For years R&B songs, movies, and just the general opinions of people have taught us that being “in love” was better than simply “loving” someone. I, personally, never felt this way because I grew up in church and my Granny taught me better. Every time I heard someone say, “I love him, but I am not in love with him,” my skin would crawl and I would feel this heat build in my throat. It caused such an emotional reaction from me… simply because it’s a ridiculous statement.
The essence of love, from a relationship or marriage standpoint, is that real unconditional love grows over time and develops from going through the storms together. When God sent His son (Jesus) to restore fellowship between himself and man, He did so with unconditional love in mind and not “in love.” If God was just “in love” with us, Jesus would have never been given to us for the salvation of our souls. There is a difference between love and in love and it’s not what most people think.
What exactly does being “in love” mean?
A simple definition of “in love” would be a euphoric experience based in emotion, with two falling aimlessly for someone they don’t know. Falling “in love” is not love at all. We do not fall “in love,” we grow to love. Real love grows over time and it is not based on an emotion, but a choice. So, if someone believes love is a choice, it’s impossible to believe being “in love” means more than “loving” someone. The entire concept of being “in love” is based on emotion and being on ‘Cloud 9’ when we first meet someone we really like.
You see, every relationship will pass through the “in love” phase in the beginning and stay in that phase as long as the couple fails to seek true growth in the relationship. Typically, though, the “in love” phase will last between 2-24 months (and even longer for secret love affairs). In the “in love” stage of love, people will do and say anything to keep who they love happy, but the actions are purely based on emotions. Being in love is a temporary place in the early stages of the relationship, but to grow to deeper levels of bonding we have to move out of it at some point and grow into “love.”
Here are some things you need to remember about being “in love”:
• “In love” is a euphoric experience.
• “In love” is an illusion and counterfeit of real love.
• “In love” is not better than “love”… It’s, actually, the lowest form of love because it’s not a conscious choice to love.
• “In love” is an emotional high (much like taking drugs or drinking).
• “In love” takes you over. Thus, you will often “fall” for the wrong person.
• “In love” takes no effort. Real love requires effort.
• “In love” is usually associated with someone trying to heal from wounds or terminate aloneness on the hearts of other people.
• “In love” keeps you blind and will limit you in getting to know someone.
• “In love” means you made a decision to fall in love by forgetting to learn how to love.
• “In love” means you are emotionally obsessed.
• “In love” means you have an illusion that your mate or the relationship is perfect.
• “In love” deceives you in believing that warm, tingly feeling on the inside is the real thing called “love.”
• Dr. Dorothy Tennov, a well-known psychologist, did a study on “in love” and determined that the average length of this emotional obsession is about 24 months.
• If you truly desire real love, you eventually have to come down from the clouds of “in love” and allow your feet to touch the ground. Once your feet touch ground, you can join hands and walk as one towards “growing” to love instead of “falling” in love.
• The “in love” experience does not focus on true growth and relationship development. Its goal is based in emotional feelings and not the bad or “real” parts of the person. “In love” comes crashing down once the emotion is removed, which means you never “really” loved… you just were “in love.”
• Once the “in love” phase has run its course, the reality of the relationship or marriage will be revealed.
Now, let’s talk about real and authentic love that you grow into and not fall into based on emotion. Now, for just a minute, think about all the bad relationship mistakes you have made based on emotional decision making. How many people have you had sex with on emotion during this “in love” stage? How many people have you entered into a relationship with when you shouldn’t have, based on being “in love”? If we are being honest and accountable, most of us have. This is why the “in love” stage is just a place we pass through on our way to “real” unconditional love.
So, what is love? In its simplest form, love is a pure choice we make to love someone (regardless of their faults or imperfections) without our emotions blinding or misleading us. When two people love one another, they seek to grow to create something much greater than themselves.
Love will have emotion just like “in love,” but there is a difference. When you truly love someone, your emotions are not based in an “obsession” or illusion. Real love doesn’t cause you to lose your mind to the point that you become irresponsible in your decision making. Real love requires effort, discipline, hard work, and a need for a couple to hold hands and walk as one. Our basic human need is not in falling in love, but in authentically being loved by another; and real love grows out of a choice. We should desire love from someone who chooses to love us unconditionally, not from someone who is just high on emotional drugs and claiming to love us.
The emotional need for love must be met if love is going to be healthy and based on pure love. Love works and it is a very powerful motivator. We were “all” born with a need for love, not just women. Man was created to love a woman and woman was created to love a man. No relationship is successful without real, unconditional love and God must be the source of that love. This type of love is not discovered in the “in love” stage and, until people move out of that stage, their love will be forever challenged by unhealthy emotional decision making.
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