I’ve been in relationships with people I’ve been in love with and others with people I merely loved and the two are not the same. In fact, there are some major differences between them that affect their ability to last long-term.
- Love doesn’t require chemistry but you can’t be in love without it. For me, there was no chemistry with the guy I loved but wasn’t in love with. I cared about him but there was no sexual tension. Frankly, I just wasn’t attracted to him in that way, and while it took me a long time to realize that, I eventually had to face the facts. I cared deeply about him but I just wasn’t in love with him. Note that even though there needs to be an element of lust when you’re in love with someone, you can also have that without being in love. Confusing, I know.
- You can’t be in love with someone whose choices you don’t respect. It took me a while to figure this out, but I’ve realized that I can love someone and not respect their choices. I cannot, however, be in love with someone and not respect their choices because it causes me to fall out of love. It’s the reason Padme couldn’t be with Anakin anymore when he turned to Darth Vader in Star Wars. You should feel proud to be with the person you’re with and admire and respect the way that they think. People are imperfect, so if you love the core of them, it makes it easier for you to ignore the day to day things that annoy you. That’s who you stay in love with despite any growth or changes you experience over the course of your lifetime. It’s what keeps you choosing that person each and every day. It’s what makes you want to work through the hard times.
- There’s an element of magic when you’re in love. There’s no other word for it, really. It’s the reason you want to spend all your time with him and the reason he can’t say no to you even though he knows taking you to the pet store is going to result in bringing home another cat. There’s just something about your partner that causes you to forget about logic.
- You can support the hopes and dreams of someone you love but when you’re in love, their dreams become your own. You want them to realize their dreams as much as they want to achieve them. You do things to make them happy and it makes you just as happy to know that they’re happy. Your goals become their goals and vice versa; you become equal partners. There’s a level of interconnectedness that just isn’t accomplished by loving someone. You have to be in love to feel it.
- You’ll probably never get butterflies with someone you love; when you’re in love, they’re overwhelming. I was hesitant to write this one because if you’re together for long enough, the nervous butterflies do go away. However, I think a key difference is that when they do go away, you still feel the same about the person—you just don’t feel like throwing up anymore! In other words, your heart may not speed up when they walk into the room but you still look for them in the crowd.
- Loving someone is safe; being in love is scary. It’s good to feel safe with your partner, but there should also be an element of risk. It should be a little bit scary because that’s how you know you’re doing something worthwhile. When you’re in love, there’s always a risk of getting hurt and that can be terrifying. If you feel too safe, you might not be in love because you might not be risking getting hurt.
- If you aren’t sure if you’re love, you’re probably not. I spent a lot of time feeling unsure but convincing myself that I was in love. When I finally met someone that I did fall in love with, it was so obvious it was funny. I was definitely in love. Basically, if you have to question it, you already know the answer.
- You’d do anything for someone you’re in love with. When you’re in love, you’re willing to go that extra mile and do something that you wouldn’t normally do, whether that’s sitting though hours of watching tennis or trying out a new thing in the bedroom. When you love someone, you may be willing to try it, but probably only if it’s convenient for you.