Being in love is broadly seen as this beautiful feeling that cannot be compared to anything else, but what does it mean to love someone?
Love has more than one meaning. You love your new shoes, and you love your parents. You love your pet. And you love your partner. But what does it mean to love someone?
Because all of those types of love are different. They are all strong and impactful but vary from person to person and situation to situation.
What kinds of love are there?
As I said, the types of love that exist are endless. There is familial love, platonic love, romantic love, and so on and so forth.
But, even though love is mostly seen as a positive thing, love is treated differently by everyone.
Love is not just a good feeling, but also means you risk being hurt. It can be used as an excuse to treat someone a certain way. It can be confused with infatuation. It can even lead to dysfunction and disrespect.
Just like anything else meant for good, in the wrong hands, it can be twisted into jealousy, control, expectation, and other things that make relationships worse rather than better. [Read: The ways toxic love can harm you]
What is love?
Before we get further into what it means to love someone, maybe we should discuss what love actually is. Essentially, it is described as an intense feeling of deep affection. That is not limited to sexual or romantic attachment.
Love is a word we use quite often. You love This Is Us. You love your grandmother. You love your bestie’s new hairstyle. But fondness and love are not the same. Love is much stronger and can be all-encompassing. [Read: What is love? 12 signs you’re experiencing it right now]
What it doesn’t mean to love someone
Now that you know what love is, it is important to also be aware of what love isn’t. There are a lot of things that are often confused with love. Some people use love as a term to excuse bad behavior or to act a certain way toward another person. But, love is not these things:
#1 Love is not ownership. Just because you love someone does not mean they are yours. You may call someone your boyfriend or girlfriend, but other than an understanding of mutually shared respect, they do not owe you anything and vice versa. Loving someone is not conditional. [Read: The signs what you’re feeling is lust and not love]
#2 Love is not control. Many unstable or weak people use love as an excuse to control their partners. Saying something like, you would do that if you love me. But when someone says something like that, love is not part of it. [Read: The signs you’re being coerced into a controlling relationship]
#3 Love is not complete selflessness. This is a common misconception. Of course, it sounds nice to put the needs of the person you love above your own, but that is neither healthy nor functional. Taking care of yourself and being happy outside of that love is what helps relationships to thrive.
Loving someone does not mean always putting them first.
#4 Love is not sex. If someone is using love to pressure you into sex before you are ready, once again, love is not really at stake here. Love is prevalent and meaningful without sex. And if someone you love does not see that, they may not be worth it.
#5 Love is not power. Loving someone does not mean you have power over them. And if someone loves you, that does not mean they have power over you either. Although love can certainly feel that way sometimes, it should not define your life.
There is no such thing as loving someone less so you can keep the power. Love is not about that.
#6 Love is not blind. Again, love can make you wear rose colored glasses. It can prevent you from seeing red flags and sometimes the truth. And although love aids in the forgiveness process, it is not 100% unconditional.
Love does not excuse abuse, infidelity, and anything else that crosses the line. [Read: Emotionally abusive relationship: 15 signs you just can’t miss]
What does it mean to love someone
There are a lot of things that love isn’t. But when you love someone it means quite a lot as well. If you have ever been in love you will recognize some of these things. Otherwise, this serves as a guide for your future love.
#1 You care about them. I know, I know. This is a given. But, caring is just one aspect of loving someone. This means you care what happens to them, you care that they are safe and healthy. You care about their boring work story because it is coming from them.
#2 You compromise. What does it mean to love someone? You compromise. You meet halfway when you can’t agree. You make concessions for them, and they do the same for you. And you don’t feel like you are giving anything up because you love them. [Read: The honest truth about true love most people don’t expect]
#3 You trust them. Trust and love go hand in hand. Although you can have one without the other, it never seems to work out that way. Loving someone doesn’t mean you automatically trust them, but it helps the trust to form.
#4 You communicate. Loving someone means you want to share with them. You want to rave about a good day at work, you want to complain about the traffic, and you want to let them know how you’re feeling.
#5 You want them to be happy. Loving someone means you’re happy when they’re happy, so you do everything you can to make them happy.
#6 You forgive them. As I mentioned earlier, love does not require forgiveness, but it helps when the moment calls for it. Love means you want to forgive and move forward. Love makes you want to focus on the good. [Read: How to know if you’ve felt unconditional love before]
#7 You learn from them. When you love someone, you want to hear their opinions. You learn from them, and they learn from you. You teach one another.
#8 You invest in them. I do not mean invest money, but time. You take the time to spend with them. If you live far away, you make the time to visit. You put the effort in.
#9 You laugh with them. Laughter is something every relationship benefits from, especially ones where you love someone. Laughter lets you share a light side of each other.
#10 You are comfortable with them. Being completely yourself around someone is so much easier when you love them. If you’re wondering what does it mean to love someone, love feels like comfort in the best way possible. You feel safe and like your bond cannot be broken by a snorting laugh or loud sneeze.
#11 You are better with them. Something about loving someone makes you a little less selfish. You want to invest time into this person and when you are with them, you want to be better overall.
#12 You want to be around them. Love means you want to spend time together. That doesn’t mean all of your time, but it means you thrive just being near them.
#13 Missing them. You think about them when you are apart. You can’t wait until you will see them again.
#14 You do nothing with them. Loving someone creates a sense of comfort. You can sit in complete silence and do nothing, but still enjoy that time because you are together.
#15 You like them. Like and love are not the same things. Love is almost involuntary. It adds to your life and while it technically has a definition, it cannot be defined to you. Liking someone means that beyond those deep feelings, you simply enjoy their company.
What does it mean to love someone? The feelings love gives are endless and limitless, they can mean a lot of things, but it is all about what it means to you.