General Question

Bluefreedom's avatar

How do you distinguish or interpret the difference between being "in-love" and "loving" someone?

Asked by Bluefreedom (22926points) January 8th, 2009

Is it essentially the same for many people or is there a clear distinction between the two?

If you “fall out of love” with someone, can you still deeply love them and be close to them?

Is it even that important to analyze it so closely or should you just let your feelings happen spontaneously and just go with what feels most natural to you?

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17 Answers

inoffensive's avatar

I think you’re over-rationalizing something that’s supposed to be very much subjective. Don’t analyze it, just go with the flow (what a cliché, i know, but i guess it’s the tuth).

Jack79's avatar

There is actually a biological distinction between the two that has to do with hormones and so on, I read an article a couple of years ago but forget the details.

Basically being “in love” has a lot to do with sex, and regardless of whether you actually do it or not, it is part of what draws you to the other person. You do not rationalise about why you want to be with them, because what your body basically wants is to reproduce. This doesn’t mean that you couldn’t fall in love with someone’s wit or taste in interior decoration, but this type of love is essentially a very instinctive one.

Loving someone (not necessarily sexually) has to do with wanting to be socially with them, which is what families are based on. I think the first hormone runs out after about a month or so, which means it’s impossible to stay “in love” longer. But hopefully by then you’ll know the person well enough and decide to stick around, and eventually marry (or “mate” if you want to go back to basics). And that type of love is deeper and can last for years.

At least that’s how I see it anyway.

asmonet's avatar

If I’m in love, I’m consumed by it. It’s everywhere. And in everything and I am completely and totally at home.

Yes, you can still love them after it’s over.

Just roll with it.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@asmonet. I like your description of being ‘in love’. Well worded and simple yet quite meaningful too, in my opinion.

charliecompany34's avatar

being in love is the infatuation level. there is some “chemistry” going on there that potentially leads to “loving.”

“loving” means a trust factor has been established and you have accepted faults and shortcomings of your partner. love is action and not just words. when he puts gas in your car or goes out of his way to care about little details that make you happy, that’s love.

(or at least the “tip of the love iceberg.”)

love “after it’s over” is different. you tend to be in “care” drive and you advise your ex-partner based on what you already know about his/her ways.

millastrellas's avatar

@asmonet, good answer and very true. You can definitely ‘see love’ in someone who is in love.
@charlie, i like your description of loving as well.
@bluefreedome, good question! it’s one my sister and I usually always love to discuss.

Judi's avatar

I thought Disney and Bambi got it right. “Twitterpaited” is a great way to describe “in love.” Very much like how asmonet described.
Problem is that people think that those levels of endorphins will last for ever and think their “out of love” when the bodies reaction gets back to normal.

Siren's avatar

I think if you “fall out of love” with someone, that means you may not want to be with them 100% of the time anymore, although you still have residual feelings for them, or think of them like a brother or sister (ie nonsexual). Deeply loving someone sounds like love to me.

When you said “wanting to be close to them” did you mean being physically close to them, or were you speaking in terms of keeping in touch verbally on a regular basis?

Bluefreedom's avatar

@Siren. When I mentioned still being close to them, I was referring to permanently staying in touch with them but whether that would be in a physical/intimate sense would depend on each individuals circumstances and needs, I think.

Siren's avatar

I think it still sounds like brotherly/sisterly love if you just want to stay in touch with them and keep in contact. And that’s okay. But the important thing is knowing what the distinction is between (1) wanting to be with someone all the time and (2) wanting to stay in that person’s life, albeit not as often AND not being in love with them anymore.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

I KNOW it’s possible to love someone with all your being by staying in touch with someone, not necessarily living with them. Love isn’t contained within a house. It’s in your heart & in your head. It’s something you feel that you know will never go away. When it’s a stituation like that, it can be painful, but you just can’t let it go. It would be easier to just say ‘I’m done.’ but if you truly love someone, you don’t just flip a switch & shut it off. This love that I’m talking about, will be with me for the rest of my life.

Siren's avatar

@jbfletcherfan: sounds like a love lost. Sorry if that happened to be the case.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@siren…I don’t know how to answer that. I’ll say yes & no. It’s hard to explain. I first thought I didn’t want to see him. It was too painful to remember the good times & the memories. But that was worse than NOT seeing him, you know? I see him every day. We sometimes get to talk, but not NEAR as much as I’d like. We used to talk every day, several times a day. Now it’s hit & miss. I HATE it. But when we do talk, it’s like all the lost time slips away. Lost love? God, I hope not. Certainly not for me. And I pray, deep down in the secrets of his heart, not for him, either. I have things to remind me of him. Material things. A letter that I carry with me. 2 CD’s that he made for me that I will forever cherish. A VM that I’ve saved 100 times so it won’t be deleted. At least I can hear his voice any time I want to. The close communication that we no longer have hasn’t deminished my love for him in the least. I’m sorry if this all sounds sad. It IS sad. I connected with this man like no other. But even if this is all we ever get, my life is richer because of this beautiful person. I still hope for a ‘someday’. I will always hope for that ‘someday’.

Siren's avatar

@jbfletcherfan: Why don’t you try to reconcile then? It sounds like he is still communicating with you on a regular basis. I just don’t like the idea of people not getting together if they both feel it’s right. Anyways, just my opinion folks.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

@siren, thank you for your understanding. But it’s not possible. Not right now. Maybe never. Too many obstacles in the way. Just being able to talk again like we used to would be wonderful. I’ll never give up hoping for that. He knows where I am.

wundayatta's avatar

@Bluefreedom, I had an immediate resonance to your question. If you’ve been following my story, you probably know something about what I mean.

I’ve been married for around 18 years, and over the last eight of those years, my wife and I slowly grew ever further apart. I no longer felt like I was in love with her.

I’d been given to expect that that in-love feeling wouldn’t last forever, and that it would be replaced by something more solid and long-lasting. I don’t know if I blew it, or if my expectations were misguided, or what, but for a long time I was living with my wife as we were a business team.

After a while, I couldn’t take it anymore. When I found Askville, I started meeting women who seemed to be in similar situations as mine: sexless marriages or loveless marriages. Sometimes sex but no love. Sometimes love, but no sex. Sometimes neither.

What happened? I fell in love. Maybe five or six times. It was pretty intense. I was a love junkie, and I needed the intensity, and the feeling that I was very important to someone, in a way I did not seem to be with my wife.

Being who I am, I never wanted to be a cad, and hurt anyone. However, each of those relationships broke up for a variety of reasons. The fact that they all believed I love my wife, and that they didn’t want to come between us played a part in all those relationships. The other thing, perhaps unique to my case, and perhaps exacerbating my behavior, was that I was under the influence of bipolar disorder. I didn’t know it at the time. But it certainly helped me wreck several of the relationships with my angry, impulsive behavior.

It’s weird though. I still think about all those women. They became so real to me in some ways. One of them I can’t even talk to because it still brings back those intense emotions that cannot ever be requited. Two have become friends. Three have totally disappeared from view. One, I see around, and there’s a part of me that wants to be friends, and a part of me that believes I have to leave that alone.

I believe that that overpowering feeling that cannot be denied is “in love.” It is irrational and it doesn’t care about reality. I don’t exactly know what love is, when referring to my wife. It would be nice to be in love with her, but I think it is good if we can just establish a sound, lasting love.

We have been in counselling for a year now, and have made a lot of progress. That’s real. The women I met online, seem somehow to be a dream. I believe I fooled myself a lot about them. But as fantasies go, they still have set their hooks in me, and while I have torn out most of them, some have yet to be pulled out.

It’s a troubling issue. It is even more troubling when your life is complicated the way mine was. I think we do the best we can in an effort to find a way to get what we want out of live. I don’t think you have to worry about over-analyzing. I’m the kind of guy who minutely analyzes everything. The analysis doesn’t seem to have any influence over my emotions, though.

I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to leave these relationships behind, even if I am stabilized from my disorder. Every time I think of her, no matter how much I knew and know how impossible it was (and it was totally, totally irrational—circumstances were absolutely impossible) there’s still a part of me that wishes it could have worked out differently.

Is that horrible? Should I care if it is? It is what it is, and I’m supposed to be getting out of the business of judging myself. No matter what anyone thinks of me, believe me, I have ripped myself to smaller shreds than anyone else possibly could.

Excuse me while I go try to live in this moment!

jbfletcherfan's avatar

daloon, you asked if it’s horrible to wish that things could have worked out differently. No, it’s not. I may be giving a jaded answer, but I feel the same way. I understand what you’re saying 100%. We may be the only two on this thread who understand it. People may be raising their eyebrows at me. Do I care? Hell, no. I say don’t condemn until you walk a mile in my shoes. They say people come into your life for a reason. Some stay, some go. I KNOW my other love will always be a part of me, & it sounds like your’s will, too. I don’t know your situation, but there were outside forces working against us, of course. It wasn’t anything either one of us decided. It was decided for us. Don’t beat yourself up for anything. You have the great capacity to love & that’s a good thing.

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