Loving someone vs. being IN love w/ him?

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-28-2003
Loving someone vs. being IN love w/ him?
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 5:51pm
As I sit here avoiding work, I've been pondering some relationship questions--and in doing so I've been hoping someone can me understand the distinction between loving someone and being "in love" with them. You often hear of relationships ending b/c one person loved the other person but wasn't "in" love with them--and I must admit I don't understand the difference...

For instance, I was sure I was in love with my X--I cared so much about him, truly enjoyed his company, always wanted to see him happy and protect him from being harmed. And while I enjoyed being "intimate" with him, it was never an overriding factor in our relationship--in fact, more often than not I was more happy to simply cuddle with him and didn't feel the need to take it past anything more. I'd say the overriding feelings I had when I think of him was the desire to nurture him, protect him and keep him from harm--I often saw moments of vulnerability from him in being hurt by his friends and family that made me want to just give him a big hug and protect him from that hurt. And, even though I found him attracted and did enjoy being physically intimate with him, I never craved it, instead I craved more the simple pleasure of us holding hands, hugging, etc....he never made me weak in the knees, made my stomach flip, etc...

So, looking back on it, I'm wondering if its possible if I maybe loved him, but wasn't "in" love with him? What differentiates a romantic love that you feel for a SO versus one you feel for a close friend? With both types there is the genuine desire to see the other person happy, to protect them from harm and take care of them...so is the difference simply that with your SO you feel an additional desire to be physically intimate with them? And how much of a factor should that desire be??

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 6:56pm
"The greatest relationships are those in which the desire for each other greatly outweighs the need for each other." Dahli Lama

If you need to be needed (codependency/insecurity) - you'll pick a partner that needs to be nurtured, to be parented, to be protected.

If you need to be in control (codependency/insecurity) - you'll pick a partner that has no opinions, no self-esteem, prioritizes only your happiness.

Your great desire to protect and nurture him...says volumes about your perception of your "equality" with the rest of the world. You want a wounded mate...so that you won't have a partner and you'll be forever needed for protection, security, providership, and comfort and thus won't ever be left. You also won't be getting your needs met...he won't have gotten into the relationship wanting to do it, or comprehending how to do it. He's a wounded victim.

And his great desire to be protected and nurtured...says volumes about his perception of his "equality" with the rest of the world. He wanted to be provided for, accepted unconditionally, and have a "cause" for his status and thus no requirement to move towards success and self-actualization.

Great relationships haven't got need at the core.....because needs creates resentment, insecurity, doubt, fear and anger. Eventually the "victimized" partner often leaves because the "nurturing" partner fell in love with their potential, and was sure their love and support would allow the partner to fulfill his potential and thus meet their needs. As the "victim" is pushed to deal with issues - leaving is a good solution.

Just as often, the "nurturing" partner finally has given, taken, expended, tolerated, enduring, and sacrificed to the depth and breadth of their abilities in every capacity they've got and this person is still the same "victim" they met on day one...and they're tired of not being prioritized, tired of having to provide...and they'll leave the victim although usually not with a clean break.

It's not until you've faced the third and final tier of "identity" that you stop falling into dysfunctional and codependent patterns with relationships. The first relationship you witness is between you and your parents (not your parents between themselves). That is an inequality based dynamic where you're given to, excused, and provided for - while being accepted unconditionally. Normally, your first two or three relationships are very reflective of whatever type of relationship you had with the parent that you LEAST got along with. The dynamic is what you understand and the failure of that relationship is what you're trying to undo/overcome/bypass.

Stepping up to the 3rd tier of personal identification by self-actualization takes you out of comparisonw with others, it frees you from ruling opinion and it allows you to fully and complete define and become responsible for creating that person that you so desire to be by your own definitions, efforts, means, and standards. Once you've done that - you want a "partner". An equal to you, you want mutually beneficial relationships, you realize how unrealistic and irrational "unconditional love' as a concept is and that in fact it never existed as you once thought of it as.

You can't love anybody more than you love yourself...and nobody can love you until you love and accept yourself completely without justifications, excuses, hidden clauses, or constantly failing comparisons.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 10:20pm
Title: Interesting...

"You can't love anybody more than you love yourself..."

Yet, when I tell people that there is no one in this world who I love more than me, I typically get negative feedback. I am told that I am selfish, or self centered.

This is a good part of why I don't buy into arguement below regarding being all alone despite how I might feel about a potential life partner, simply because my kid doesn't like them. I don't love my kid enough to chose to be unhappy for them...and while no one can make me happy (just to make my point that I don't think that this life partner will solve all my problems and make me happy), knowing I chose to not do something on the scale of making life plans with somoene I loved because my kid didn't like them would make me UNHAPPY. Like I mentioned below, I think this whole notion of "nothing matter in my life except my kids" is the center of PLENTY of dysfunctional relationships between adult children and their parents. The parents wait for their "reward" for having lived their life for their kids...and the kids go on with living THEIR life, which is what the parents should have done.

I dunno...maybe I'm just different. Of course, being different has served me fairly well until this point.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Wed, 04-09-2003 - 11:42pm
I think the problem is the the heads of the parents to begin with. At least, it was with me.

I was using the child to justify pursuing a partner...he needed and deserved a dad and it was my fault he didn't have one because he was a drug dealer and I had to leave him because. If you actually could make sense of that - you're well on your way to a degree in psychology!

So, if you're using the child as the justifying for dating and taking the time to pursue a relationship you're usually with inappropriate partners, and people in your life that are pulling your slack are giving you a hard time. YOu need to get on with ensuring that you're actually going to get somewhere so it's imperative to get the child's approval/blessing prior to "finalizing" the pursuit process down to the bitter end. So - the child ends up in "dating" their potential step parent. Where little Jimmy is bribed, coerced and played up to by Big Ron...while mommy looks anxiously on to read the external and superifical signs for a green light to then "get that ring on her finger, and all that little Jimmy deserves".

That's how little Jimmy ends up in the dating process to begin with. Denial of true reasons of pursuit, and guilt that might or might not be reasonable and well-placed based on what the parent is doing/compromising/giving in order to "get the deal to close".

I wish, oh how I wish...that I could turn back the hands of time. My son would be an infant, and I'd know what I know now. That's I am capable of being a parent, and I am willing to be responsible, and that feelings aren't facts, or goals, or used to determine what to do on my part in situations. I'd have never been with ANY of those partners...with just that limited bit of knowledge and acceptance of myself.

If I'd have been back then like I am now....we'd date for a long time "exclusive" of famililal knowledge or consent (not hiding - but not flaunting), I'd date responsibly and on my terms. I wouldn't trample my own boundaries trying to erect fences around them. And my son would have reaped the benefits of knowing that his mother prioritized herself appropriate enough to accept her desire for a lifepartner, without compromising his potential and limiting his horizons by choosing "Just anybody claiming to want the job".

He'd have learned it's not selfish to want what you want....if you don't pursue it in selfish methods and via userous means. Oh, gogo, don' get me started my heart could break.

But, you'll never love or prioritize or value anybody more than you do yourself. That's so true and I'm living proof. All those dysfunctional relationship where I claimed to prioritize their wants and needs...that was all geared to get them to love me and thus the approval I so needed for validation and affirmation would be there...and I was also expecting at some point, unrelistically, for them to stop wanting waht they wanted, and stop expecting me to give, expend, tolerate, sacrifice and endure so much...and give me what I wanted and needed at their expense and sacrifice even though I didn't know what it was.

Now...totally different story. I dont' violate my boundaries, I enforce them. I don't lower my standards...they remain at the constantly high level. And I love me enough to keep you out of what is vital, imperative, important, and valued enough to me until I'm assured by my standards and measures that you and I share values, goals, priorities, boundaries and definitions of a great life and how to achieve it.

If there is nothing you can do when you've destroyed your child with your dysfunctional thinking...there is one thing you can do. Show them that the genetic predisposition is not one of fatal self-destruction. Change who you are at the core and live up to the potential you would like them to accomplish...and put faith in God that they'll see the bigger picture prior to complete self-annilihation and realize where they came from is not fatally flawed.



iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 8:14am
"You can't love anybody more than you love yourself"

This also caught my attention. I disagree with it. I talked it over with Rozi and we are of the same mind. We can think of many situations where you love something more than it loves itself.

Self awareness comes to mind. Loving an object, or a pet, or even an infant who has not formed full thoughts or feelings. How about that loved one who gets in a car accident and is in a coma. They can't love themself, they can't even think or feel. Do I suddenly stop loving them, because they are incapable of loving themself?

No, I don't buy it. It's a cute kitchy thing to say. Pop psychology. It has some core value to it, to show you that you have to focus on *you* first, others second. That loving yourself is a vital and important part of being healthy and engaging in healthy relationships.

I just don't buy that no one can love you more than you love yourself. There are many times that loved ones can see the potential inside of us. They believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. They love us more than we love ourselves (not that we don't love ourselves at *all*, just that they love us more). Just as I can accept all the flaws in my spouse, even though she can't accept them. That I can love her all the more because of her flaws, while she beats herself up over them.

Nope. I don't buy it. The rest sounded pretty though.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 8:30am
Since we are several replies into this thread and no one has even made a passing attempt at answering the question, rather than analyzing your relationship, I'll take a stab at it...

I can love many objects, animals, children and people. I believe I can also be "in love" with multiple people, though certainly a smaller set than those that I love.

The question I think you are asking, is what is the difference between generic love you can feel for anything or anybody, and romantic love that you feel for a potential life partner. I'm not sure I can really quantify the difference. If I'm "in love" with someone, I will desire more intimate physical contact. However, I'm a guy, sex is sex and I've certainly had it plenty of times with someone I didn't love. If I'm in love, I will want to wake up with the person, talk to them on the phone, have more regular contact. I've also gone through phases where I'll want to talk to my friends more often.

I care for my friends and family, but I don't actively try to take part in their life to make it better. They have a life. I have a life. If I'm in love with someone, it's more like "we have a life". We are partners. What happens to one, affects the other, and not in some trivial way.

I'm probably just rambling now, but that's the best way I can explain the way it feels to me.

With the love I have for a child, it's much more about nurturing and wanting to protect them, rather than the sense of partnership.


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 10:49am
""You can't love anybody more than you love yourself" "

Does NOT Equal

"...you love something more than it loves itself."

Nor does it equal

"no one can love you more than you love yourself."

Did you misread what she said, or is there truly a disconect?

The examples you gave were for the most part true. But they aren't related to what she is saying.

I CAN love you more than you love yourself, if for example, you are in a coma, or whatever. YOU can't love ME more than you love yourself...Erin's point being that either A) Your action are in reality SELF serving...which was her point...that everything she thought she was doing for her son was in reality for herself to medicate her own issues, or B) whatever emotional dysfunction that keeps you from loving yourself would also keep you from loving others...

As I stated in my counterpost to Erin's I absolutely agree. As much as I love GG, as much as will love my child, I won't love either of them more than ME. At the point where I think either of them seeks my destruction, I will sever the relationship. In the case of the child, I will always love them...the love of a parent for a child is unconditional. But I will love them from a distance.

My happiness and self preservation are paramount to me...more than anyone elses. I might indeed make a choice to sacrifice mine for there's...for example, I would die to defend either my wife or my child. I'd also kill to defend them.

But they don't get to make that choice FOR ME. They don't get to decide to, for example, put Daddy up to his eyeballs in debt and ruin his retirement so that they can go to the college of THEIR choice. I might decide to do that, I might not (right now, the answer would be "not", but I might change my mind). But...if it is something THEY want...they should go about securing it. I'm not gonna be unhappy for ANYBODY.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 11:06am
"Did you misread what she said, or is there truly a disconect?"

I misread it. Three or four times actually. As did Rozi. It made no sense to me, so I read it over and over. Each time I read it wrong.

Funny that...


iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
Thu, 04-10-2003 - 2:00pm
I think in reference ot the coma incident...that's just a little out of the strata of the statement to begin with. There had to have been a time they loved you as they loved themselves, formed a bond...and now a tragic situation beyond everybody's control and rendered them unable to bond or relate to you on that level. I believe if the situation is irreversible and what you've got is a body that has no spirit or mind, and is basically "alive" in a purely technically physical realm.....you can stop loving them becuase what you loved what their mind and spirit and it is gone. Which, in those situations the pragmatic realistic relative is ALWAYS the one to point it out...and get shot down with obcenities and glares.

As for the pets....it's fine if you choose to love them as you love yourself...but it's completely unrealistic for you to believe they love you as you love them. They can love you...as they love themselves and that's the extent of it. And face it...there's a point well made for future issues. What you "love" is the relationship and fun you have with them because there is no emotional reprocicity on a bonded level and basis. What happens after you grieve? Go out and get another pet when the time is appropriate for YOU! Lots of failed relationships could use that analogy -I'll have to find a way to clean it up for future use. It'd be offensive without a little polish.

As for "loving the potential" - visit Al-Anon. There is an entire quadrant of people (been there done that) who've fallen in love with the "potential their partner exhibited based on that person in that room's expectations, desires, and needs. ANother great example...having been on both sides of it. An "enabler" doesn't love the addict, because they odn't love themselves. They love what the addict represents in terms of self-acceptance....because they're better than the addict and think how great they'll be if they are the driving force to get the addict to straight up! The addict doesn't love the enabler...they love the benefits the enabler provides but have no ability or desire to bond on an emotionally committed level - because they're not responsibly committed to or accepting of themselves...they're committed to benefit due to a perception of entitlement.