Admiration and love - what's the difference?

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Louise Hay

Admiration and love - what's the difference?

Admiration and love are two feelings that are often confused with each other. Sometimes they go hand in hand, sometimes they don't

Last update: Augusts 01, 2020

A fine line separates admiration and love. So subtle that it is not uncommon to confuse the two feelings, connected by complex dynamics. One can admire without loving, but one cannot love without feeling admiration.

The question becomes confused if we think that during falling in love there is a certain idealization of the loved one. In this first phase of the relationship, admiration and love are almost indistinguishable. Over time, one or the other begins to prevail. Eventually, everything is filtered out of the heart and mind.

Physical beauty can arouse desire and admiration, in a very intense way. Also in this case the two feelings can be confused with love. The same happens in other circumstances; for example, celebrity or power are capable of generating so much admiration that they are sometimes confused with love.

“To love means to admire with the heart, but to admire is to love with the mind”.

-Theophile Gautier-

Admiration and love, together and apart

One way or another, where there is love there is also admiration. In this case the two feelings go hand in hand. However, the same thing does not happen if we invert the terms. That is, love is not always present where admiration is present.

The complexity of this logic derives from the tendency to idealize others when they correspond, in some way, to our expectations or needs. The relationship between the two terms is even more complicated, because we often call "love" the desire to "be loved".

To idealize a person means to attribute to him qualities he does not possess or exaggerate those he does. It often happens in the falling in love phase. You do not yet know your partner well and you look at him through a filter: the desire that she is a fantastic person. In this case, admiration and love are present, but they have weak bases, because they are partly expectations and fantasies.

Some, on the other hand, would like to be loved by the most popular, most attractive or powerful person. The love they eventually receive increases their emotional or social status. It is a situation that can come to be fervently desired and which can be confused with love.

Admiration and self-esteem

Those with low self-esteem often idealize love and tend to fall in love with someone who is considered above average. In this way, the alleged feeling of love is inspired by an alleged admiration. It is, after all, an attempt to recover some self-love through the approval and love of someone to whom this power is attributed..

There are various stereotypes in our culture that tell us what is worthy of admiration and what is not. If we spoke in "commercial" terms, we could say that we tend towards who corresponds to the figure of the ideal customer, the one who has the required parameters: beautiful, athletic, with the possibility of consumption and very self-determined.

Those who are thirsty for acceptance will look for a stereotype to entrust you with apparent affection. It is a way to feel integrated and avoid the ghost of rejection. However, there is neither admiration nor love here, but only a hard and strong rejection of oneself.

Healthy admiration and healthy love

True love should not be concerned with awakening love in the other, but rather with giving oneself for the sake of the other. It is not a feeling that "blinds" and does not arise from morning to evening. It requires knowledge, acceptance and, of course, admiration. In this case a feeling of real admiration.

Love contains admiration because we have managed to deepen the relationship, to discover the qualities of the partner, many of which do not show themselves at first glance. And the way these discoveries are received is positive. There is no interest in using them, only affection and joy at having found them.

Admiration is therefore the fruit of reflection. It implies recognizing in the other those virtues, abilities or qualities that we consider valuable. We admire an artist for his talent, a leader for his tenacity or a teacher for his wisdom. None of this has anything to do with love in the romantic sense. That's why you can admire without loving, but not the other way around.

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