Is there was a difference between loving someone and being in love with them? I was asked that question recently by a confused young woman. After thinking about it for a moment, I decided the answer is without a doubt “yes.“
The dizzying “in love” feeling is the romantic stuff fairy tales and dreams are based on. Children are raised on stories filled with instant attraction, romantic longing, danger, and high drama. The valiant Prince/King/Knight/Pauper saves somebody’s Princess/Queen/Damsel/Daughter, falls in love with her beauty… they marry and live happily ever after. We then grow up to believe that having a relationship is going to save us from a lifetime of loneliness or pain, and make all our troubles disappear.
Falling in love is an experience that is both scary and exhilarating. When we are in love our senses are stimulated to the maximum. The phrase “chemistry” has special meaning because we feel a tingle, a spark, an aliveness that we don’t feel under any other circumstances. The sight, sound or touch of our beloved makes our heart jump. We get exasperated, frustrated, and feel somewhat off-center because of our doubts and questions, but, like an addict, we cannot get enough.
This “unsureness”, coupled with the desire to win the heart of the target of our affections is the Petri dish which cultivates the love bug and wild passion. We can’t stop thinking of our new love, wondering how he or she feels about us. We’re on edge, anticipating that first kiss, the first touch, the first night together. We wonder what our partner is doing, thinking, or saying in our absence. Our days are filled with longing and our nights with passionate sex. The desire to touch, kiss, and hold our beloved is overwhelming, and we can’t keep our hands off each other.
Some of us will lose all sense of self when we are in love. Others claim to be helplessly in love with people they don’t like, have nothing in common with, or know for a fact don’t love them back.
Digesting my long-winded definition of “in love” we come out with this. When she says that she loves you, but isn’t IN LOVE with you, that means she cares, doesn’t want to see anything bad happen to you, she may even respect and admire you – but she has absolutely no passionate desire for sexual intimacy. In other words, she cares for you like a brother. You are in THE FRIEND ZONE and aren’t coming out.
Being in love is truly wonderful, and an important part of creating a loving relationship. But if you don’t have feelings like THAT for your partner, does it mean that a relationship doesn’t have the capability to be rewarding, satisfying and long-term?
The answer to this question is: “that depends on what you are looking for in a relationship.”
Romantic personalities often expect life to imitate art. These people seek to find what they call “my soul mate” and believe that an immediate and passionate attraction is the only foundation upon which a relationship should be built. One guy explained to me: “I want to feel that she is perfect, the one I’ve been looking for all my life. I want to light up when she comes into the room!” It is inevitable that any woman this guy meets is NOT going to be the Perfect Princess of the fairy stories, and his real life relationships will always prove to be a disappointment.
Realistic personalities are wise enough to know that basing your relationships on the “in love” feelings and abandoning the relationship when those feelings ebb like the tide is not the wisest decision. To truly love someone takes time. You cannot love anyone for who and what they are when you met them 10 minutes ago, have sent emails back and forth but never met or dated, or you’ve never seen angry.
Likewise, you cannot love someone for who and what they are if you aren’t honest with them about who and what YOU are. “Love” under those circumstances is just an illusion.
When you’ve had a few ups and downs, and share a bond created by affection, commitment, caring, security and trust, then you have love. Relationships where love rules provide a warm place to become vulnerable, to openly relate to our partner, and a willingness to share of ourselves and our lives are the best. When we feel safe we are an open book, risking hurt and heartbreak, trusting that the benefits of loving this person will far outweigh the risk!
You may be one of the lucky ones who loves someone that you are also deeply in love with. However, you may be caught up in a romantic soap opera, in love with someone you know will never truly love you back. Sadly, not everyone we are in love with is a good prospect for creating a loving relationship. But let’s hope that you never hear the words “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” and that you are instead the recipient of passionate love, commitment and romance… the stuff that dreams are made of!
© 2008 Deborrah Cooper. Deborrah has worked in the relationships field for close to 20 years. She’s written dozens of relationship articles and writes a weekly advice column using the pen name “Ms. HeartBeat.” Her works appear on the website AskHeartBeat.Com, which focuses on modern dating issues and relationships for both teens and adults. Deborrah is also the author of Sucka Free Love – How to Avoid Dating The Dumb, The Deceitful, The Dastardly, The Dysfunctional & The Deranged, a guide book for singles on modern relationship issues and the games singles play.
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