The difference between loving someone and being in love

Love

I love all of my exes. I am not in love with any of them. There is a difference, there has to be a difference. But what is it exactly? Does being “in love” go away? I’m not really sure but I have a flood of thoughts that run through my head that I felt like sharing. I think the Bible talks about many different types of love, but we just use the one word love. It’s kind of sad when you think about. The same word is used in the context of “man, I love this pizza” and “I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” Like whoa. Let that sink in for a second.

I posed this to my friends and all of their responses just confused me more. There were some real honest feelings spoken that I appreciated and they made me think more. Although my friend that posted “I love my children with all my heart and nobody bats an eye; I fall in love with my daughter and everyone loses their minds,” made me laugh while pointing out that there is indeed a difference.

You can love people you don’t necessarily like. I don’t think you can be in love with someone you don’t even like. Yea, I’m sure there will be times you don’t like the person you are in love with because of something dumb or annoying they did but in general you like them. I think the being in love aspect adds a new dynamic where you like them as a person and who they are, aside from any romantic feelings. And then that grows into a love for them. Sometimes it just stops there. Other times it continues to grow into something more. People use the term fall in love and act like it’s a bad thing because you don’t fall into anything; but, I see falling in love as something that grows and develops over time. If you have it from the beginning, I don’t see how that can be real love. Infatuation, maybe lust, dependency, obsession but don’t call it love. You don’t even know the person yet. I think more times than not, we are simply in love with the idea of being in love. It’s when real life happens and push comes to shove that we see where we’re really at, how we really feel, and what really matters most to us. When you are in love with someone you will do anything for them and nothing else matters because honestly, love is what makes us feel most alive. Real love is what keeps us going- not our job, our money, our fame, our house. So many people have all of these things yet feel so alone and empty. And I know some of my readers aren’t Christian but I firmly believe that this type of love can only come as a result of knowing Christ’s love. Otherwise, love is just all these things that I believe it isn’t- choosing to do the right thing, attraction, lust, fleeting feelings. It’s a beautiful thing when two people with the same understanding of love fall in love with one another. I don’t think there is anything as powerful as love.

I liked what one of my friends said: “If you love someone and are romantically involved then you are in love with them. I don’t understand how it’s more complicated than that.” He’s right. But how do those romantic feelings evolve? Over time. Do they always evolve? I don’t think so. I do think there has to be some level of attraction but I’m not going to say a huge, strong one. Mainly because I have dated guys who I thought were cute but as I grew in my love for them and I got to see who they were, they became more attractive to me. So how do these “in love” feelings evolve? Nothing is a substitute for time. We are living in such an instant gratification society right now that everyone thinks they need to know to know if the guy or girl they just met is their soulmate. What?! It’s crazy, yet we do it. But that being in love feeling- if that’s even what you want to call it- stays or grows as you strengthen and deepen your relationship with someone. When people fall out of love, that’s when they get to know more about that person and don’t like what they see. The “in love” happens when they do like what they see. That’s why you just can’t rush this, you can’t. Well you can but you might end up stuck in a relationship you never really wanted or you get a divorce. Both sound awful. The problem is that most of us don’t take the time to actually analyze our feelings. There is no such thing as “I just wasn’t feeling it.” Think about it some more. There is something you don’t like. Either about that person or about how that person makes you feel about yourself. Whatever it is, listen to it. In time, things either get better or worse. Pay attention.

I had some friends talk about how being in love is when you can’t live without them. Not that you can’t, but you feel like you can’t. That’s what happens when you do really love someone. If you can live without me so well- why don’t you? That’s my thinking. Maybe a little cynical. Others say you are incomplete or something is missing. I wouldn’t say incomplete but it’s okay to fill like something is missing isn’t it? One of my friends explained how she is better because of her husband, he inspires her to be better and how she is in love with him and everything about him. I think that’s important.

I don’t think being in love is just a phase of feelings. I don’t think it fades with time. I think, if anything, it grows with time. I hope to consistently fall more and more in love with my husband as we grow together and spend our lives together. When trust, love, loyalty, and kindness all continue to grow and increase- how can I not? The more we open up with each other, are vulnerable, love each other with flaws and all, feel safe, free to be ourselves, respect and feel inspired, and feel loved, liked genuinely loved I don’t see how I would not be in love with someone like that. Especially when I know and recognize how rare it is. That’s how I feel at least. With all my guys, I have either fallen more in love with them or less as I got to know them. Yes, I could have chosen to still love them regardless of my feelings of not wanting to, but why? I can still love them. Doesn’t mean I should marry them and spend the rest of my life with them. No, I hope to do that with someone who I continuously fall more in love with. Is that asking too much? I would hope that they’d fall more in love with me too.

I think many people get married to people that they love, not people that they are in love with. And I guess that’s okay. Two people can make it work. It’s all about priorities and preferences I suppose. But I couldn’t do it. Maybe that’s why I’m not married. I need something more if I’m going to commit to someone for the rest of my life. I don’t know if that’s wrong or not. But I can continue to love many people and remain single, it’s not that bad. To me, it would be worse to be married to someone I’m not really in love with. So I will wait. I had someone say once, “If love in love hurts so much when it ends and if it feels like you’re dying when you’re not with the person you love, then that sounds like a horrible feeling to me.” And he is right. It is awful but I think that’s what also makes it so beautiful. I don’t want to marry someone I just love because honestly what’s the point? I can love them and stay being friends. I want something more. I don’t think I know what being in love feels like honestly but until then, I will wait. Keep loving. And pray that when it happens, I will know. Because I think I already know what it’s not and I have no desire to settle for that.

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