This is one of the bigger questions that everyone has to ask themselves at some point in life. No matter what the answer is, it’s important to establish what defines and distinguishes each boundary from the other. What does it mean when you love someone versus when you’re head over heels in love with them? Look for these key signals that will help you figure out where you stand.
- You love them: you value their privacy and boundaries. This person is clearly very special and you have strong feelings for them. You’re close, and you spend a lot of time together, but when that intimacy becomes too much, there are boundaries that you each have that you abide by. This means that you trust each other and feel safe enough to assert these boundaries, but at the end of the day you spend with them, you’ll probably still be a little tired and drained. They’re wonderful, but they’re not your person.
- You love them: you love doing fun things with them. Having great friends and family members to do fun things with is an essential part of life. You can suggest things like going to the cinema to see the latest Marvel film without feeling nerdy, and you’ll drag yourself to a concert they suggest without losing your smile. You can both compromise for each other, but at the end of the day, you sometimes have different needs and habits. That’s okay, that’s what friendship is!
- You love them: you want to protect them. Maybe it’s like seeing your younger brother get hurt, or maybe it’s something more complex and more ambiguous than that. Either way, when you see them hurting, it hurts you. That means that you love them and have a strong sympathy and connection with them. You have a compassionate and long-lasting bond, and you always look out for each other. It’s more stable and secure than a romantic bond at the start, but it’s intense.
- You love them: you want to know all about them. Every friendship has its stage of obsession and jealousy – that’s why a lot of the time it’s hard to figure out whether it’s a romantic or platonic attraction. Sometimes it’s both, but most of the time it’s just really confusing at the start, particularly if you’re open to both alternatives (or hoping for one). Getting a read on a situation is always hard because you can’t read each other’s minds to avoid hurting each other. That said, when you love someone, whoever it is, you want to know all about them and get to the core of their personality. You might even mimic aspects of their personality that you particularly admire. The line between admiration and attraction is thin and often crossed. If you love someone, it often represents personal insecurity or aspiration.
- You’re in love with them: you see a future with them. This is a different sort of love than the first kind. Here, you want to imagine a future with them, be it living together or just evolving your relationship. Ask yourself: how often do you fantasize about your friends? Rarely, because they are the ceiling, the pinnacle, of your platonic relationships. When you’re in love, that’s when you have more room for dreaming because you want to progress things even further. They work to make this happen too. You aren’t just taken for granted or left aside.
- You’re in love with them: all time with them is quality time. You don’t need to plan fancy dates or expensive weekend getaways. While, with some friends, you might only hang out on account of shared hobbies or bands that you used to love when you were younger, when you’re in love, there’s no such pressure. You could lay around all day in PJs and be just as fulfilled as a minibreak to Paris.
- You’re in love with them: you want to meet their family. Rather than wanting to know all about them, you go a step further. You want to meet their friends and all the people important to them to understand them better. Also, because you care about them just as much as they do.
- You’re in love with them: all the songs make sense. This is a simple one. When you find yourself self-inserting to all the media that you consume in order to channel these feelings, that’s when you know. If you’re on a Taylor Swift deep dive, you’re probably already there.
This is a list that is by no means hard and fast, but if you see yourself cropping up on one side more than the other, then maybe it can offer an insight into your feelings. Good luck, and take your time.