19 Differences Between Loving Someone and Actually Being in Love

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By Darryl Henderson

Have you ever heard the line, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you”? Knowing the different types of love can help you navigate relationships better, so for guidance, here are 19 key differences between loving someone and actually being in love with them.

The Emotional Investment

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Emotional investments differ between when you love someone and when you’re in love with them. For the former, you have a deep concern for their well-being, but for the latter, that emotional investment is an intense desire to bond with them emotionally and continue that depth into the future.

How Often You Think About Them

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The difference between loving someone and being in love can often be the way you think of them. If you love someone, you’ll think of them often, but if you’re in love with someone, it’s more likely they’ll consume your thoughts to the point it can even impact your daily life!

The Level of Physical Attraction

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Physical attraction can be present both when loving someone and being in love, but it’s usually more prevalent with the latter. Verywell Mind explains that physical attraction can be “the result of the chemistry between two people,” something that won’t be present if you just love them rather than being in love.

How Much You’re Willing to Commit

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Loving someone doesn’t mean that you also want to commit to them, which is why many people can choose to end a relationship even if they still love a person. Being in love usually requires a lasting commitment, whereas loving someone is more platonic and doesn’t have to be consistent.

The Relationship as a Priority

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When you’re in love with someone, that relationship will often be the biggest priority in your life and the main focus of any life decisions. Conversely, loving someone doesn’t necessarily mean that you prioritize your relationship with them; you’ll both do your own thing and won’t make big decisions together.

The Emotional Impact

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Another key difference can be the impact the relationship has on your emotions. When you love someone, it will usually bring positive feelings and predictable emotions, whereas being in love with someone can be an emotional rollercoaster, from joy to sadness.

How Much You Sacrifice or Compromise

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We should always be willing to compromise for those we love, but how much can change depending on love versus being in love? Being in love will require far more regular sacrifices and compromises to make the long-term relationship work; with friends you love, this isn’t usually expected.

The Long-Term Vision

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Another distinction is that loving someone is very much about sharing a positive relationship while not necessarily sharing a vision. You can love someone whilst on different journeys, whereas being in love with someone puts more focus on sharing a long-term vision and planning a compatible future.

Communication Style

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Another difference can be communication style, which is straightforward between two people who love each other. Meanwhile, when you’re in love, this becomes more complex. Psychology Today reminds us, “If a partner doesn’t own their feelings… it undermines trust and communication”, so it’s more of a balancing act when you’re in love.

Levels of Trust

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The meaning of trust can differ greatly between loving someone and being in love. With the latter, trust is unconditional and the key foundation of your relationship. However, when you love someone, trust is very much changeable depending on how you both live your lives. Trust is still there, but reliance? Not so much.

The Amount of Time Spent Together

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Time spent together can be another key difference between loving someone and being in love. You can love someone over a distance and barely see them without your connection weakening, yet being in love involves spending as much time together as possible. There are exceptions, of course, such as long-distance relationships.

Issues of Jealousy and Insecurities

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Being in love can result in intense feelings of jealousy and unmask insecurities, which can be much more significant than feelings of jealousy over someone you love. It’s easy to manage when you feel jealous about someone you love, but it can require effective communication with someone you’re in love with.

The Amount of Effort You Put In

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Loving someone means making a positive effort, but it can often be put on the back burner while you deal with other commitments—they still know you love them regardless! However, being in love means constant effort from both parties and a consistent effort to maintain passion; otherwise, the relationship can fall apart. 

Potential for Individual Growth

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Personal growth will be different between love types in that loving someone allows for growth independently from a relationship, whereas being in love means personal growth affects both your and your partner’s needs. The Economic Times agrees that romantic relationships are a key source of growth, so satisfying both parties is essential.

The Reasons Behind Conflict Resolution

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Another key difference can be the reasons behind conflict resolution; loving someone means you just want to keep harmony and positivity, yet being in love means it’s much deeper. Your emotional connection is reliant on understanding each other’s problems and ensuring any conflict is resolved in a mutual manner.

Limitations of Patience and Understanding

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Both loving and being in love require patience and understanding, but loving someone gives you freedom in setting your limits. Conversely, being in love requires a higher level of patience and understanding due to the need to emotionally connect with your partner and move forward.

The Impact Love Has on Your Life Choices

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When you love someone, it can be an influence on your life, but it doesn’t have to impact every single one of your life choices. In comparison, being in love means your partner influences every life choice you make if you’re in a relationship, even down to small, everyday decisions.

How You Express Affection

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One of the biggest differences between loving someone and being in love is how you express affection; with the latter, you will use more passionate gestures driven by deep emotion and can combine the physical and the emotional. On the other hand, loving someone usually involves more neutral, considerate gestures, such as thoughtful gifts.

Sense of Security

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Finally, emotional security “contributes to true intimacy and trust,” points out PsychCentral, which is imperative when you are in love within a relationship. In contrast, when you love someone, security is generally more of a practical idea within the relationship, which doesn’t affect well-being as easily.

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