Love Vs. In Love: Which Is Better?

By Michael Arangua|Updated August 31, 2022

Do I Just Love Them Or Am I In Love?

"To give and not expect a return. That is what lies the heart of love." - Oscar Wilde

Love makes the world go round. But if you had to choose between love and being in love which would you choose? As a counselor, I spend a lot of time talking about love and being in love. A common question is, "What's the difference between loving someone and being in love?" Most of the time when people ask this, they're wondering about their love life. So, while I recognize you can love many people in your life in many different ways, I will be focusing on romantic love for the purposes of this article.

Love vs In-Love: Chemistry

The chemistry behind love and being in love is a fascinating topic that social psychologists have found affects us in a variety of ways cognitively and behaviorally.

Being in love is a heady, lusty, lovely experience, often with great passion. It's a state of near obsession with your partner or love object. You don't see flaws. You crave their presence and spending time with them. You may find great joy in simply being able to watch and listen to them as you go about your day to day lives. Being in-love is indeed like a drug. Being in love is usually a phase at the beginning of a relationship. It's chemistry, it's infatuation and it's short-term. We can be glad about that because many people report a loss of appetite, increased energy and insomnia in the throes of being in love. Being in love is a foundation for long-term love. Though there's no way to keep the infatuation going as strong as it is during the NRE (New Relationship Energy) phase, couples that do well with pro-relationship behaviors will find themselves being in love many times across the years.

The Role of Oxytocin

Love is different from being in love. When you love someone deeply, the chemical balance in your body is affected. Oxytocin is released when you see them, prompting you to form and develop your bond. Oxytocin is the cuddle hormone that helps you bond to other humans, as well as animals. Loving someone can be best described as a type of emotional attachment. The long-term bond is strengthened by the action of a hormone called Vasopressin.

Falling in love is a different chemical process. Falling in love requires lust and sexual attraction. It accesses the chemicals in your body that get your heart racing, literally. Dopamine is activated which makes you feel euphoric. Norepinephrine makes you feel on nervous, making your hands sweaty and your heart beat faster. Serotonin makes you feel so deliriously happy, it's as though you've lost your mind. Falling in love can be an overwhelming experience, butwatch out for making any serious decisions about your partner during the intoxicating initial stages of this. It's not likely you have yet had a real chance to review their flaws.

Benefits Of Being In-Love

Falling in love is energizing. It is exciting and thrilling, typically with passion. This is a necessary stage for long-term bonding and attachment. All that exhilaration can't last forever. That's why being in-love eventually gives way to a deeper form of love if you stay with your partner.

Some couples find themselves in committed relationships without ever having experienced a phase of being in love. Often, a client will reach out to discuss their concern about committing to their partner if they have never felt a strong sexual connection. The benefit of experiencing the crazy-in-love stage is that it builds a basis for the long haul. Couples renew and refresh their love tank when they return to the in-love stage that catapulted them into coupledom. It is important to understand that while chemistry isn't everything, it helps enormously in the rough patches you will inevitably hit in long-term love. If you are considering committing to your partner, and have never felt sexually attracted to them, you must be clear about why you are planning to sacrifice your sexual satisfaction for the remainder of your relationship.

Do I Just Love Them Or Am I In Love?

Benefits of Loving Someone

Love is different from being in love. When you love someone deeply, the chemical balance in your body is affected. Oxytocin is released when you see them, prompting you to form and develop your bond. Oxytocin is the cuddle hormone that helps you bond to other humans, as well as animals. Loving someone can be best described as an attachment. The long-term bond is strengthened by the action of a hormone called Vasopressin.

Falling in love is a different chemical process. Falling in love requires lust and sexual attraction. It accesses the chemicals in your body that get your heart racing, literally. Dopamine is activated which makes you feel euphoric. Norepinephrine makes you feel on nervous, making your hands sweaty and your heart beat faster. Serotonin makes you feel so deliriously happy, it's as though you've lost your mind. Falling in love is an overwhelming experience, but you shouldn't make decisions about your partner here. It's not likely you will have a real chance to review their flaws.

Drawbacks of Being In Love

Being in love is temporary. All that lust and attraction cannot be sustained over the long-term. Being in love is all-consuming - it can make you feel crazy and out of control. When you fall in love too easily, or only crave the thrill of NRE, you go from one relationship to the next, never enjoying the closeness and comfort of long-term love. Being in love can be addicting, especially if you expect your relationship to always feel this exciting. Watch out for this, as this idealism can result in the ending of relationships that could actually be quite promising and healthy.

Some people struggle to form strong relationships. The good news is, there are tools to help you, such as online therapy. Research shows that online therapy can be a powerful tool in strengthening relationships.


You may read the full study here: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Web-Based OurRelationship Program: Effects on Relationship and Individual Functioning

Drawbacks Of Loving Someone

The drawback to love is that it's not as exciting as being in love; there typically isn’t as much passion. The drawback to genuine love is that it takes work, sacrifice and time. You must be committed to putting in the effort that a long-term relationship needs for the sake of its future and health, even once the initial, exciting phase of the relationship is in the past (though long-term relationships can still be quite exciting!). This takes maturity and level-headedness. There will be periods of disappointment and restlessness in the relationship. There will be times you don't like your partner. You will hurt each other. You will need to communicate well, be willing to settle conflict and set aside your own needs fairly regularly.

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