Are you truly in love? The phrases, “I love you” and “I am in love with you” may seem similar but there are 10 clear differences between them.

My three-year-old, she repeats, “I love you, Mommy” throughout our day. Although I am accustomed to it, there is something about the phrase that makes my heart sing inside. Being loved is one of the most wonderful feelings you experience in life. Yet it is one of the most complex phrases in the human language. For example, is there a difference between “I love you” and “I am in love with you”?

The first time a man *or boy* told me he “loved me” is one of those moments I’ll never forget. Hearing those words from someone other than your parents *who you know have to love you*, is one of the strangest feelings on earth. Extremely electrifying, those words make you feel instantly vulnerable and exposed at the same time.

The words, I love you, come with assumptions that people make. Arguably, everyone has their own definition of what ‘I love you’ means, but there are some general things about the utterance of the words. [Read: Infatuation vs. Love – 14 ways to tell the difference]

In practical terms, love means, “an intense feeling of deep affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment, endearment, devotion, adoration, doting, idolization, worship, passion, ardor, desire, lust, yearning, infatuation.” With so many adjectives to describe it, how do you know that what you feel is the same as what someone else is?

Loving someone versus being in love with someone

Love is a very complex thing. Made only more so by the fact that you can love someone and perhaps not be “in love” with them. That is the second meaning of the word love. When used as a verb, the word love means “to feel a deep romantic or sexual attachment to (someone).” There are times when you can be with someone who clearly “loves” you, but doesn’t seem to be in love with you. That is where things get a bit hairy.

The breakup phrase “I love you, I am just not in love with you” is anything but cliche. We all empathize with the person who is in a relationship where they love the other person deeply, but have lost the romantic feelings that sum up the verb “love.” It is heart wrenching for both parties, when you love someone but aren’t truly in love with them. And you are left wondering whether you should stay or sacrifice your relationship to find the desire that is critical to a relationship. [Read: Love vs. Lust – 10 sign you’re feeling lust and not love]

If you feel like perhaps you love your mate but are not “in love” with them, these are the ten questions to ask yourself before staying put or saying goodbye.

#1 Is your love just going through the natural stages? Every relationship goes through stages. When you first get together, there is the romantic phase where you simply can’t get enough of one another. As time progresses, you lose a little of that chemical attraction.

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Don’t fret; every relationship goes through changes. Just because you don’t want to have sex every time you see someone doesn’t mean you aren’t still in love with them. It is important to examine whether your love is just moving onto a deeper stage of love or if you are really falling out of love. [Read: 9 relationship stages all couple of through in life]

#2 Is there anything you can do to get the heat back? Sometimes you have to put in a little energy to get love back on track. Many couples make the mistake of thinking that being, and staying in love, happens naturally and without any effort. Anyone who has ever been in a long-term relationship tells you that it takes work.

If you feel as if you have lost the loving feeling for your mate, consider taking steps to heat things up in the bedroom. Send them sexy text messages, or try being experimental in bed to see if it may just be a bit of boredom that changing the way you feel. [Read: 10 ways to make married sex feel like a one night stand instantly]

#3 Do you think that there would be a more satisfying relationship for you? If you feel like something is missing in your relationship, it may be that you sense there is something or someone better suited out there for you.

If you aren’t finding happiness in your current relationship and feel like you have lost that loving feeling, it may be coinciding with your intuition telling you it isn’t the right time or the right relationship for you. [Read: Is it time to break up? How to read the signs]

#4 Did you ever have romantic feelings? If you never had romantic feelings for the person you are with, then that is a sign it may not be the right relationship for a lifetime. There are some couples who have an excellent friendship and are fine without the sexual aspect. They usually started out not having much chemistry to begin with. If you were crazy in love and sexually turned on by someone at first, and then you wake up one day, and it is gone, you may feel in your heart like something isn’t meant to be.

#5 Are you staying out of fear? What if you don’t find someone? There is the potential if you leave the person you are with, you could end up alone. Even worse, you could leave them to find you really were in love after all, and they will have moved on.

Change is always a scary thing. There are no guarantees in life, but sometimes you just have to go with what your heart is telling you. You have to believe that everything happens for a reason, and it is better to make a decision and move forward then not to make one and stay stuck. [Read: 11 things about being single people fear most]

#6 Are you staying out of guilt or because you don’t want to hurt the other person? If someone said to you tomorrow you are guaranteed to be happier with someone else, or that the person you are leaving behind would be just fine without you, then it would be an easy decision to make.

Sometimes we stay in relationships longer than we should out of fear of loss. Other times we don’t want to hurt the person we are with. Just because you aren’t in love with someone doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love and care for them deeply. It is important to examine your feelings to know whether you are staying for the right reasons or the wrong ones. [Read: 20 sure signs you’re relationship is oh-so-over already]

#7 Are you finding reasons to avoid being alone with them? If you are trying to find reasons not to be alone with them because you don’t have sexual feelings for them, then you may want to rethink your relationship.

We all have nights when we don’t want to have sex or aren’t in the mood. If you notice it is a perpetual thing, and you find yourself avoiding bed until after you hear them snoring, you may not be in love anymore.

#8 Do you know that moving along is inevitable? If you have to convince yourself to stay all the time, then there is a good chance you aren’t listening to your inner voice. Often, when we spend a great amount of energy trying to tell ourselves something, it is because we don’t agree with what we are selling ourselves.

You shouldn’t have to talk yourself into being with someone or into the notion that it is okay not to be in love. If you aren’t feeling it, it is okay. Everyone will survive. [Read: Signs you subconsciously want to end the relationship]

#9 Are you jealous when you see them with others? Being jealous of other people in a relationship is natural. If you feel like you aren’t in love with them, but you don’t want them to have anyone else, that is jealousy. That ultimately is very selfish.

If you know that you aren’t in love with someone anymore, then you should be kind enough to tell them so. Allowing you both to find the love in your life that will make you happy. It is natural to be jealous; you probably will be even after you find someone new and especially when you find that they have. [Read: 12 grim signs it’s finally time to end your relationship]

#10 When you picture your future, are they in it? If you are considering a future without the person you are with, it may mean you aren’t in love with them anymore. When you are in love, you can’t imagine being without the person you are with. When you love someone, they are the cornerstone of your future and your plans.

If your plans may or may not include the person you are with, you should reconsider who you are to each other. [Read: Love vs. in love: 5 big differences most people don’t know]

Love goes through many stages over time. If you can’t decide between “I love you” and “I am in love with you,” it is more fair to be honest and move along then to waste time out of fear. 

 

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