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Love and Dating: The Difference Between Loving and Being In Love

Aug 25, 2008
Being "in love" is the romantic stuff fairy tales and dreams are based on, filled with passion and longing. Children are raised on stories filled with instant attraction, romantic longing, danger and high drama - where the valiant Prince/King/Knight/Pauper saves somebody's Princess/Queen/Daughter, falls in love with her beauty, and they marry to live happily ever after. We grow up to believe that having a relationship is going to save us from a lifetime of loneliness or pain, and make all our troubles disappear.

For most, falling in love is an experience to be treasured as both scary and exhilarating. When we are in love our senses are stimulated to the maximum. The phrase "chemistry" has special meaning because we feel a tingle, a spark, an aliveness that we don't feel under any other circumstances. The sight, sound or touch of our beloved makes our heart jump. We get exasperated, frustrated, and feel somewhat off-center because of our doubts and questions, but, like an addict, we cannot get enough!

This feeling of insecurity about where we stand, coupled with the desire to win the heart of our intended is the Petri dish where the love bug and wild passion are cultivated!

Typical behaviors involve an inability to stop thinking of our new love, wondering how he or she feels about us. We're on edge, anticipating that first kiss, the first touch, the first night together. We wonder what our partner is doing, thinking, saying without us. Our days are filled with longing and our nights with passionate sex. With just a look, the desire to touch, kiss, hold is immediate. Sometimes we can't keep our hands off each other.

Some of us will lose all sense of self when we are in love, spending hours plotting with friends on how to keep our beloved focused on us, marriage, commitment, and in love with us. Many people claim to be helplessly in love with people they don't like very much, have nothing in common with, don't know at all, or know for a fact doesn't love them back... but decide they are madly in love anyway!

Digesting my long-winded definition of "in love" we come out with this: When she says that she loves you, but isn't IN LOVE with you, that means that she cares, doesn't want to see anything happen bad to you, she has affection for you, she may even respect and admire you, but she has absolutely no passionate desire for sexual intimacy. In other words, she cares for you like a brother. You are in THE FRIEND ZONE.

Being in love is truly wonderful, and an important part of creating a loving relationship. But if you don't have feelings like THAT for your partner, does it mean that a relationship doesn't have the capability to be rewarding, satisfying and long-term?

Well, that all depends on what you are looking for in a relationship.

Romantic personalities often expect life to imitate art. These people seek to find what they call "my soul mate" and believe that immediately and passionate attraction is the only basis to begin a relationship. One guy explained to me: "I want to feel that she is perfect, and feel myself light up when she comes into the room."

These people are often disappointed and then feel cheated and depressed when their lover's true human qualities come to the fore. It is inevitable that any woman this guy meets is NOT going to be the Perfect Princess of the fairy stories and his real life relationships will always prove to be a disappointment.

Realistic personalities are wise enough to know that basing your relationships on the "in love" feelings and abandoning the relationship when those feelings ebb like the tide is not the wisest decision.

To truly love someone takes time.

You cannot love someone for who and what they are when you met them 10 minutes ago, have sent emails back and forth but never met or dated, or that you've never seen angry. Likewise, you cannot love someone for who and what they are if you aren't honest with them about who and what YOU are. "Love" under those circumstances is just an illusion.

When you have had a few ups and downs, and share a bond created by affection, commitment, caring, security and trust, then you have love. Relationships where love rules provide a warm place to become vulnerable. Love creates in us a willingness to share of ourselves and our lives. We are an open book, risking hurt and heartbreak, trusting that the benefits of loving this person will far outweigh the risk!

You may be one of the lucky ones that loves someone you are also deeply in love with. However, you may be caught up in a romantic soap opera, in love with someone you know will never, ever really love you back. Sadly, not everyone we find ourselves "in love" with is a solid prospect for a loving relationship.

Let's hope that you never hear the words "I love you, but I'm not in love with you" and that you are instead the recipient of passionate love, commitment and romance... the stuff that dreams are made of!
About the Author
(c) 2008 Deborrah Cooper. Deborrah has authored dozens of relationship articles and advice columns on Ask HeartBeat!, which focuses on modern relationships for teens and adults. Her dating guide Sucka Free Love! provides street-smart, hilarious insight into the toughest issues facing singles today. Check out The Sucka Free Dating Radio Talk Show on Wednesday night at 7:00 pm PST.
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