Rom-com movies and romance novels portray couples falling in love, but what comes after? Are you in love with someone, or do you love them? Is it better to love someone, or to be ‘in love’ with them? If you fall out of love with your significant other, is your relationship doomed? Keep reading to learn more!
What is romantic love?
The word “love” means many different things to many different people. You may say you love a certain type of ice cream or a specific television show, but that love is different than what you feel for your dog or cat. Similarly, the love you feel towards a pet is typically much less intense than what you might feel for your child, parent, or spouse. And although you may love each of these individuals intensely, you are likely going to have very distinct ways in which you feel, and express, your love to each person.
Today, we’re going to focus on romantic love – the kind of love you tend to feel towards a boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or domestic partner. In some ways, this kind of love is very different than what you would experience for other individuals in your life, like your best friend or sibling. In other ways, it may be very similar to the love you have for other select friends and relatives.
When someone experiences romantic love towards a significant other, they are likely to feel like they want to be around that person a great deal. They may sacrifice some of their own needs and wants and may work hard to provide a lifestyle that is conducive to the other person’s happiness. In addition, romantic love usually has a physical component, so you may want to be physically close to the other person very regularly. Although many people first think of sexual activities when they are considering the physical dimension of their romantic relationship, this aspect of love can also be expressed through cuddling, massage, and other means. Finally, romantic love is best demonstrated by partners mutually exhibiting the utmost degree of honesty, trust, respect, support, and vulnerability with one another.
What is being “in love”?
Being “in love” often precedes the enduring feelings of love that couples may feel for each other later in their relationship. This term relates to the initial attraction and connection a person has to another person. The images and stories of couples “falling in love” that are portrayed in the movies show this aspect to relationships. Often, feelings of being in love are propelled by hormonal responses and the excitement that comes with new experiences. Although many couples report staying “in love” well past the initial few months or years of their relationships, it is more common for them to transition to a less intense, deeper feeling of love and commitment. Although this stage of a relationship is often exciting and enjoyable, the ups-and-downs of establishing ground rules and boundaries and learning about your partner’s less positive traits can be frustrating and exhausting. Lasting relationships make it past this stage with both individuals still experiencing romantic love for one another.
Which type of love is better?
Although “being in love” can be more intense and fun than the “love” that comes later, most people find long-lasting satisfaction and contentment from loving relationships that endure through the years. If you or your partner has passed the “in love” phase of their relationship and would like to experience it again, you may want to try spending time apart from one another (“absence makes the heart grow fonder”). Alternatively, keep the romance alive by continuing to learn about each other, traveling to new places, or trying something new, like swing-dancing, rock climbing, or cooking together.
I fell out of love with my partner. Is my relationship doomed?
Absolutely not! If you and your significant other still love each other deeply, your relationship can and will continue to grow and flourish throughout your lifetime together. Remember to not take each other for granted, and nourish your love with all the energy that you would when working a job or raising your children. Your relationship – and your partner – requires daily attention and care. The more you both put into your life together, the better the outcome will be. You may even find that you fall in (and out of) love with your significant other throughout the years, while always maintaining the deep level of love that forms the basis of your relationship.