It is very difficult to draw a line between love vs like. It is consuming to figure out if we now love the person whom we had developed a liking/infatuation for. It is a forever debate to know the fine difference between the two.
Liking someone means you enjoy their company. If we go by love vs 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. For instance, Tia, a landscape architect, shares, “I had started to like a guy from work and then eventually developed similar feelings toward my roommate, Alice, but I was confused. How do you know if you like someone or love someone?”
What Does ‘I Like You’ Mean?
When you like someone, 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 show you care for them
- ‘I like you’ might be a gray area before the beginning of a relationship
- It could mean you simply like someone as friends
But the question is – Is liking the same as love? Let’s find out.
What Does ‘I Love You’ Mean?
I love you is an affirmation of strong feelings of emotional, intellectual, romantic, or sexual attraction toward someone. It is a bold statement that brings the surety of “I am committed to you and I am committed to us”. This commitment is a core love vs like difference.
As per research, the perception of love differs not only across different age groups but also among males and females. Women focus more on intimacy whereas men are focused on sexuality, nonverbal, and indirect expressions of intimacy, and less on self-disclosure. Hence, love can be different for different people and perceptions.
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
What is the difference between I like you and I love you? It’s complex to draw a boundary between the two. But one can understand love vs like psychology in the following ways:
1. How important is their physical appearance?
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 Laura was only attracted to the physical appearance of Nacho in 365 Days: This Day, though this wasn’t the case with Massimo.
Love: What Laura had for Massimo Torricelli is what one can account for love. It was beyond the layers of his physical appearance or the stature he had, it was more about how he made her feel. Love might start with physical attraction but won’t be dependent on it.
2. Genuine happiness
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. That’s a key love vs like difference.
Love: The constant presence of your partner is your support system. It gives you immense happiness and you are grateful to them for it. It is a warm hug of reassurance that you’ll always have someone to go back to for your comfort.
Related Reading: 15 Compliments For A Man’s Smile To Make Him Smile More
3. The freedom to be yourself
Like: How do you know if you like or love someone? 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 love vs like debate because you are truly in love.
4. First sight romance or a gradual build-up?
Like: Is liking the same as love at first sight? Sometimes. What people often mistake as love at first sight is rather just a liking toward someone and in most cases, it is dependent on someone’s exterior appearance. One cannot be in love with someone without really knowing them.
Love: The 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 a longer period of time.
5. Are you a good listener?
Like: 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 to be your duty to help them out of their problems.
Love: As per the love vs like psychology, if you love someone, you’d always be a good listener to them and try to give solutions if that’s what they need. 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 understand 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 like 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.
Love: It is a decision of staying with someone irrespective of their flaws, and is one of the most prominent signs you deeply love someone. You accept the people you love just as they are and love every part of them. The feeling of acceptance will not fade away with time.
7. Is your partner an arm candy?
Like: You want to flaunt your partner like an arm candy you can take around. Like Steven, a civil engineer from Colorado, took his friend to a business party because he felt she’d look good with him and that would make other friends/colleagues feel envious of him. These are signs you only like someone.
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 happy. Your idea is to grow together in a relationship every day rather than treat them as a prized possession.
8. Love vs like – Who gets to see the best of you?
Like: If you simply like someone, you’d wish to be this presentable person who’d do anything for their attention. In both love vs 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.
Love: The 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 zones to show them you are all in.
9. Are you embarrassed of them?
Like: Once you get to know the flaws of your partner/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 in the process too, due to which over a period of time, she stopped meeting her altogether.
Love: 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. This is because you wish to build a future with them as you show you love them. These habits are too small to get in the way of the larger picture.
10. Are you hesitant about your feelings?
Like: If you debate about what is the difference between I like you and I love you, then one of the signs you only like someone is that you’d be hesitant to express your feelings to them. You’d not want to look uncool, or might be scared of how they react. You’ll always have your guard up.
Love: If you love someone, you’d be sure of your feelings and would confidently express them to the person you love. You wouldn’t want the ‘ifs’ and ‘maybes’ to stop you. As per love vs like psychology, 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: You would dream about the person you develop a liking for because you’ve developed an 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.
Love: You can see yourself having a future with them and look forward to building a home together. Even if you wouldn’t want to get married or live together immediately, you’d still be able to forecast it in your head which is a beautiful feeling.
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 feelings for each other. The sexual edge in your relationship is what keeps you driving on most days but will eventually fade away.
Love: Sexual intimacy between partners who love each other will only bring them closer. As per research, sexual activity and orgasm elevate the oxytocin levels in the body which not only brings you closer to your mate but also helps in fidelity.
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 in the love vs like debate within yourself.
Love: Love is a two-way process that makes you give and take. You expect your partner to have unconditional care for you while you show someone you care and love them equally.
14. How do you react to their absence?
Like: What is the difference between I like you and I love you? 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, amidst love, your relationship will be able to pass the test of time. If you truly love someone, their absence for a while would only make your heart grow fonder and fill it with longing. Love will try to endure long distances and both partners will be willing to wait for each other.
15. How secure are you?
Like: How do you know if you like or love someone? If you simply like someone, you’d want to be their center of attention and wouldn’t want them to lay an eye on anyone else. You’d be in a relationship insecurity of how there’s always 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.
16. Meeting the family of your partner
Like: This is one of the most significant differences between love vs like. If you only like someone, you’d never be nervous about meeting their family. It might not even occur to you to meet them and you won’t be that involved in knowing much about your partner’s family.
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 may tell 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 surely you’d need to know how to convince parents for love marriage.
17. Are you constantly trying to impress them?
Like: If you like someone, you’d be insecure about how you are not good enough. 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 but not the cuisine, I went along with him because I wanted to impress him.”
Love: If you love someone and are loved back, you feel grounded with them. Love has to be about letting someone be themselves. You do not feel the need to prove yourself all the time. That’s another difference between love vs like psychology.
18. How conditional are your feelings?
Like: Let’s put the love vs like debate to rest through our reader Keira’s narrative. Keira, a luxury fashion enthusiast, shares her experience, “I felt like this was it and he was the one for me, but then I also felt like my 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 but it was yet to be about love.”
Love: As Keira established, love is an unconditional feeling. You’ll never feel like you need something back from the person you love in order to love them in the first place.
19. Why do you spend time together?
Like: If you are still worried about the ‘what is the difference between I like you and I love you’ question, well, take this to be the most important indicator. If you simply like someone, 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’d eventually move on from them very quickly. It might take weeks or a month to find another person you’d keep yourself occupied with as it won’t be difficult to move on from the person you only liked.
Love: On the contrary, even if things go wrong in your fairytale, 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 from it is how you’ll know the difference of love vs like.
- To know whether you like someone or love someone is quite a task
- We tend to get confused about our feelings for people, but loving someone is more powerful and permanent than liking someone
- 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 your partner and your feelings, and love to spend time together unlike 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. Amidst the love vs like confusion, love will strike you when you least expect it and will somehow stay forever.
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 true, you can only fall in love with their reality.