split personality … love your selves

September 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm
(18) ash says:

Maria you are 100% correct,,, because i’v been on both sides of the coin too and hope to end things on a good note too.. its just that much more worth while to have that love spark and mutual understanding for the rest of your life… :)

September 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm
(19) ruben pages says:

IN THE USA THERES ONLY ONE WORD FOR LOVE. WE LOVE THE DOG, WE LOVE THE CAR, THE HOUSE , YES, AND THE GIRLFRIEND OR WIFE. IN GREEK THERE ARE 4 WORDS: LOVE TO BROTHERS, PARENTS, GF/WIFE (EROS) AND UNCONDITIONAL TO ANYONE, (AGAPE) OF COURSE IT IS OK TO AGAPE GF/WIFE, BUT WITHOUT EROS, FORGET ABOUT “BUYING HOUSE”. TOGETHER. A COUPLE NEEDS TO BE ABLE TO JUMP IN BED AND FORGET EVERYTHING ELSE. NO EROS IS JUST ROOMMATES.

September 22, 2012 at 12:33 pm
(20) Deb says:

Thank you so much for this…… When I read it, I said to myself, FINALLY, someone who believes as I do. Love is more than just that “feeling” you get when you’re around that special person, and it does evolve into something much deeper than when you first meet each other. Love goes through many changes, and if you survive those changes, you really have something special indeed! Thank you again for your words of wisdom. They are “right on”.

September 24, 2012 at 5:31 am
(21) Gina says:

I have been seeing someone since last August. We have had a few bumps, mainly because of others trying to interfer. I want to get past this and he says the same thing. We both speak about our future tegether and how he knows I am the one, a keeper in his eyes. He tells me very often that he would have loved for both of us to meet 20 years ago so we could have a longer life together. Now it seems like another obstacle has come into play. His life long buddies, good people, is taking alot of his time. The time that we would spend nice quality time together. Now that time is very, very little. Sex has become very, very little as well. There has been times when arguements have come about due to what people say and a little twist on events that take place when alcohol has been involved with him and his friends. I lover him with my whole heart and I believe him when he says that as well. Please be objective with counseling. I will accept if things are closing, but it will be hard.

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