How to Differentiate Between Love and Friendship

The line between friendship and love isn't always clear because friendships and romantic relationships share many of the same characteristics. So how can you tell the difference between them? Keep reading to find out!
How to Differentiate Between Love and Friendship

Last update: 15 April, 2019

Do you know how to differentiate between love and friendship? Although the differences between these two things might seem obvious, the truth is that it’s quite hard to differentiate between them. Many people think that you can have a friendship and love at the same time or that there’s no friendship without love. Let’s delve a little deeper into this topic.

Love means different things to different people. Pinning down an exact definition isn’t easy since people use the word so freely.

The use, abuse, falsification, manipulation, and adulteration of the word “love” means that it’s quite hard to avoid trivializing it.

Love: The word with a thousand meanings

Love is a basic part of human life. Nevertheless, the celebrity and gossip magazine industry has turned it into another product to be bought and sold. In these magazines, they talk a lot about romantic relationships, physical relationships, and flings but they almost never mention authentic love.

The Spanish word for love, amor, comes from the Latin amoris, but also from amare on one side and caritas on the other. Amare comes from the Etruscan term amino and is applied indistinctly between animals and man because it has a fairly broad meaning. It means “to love because of one’s own disposition, to like”. The antonym of love is odi (to hate).

The word “love” encompasses many things: affection, esteem, preference, infatuation, falling in love, propensity, enthusiasm, rapture, fervor, admiration, effusion, reverence…

A couple looking into each other's eyes.

The common thread of all those definitions is the tendency to choose someone because you like their company. This aspect of “tending towards” is exactly that: preference, selection, and choosing someone that’s good for you from an array of options.

Love between friends

Love between friends is one of life’s greatest gifts. Thanks to platonic love, you’re able to have an intimate relationship with other human beings. Pedro Laín Entralgo defined this kind of love as “a peculiar loving relationship that requires trust and giving.” [translation]

Entralgo says that friendship is psychologically made up of benevolent and kind acts and trust that defines the communication between two people. Friendship isn’t as intense as love. To love someone means to need them.

Love and friendship

Is loving someone the same as being their friend? Well, loving someone means needing them, seeking them out, hoping the best for them, and hoping to share everything with them. Not only that, but love gives rise to an intimate, mysterious, and deep kind of communication that’s unique to romantic relationships.

When you fall in love, you’re under a kind of spell. Time seems to stop and you feel the need to share everything with your significant other: words, events, memories, and thoughts. Every instant with the person you love is intense.

Friends aren’t the same as significant others. Nevertheless, it’s possible to confuse feelings of love with feelings of friendship, especially because some romantic relationships start as friendships.

The difference between love and friendship.

Is this friendship or am I falling in love?

Romantic love includes friendship, but friendship doesn’t include romantic love. People involved in romantic relationships are often great friends as well.

When you love someone in a romantic way, you share more time and intimate moments than you do with friends. You might have incredible moments with them as well, but they don’t have anything to do with the everyday togetherness of the home.

There are also some negative aspects of romantic relationships that don’t manifest in friendships (at least not in the same way). With your significant other, you might experience jealousy, boredom, fear of abandonment, loss of passion, lack of interest in sex, infidelity, etc.

As you can see, it’s not easy to differentiate between love and friendship because there are many definitions of each. However, what does seem certain is that friendships and romantic relationships aren’t the same things. Or are they?

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.