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How to differentiate between love and friendship: 4 tips

How to differentiate between love and friendship: 4 tips

May 24, 2022

Friendship is also a type of love, although this affective bond is not like the one that is at the base of couple relationships, traditionally associated with romantic love, which we normally consider the form of "love" by default.

However, the field of emotions is almost always complex and difficult to foresee. Having a realistic understanding of our own feelings is an art, and getting it is the exception, not the rule. Because, there are those who hesitate to differentiate between love and friendship . Exactly of this subject we will speak in the following lines.

  • Related article: "The 4 types of love: what different kinds of love are there?"

Differentiate the love of friendship: how to know what I feel?

The first thing to understand when proposing to distinguish between affection for friendship and romantic love, is that both experiences are mediated by the way in which our culture has influenced our way of being, thinking and feeling.


That means, among other things, that what you feel does not arise from your body coded in categories clearly separated from each other, as we might expect if the emotions were like the elements of a periodic table. Part of what we feel is how we interpret it, so that concerns and beliefs about what we are experiencing affect, in practice, that emotion .

Part of the difficulty of distinguishing between love and friendship is, then, knowing how to distinguish between what that person makes us feel and what makes us feel the experience of knowing that we are developing an affective bond whose nature we still have to understand. The expectations generated by the fact of feeling something for someone they play a role in how we want to relate to her and in how that person reacts in case of interacting with her.


That said, let's look at several tips on what to do to distinguish between love and friendship.

1. Is there chemistry in privacy?

Intimacy is a key aspect of romantic relationships . However, do not confuse it with the sexual connection. Asexual people are not by definition deprived of the experience of love, but it is true that they do not feel a very intense sexual connection towards someone in particular.

This chemistry in the intimacy typical of love, then, in most cases also affects the sexual, but is not limited to this and is present in many other forms of physical relationships: hugs, kisses, caresses, mutual care ... Normally, if what there is is friendship, a large part of these experiences are not seen as necessary, although there are always exceptions.

  • Maybe you're interested: "The 7 myths of romantic love"

2. Is there willingness to compromise?

In love relationships, the people involved tend to want to establish minimum commitment. Therefore, if some time passes without the other person having tried to contact them, for example, disappointment and sadness appear .


This commitment is not equivalent to what has traditionally been considered "fidelity" based on a monogamous model, but has to do with the broader meaning of the word: make sacrifices and agreements to keep the bond alive and make it have its place in the future, instead of leaving everything to improvisation or sporadic encounters. A person who sees an unjustified imposition on this idea of ​​basing their relationship with the other in a certain degree of commitment, will probably be feeling friendship, and not conventional love.


3. Make sure that pity does not play a role

There are couple relationships that begin because one of their members feels a mixture of affection and compassion for a person whom they consider helpless and alone. This experience, although based on compassion, generates obvious problems. On the one hand, it perpetuates the idea that a person is alone unless they have a partner with whom they have a romantic love bond, something that is clearly wrong, and on the other, facilitates that the other generates wrong expectations .

Therefore, another of the necessary but not sufficient conditions to distinguish between friendship and love is to make sure that the time and activities shared with that person are not based on pity. For example, we can perform small experiments based on imagination, such as imagining that that person starts dating another one with which it is clear that there is a correspondent love connection. How does that make us feel? If the answer has something to do with relief, it is very possible that it is friendship .


4. Analyze the intensity of emotion

Normally, friendships are seen as something flexible, which can stop being on the scene for a while so that, some time later, they reappear.However, in the case of love the emotion is usually so intense that the idea of ​​interrupting the relationship even temporarily is experienced dramatically and clearly painful, and feeling a strong mourning for this loss.

The emotions felt through love are too intense for us to be comfortable with the experience of not knowing if tomorrow that person will still be there for us.

This "rigidity" in the way we assess whether our expectations are being met or not is another key that can help us distinguish between friendship and love.

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