The psychologist named 6 criteria for distinguishing love from falling in love

Surprisingly, if we are talking about love for flowers, ice cream or the sea, we do not even have a question about what kind of feeling it is, do we not confuse love with falling in love. If I love the sea, then I love it.

But if I say: “Oh, I’m just in love with his paintings!”, sounds like it’s about falling in love. But again, no confusion. So, what is the difference between love and falling in love. Let’s figure it out.

Love is something more stable and lasting, it is a feeling; falling in love is about the fact that we are under a strong positive emotional impression of something.

But unfortunately, in relations between people, everything is not so simple and obvious. Understanding what unites you with your partner – love or being in love – can be really difficult.

I identify 6 main criteria by which you can distinguish love from falling in love.

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Read also: “Levak” strengthens marriage – is it really so: the opinion of a psychologist

1. Love is intimacy, falling in love is always a game

According to Stephen Karpman, the author of the concept of a triangular relationship between the roles of Victim, Persecutor and Rescuer, love is possible only outside of such a relationship. In the language of psychology, such relationships are called “games”, codependent relationships.

Karpman argued: “When a person is free from games, he gains the freedom to love.”

So, love is available only when a person is free from psychological games.

For example, in transactional analysis, this state is called “intimacy.”

Love is possible only where there is closeness.

In this sense of the word, intimacy has nothing to do with intimacy or physical contact.

Proximity is a format of communication in which there is no pretense, any hidden psychological benefits, there is no manipulation; people allow themselves to be real, to be themselves and do not wear masks.

At the level of communication, this is manifested in the fact that a person says exactly what he means – without hints and the desire to prick, attract, deceive, lure, flatter, etc.

Proximity is available only to psychologically mature, internally “grown-up” people.

2. Love is born from an “adult” ego state, falling in love – from a “child”

What is the difference between love and falling in love - 6 basic criteria from a psychologist
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In the structure of the personality, three parts are often distinguished – the inner Parent, the Adult and the Child. Adulthood is something different from parental and childish states, but at the same time it does not exclude them, but rather cooperates with them.

What do we see if the “parental” state prevails in a woman?

Such a woman will strive to remake her partner in her own way or will allow herself to criticize, reproach, and claim. She can sincerely believe that everything would be much better in a relationship if it was the way she imagines it to be right. It is important for her to be right and to always be “my way”.

It has nothing to do with love. But falling in love here can be – especially if a woman lives with illusions that her partner will change, if she gets some emotions from her innocence, or if (in the extreme version) she takes care of a man, takes care of him “like a mother.”

When a “childish” state prevails in a woman, the situation is not much different from what we have already considered. You might think that in this case the role of the “parent” is assumed by the man – he takes care of the woman, takes care of her. Yes, it happens, but it’s not that simple.

Even in a “childish” state, a woman can look very “strong” – well, there is a horse, a burning hut, and further down the list. Such a woman will “attract” some “wrong” men (alcoholics, workaholics, womanizer, losers, etc.) and sincerely believe that she has nothing to do with it – she comes across them.

But what can you do! Love is evil! And, hiding behind beautiful words, a woman will talk about love, although love was not here and there.

When a person is in a codependent, conditionally “unhealthy” relationship, he usually experiences very vivid and varied emotions. And among them there may well be one that turns out to be in love, but not love.

What is the difference between love and falling in love - 6 basic criteria from a psychologist
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Can falling in love be a constructive and healthy state? Naturally.

As an emotion, falling in love is born from the resources of the inner Child. And this is a game (including love), and flirting, and the spontaneous manifestation of feelings, emotions, passion. When a person is in love, he soars, flies, plays, dances … And he is aware of this. And lets go easily when the game comes to an end. Maybe with longing and sadness, but easy.

Falling in love is a light and frivolous fairy. If love presupposes some responsibility, when falling in love, you will hardly want to be with the source of your emotions in sorrow and in joy, eat a pound of salt with it and support you at a difficult moment in life.

Again, this point is very easy to understand if we turn to the theory of ego states. Only an adult is capable of taking responsibility. By definition, a “child” is not supposed to.

3. Love, does not give up reason and common sense, but falling in love does it all the time

Love is the result of the interaction of two adults. And for adults, psychologically mature people, some things are characteristic that, in fact, distinguish them from immature people.


  • An adult relies on facts. He trusts his feelings and emotions, but at the same time compares everything with facts, data, figures, actions, in general, with the real state of affairs.
  • An adult is capable of making decisions – including in relationships.
  • An adult acts, and is not limited to beautiful words and promises.
  • An adult is here and now, does not delve into the past (his and his partner’s), does not live with illusions.
  • He accepts life and the other as they are. If he understands that the other has different values ​​and ideas about happiness, he will not impose his own on him.

To accept is to support your partner on the path that he considers best for himself.

4. Love does not exclude conflicts, falling in love minimizes them

What is the difference between love and falling in love - 6 basic criteria from a psychologist
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Love, being a feeling, is more stable than any emotion. And she does not exclude emotions. Therefore, between people who love each other, a variety of emotions are possible.

You can and quarrel! Some quarrels and constructive conflicts can strengthen relationships, take them to a new level, and bring people closer together.

Falling in love is afraid of real conflicts and may even avoid them. People in love rarely show themselves to each other as they are. More often than not, everyone tries and wants to show themselves from their best side – perhaps even better than they really are.

It is a constant pretening, smoothing, sweetening. Against this background, many conflicts are smoothed out or even suppressed (especially if at least one of the partners is afraid of being branded as a conflict person).

5. Love respects personal space, falling in love forgets about it

Falling in love practically does not leave any personal space for another. She thinks that together is always preferable to apart.

Love, being a mature position of an adult, knows how to find a balance – somewhere it is necessary together, but somewhere, on the contrary, it is necessary to give another personal space, freedom.

Two adults do not strive to live according to the principle “Tamara and I walk as a couple.” Lovers live in two different spaces, which touch and intersect only to some extent. It is no coincidence that wedding rings are depicted in this way: a smaller part of the circle turns out to be in the intersection.

6. Love is not cooperation

What is the difference between love and falling in love - 6 basic criteria from a psychologist
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The modern world is a little obsessed with the idea of ​​cooperation and team spirit, which is trying to bring in the topic of interpersonal relations. Leave the teamwork and collaboration in the office. When people cooperate, it is definitely not necessary for them to love each other.

Love is intimacy, it contains desire, attraction (including spiritual), and not only expediency.

Collaboration presupposes that there is me and that you are, and we do something together that will make us both winners; we will get a common result, for which, in general, we unite. Love makes it possible to support your partner, even if he alone is interested as a result.

In this sense, falling in love may just resemble cooperation – it is a game in which both play by the rules.

Yet love and falling in love have something in common

Both of these states are constructive. If a feeling for a partner is steadily accompanied by pain, irritation, anger, anger, resentment, annoyance, a keen sense of injustice, guilt, shame, if there is a feeling that you have been hurt, insulted, humiliated, but you are still “drawn” to the person, then this and not love, and not falling in love, but, most likely, addiction.

Is your relationship with your partner like love or falling in love?

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