The line that separates admiration and love is very subtle. So subtle, in fact, that it’s quite common to confuse these feelings. This is relatively common because these feelings consist of a complex dynamic.
We can admire someone without loving them. However, we cannot love someone if we don’t admire them at the same time.
It gets even more complicated when we think about how falling in love causes a certain idealization of the person we fall in love with.
During that first phase of the relationship, admiration and love are almost the same. However, as time goes by, one emotion begins to dominate. Ultimately, our mind and heart decide what we will feel for that person.
Physical beauty, for example, is something that can arouse admiration and desire. These feelings can be very intense. So intense, in fact, that we sometimes confuse these emotions with love. The same goes for other desires, such as fame or power. They arouse so much admiration that we sometimes confuse these feelings with love.
Admiration and love
Somehow, if there is love, there is admiration. Thus love and admiration go hand in hand. However, the same does not happen if we reverse those two. That is, you don’t have to love someone to admire them.
The complexity of this logic comes because people are very capable of idealizing others, especially if they somehow address our expectations or needs. The relationship between admiration and love also becomes more complex as the desire to be loved sometimes takes over.
When we talk about idealization, we are talking about how we assign virtues to people who don’t have them. This also happens when we exaggerate the qualities they do have.
This happens a lot during the infatuation phase. We don’t know the other very well and we look at the other through a filter. We want it to be someone who is great. In these cases there is both love and admiration. However, both have a weak foundation because much of that love is based on expectations and fantasies.
On the other hand, many want to be loved by the most popular, the most attractive or the most powerful person in the room. The love these people receive increases with their social status. Therefore, love from such a person is something that we can deeply desire and easily mistake for love.
Admiration and confidence
It is common for people with low self-esteem to idealize love. They “fall in love” with people they see as above average. In this way, the alleged feeling of love comes from admiration.
Ultimately, they are looking for that self-love they lack. They want approval and to be loved by someone they consider powerful or important.
In our culture there are also a number of stereotypes about what we should and should not admire. In commercial terms, someone who is admirable is someone who fits the ideals that have defined our society.
This is someone who fits the norms of society. For example, they may also have the following properties:
Therefore, many people will look for these qualities in a potential partner. This is a way for them to feel inclusive and thus drive away the spirits of rejection. However, there is no admiration and no love in these relationships. All that is present is very low self-love and self-esteem.
Healthy admiration and healthy love
True love is not so much focused on arousing love in the other person as it is on giving yourself to the other person for the benefit of the other person. It is not a blinding feeling and it does not appear overnight.
It includes knowing the other person and accepting and admiring him or her. In this case, admiration comes from knowledge and familiarity.
Admiration exists when it comes to love because it is possible to deepen it within the relationship. We become more invested in our partner as we discover all their traits and talents, many of which we didn’t see or understand in the beginning.
Discovering positive qualities in our partner makes us happy and allows us to see him or her in a new way. We have no interest in using their skills for our own benefit. Instead, we just love him or her because they embody these traits.
Meanwhile, admiration without love is a result of reflection. Admiration implies how we view different values, skills or qualities, which we consider valuable. We admire an artist for their talent, or a leader for their tenacity, or a teacher for their wisdom.
None of this indicates love in the romantic sense of the word. Therefore, it is quite possible to admire someone without loving him or her, but not the opposite.