It’s that age old question - what’s the difference between being in love and loving someone?
I had this conversation with Ian (we met at his cousin’s wedding) - asking him what he thought the difference was between the two. Without hesitation, he said that to him, love is love. He didn’t see a difference between loving and being in love. It would have been easy to dismiss it. To him, if you love someone, being in love is how you share that with your partner. When you first start to date someone, that feeling of lust and constant desire to be in their orbit is normal.
What if love is all the same, and what we describe is how deeply we feel or receive that love?
I see being in love as the outward expression of emotional intimacy, not just the act of physical desire. It ebbs and flows throughout a relationship, and how we express this with our significant others is through intentional action. It can be a simple hug after a hard day, a kiss goodnight or a stolen moment in a sea of strangers. In this sense, don’t you then have to love someone first to be able to show that you’re in love with them?
Many see loving someone much like the responsible older sister of the more unpredictable act of being in love. To love is described as enduring, outlasting disappointments and frustrations, to compromise, as well as providing companionship, security and obviously someone to share your life with.
If being in love and to love someone are on opposite ends of the spectrum, then why do we use the word love at all in the former, couldn’t we have created a new word that describes “love” in its desired context?
At the end of the day, regardless if we are describing a physical desire or a genuine emotional connection, it’s our intentional thoughts and actions that can develop those feelings beyond lust, to become our idea of love.
My older sister and I didn’t always see eye to eye growing up, most likely because there’s only 18 months between us but I didn’t have the same maturity level as her - and we’re also both strong-willed. Looking back are memories of endless arguments - she starts yelling, I start yelling, and tears and death stares soon follow. I resented how she would growl me for my life choices. As adults we have a different kind of relationship and a greater understanding of our differences.
We began talking about a guy I’m currently dating (the guy I met at my friend’s wedding). I was pretty surprised with her advice and insight.
I told her how he isn’t like most men I’ve dated this past year - so far out of the “normal” type of guys I’ve been attracted to. Don’t get me wrong, I find him physically attractive, yet I know what makes me stay late to talk to him on the phone (he lives overseas and currently two hours behind me) is because I find him very interesting, intriguing and he’s a really nice guy. My sister laughed, apparently it’s exactly how she felt when she first met her husband. Maybe it’s a sign of maturity - it’s certainly not the giddy kind of puppy love I remember in my twenties. Besides, really nice guys lasts much longer than a hot guy - put it this way, all the guys she thought that were hot aren’t in her life anymore.
Then I told her how I’m making life changes, and that by the end of this year I will be waking up to a very different reality. To have what we want, it has to have room in our lives to grow, and right now my life is saturated. She found that a lot of people go for success in their career and try to be super mums and super wives, just so they feel like they fit in the “normal” box. In reality it’s all just stress and busyness and affirmation from other people they get. By concentrating on one or two life priorities it has worked out much better for her and it also makes her care less about what other people think and expect.
“Not saying that you shouldn’t work if you want to be a mum, but just keep in mind that if you want to go hard out in your career, somewhere along the way it makes it harder to live up to being a “great” mum as well. It’s all about priorities and acceptance of the situation and consequence.” She’s right. In this phase of my life, I know I want children, so what in my current life am I willing to let go to make room for a family?
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge the situation at all. My heart felt lighter after I first told my Mum, so I know that it’s the right decision for me. By finally verbalising it, it feels real and I can focus my energy on my present.
As for the guy I’m dating, today we became ‘social media’ official. I hope to fall for him slowly - to make time to explore each other and to be genuinely curious. To love deeply and completely after a broken heart is a leap of faith - I hope he’s there to catch me when I do.