The Difference Between Love and Affection


What is romantic love versus affectionate love? Though they may often be mistaken for each other, they are in fact very different. One you may feel for your family and close friends, whereas the other is rarer, and saved for that special someone who fills your heart and mind. Strong romantic love is overwhelming and is vastly different to affectionate love, but affection is required for love to grow… as we discuss below. Romance fills popular movies, books, television and music. Framed as a warm, wonderful and idyllic, yet as easy at it seems on TV, love can be hard to find. What is the difference between love and affection? Romantic love and affectionate love?

Affection vs Love; What is Affection?

Affection is most widely regarded as a feeling of fondness. It can be said that affection is the first step on the road to love – it is a feeling which includes that of caring and adoring someone and wanting to spend your time with them. You get a warm feeling with the person (or people) you have affection for, and is frequently shared between family members, friends and even co-workers. You can be fond of both people and places – as you may be fond of your grandmother’s house, or a particularly cute book shop and think of those places often, and enjoy being there. As we have learnt more about nature vs nurture, it has become apparent that having positive relationships and affection in your life is crucial to your overall well-being, and a lack of sufficient affection can negatively impact you (socially, emotionally etc). This makes it evident that nurturing affectionate relationships is great for your mental and physical wellbeing, be that through friends, family, places and pets – ensure you cultivate relationships with balanced and stable fondness and support.

You can show affection for someone through looks, words and physical gestures; so by caring for or supporting people you are showing affection. Gift buying and enjoying being in their company are also indicators of interpersonal affection. We can buy our mother a bunch of her favourite flowers out of affectionate love, we can want to spend time with our close friends and stay in touch often, but this is not romantic love, it is affectionate love. One can feel affectionate for pets, animals, fictional characters, even strangers, this does not mean you will love them as it is only when affection intensifies and grows that it becomes love – you cannot have love without affection.

What is Affection in a Relationship? What is Love?

People have tried to define love countless times, in poetry, song, in heartfelt monologues… but what actually is love? What is the meaning of love? Scientific neurologists try to identify what love is and as we learn more about it, it becomes increasingly important to appreciate the wonder of love – the magic of love. Frequently being referred to as being a ‘deeper’ feeling, love transcends human understanding and can be felt and experienced differently for each individual; “Love is like the wind, you can’t see it but you can feel it.” (Nicholas Sparks). Love is beyond affection, it is an emotion that so many experience and feel but still cannot be simply defined. As Sarah Dessen states, “There is never a time or place for true love. It happens accidentally, in a heartbeat, in a single flashing, throbbing moment.”, it is magic. One popular phrase is that you know you are in love, when all the songs make sense. When love songs make you think only of that one person, when everything reminds you of them, you yearn for them… then you know.

Many people may wonder if they are feeling love or lust. When you love someone there is often a strong sexual attraction between the two of you, a strong chemistry which is electric and addictive. But lust is a strong, purely sexual attraction you may feel when you just desire a sexual or physical interaction/relationship. Lust is purely sexual attraction, you have no additional interest, it is more primal passion without the care, adoration or deeper emotional feeling that love has. When you are in love with someone you will feel chemistry, a desire to always be with that person so strong that you cannot imagine living your life without having them with you. Love is an emotion felt differently by each person, so it may seem tricky to know if you feel it, but if thinking of someone gives you a warm glow that you cannot explain… that might just be love.

Love comes in many forms and is sought out by many, so much so that people often feel like they are not living the happiest life or the most fulfilling life without being in love. They may believe that finding love is the meaning of life, it is the thing we are all longing for. It can make people feel complete, whole and happy – and thusly help them lead a fuller, happier life, just as novelist Paulo Coelho explores in the quote: “When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Affection is the widely felt family-type love that nurtures us as we grow, and is the glue that holds life-long friendships together. That being said, affection is also the first baby steps on the journey to finding true love and it can fulfill many of us. Love itself can be considered the most powerful emotion, wars are fought, won and lost for love, and many of us live each day in search of it – those who find it are blessed. Without any form of love, life becomes cold and hollow.