If Not Love, Then What Do We Call It?

Photo posted by @romyschneider on tumblr.com

We’ve all been there at one point. You find someone you’re attracted to and then all of a sudden you fall head over heels. Or so you think you do. When it comes to love, how do you know when you’re in it? When’s the right time, is there even a right time, and how do you know if it’s real or if you’ve just caught feelings too fast?

Many times, whether its instantaneous, or we’ve been talking to someone for a couple of weeks, we start to think that we are in love. We believe this person’s our own McDreamy. They get into our heads, and they’re all we can think about. Naturally, when there’s this attraction and draw towards a person, feelings can become overwhelming and seem like love when really it’s a rush of emotions that brings us back to our teen years all over again.

Working Through “Love”: Being Single and Dating

When we are attracted to someone, whether it be to their personality, looks, or both, we begin living in our own daydreams. We seem to lose all reason, sense of reality, and common sense. We are living on a dopamine high. There’s this sense of exhilaration that comes when we see or think about this person. And funnily enough, you most likely don’t even know them that well, but the thought or mention of the person just seems to be enough to drive you crazy. That would be a common case of infatuation because you can’t be in love with someone you don’t know well.

Photo from boredpanda.com

On another note, maybe you think you know someone or formed a connection with them because you made it to all the bases, but what you’re simply experiencing is a case of lust. Sex is a very intimate act and falling in it too fast can be a slippery slope. The gratification can make a person feel wanted and desired in a vulnerable way that others don’t get to share with you, so you begin to associate this with love.

Beyond single feelings, if you’re in a relationship, you would especially want to believe that you’re in love, but love doesn’t come that easy. Sometimes, we envision this perfect life so much so that we believe we have it or tell ourselves we do to fill a void or make ourselves feel whole. We might even be trying to convince ourselves for the sake of our partner’s feelings that we’re in love, but we are only kidding ourselves.

Sometimes, the person you’re sharing a relationship with may just be your yes-man. Someone who buys you things that you want or takes you places you’ve always wanted to go, so you think you love them. But if you take a step back, what you’re really in love with is the things they do for you and how they fulfill your desires. Obviously, when you are in love, people enjoy the candies and the flowers and the romantic getaways. But the difference is, you don’t love them for those things. If you love the things and not the person, it’s not love. The person could love you, but all you see is what they bring to the table. 

Photo from poetryfoundation.org

Similarly, if you’re in a relationship but can’t be bothered to (a) make sacrifices or do something for the other person or (b) give TOO much of yourself and have to try to keep the relationship alive…it might not be love.

When you’re in a relationship, you should desire to make the other person happy to make your relationship work. It shows that you are invested. If you aren’t willing to make any sacrifices, what that tells the other person essentially is that you don’t care enough about them and that should make you evaluate why it is that you are unwilling. Now if it’s something life-changing, its understandable. But if you just aren’t willing at all, it’s another sign.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, if you always feel like you have to work to keep the relationship alive or that you have to work for the other person’s attention, it’s not a healthy relationship, and surely not one built on love. You shouldn’t have to work and keep fighting that hard to make it work, sacrificing yourself in the process.

If you’re working that hard and constantly facing disappointment, losing sleep or even going so far as to falling into an obsession and an agenda to please, you might have a case of limerence, which Oxford Languages describes as: “the state of being infatuated or obsessed with another person, typically experienced involuntarily and characterized by a strong desire for reciprocation of one’s feelings but not primarily for a sexual relationship”.

If you’re in the works of getting to know someone, other feelings might be developing, and if we don’t learn to identify them, we can fall into that “love” hole. These feelings might be compassion, feeling like you can be the one to help ease and cure someone else’s pain out of sympathy. Gratitude makes us thankful and appreciative for something someone did for us, but in our minds, we might be taking that gratitude a step too far. You might be suffering a case of dependence, which can form quite an intense and emotionally confusing bond. Or you might simply admire someone, which can grow into love but initially, isn’t.

So maybe, just maybe, it isn’t love, is it?

Love might be one of the most subjective things out there. Tweet @VALLEYMag and let them know your thoughts on what being in love actually is.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.