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Liking vs Loving: What’s the Difference?

When you like a flower, you pick it up. When you love a flower, you water it every day.-Buddha

Liking and loving are two emotions that all people sense continuously during their lifetime. They can be directed towards objects, ideas, schools of thought, other feelings, or people. In this article I will discuss the differences between the two and I will focus on these emotions when they are directed towards other people.

Psychological View on Liking and Loving

According to psychologist Zick Rubin, the three pillars of romantic love are attachment, caring, and intimacy. He distinguished between liking and loving by the following definitions.

Enjoying spending your time with someone you admire and appreciate is considered liking, whereas loving is much deeper and more intense. It transpires when a person cares about the other just as much as they care about their own self. When you understand someone’s needs and regard them with the same importance as your own, that is when you love.

Difference between the Two and Attraction

One can look at attraction as the first step to liking or loving. Many things “attract” us throughout our day: a car driving at a very high speed, a garden of multicolored tulips, a match catching fire … These are all things that attract our attention. Sometimes, love starts off like that.

You look at a person and for some reason, you cannot divert your eyes for long. Something about the way they walk, the way they smile or laugh, or the way they talk about their passions seems to pull you towards them, into their own field of gravity.

The highest two forms of attraction are confidence and intelligence. Attraction is more temporary than loving or liking. Any beautiful woman can captivate the eyes of those around her – it is when she captivates their heart, their mind, that she can consider herself powerful.

It is when she maintains that attraction, constantly, that she can say she is loved. Still, attraction to cleverness exists; it does not have to mean love.

Is in Love the Same as Love?

The phrase “in love” is heard too frequently every day that people do not take the time to stop and appreciate it. While love is simply love in its purest form, that which you give to people who are kind, and whom you relate to, whom you want to be there during sad and happy times, being in love takes this love to a whole other level.

You fall in love with the person who inspires you, gives you more reasons to live, challenges you to be a better version of yourself, loves you unconditionally.

Yet those are merely consequences of being in love; the action in itself derives from how you feel about the other, not how the other makes you feel about yourself.

You fall in love with a person for who they are: altruistic or go-getter, kind or blunt, calm or dangerous, passionate or indifferent … It is all a matter of preference.

However, the qualities that are less fun and light – those that are somewhat more difficult to love and to handle, those that have more depth to them – are the qualities we let consume us whole, willingly and incautiously. Afterall, shallow will not swallow you; it requires depth for one to fall in.

What is a Crush? Why do We Get It? How Does it Differ from Love?

A crush is the step between attraction and potential love. It consists of several stages: healthy and latent feelings, to optimistic flirts, to silent infatuation and obsession … Getting to the third stage is not instant harm, but it is ominous.

Usually, if a relationship were to transpire, it does so after the flirting stage. If the other person involved is interested, that is the stage in which he or she will show it. Otherwise, the person crushing ought to hit the brakes, gradually yet surely. Why? Here, the relationship between a crush and love is clarified.

A crush develops with the intentions of turning into love if all goes well. There are two kinds of people in this world – those who believe that things normally go well, and those who have lived long enough to realize the opposite … Unrequited love is common and catching oneself before becoming taken into it is definitely favorable.

Is it Possible for Love to Flourish from Liking?

It is not only possible, but highly common. This is what psychologist Elaine Hatfield considers to be compassionate love. The other type is passionate love, which we will discuss shortly.

Compassionate love arises from mutual respect, attachment, affection, and trust. It normally develops out of mutual understanding, which is the case when two old friends develop romantic feelings for each other. There is no newness, but familiarity; there is less questioning and more trust; there is no “discovering each other’s differences”, but “accepting and nourishing each other’s preferences”.

On the other hand, passionate love comes from a place of intensity and attraction. It is characterized by relatively sudden intense emotions, sexual attraction, affection, and even anxiety.

This is the kind of relationship that is prone to today’s overused word: “toxic”. While such relationships can be breathtaking (literally so, too 😉), they could lead to obsession. Obsession on both ends is desirable and sexy, however it is often the case that when one comes too close, the other starts pulling back.

Biological Reasons About Why the Two Feelings Confused

We have all heard Kelly Clarkson’s hit “Behind These Hazel Eyes” (if you have not, go listen to it now!). In her love song, she says “Now I can’t breathe, no I can’t sleep…”. As it turns out, there are actual biological reasons for this!

Dopamine and norepinephrine are two related hormones released in our bodies when we do things that make us feel good, mainly things that involve love.

They are released in high quantities during sex or attraction. These chemicals give the human body energy and a euphoric emotion, and can lead to insomnia or loss of appetite. Loss of appetite is a result of reduced serotonin levels, induced by the increase in dopamine.

Pay attention that sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) differ from attraction and love hormones (dopamine and norepinephrine). There is also a third hormone, oxytocin, which heightens our sentiments of attachment.

All in all, these hormones are in major part responsible for our mood swings and how we feel. So the next time you react oddly to the actions of someone you love, do not worry – blame it on the hormones!

A Final Word

Know what to like and what to love. Categorize what you are feeling and do not mistake it for something it is not. Love openly, purely, and unconditionally. Most importantly, like yourself. Love yourself. The rest will all follow …


James Smith

James is a passionate explorer and the creative mind behind, a platform dedicated to unraveling captivating distinctions. With an insatiable curiosity, he uncovers hidden nuances in various aspects of life, from cultural traditions to scientific phenomena. James believes that appreciating differences fosters personal growth and societal empathy.