Being in love is not a feeling but instead a consistent display of actions, followed by words and experiences that two people share with each other.
Her: I’m in love with him
Him: Wow that was fast
Him: Are you ready to become Ben’s wife?
Her: I am
I literally just overheard this exchange while channel surfing. The back and forth was from the television show The Bachelor, and it made me cringe. I know a lot of people that have fallen “in love” with someone very quickly, and it always takes them a while to realize that being in love is not the same as loving someone and being loved in return.
I shared my cringe with a group of friends at a little, nearby bar, and they were flabbergasted by how annoyed I was with the back and forth. “It’s just a TV show,” they say. “You can’t take this stuff so seriously.” Actually, I can, and I do. As people, we love to love, and yet we often do not understand what that really means.
In my favorite movie of all time, Moulin Rouge, Ewan McGregor says that “the greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.” Amen! And, one of the greatest travesties is being in love and not realizing the danger of confusing that with the real thing. So, what is the difference between love and being in love, and why do I get so spun up about it?
The Difference between love and being in love:
Being in love is a feeling. I have, on many occasions, walked into a bar or a party and seen a woman that made me do a double take. When we talked, I felt like we were both on the same page of a Nicholas Sparks novel. Unfortunately, in the moment, I did not see it as a cheap romance novel. The fact is I thought we were into something good for the long haul. I wanted her and no one else. This, after 30 minutes of talking. And, while this might sound romantic, there is nothing realistic about it. Being “in love” is a feeling without the benefit of experience.
On the other hand, to love and be loved in return is all about the experience between you and that special person. They are the most special person in the world, and they light your fire. When you get into an argument, all you want to do is have that honest conversation, kiss, and make-up. You know what I’m talking about. You know things about this person that few people do, and you dare not share them because you understand why you’re one of the chosen few that gets them. You say things and do things on a constant basis because you think about them all the time, and you do not want what you have to end. This is love.
Being in love is lasting “love”
Love is not a feeling but instead a consistent display of actions, followed by words and experiences that two people share with each other. When I hear someone say that they are “in love” with someone, I always pause and ask myself, “Are they really in love or do they truly love that someone?” It is a heated subject for me because when someone is “in love” and does not know that it is merely a feeling, they will go to the moon and back for that person.
They will make plans with confidence that things will go great without realizing that there is no basis for having said confidence. They have not shared enough experiences, enough heartache, enough personal reflection or time to truly know whether their feelings for that person go beyond surface attraction. There is a reason why relationship coaches and therapists are so big about encouraging their clients to investigate both the head and the heart. We are very good at falling fast, and that is the heart talking. When you are “in love,” your head rarely comes into the picture.
So while it may be romantic to think about love at first sight, or a bachelor being loved by so many eligible women, I would ask you to think about the difference between being in love and loving someone and being loved in return. Investigate your head and your heart when you find yourself gaga for someone you’ve just met. We often make decisions based on how we feel, but it is only when we feel, say, and do with experience behind us that we can truly love someone.
Think about it.