17 Differences Between Loving Someone and Actually Being In Love

While all relationships are completely valid, it can be tricky to fully understand the connection you’ve built with others. To help you delve into your relationship, we’ve compiled a list of 17 ways to tell whether you simply love someone as a person or whether you’re actually in love with them.

Attraction vs. Deep Connection

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Attraction is an important component in any romantic relationship, but a deep connection is essential for long-term love. According to Better Help, an intense rush of attraction is often the start of a relationship, but “it may not be accurate to describe it as actual love until you’ve formed a deeper connection and meaningful relationship, evolving beyond sexual attraction.”

Infatuation vs. Commitment

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Infatuation is an intense and sometimes overwhelming feeling that can be easily mistaken for love. Instead of this strong emotional feeling, look for stability and commitment. Both partners should want to build together, strengthening as a couple through the challenges they face.

Desire to Impress vs. Acceptance

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While the early stages of a relationship may see you working hard to impress your partner, in the long term, it is essential that you both become comfortable with your vulnerabilities. Psych Central says, “Vulnerability fosters closeness, trust, and intimacy because it tells the person you’re with that you trust them.”

Passion vs. Partnership

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The romantic and physical parts of a relationship can be fun and a great way to build a loving connection, but a well-balanced relationship will also focus on emotional support, consistency, and shared goals. A solid relationship is a shared journey rather than an exciting adventure, and it doesn’t fluctuate or fade as passion might.

Jealousy vs. Trust

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As the foundation of any long-lasting and respectful relationship, trust should be mutually felt between partners. When partners are jealous, it can demonstrate a lack of confidence in the relationship and can stem from possessiveness, which may cause issues as the partnership develops.

Dependency vs. Support

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For any long-term relationship, both partners must find their happiness within themselves rather than relying on each other entirely. Healthline says, “It’s normal to look to partners for emotional support and guidance, especially in a long-term relationship. Emotional dependence, however, passes the point of support.”

Idealization vs. Realism

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Everyone has their flaws and issues, and a good partnership will recognize and accept these. Idealization in a relationship is where partners see each other through rose-tinted glasses, ignoring or glazing over the individual’s problems. This can lead to strain in the relationship down the line when the couple faces these issues together.

Short-Term Happiness vs. Long-Term Fulfillment

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Successful long-term relationships need to ensure both partners are fulfilled and excited about their futures together. It’s less about seeking immediate gratification from short-term plans and activities and more about focusing on growing together. Long-term love may mean you make sacrifices along the way, but you’ll be rewarded with contentment in your relationship.

Ownership vs. Partnership

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Although you’re building a partnership together, it’s important in a loving relationship that both partners acknowledge and celebrate each other as individuals rather than just one half of the couple. This comes from building respect and treating your partner as an equal who you share a life with, rather than a possession that you ‘have.’

Constant Validation vs. Inherent Confidence

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True love builds a sense of security and confidence in both partners, so the need for validation and reassurance decreases. Choosing Therapy gives examples of unhealthy validation seeking, such as constantly asking if a partner is upset, threatening to leave the relationship in order to test your partner, and persistently asking what a partner finds attractive about you.

Emotional Highs vs. Emotional Stability

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Getting to know one another can be exciting, and the passion and challenges you experience along the way can feel like a rollercoaster of emotions. Beyond these initial stages, it’s important to relish in the calmness of mature love and understand that stability and contentment don’t mean a lack of excitement.

Fear of Loss vs. Security

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Secure and loving relationships should foster a sense of security within both partners and build a foundation of trust even when the couple faces challenges, either individually or in their partnership. According to VeryWell Mind, “a fear of abandonment is a complex phenomenon that can stem from a variety of developmental experiences, including loss and trauma.”

Self-Focused vs. Mutual Growth

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When you are building a loving foundation for a relationship, it is really important to focus on your personal needs and goals. Long-term relationships, however, will also prioritize growing together to reach shared goals and ideals.

Novelty vs. Comfort

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A new relationship feels exciting and fun, but to develop this into a deep, long-term connection, it is important to find happiness in the warmth that familiarity brings. The comfort and routine of a loving relationship can be fulfilling, and you’ll also be able to find joy in shared history and inside jokes as your relationship builds.

Arguments as Deal-Breakers vs. Opportunities for Growth

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In any relationship, there will be disagreements, but the key to a truly loving partnership is seeing these arguments as a chance to understand one another better and learn from conflicts to strengthen your relationship. This comes from prioritizing communication and compromise as well as working to not see disagreements as a threat to your partnership.

Loving the Idea vs. Loving the Person

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This one can be tough, but sometimes in a new relationship, you’ll find yourself more in love with the idea of your partner, or the idea of having a partner, than you will with the partner themselves. Although a fairy-tale love story can seem exciting, true love goes beyond this, and it’s important not to project these desires onto a partner rather than accept them for who they truly are.

Surface-Level Communication vs. Deep Conversations

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Of course, there will always be small talk in any relationship, but those truly loving partnerships will allow you to explore deep and profound topics together. This can help to foster a stronger bond and better understanding between you and allow for vulnerability and honesty, which are important parts of developing your connection.

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