In Love vs Love

Visitor's Question from a 21-30 year old Male
"I love you, but I'm not IN love with you..."

Though she hasn't said those cliched words to me, that's pretty much the situation I'm in, and I'm okay with that. Whatever hang ups she has, she has. No one's to blame, but this is my first love and it's kind of exciting, mostly because it's the first time ever I realized that I was even capable of loving someone, which is a pretty cool rush, but it raises the question of what is the difference? has helped me define love, but what is the difference between loving someone and being "in love" with someone. I have my own theory, which I was only able to come up with after I got rejected. I think the difference lays in either one or both of the following things: HOPE and EXPECTATION. I had a strong hope that what we had together could bloom into something much more intimate. And I think when two people are dating and in love, they have not only a hope, but an expectation of it lasting. Now, when it comes to my male friends, I love them, but I have no hope or expectation that it'll become anything.

I suppose that it may be true what some say, there are many different kinds of love. But it seems to me that all kinds of love have to meet the same requirements of selflessness and acceptance, etc. It makes me suspect that there's only really one kind of love, which is just modified by hopes, expectations and boundries. Am I right in thinking this? I don't know a lot about love, so I could be wrong.

What is your definition of each, and what is the difference between "love" and "in love"? Advice
There is no definition for either "love" or "in love". That is like asking what "making out" means vs "making love". Back in the 60s, making love meant kissing. Nowadays it means full penetration sex. Making out to one person means kissing. To another it means touching. It is all inside the brain of a given person, what that one person thinks the phrase means. There is no "real world wide definition" like there is for the word "zebra" or "ostrich" :)

Love isn't an either-or thing. Love is a gigantic continuum with many, many points all over it. You can love your goldfish. You can love your school. You can love a husband, a boyfriend, a child, a friend, a favorite color. They all use the word "love" and have different shades of meaning for every single human on the planet.

The love you have for one person is different from the love you have for any other person. So to try to nail phrases on these feelings is pretty hopeless :)

Your hopes for a love for a person can change from day to day. So can your expectations. So there isn't any way to say that either of these define a love. They might help you talk about a given love with other people. But none of it is a fininte thing.

It's really best to avoid trying to give titles to things like this. It's better to ask someone, "Talk to me about how you FEEL about me." And if that person tries to sum it up with one or two words, don't stop there. Make them really TALK about the feelings. It's only by talking and sharing that you start to even understand WHAT the person feels.

Often the situation like you're describing comes down to someone feeling "I like spending *some* time with you, but there are certain things about you that make me feel that I don't want to spend *lots* of my time with you." And the aim is to then find out WHAT those things are and to work together on finding solutions.

-- from Jenn
One of Your Friendly Advisors at

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