5 Feelings that Seem to Be Love but Aren’t

June 30, 2020
Sometimes, emotions such as gratitude or compassion create very strong emotional bonds between people. Although these feelings can seem to be love, they aren't. Read on to learn more!

Feelings aren’t completely precise. In fact, human beings are known for their ambiguities, contradictions, and inaccuracies. That’s why it isn’t uncommon for us to experience feelings that seem to be love but actually aren’t.

Love has an inherent downside. In all types of love, there’s often lack of affection and even hatred. No one loves another person perfectly. However, what does happen is that love can be the main emotion that unites us to another person or group of people.

Sometimes, we’re convinced of the love we feel for other people, even though this isn’t really the predominant feeling. This happens because many feelings seem to be love but aren’t. Below, we explain them.

Feelings that seem to be love but aren’t

1. Gratitude

There’s an element of love in gratitude but it isn’t love as such. Some people do very significant things for you. Sometimes, they’re there for you and stand by you when others don’t care about you at all.

On other occasions, they simply give you time and affection, without asking for anything in return. This can have a big impact on your inner world.

This can make you feel special gratitude towards them. You can have the desire to do the same for them and to make sure that they’re okay. This feeling can easily be mistaken for love. However, deep down, you don’t love someone for what they give you but for who they are.

A woman with her hands together.

2. Compassion

Compassion is another feeling that seems to be love but isn’t. It’s defined as the ability to identify with, understand, and even feel another person’s pain.

Although it’s a form of love, it isn’t love as such. Sometimes, the desire to help that person, and to free them from their pain, makes you feel as if it’s true love. However, this isn’t the case. What if the person overcomes the suffering that afflicted them? Now, there’s no need for compassion.

3. Routine

Routines have enormous power in the lives of human beings. In fact, we become so used to something or someone that we can develop really strong attachments to them. Thus, we experience great pain at the possibility of losing that person or thing.

It’s easy to become so used to a person that you believe that you love them, simply because you find it very difficult to cope with the idea of them no longer being in your life. There can be such a strong resistance to change that it prevents you from understanding the real feelings behind the attachment.

4. Admiration

Admiration is another feeling that comes close to but isn’t love. This feeling has a strong rational and mental element. We appreciate someone because they have a certain virtue or talent. There’s some outstanding or striking aspect in that person, and that creates a desire to be close to them or to be involved with those characteristics in some way.

When you love someone, you don’t just love them for a specific reason. You love them despite of their faults. In other words, when you truly love, you love in a comprehensive way. In fact, you often tend to be particularly moved by that person’s weaknesses or shortcomings, rather than by the display of great virtues.

Two people hugging.

5. Dependence

This is another feeling that can seem to be love. Dependence can make someone feel that the other person is indispensable, either specifically or generally. Thus, they feel that they aren’t capable of living without the other person in their life. This intense feeling makes them think that they really love the other person.

It’s true that, in love, one feels a need for the other person’s company. However, this need isn’t the cause of the bond but rather the consequence of it. This means that you feel good when the person isn’t there but you feel much better if they’re with you. As you can see, there’s a big difference between this reality and feeling that you can’t live without the other person.

In short, many feelings are related to love but aren’t. Sometimes, the lines between one and the other seem to blur. That’s why it’s relatively easy for people to confuse different feelings with true love. Therefore, sometimes, it’s a healthy exercise to rethink what you’re feeling and give your emotions more accurate names.

  • Genovés, V. G., & Tello, M. C. (2009). La prevención de la violencia en la relación amorosa entre adolescentes a través del taller «La Máscara del Amor» (The prevention of dating violence in youth: The «Mask of Love» workshop). Revista de educación, 349, 335-360.