Feelings of love and affection can be confusing because they have some similarities, and it is common for people to confuse them. But far from being the same, they generate and imply different sensations.
If, despite the differences reported, you cannot tell whether what you really feel for someone is love or affection, talking and communicating how you feel or what your thoughts are can help you to to clarify, to see the situation with more hindsight and to know what The other person has an opinion and how they feel.
In this article, we will talk about the differences between love and affection. and we will explain how each term is defined, so that it will be easier for us to understand its distinctive features.
Distinguish affection and love
To better understand the difference between love and affection, it can help us first to know how each term is defined. Both concepts are feelingsthat is, complex subjective experiences that human beings have towards another person or thing, but with the difference in intensity that each assumes.
Love is an intense feeling that usually arises in reference to a person, which makes us want to spend time with this subject, to spend life together, sticking together through bad times and good times. This feeling appears without our being able to decide, that is, we do not choose who we love. This impossibility of selection is observed especially in the love of a couple, the experiences lived with the other are important but not sufficient to love them as a couple.
Romantic love is the type of love that comes most easily to mind, but there are other types of love, such as that of parents towards their children.
Affection is a feeling of moderate intensity usually directed towards a person, although it can also be an animal. We care about the well-being of the subject and we want to spend time with him, we feel comfortable next to him. It is common for this affection to express itself in positive and favorable behaviors towards the other, helping them to feel good.
The main differences between love and affection
Now that we know better the definition of the two terms, love and affection, we are going to focus on explaining the main differences, taking into account different variables such as intensity, already reported, duration, behaviors, involvement, thought, type of link, between others.
1. Intensity of each feeling
As we have already mentioned the intensity of each feeling is different. In the case of love, it is associated with a much more intense feeling compared to affection which expresses a feeling of moderate intensity. For this reason, when we fall in love with someone, we mean that we feel love for that person and not affection.
2. Duration of each feeling
In relation to the previous point of intensity, it is easy to deduce which sensation will be the most lasting. Love tends to last longer, persisting over time despite different situations; it is more resistant. Instead, the condition may be more variable and present for a shorter period of time and then fade.
3. Connections that are established with each feeling
We can feel affection for friends or colleagues, people with whom we spend time, we want them to be happy and we care about their well-being, but without this feeling implying anything else. On the contrary, we feel love for people very close to uspeople with whom we share a large part of our daily life, such as our partner, our children or our parents, that is to say that we could consider as the closest family.
4. Go from one feeling to another
Both feelings are related to a positive feeling towards someone, but as we have already said, of different intensity. In this way, it is possible that the affection we feel for a person ends up drifting into love. On the other hand, the reverse process from love to affection is more complicated, because as we have pointed out when we feel something very intense for someone, it is difficult to diminish it. But it can happen, for example, in relationships, that when we separate, we feel affection for the other for everything that we have been through, but it is no longer love.
5. Involvement of sentiment
As it is a different intensity of feelings, the implications of each are also different. When we feel love for someone, we would do anything for the other person; we do not hesitate to be 100% involved in your well-being, if you ask us for help we will be the first to act, we may even become more concerned about your well-being than ours.
In place, when we feel affection, we want the other person to be okay, but we don’t get involved as much and we don’t want to do anything for each other, their welfare will not be more important than ours.
6. Love generates no doubt
Especially when it comes to relationships, when we meet someone or if we already know someone before, the feeling of love, of wanting to have something more with that person, is something that we will notice, for how we act, how we think, how we feel when we are with him. In other words, if you have to ask yourself several times if you want to love and you don’t know how to answer clearly, chances are it will be.
As we have seen, love seems out of control, that is, it has no clear explanation, but you feel different things about this person that make you doubt that this what you feel is love.
7. Behaviors related to each feeling
Although the behaviors associated with love and affection may be similar, the intensity and the way they are performed are different, outwardly it is possible to see this difference, for example if we look at body language, but in the end who will notice the difference it is the subject himself who does the action, since linked to love, an inner feeling is generated that is unlike any otherif you feel different.
8. Always in Our Thoughts
Another way to tell the two feelings apart is to look at the times when that person pops into our mind, in other words, when we like someone, we think of him almost constantly, there are things that remind us of them. In our day to day, we remember this easily and don’t hesitate to take action that we know you will like.
For example, when we go shopping, we see goodies that are the favorites of the person we love and do not hesitate to buy them.
How to act when you don’t know if you feel love or affection
If we still know the differences between the two feelings, we don’t know if it’s really love that we feel, the best option is to talk to that person, that is, to express what we feel, because it is very likely that he or she may also harbor the same doubt. Sometimes, for fear of what the other will think, we can get stuck and do not tell him how we feel, leaving in us doubt and confusion of feelings.
Talking about it and externalizing our thoughts and feelings also helps us organize and name what we are feeling., while letting us know what the other person is thinking. Friendship with someone, the affection we feel for him, can be confused with love and even more so if we are going through a difficult period or we feel alone, in moments of weakness, where we have a person close to us, we can confuse what we really feel.
Likewise, when we spend a lot of time with a person or our “selfish” part comes out and we are afraid that if we start a relationship we will spend less time, it may be more difficult for us to know for sure if we are feeling it is love or affection. As we have already pointed out, all the differences mentioned above can help us to clarify our thoughts, but if you are still not sure how you feel, confronting the situation and talking to the person who is causing us doubt is the better.
This conversation will not harm your relationship, it will help clarify things and know how you really feel. He thinks that not acting is much worse than leaving doubts, because if it’s just affection you will stay the same, but if you realize you feel something else, you can miss a great opportunity if you don’t don’t take any risks.
- Dillow, M., Goodboy, A. and Bolkan, S. (2014) Attachment and the expression of affection in romantic relationships: The mediating role of romantic love. Communication reports.
- Garlikov, R. (2020) The Meaning of Love. University of Troy, Alabama.
- Treger, S., Hatfield, E. and Sprecher, S. (2013) Love. Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research.