What it is to be in love
15 Things About Being in Love vs. Loving Someone
Romantic love is a key goal for many people. Whether you’ve been in love before or have yet to fall in love for the first time, you might think of this love as the pinnacle of romantic experiences — perhaps even the pinnacle of life experiences.
Falling in love with someone can feel exciting, even exhilarating. But over time, these feelings may settle into something that feels a little different. This love might seem mellow or calm. You might find yourself thinking “I love them” instead of “I’m in love with them.”
This transformation doesn’t necessarily mean there’s anything wrong with your relationship.
Loving someone instead of feeling “in love” with them simply illustrates how feelings of love evolve over the course of a relationship, especially a long-term relationship.
Being in love generally refers to those intense feelings that take over at the start of a relationship.
- excitement and nervousness
- sexual attraction and lust
Here’s what these feelings might look like in action.
You feel charged and euphoric around them
It may not seem like it, but being in love is a somewhat scientific process. Falling in love involves a lot of hormones, which can supercharge your feelings and make them wildly fluctuate.
When you’re around the person you love, increases in dopamine and norepinephrine lead to feelings of:
- nervous excitement
Decreases in serotonin can fuel feelings of infatuation.
Sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen, also play a part by boosting libido and leading to feelings of lust.
Other key hormones, such as oxytocin and vasopressin, help cement your attraction by promoting trust, empathy, and other factors of long-term attachment.
You can’t wait to see them again — even when they’ve just left
Even after spending all day with your partner, you still feel lonesome when they leave. You wonder what they’re doing and whether they’re thinking about you. Maybe you already have plans to meet the next day, but you still wonder how you’ll manage until you see them again.
This is common when you’re in love. And while it’s certainly healthy to spend some time away from each other, that doesn’t mean you enjoy doing so.
If you can’t stop thinking about them even when you’re apart, you’re most likely enjoying that agonizing bliss of being in love.
Everything feels exciting and new
Being in love can change the way you see things. Even everyday activities like going to the grocery store can become more enjoyable.
You might also look at other things with new eyes. Many people in love feel more willing to try new things, or things they previously didn’t care for, simply because their partner enjoys them.
There’s nothing wrong with trying new things. In fact, openness to new experiences is a great trait to have. But it’s pretty common to feel swayed by a partner’s interests, so make sure you don’t feel pressured to go along with things you really don’t want to do.
You always make time for them
Typically, being in love with someone means you want to spend as much time with them as possible. Even if you’re busy, you probably find yourself arranging your schedule to see your partner.
This might also involve a desire to get to know more about them by exploring their interests. When love is mutual, they’ll probably feel the same way about you and want to spend just as much time getting to know your interests.
This is all pretty normal. It’s also common, however, for people in love to briefly “forget” about their friends.
Try to remember to spend time with your friends, too, instead of letting love completely sweep you away.
You don’t mind making sacrifices for them
In the first rush of being in love, you might feel completely dedicated to your partner, ready to do anything and everything to help them through a tough spot or even just make their lives a little easier.
Empathy and your fast-growing attachment can fuel your desire to be there for them and help them however possible. But the hormones involved in love can sometimes affect how you make decisions.
If you feel the urge to do something that would completely uproot or significantly change your life, take some time and think it through.
After some reflection, you may still want to quit your job and travel with your partner to a different country. But make sure you really want to do it for yourself, too.
Sacrifices can be part of any kind of love. In fact, partners who work to accommodate each other’s needs may have a stronger bond. But people in love have a tendency to charge forward and offer help without thinking twice.
You have fantastic sex
Sex doesn’t have to be part of a romantic relationship. But when it is, it can play a big part in falling in love with someone.
The intensity of the hormones involved can affect your sex drive, increasing your desire for your partner and the passion you experience during sex.
When you first fall in love, sex can also help increase closeness to your partner. Great sexual chemistry can make you feel good about sex and increase your desire to keep having it. Wanting to explore each other’s sexual interests usually doesn’t hurt, either.
You idealize them
Being in love can make it easy to idealize your partner’s best traits (great listening abilities, musical talent, warm smile) and gloss over the less than positive ones (doesn’t return texts right away, flirts with your friends).
It’s normal to focus on someone’s best side when in love. But it’s also important to watch for red flags or relationship incompatibilities.
If your friends point things out, consider what they have to say. They aren’t in love with your partner, so they have a clearer perspective and may notice things you miss.
Love takes a lot of forms, and it can change over time. These are some of the ways your feelings may change when you love your partner but don’t necessarily feel in love with them.
You’re secure in their affection
When you first fall in love, you might not only idealize your partner but also want to present an idealized version of yourself.
You might, for example, always try to look your best. Or maybe you try to hide what you believe are flaws that might turn off your partner.
But over time, as your relationship strengthens, you may feel more at ease being yourself. You don’t worry they’ll dump you if you leave dishes in the sink or forget to take out the trash. You accept that both of you will always wake up with morning breath.
This doesn’t mean you don’t make an effort to maintain this affection and help it flourish. It just means you’ve switched over to a realistic view instead of idealized versions of each other.
You don’t feel the need to hold back your opinions
If you’re in love with someone, it’s easy to take on their opinions as your own. Sometimes you may not be completely conscious of this.
You may find it easier to openly share your feelings with a partner you love and feel comfortable with. Love often conveys a sense of security, so you may not feel like you need to hide your feelings or opinions to protect the relationship.
Even when you have a small disagreement, you know you can talk through it.
You see (and accept) the good with the less than good
Your partner, like you, is an imperfect human. They have good traits, of course, which probably helped you fall in love with them. But they most likely have some aspects of personality or habits you don’t find so great.
Even the things that seemed endearing when you first fall in love, such as the way they brush their teeth at the kitchen sink, may become something you sigh and roll your eyes over.
Loving someone requires you to see them wholly and accept all their parts, just as they see and accept all of you. Minor flaws often don’t really matter over the long term.
But when something does bother you, you’ll probably feel comfortable enough to speak up about it and work to encourage and support each other through personal growth.
This doesn’t include serious red flags or signs of abuse. Always reach out to a professional if abuse is present.
Intimacy might require more effort
When you fell wildly in love with your partner, you probably had sex all the time. As your relationship stabilizes, you certainly still have sex, but maybe less often or with less intensity.
The first time you fall asleep without having sex, or spend a night alone, it might seem like you’ve lost something. You might even worry the relationship is failing.
But often this only means the demands of life have made it necessary to plan time with your partner. Sexual activity might happen less often, but the effort you put into connecting intimately can make those moments even better.
The relationship takes more work
It’s easy to give a relationship your all when you’re head over heels in love. The relationship might seem to progress smoothly, even flawlessly, and the two of you seem to be on the same page about absolutely everything.
This isn’t sustainable over time. Eventually you may need to prioritize your partner slightly less to take care of daily life.
Spending time together may seem less natural and easy, especially when you’re both busy or tired. But love means you keep trying and make an effort to show you care.
You feel deeply connected
Loving someone can involve a sense of strong connection and trust. You know your partner well enough to rattle off their likes and dislikes, values, and strengths without a second thought.
They’re probably the first person you turn to when feeling down and the first person you want to share your successes and aspirations with. You’re a team. Sometimes you might even feel like a single unit.
So, you know you love your partner, but you think you may not be in love with them any longer.
That’s perfectly all right. In fact, you might even feel a bit relieved to know your hormones have settled down a little.
Some people prefer the excitement of being in love. Others prefer the intimate, deep connection associated with long-term love. Many people work toward long-term relationships for this very reason.
What you want out of a relationship may make one seem better than the other, but healthy relationships are possible with either.
Research does suggest many people seek divorce after falling out of love. But no longer feeling in love doesn’t mean you have to leave your partner or that your relationship is doomed to end. It just means you may need to put in a little extra effort to recharge things.
You might feel sadness or regret if you feel your relationship has lost the “spark” associated with being in love. Maybe you want sex to be more spontaneous, or feel excited about seeing your partner instead of comfortable.
Talking to a relationship counselor can help you rekindle the feeling of being in love, but these tips can also help:
- Maintain an interest in their thoughts and feelings. Don’t forget about everyday check-ins. Ask how their day’s going, making sure you really listen to their response.
- Prioritize time together, including intimacy. This might mean dipping out of a work event early or taking a rain check on those movie plans with your friend.
- Don’t forget maintenance tasks. Think of your relationship as a car you depend on to get to and from work. To keep it going, you’ve got to get regular oil changes, rotate the tires, and so on. Give your relationship regular tune-ups by making a conscious effort to communicate openly and offer affection. These don’t have to be big, over-the-top displays. A kiss to welcome them home can go a long way.
After making it past the early stages of infatuation, your feelings for your partner might become less intense. You may not long for their company in quite the same way. In fact, you might even enjoy time apart.
Don’t worry. This is pretty normal, and it doesn’t have to spell the end of things.
Long-term love involves commitment. If you and your partner devote effort to maintaining your bond, at the very least, you’ll probably have a strong relationship. And you just might keep that actively in love feeling alive, too.
Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues.
The Difference Between Being in Love and Loving Someone, According to Experts
At some point in time, most of us will know the feeling: Your heart flutters when you see your partner walk in the room, and it feels like the time you spend together puts you on top of the world. Being in love is a part of life that many people strive to experience (and it can seem like every character in movies, books, and other stories we enjoy are focused around it in one way or another).
There are many different types of love. Some people feel butterflies when they're infatuated with someone special; happy couples married for years have a deep, profound attachment to each other; and a parent's love for their children is often regarded as the strongest love one can experience. But when it comes to romance, the feelings of love and being in love are separate and depend on the stage of your relationship.
If you're wondering what it means to be in love vs. loving another person, we asked romance and relationship expert Theresa E. DiDonato, Ph.D., marriage therapist Kathy McCoy, Ph.D., and clinical psychologist Randi Gunther, Ph.D. to walk us through the difference between these two emotions.
Meet the Expert
- Theresa E. DiDonato, Ph.D. is a social psychologist with a focus on romantic relationships and attraction. She is a professor of psychology at Loyola University Maryland.
- Kathy McCoy, Ph.D. is a marriage and family therapist and author of more than a dozen books in the space.
- Randi Gunther, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and marriage counselor. She is the author of When Love Stumbles: How to Rediscover Love, Trust, and Fulfillment in your Relationship and Relationship Saboteurs: Overcoming the Ten Behaviors that Undermine Love.
The Psychology Behind Love
You may have used the phrases "being in love" and "loving someone" interchangeably, but there are a few differences between them and how we process feelings in relationships.
Determining if you're actually in love with someone can help you decide if you should be exclusive with them, stay in the relationship, or make a commitment that leads to deeper love.
"The spark that defines a love-at-first-sight experience is better described as a strong attraction accompanied by an openness to a future relationship," says DiDonato. "Romantic love is more involved, encompassing emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. It's also not something that generally happens instantly, but rather, it usually tends to emerge over time. "
DiDonato suggests considering how researchers define romantic love to see the differences more clearly. She notes that while many scholars see love as an emotional attachment based on the quality of a relationship, others measure love by passion, intimacy, and commitment.
Being in Love vs. Loving Someone
Before knowing which type of love exists in your current relationship, it's helpful to understand the signs of genuinely falling in love (and how to tell when that chemistry is real). If you're trying to interpret the strong emotions you have for your special someone, here's how to determine if you're in love or simply feeling love for them:
Being in Love Is Emotionally Charged
If you’re wondering what it means to be in love, one key distinction has to do with your emotions. Specifically, when you’re in love with someone, you feel a strong, almost inexplicable desire for that person. "The excitement and wonder of early love, of mutual discovery, of delighting in fantasies, and anticipating sharing so much in the years ahead is a memorable phase in a couple’s life together," says McCoy. In fact, being "in love" often means yearning for someone: You think about them constantly, and you crave spending time with them when you're apart.
The excitement and wonder of early love, of mutual discovery, of delighting in fantasies, and anticipating sharing so much in the years ahead is a memorable phase in a couple’s life together.
Loving Someone Isn’t Based on a Whirlwind of Emotions
Mature love grows out of a developing attachment. Whether the person you love is a partner, friend, parent, or child, your strong feelings stem from a deep-rooted attachment rather than heightened passion or infatuation. "After the fantasies and illusions begin to fall away, it’s possible that what comes into focus is something much better: a realistic, sustainable love," McCoy says.
Being in Love Can Fade Over Time
When you’re in love, deep feelings can be fleeting. Intense adoration can become indifferent as time passes, and your partner's novelty can wear off. Being in love with someone today isn't a guarantee that you'll feel the same way forever: "As phases tend to do, [early love] passes as jobs, bills, children, conflicts, aging parents, and other realities of long-term love begin to push those fantasies aside," McCoy says. "It’s hard to harbor glamorous illusions close-up over time."
Loving Someone Is More Permanent
Loving someone is long-lasting. Even if the person you love aggravates or disappoints you (or your relationship becomes distant), you'll continue to care about them on some level. It's part of the reason that you can still love your ex long after a breakup—loving another person is deeply ingrained. "Growing to love the real person and accepting who they are, with both strengths and weaknesses, can make a wonderful difference in your relationship," McCoy says. "[It helps] it to become a lasting source of comfort, emotional safety, and a wonderfully sustainable joy. When you see each other realistically and come to know each other well, you’re less likely to disappoint each other. "
Growing to love the real person and accepting who they are, with both strengths and weaknesses, can make a wonderful difference in your relationship.
Being in Love Can Be Easily Shaken
When you’re in love with someone, your connection may not be strong enough to make it through challenges unfazed. For example, you may be head over heels for your partner, but as soon as real problems arise, you start to feel distant from them or question their ability to outlast hard times. When you feel a deeper love for your long-term partner, the passion can continue to burn through life's challenges without flickering or fading away. In the beginning, you can be in love but not know each other well enough to overcome obstacles together. "As you relax into the relationship and accept each other realistically, there is a greater chance that those times when you aren’t so witty, when you’re a little cranky, or when you disagree will not be deal-breakers," McCoy says. "When you’re in love, you tend to be on your best behavior and expect your loved one to do the same. "
Loving Someone Can Survive Life’s Ups and Downs
When you love someone, your relationship is strong enough to overcome life’s challenges. This is because your bond with one another is so inherent that problems can actually bring you closer together. "In relationships that harbor the potential of true love, people almost immediately feel the desire to confess and share everything about themselves, whether negative or positive," says Gunther. "They feel immediately courageous, wanting to know and be known, no matter what the outcome." After all, love is based on the trust, respect, and honesty that develop over time.
Being in Love Opens the Door to Long-Term Love
When you're in love with your partner, you can develop a deeper sense of love over time as you both commit to the relationship—and many couples still feel the flutters of being in love after years together. So if you're still in the early phases, the future can hold a long-lasting bond if you weather the challenges of life in a healthy way.
Being in love with someone actually sets the stage for building long-lasting love. Each partner makes appropriate sacrifices to meet the other's needs, and they'll enjoy aspects of each other that bring out the best versions of themselves. When partners enjoy spending time together, they're more motivated to grow together, take risks, and make each other's lives better. "Letting go of old fantasies makes room for wonderful surprises," McCoy says. "When you stop trying to change a spouse—or yourself—to fit each other’s fantasies and simply love each other, encouraging the other to grow in ways very much their own, wonderful surprises may be in store."
While passion is important, mutual respect and compassion between partners create an emotional foundation between them. So, if you think you've found "the one," your relationship might just transform into an exciting, life-long commitment.
5 Signs Your Relationship Is Strong Enough to Get Engaged
Falling in love, signs of falling in love, love and falling in love, the state of falling in love
Love is, of course, not a disease, but it has obvious signs that are difficult to confuse with something. Usually a person quickly realizes that he has fallen in love, but how? Scientists are trying to decompose the feeling into components and find out their causes. We collected signs that indicate that there is more than just friendship between you.
You feel a little drunk
"Drunk in love" is not such a figurative expression. A slight dizziness, a feeling of euphoria and a feeling that nothing is impossible - familiar feelings after the first date? Scientists have found that alcohol and oxytocin, which is called the “hormone of love,” act on the brain in about the same way. In an experiment on animals that were injected with oxytocin through the nose, it turned out that with an increase in the level of this hormone, sympathy for one's neighbor, a tendency to self-sacrifice, generosity and trust increase, while fear, anxiety and stress levels are greatly reduced. Therefore, after the first awkward kiss, a person feels the same as after drinking a glass of champagne.
You become less sensitive to pain
A Stanford University Medical School study found that falling in love has an effect comparable to that of pain medication. This is due to the activation of the nucleus accumbens. The same zone wakes up when you receive analgesics or, for example, when you win big in a casino. For the experiment, the researchers recruited students who were in a romantic relationship for up to nine months. A thermal stimulator was attached to their arm and heated to a temperature that caused pain. After that, students were shown photos of lovers, and the level of pain decreased significantly. At the same time, activation of the nucleus accumbens was clearly observed on MRI. In addition, students were shown photos of random attractive people, but this effect no longer arose.
You feel like you've run a hundred meters
You are thrown into a fever, your heart is pounding, your breathing is fast and intermittent - as if you are not looking into the eyes of another person, but just set a world record in sprinting. It's all a surge of hormones. Falling in love increases the level of adrenaline and norepinephrine, which causes the pulse to increase. Breathing involuntarily quickens, and you become hot. This is all reminiscent of the body's reaction to a very strong fright. But this is the charm of the human psyche: one emotion differs from another by a set of elements. When falling in love, a pinch of dopamine and other hormones of pleasure is added to adrenaline, and sensations are born that are not at all the same as with fear.
You lose your appetite
Just yesterday, eating a whole pizza alone was not difficult, but today, after that very meeting, you don’t even want an apple? It's oxytocin again. Studies have shown that increasing the level of this hormone dulls the feeling of hunger and leads to a decrease in the number of calories needed. So from love you can really lose weight.
Seeing a loved one makes your pupils dilate
This unusual physiological reaction was noticed by scientists from the University of Rhode Island (USA). When a person sees the object of his love, his pupils expand to cover the entire image. The same thing happens when we first see a person we find attractive. Then the whole world around seems to fade, and all our attention is focused on it. Romantics explain this with love at first sight, scientists - with the expansion of the pupils.
Your face is glowing
Love decorates, that's a fact. A light appears in the eyes, the skin seems to glow from the inside, and there is a constant smile on the face. The thing is that hormones accelerate blood flow, which means that more oxygen enters the skin. Because you look like you just had a rest in an alpine village.
You can't connect two words
When a person is in love, he is a bit like the characters in Jane Austen's books: he blushes, turns pale, mumbles something unintelligible. The palms become wet, and the mouth is dry, like in the desert. This is what an explosive mixture of noepinephrine and oxytocin does to us. Their level rises sharply when the one with whom we really want to start a relationship is nearby. Over time, this passes.
Your fitness results are improving
Falling in love gives a second wind, and you can do much more repetitions in the gym than you are used to, psychologists say. This was shown by the results of surveys of more than 400 athletes. Emotions provide energy that is usually not enough to perform exercises, and a person finds that he is capable of more. In addition, there is a desire to be more attractive to a loved one, which means working harder.
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8 signs that you are in love | PSYCHOLOGIES
Man and woman
Shining eyes, butterflies in stomach, weakness in knees. We feel in love on a bodily level, but we also just know that it is her. However, there are other signs associated with this condition - behavioral. They were described by anthropologists, neuroscientists Helen Fisher from Rutgers University in the USA and Anik Debro from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland.
They also showed that not all signs of falling in love (which is different from love: you can love, but no longer be in love) are associated with instinct. These include empathy and sincerity, as well as sexual attraction or the desire to be the only partner.
8 signs describe this state in couples at the beginning of a relationship - but it can also be observed in those whose relationship continues.
"These latter are fewer than the 'freshly in love', and these characteristics are not so pronounced," notes the psychoanalyst Anne-Marie Benoist. “However, they consider themselves in love and care about maintaining the relationship.”
Finding out how these characteristics are inherent in your relationship, you will be able to independently draw a conclusion about them.
1. You want to be sincere
It is more important for you to show yourself in the true light than from the best side. I want to talk about what is important to you, and tell the truth about yourself - this is how a connection is established with another person, with a deep part of his personality. The stronger the desire for intimacy, the more obvious the desire to be open.
You look at relationships as a living organism that feeds on sincerity. And therefore, for you, the need for intimacy turns out to be stronger than the desire to seduce - after all, you want to continue the relationship with this particular person, and not with someone else. When you don't try to embellish yourself with others, it reinforces the feeling that you've been chosen and loved for who you really are.
2. You can't take your eyes off him.
You notice those who are brighter than your chosen one, but look at them with the eyes of an uninterested observer. You care little about others, the partner is who is important.
When we begin to pay attention to potential sexual partners, this, according to research, indicates a decrease in affective attachment and the level of satisfaction with life in a couple.
You are aware of his shortcomings, you do not deny them, but your eyes are drawn to his positive features
Researchers also note that falling in love lasts longer for those who focus on their partner: it is as if there is something so special in him that desire and a feeling of love awakens in his presence ... which sleeps in the company of others.
3. After sex you are in a light trance
The reason is the pleasure you get during dates, but not only. Studies have shown that it's about the love and passion that lovers experience during sex, and not just about sex as such.
Love brings satisfaction, both on an individual level and in relationships. Of course, sexual relationships can be extremely satisfying, but they do not guarantee falling in love. But if you are in love, sex is pleasurable, because it becomes the place where we most feel shared intimacy with another.
4. You do everything possible to make his life better
The well-being of a loved one is very important to us, because it is directly related to our own. His material and spiritual well-being and everything that brings him joy and pleasure become the object of our attention and care. After all, we guess that if the partner is disappointed and upset, then the relationship will no longer give us satisfaction.
A constant focus on the welfare of the other is one of the indicators that you are in love. When she weakens, this does not mean that love has passed, but that the feeling of falling in love has dulled.
5. You really appreciate his company
He makes you laugh, charms, intrigues, touches. It doesn't matter what he does, what matters is that he is him. His presence is the source of your pleasure. You enjoy spending time with him. His charm is irresistible to you. Only him and no one else! Some unions surprise others, and some even the participants themselves, because they overturn all social, physical and cultural ideas about who is suitable for whom.
But only the feelings that you experience in the presence of a partner are important. And if the relationship continues, these feelings continue too, it means that you are in love.
6. You are empathic
The state of his soul is no secret to you. You read his mood by facial expression, guess by the change in the timbre of his voice. The desire to merge is part of being in love, and it establishes a direct line of communication with the other. It is easy for you to find a common language with him, to adapt to his behavior. Misunderstandings are rare. Conflicts in couples begin only when this empathy is reduced - or if it was not there.
7. You are focused on his positive qualities
You are aware of his shortcomings and limitations, you do not deny them, but your eyes are drawn to his positive features. His talents, spiritual qualities, skills often delight you. You continue to admire them even in his absence or when the situation does not give a reason to demonstrate them.
When events or things remind you of your partner, you feel moved and excited. Couples in which two continue to see the best in each other stay in love longer, and their sense of partnership is stronger and stronger.
8. You notice a possessive feeling in yourself
This feeling is based on a refusal to be interested in other potential partners. By the way, the cause of most conflicts in couples is jealousy and infidelity. Much less disputes occur because of the financial situation.
But sexual exclusivity is not the only thing important for falling in love. No less important role is played by exclusivity, affective, complete uniqueness of the partner in closeness, in trust and sincerity. Over time, possessiveness may subside, but it is always hidden in the core of love, this is what makes a partner exceptional and unique.