Love Vs Like – 20 Differences Between I Love You And I Like You

Relationship Advice | | , Content Strategist
Updated On: March 17, 2024
love vs like

Like and love are two terms that are commonly used interchangeably in modern parlance. It is very difficult to draw a line between love vs. like. It can get all-consuming sometimes, these attempts to figure out if we now love the person whom we had developed a liking/infatuation for. It is a forever debate because romantic and platonic relationships are tough to navigate if you don’t understand what you are feeling.

So, like and love, these are the two big emotions that we’ll talk about today. Tia, a landscape architect, writes to us, “I was the new girl at work when I started to like a colleague a lot. But I already had similar feelings toward my roommate for a year. So I was confused. How do you know if you like someone or love someone? Did I like Alice but love Trish, or did I like Trish and love Alice? What’s the difference between liking and loving anyway?” Let’s dig deep.

What Does “I Like You” Mean?

Liking someone means you enjoy their company. If we go by deeper love or like psychology, liking is almost a stepping stone to the process of loving someone though it is not mandatory to reach that stage with everyone you like. Then you might ask like Tia did: What’s the difference between liking someone and loving someone? And how do you define liking? It is an emotion and hence cannot be defined, but we can try and describe the feeling.

When you have a crush on someone and you think you like them, you might feel one or more of these:

  • You really appreciate them being around you
  • You like the physical intimacy you share with them
  • You like their personality, and you like to show that you care for them
  • “I like you” might be a mild feeling and a gray area before the beginning of a relationship
  • It could mean you simply adore someone as a friend
  • You feel deep and intense attraction toward their physical beauty
  • You will get proverbial butterflies for a brief period of time

That brings us back to the question: Is liking the same as love? Let’s find out.

What Does “I Love You” Mean?

When you say “I love you” to someone or have them say it to you, here is what it implies:

  • “I love you” signifies deep emotional attachment and affection
  • It indicates a strong intellectual bond and connection with the person
  • It suggests a romantic relationship filled with passion and care
  • It conveys a strong sexual attraction and desire for the person, unless you’re asexual
  • Saying “I love you” expresses a commitment to the individual and the relationship
  • This commitment is the fundamental distinction between love and mere liking, as it represents a deep and enduring emotional connection

As per research, the perception of like and love difference is not only across different age groups but also among men and women. Women focus more on intimacy whereas men are focused on sexuality as well as nonverbal and indirect expressions of intimacy. They focus less on self-disclosure. Hence, love involves deeper feelings and it can be different for different people.

Related Reading: 12 Clear Signs You Are Infatuated And Not In Love

Love Vs Like 20 Differences Between I Love You And I Like You

It’s definitely complex to draw a neat, rigid boundary between the two emotions. Often, they merge, fluctuate, and alternate between the two. But one can understand ‘love psychology’ in contrast with ‘like psychology.’ Consider the following questions or scenarios:

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1. How important is their physical appearance to you?

Like: If you are only appreciative of their physical appearance and that is what makes you feel intensely attracted to them, then you probably only like the person. ‘Like’ is an instant feeling. One of the best examples would be how Laura was only attracted to the physical appearance of Nacho in 365 Days: This Day. This wasn’t the case with Massimo, even though both men were sexually attractive.

Love: What Laura had for Massimo Torricelli can account for love. It was beyond the layers of his physical features and appearance or the stature he had, it was more about how he made her feel. Although they are both extremely good-looking, that is not what their love was about. Love might start with physical attraction but won’t be dependent on it.

2. How long does your genuine happiness last with them?

Like: When you ‘like’ your partner, your lasting happiness won’t be dependent on their presence or absence in your life. You will adore their presence but they won’t genuinely make you feel happy for a long period of time. They are not a big deal for your state of peace. That’s the difference between liking and loving.

Love: An integral part of love is that it is an unconditional emotion. It’s a strong feeling you get when you think about your partner. The constant presence of your partner becomes your support system. You find genuine happiness in them. It is a warm hug of reassurance that you’ll always have that special someone to go back to for your comfort.

Related Reading: 15 Compliments For A Man’s Smile To Make Him Smile More

3. Do you have freedom to be yourself?

Like: How do you know if you like or love this person? If you feel like you need to pretend even for a second with someone, then consider your infatuation/liking to be just that. It’s really simple to figure out. If the way you are eating your spaghetti in front of them is as if you’re at a fancy restaurant, you’re still at the liking stage of the relationship because you get conscious around them.

Love: In contrast, if you can do weird dances just to uplift their mood, lick off your plate of noodles in front of them, and are your true self without a second thought, do not get confused about the two because you are truly in love. It’s an intense feeling that will make you a grounded person.

4. First-sight romance or a gradual build-up?

Like: Is simply liking someone the same as love at first sight? Sometimes. What people often mistake as love at first sight is just deep attraction. It is a pleasant feeling when you find someone aesthetically attractive as soon as you see them. This particular liking is dependent on someone’s external appearance. One cannot be in love with someone without really knowing them. So even though you feel strongly about them, saying I like you instead of I love you is the safer bet for now.

Love: The strong feeling of love will always need time to build. It is a gradual process that happens over time and requires effort. Love also stays with a person for much longer. You feel deep attraction toward them which evolves over time. Even after being together for years, intense feelings of love don’t disappear easily.

difference between liking and loving
Just because you have great chemistry, it doesn’t mean it’s love

5. Are you a good listener?

Like: What does it mean to like someone? Sure, you’d listen to someone if you like them but may not adhere to what they are saying. You won’t feel the need to consider their opinion in your decisions. If someone you like vents to you, you might provide empathy to them but you won’t consider it your duty to help them out of their problems.

Love: As per the like and love psychology, if you love this person, your intense feelings toward them will drive you to become a better listener. You’ll keep track of everything they share with you, from insignificant details to their triggers. You’d be there for your partner/crush just because you love them and you’ll want to pay attention to them.

Related Reading: Why Is It Important To Be A Good Listener?

6. How do you treat their imperfections?

Like: Imperfections are a part of every human. But you don’t see them when you fancy someone a lot. You linger around them as long as the giddy infatuation stays with you. You focus on their good parts and ignore the rest as your feelings are not that deep. It’s a watered down version of love.

Love: It is a decision to stay with someone irrespective of all their strengths and weaknesses. Accepting all their flaws (not the very extreme flaws, of course) is one of the most prominent signs you deeply love someone. Love is an emotion based purely on how connected you feel to the other person. You accept the people you love just as they are and love every part of them. The deep feeling of acceptance will not fade away with time. You care about their well-being. It’s a strong and deep feeling that endures distance and time.

7. Is your partner an arm candy?

Like: You want to flaunt your partner like an arm candy that you can take around. Steven, a civil engineer from Colorado, shares what his brother did once: He took his friend to a business party because he felt she’d look good with him and that would make other friends/colleagues envy him.

Love: You are proud to be with someone because you love them. It doesn’t matter if they are considered a ‘good catch’ by your friends, family, and colleagues, as long as this person makes you simply happy. Love extends beyond beauty and wealth. Your idea is to grow together in a relationship every day as your love grows.

8. Who gets to see the best of you?

Like: If you simply have a crush or fancy someone, it’s a mildly pleasant and benign feeling where you wish to be this presentable person who’d do anything for their attention. In both love and like psychology, their attention itself would be enough to make you feel good about yourself. But if you only ‘like’ them, you don’t work on improving yourself. Furthermore, you will be self-conscious about showing the real version of yourself.

Love: The intense feeling of love inspires you to be the best version of yourself because you believe that your partner deserves the best. You are willing to compromise your comfort zone to show them you are all in. The main difference between like and love is that only one person (whom you love) gets to see your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. You can like as many people as you want but only the person you love will get to see your darker side.

stories on falling in love and more

9. Know the difference between like and love: Are you embarrassed by this person?

Like: Here is another main difference when it comes to liking vs. loving someone. Once you get to know the flaws of your partner or crush, your liking fades away. Lyla, a bank manager, realized that her partner eats very clumsily in public and would end up spoiling her clothes a bit in the process too, due to which, over a period of time, she stopped meeting her altogether.

Love: Loving someone means complete acceptance. Even if you see the most annoying side of them, like their continuous habit of making noise while eating, you’d still try to work with them to make things better. Or you’d let go of that issue completely because of your unconditional emotions toward them. You do this because you wish to build a future with them. When you show someone you love them, these habits become too small to get in the way of the larger picture.

10. Are you hesitant about your feelings?

Like: What’s the difference between liking someone and loving someone? You’d be hesitant to express your feelings to the one you like. You’d not want to look uncool or might be scared of how they react. You’ll always have your guard up. Your inclination toward saying I like you instead of I love you says a lot about your true feelings.

Love: If you love someone, you’d be sure of your intense feelings and stronger emotions. You would confidently express them to the person you love. You wouldn’t want the ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ to stop you. You’d express your love even if your feelings are not reciprocated.

Related Reading: 15 Clear Signs Your Crush Doesn’t Like You Back

11. Love vs. like — Is there a future?

Like: What does it mean to like someone? You will dream about the person because you’ve developed a personal attachment with them. But how do you know if you like or love someone? It’s dependent on whether you just daydream about them or really seek a future with them. ‘Like’ is not an intense feeling that will make you want to raise children with them, but you will always have a cordial relation or a friendship with them.

Love: You can see yourself having one of the best romantic relationships with them. And when they become an integral part of your life, love extends its wings and pushes you toward the next stages. You can put your best foot forward and start a future with them and look forward to building a home together. You want to spend your whole life with them. Even if you wouldn’t want to get married or live together immediately, you’d still be able to forecast it in your head and express your strong feelings to them.

12. Is liking the same as love? Depends on how you handle intimacy

Like: Once you’ve explored each other on the sexual front, the mystery and the thrill begin to wear off and so will your pleasant feelings for each other. The sexual edge in your relationship is what keeps you driving on most days. But you won’t connect with each other on a deeper level like romantic partners do. You won’t stay curious about them. This liking won’t make you share your deepest secrets with them; this is why intimacy among couples fades.

Love: Sexual intimacy and love between partners who love each other will only bring them closer. A study shows that the feelings experienced during sexual activity and orgasm elevate the oxytocin levels in the body. This not only brings you closer to your mate but also helps in fidelity.

what's the difference between liking someone and loving someone
Have you come emotionally closer after being sexually intimate?

13. Caring is a two-way process

Like: If you feel like the other person should always be taking care of you and your needs, then you’re probably inclined toward ‘liking’ your mate. You will spend more quality time together as friends, not lovers. Everyone around you will know that you care for each other in certain aspects, but in a friendly capacity.

Love: When love exists between two people, it is a two-way process that builds reciprocity in the relationship. You expect your partner to have unconditional emotions and care for you too. You always have their best interest in mind. Their messages will make you experience butterflies in your stomach. You start to feel that this strong feeling of affection is here to stay for a long time.

14. How do you react to their absence?

Like: What is the main difference between like and love when it comes to not being around each other? If you simply like someone, the relationship with them will only last as long as they are around. Their presence is a reminder that you are supposed to be in touch with them. But if they’re absent from your life for a longer duration, you may forget all about them eventually.

Love: On the other hand, when love exists, your relationship will be able to pass the test of time. If you are truly in love with someone, their absence for a while would only make your heart grow fonder, and fill it with longing. Your love will try to endure long distances and both partners will be willing to wait for each other.

Is it possible to get over someone you loved deeply?

15. How secure are you?

Like: If you simply adore someone, you’d want to be their center of attention and wouldn’t want them to lay an eye on anyone else. You’d experience relationship insecurity, where you’d think there’s someone better who might take them away from you.

Love: When you love someone, you choose to trust them with all your heart. No matter how many attractive people surround you or them, you’ll both know you hold each other’s love and attention. This is the difference between love and like.

16. How did the meeting with family and friends go?

Like: This is one of the key differences between like and love. To like means you’d not be that nervous about meeting their loved ones. It might not even occur to you to meet them. You won’t be that involved in knowing much about your crush’s social circle. Your friends will treat this person as a new girl/boy in your life, yes, but not as your romantic partner.

Love: Is liking the same as love when it comes to meeting the family? No, if you are in love with someone, no matter how much they reassure you that their family likes you, you’d still be nervous about meeting them. You’d be cautious about the first impression you leave behind. If their parents do not like you, then you both might even reach a stage in the future where you’d need to know how to convince parents for love marriage.

Furthermore, there is a difference between like and love in marriage as well. Liking your spouse often reflects the appreciation of their company, shared interests, and good enough compatibility, which is essential for a healthy partnership. However, love in marriage goes beyond this. It encompasses deep emotional bonds, enduring commitment, and a willingness to support and cherish your partner, even in the face of challenges.

17. Are you constantly trying to impress them?

Like: If you like and appreciate the new girl or boy you just met, you might think about how you are not good enough for them. You’d try to do things that they like in order to win them over. Masie, an interior designer in Ohio, shares, “I went to a Japanese place to have sushi with someone I matched with on a dating app. Even though I liked the guy and not the cuisine, I went along with him because I wanted to impress him.”

Love: If you are crazy in love with someone and are loved back, the feelings experienced by you will make you more grounded as a person. Love has to be about letting someone be themselves. You do not feel the need to prove yourself all the time. This proves the difference between like and love.

Related Reading: 5 Reasons And 7 Ways To Cope With Feeling Not Good Enough For Him/Her

18. How conditional are your strong feelings?

Like: Let’s put this debate to rest through our reader Keira’s narrative. Keira, a luxury fashion enthusiast, shares her experience with us, “I felt like this was it and he was the one for me, but then I also felt like my strong feelings were dependent on whether he loves me back too, and whether or not he would always be available for me. This made me realize that I simply liked my partner and that it was yet to be about love.”

Love: As Keira established, love is an unconditional feeling. You’ll never feel like you need love back from your person in order to love them in the first place.

19. Why do you spend time together?

Like: Take this to be the most important indicator. If you simply like someone and think they are nice, you’d only be with them for a specific reason, whether to feel validated, or for sex, or because you want good company for a while.

Love: When it comes to love, even a date at the nearest coffee shop would mean a lot to you. Seeing them would be enough to fill your heart with love. Simply spending quality time with someone you love feels enough.

20. Are you able to move on easily?

Like: No matter how much you like a person, you’ll move on from them quickly. It might take weeks or a couple of months to find another person, but it won’t be that difficult to move on from the person you only liked. There won’t be any unresolved conflict or grudges in your heart when you part ways mutually. It’s like a more watered down version of intense attraction.

Love: On the contrary, if things go wrong in your fairy tale, it’ll be difficult to move on from someone you love. It might take months or even years at a stretch to get over someone you truly love. Feeling overwhelmed after a breakup and how quickly you move on is how you’ll know the main difference between like and love. It’s not liking alone when you think this person is your one true love, and that you cannot live without them. It takes time to let go of such a big part of your life after the breakup.

Key Pointers

  • To know whether you like someone or love someone is quite a task
  • We generally tend to get confused about our like and love feelings for people, but loving someone is more powerful and permanent than liking someone
  • What is the main difference between like and love? If it takes a lot of time to move on from someone, then you didn’t just like them but loved them
  • When you love someone, you are patient with them, secure about them and your feelings, and love to spend time together even on ‘boring’ days as compared to when you only like someone

It took a while for Devi to understand that what she had for Paxton was a simple crush in the Netflix series, Never Have I Ever, because she liked what she could become with him. This was unraveled only when she could move past him to someone else. Love is hard to find, but not impossible. Like and love are common terms, and are often confused with each other. But amidst all the ongoing comparison between like and love, it’s romantic love that will strike you when you least expect it and will somehow stay forever.


1. Can liking someone turn into love?

Liking may turn into love, yes. Accepting the flaws of your partner is what will make you fall in love with them. It is about accepting the person for who they are rather than living with the image of them that you hold in your head. It is good to fantasize about someone but you cannot consider that fantasy to be necessarily true; you can only fall in love with their reality. 

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