What Does It Mean To Love Someone? Why It’s So Much More Than Butterflies

They say love is all you need, but what really is that feeling anyway? Sometimes, our feelings for someone can be misinterpreted even by ourselves. We may have butterflies or feel romantically attracted, but true love requires much more than that. Read on to find out what significance that emotion so many of us have experienced has in our lives and the world around us.

  1. It’s more than just a feeling. Before forming a deep, loving bond, most couples start out feeling in love. But this isn’t the same as actually loving someone. That someone requires getting to know each other intimately. Before this can happen, you may still feel completely captivated by the other person, daydreaming about them constantly and feeling a mix of excitement and nervousness when you see them. But this feeling is only infatuation. Real love is based on emotional attraction more than physical attraction, and it can take time to develop. By that point, you probably won’t have butterflies anymore, but in its place will be a stronger, more stable connection.
  2. You accept them as they are. If you love someone, you accept all of who they are. You’re not idealizing them or fantasizing about their potential. Instead, you see who they actually are, flaws and all. You don’t always have to like or agree with everything they think or do. But you recognize who they are and appreciate them for it.
  3. Your actions speak louder than your words. Have you ever heard that love is a verb? One of the most important qualities of love is showing your feelings. And this shouldn’t be self-gratifying. Your loving actions should be according to their love language and personal preferences. You take pride in figuring out what they like and how you can help and support them. And by taking these actions, you’re also putting in the work required to maintain and grow your relationship. That deep care for someone isn’t lazy or built on empty promises. It takes active effort to back it up.
  4. You truly want the best for them. When you really love someone, you want them to live their life to the fullest. You want them to go after their goals and succeed. And you want them to go after what is best for them in life—even if that isn’t you. This is one of the biggest factors that separates infatuation and true love. The latter isn’t selfish. It accepts that you may not get what you want, and you may not even share a future with someone you care about. And if you truly care for them, you can let them go if needed.
  5. Their happiness is almost as important as your own. Humans are hardwired to look after ourselves and ensure our own survival and wellbeing, but love interrupts this. It changes our thoughts and priorities so that we not only think of ourselves but of the object of our affection too. If you care deeply about someone, their happiness is super important to you, and you consider their feelings and needs as much as you can. Of course, you shouldn’t neglect yourself in the process. Love isn’t the same as self-sacrificing or people pleasing. But loving someone does require balancing your own happiness and needs with someone else’s.
  6. But you don’t lie to spare their feelings. Just because you care about their happiness, you don’t have to lie to spare their feelings. Part of loving someone is also respecting them, not misleading them, and not keeping damaging secrets. If there’s a truth they need to know, the loving thing to do is tell them kindly.
  7. You don’t always understand, but you try. Loving someone doesn’t guarantee that you’ll always understand them. But at the same time, love isn’t judgmental. You don’t make assumptions or expect the worst just because you can’t relate. Loving someone is all about working to try to understand them. You might read about a life event they’re going through or ask questions to learn more about their perspective. Even when you can’t relate to a problem they have, you try to treat them with compassion and patience.
  8. You care even if your relationship changes. There’s a difference between loving someone and loving the role they play in your life. Truly loving someone is all about continuing to care about them even if their role in your life changes. Maybe your boyfriend’s schedule changed and he can’t spend as much time with you as he could before. Or perhaps you moved and now have to make your relationship work long-distance. Your love for each other won’t vanish just because of these changes. Even when a relationship ends in a breakup, truly loving each other is continuing to care even as you go your separate ways. When someone can no longer offer you what they once could, but you still care about them as a person, that’s a sign that you truly love them.
Relationship educator, writer, host of the Relationship Reminders podcast, and mental health advocate hailing from the US and currently based in Tokyo