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The Many Faces of Love

Ann Weber, Ph.D.

"Oh, Erika, I can't believe it's so wonderful!" bursts Hannah, "It was the most romantic evening ever. Will is not like any other guy, I've never felt this way before. I think about him all the time, I feel like I'm walking on air. My heart is beating loud enough for everyone to hear. I'm so in love!"

"Well, I figured as much, Han, it's been all over your face ever since you met him. But please, just be careful. You thought you were 'in love' before, remember, and you had your heart broken. If you're happy, I'm happy for you. But I would hate for you to go through what you went through with that creep Greg."

Hannah shakes her head earnestly. "Don't worry about me. I know where I stand with Will. Greg would never commit, he would never even say the words. But tonight, Will told me he loves me. Can you believe it? We're both in love!"

What exactly is love? How do you know when love is real? Can mutual love ensure the survival of a new relationship despite past disappointments and future obstacles?


Mark grins at Kirsten over dinner, seems to consider what to say and, then, suddenly, proposes: "Kirsten, why don't we make this permanent -- say, set a date for the Fall?" Ignoring her odd expression, he continues: "I mean, we get along, we have everything in common, we've known each other forever. Well -- what do you say?"

Kirsten has turned pale; she's dreaded this moment but she knew it would come eventually. "But, get married? I mean--Mark, I'm sorry, I just can't . . . ," she trails off. She can feel the tears come but she clears her throat and forces herself to say the hurtful: "I love you, Mark, I really do. I feel so close to you, I think you're the best man I ever-- I feel so much for you -- but something is still missing in what I feel. Maybe it's something wrong with me. I'm sorry to hurt you, I do love you -- but, well, I'm just not in love with you."

What's the difference between loving and being in love with someone? Is it best to be "in love" before making a permanent commitment?


"Oh, Evan, sweetheart, I've made the best plans for New Year's! Just listen to this," gushes Deirdre. "I've found this romantic inn just three hours away . . ."

Evan looks up from his paper. "New Year's? That's months away! What are you doing making plans for that? I'm not even sure I can go away for the holidays anyway."

Deirdre looks stricken. "Not sure? But of course we're spending New Year's together, aren't we? I mean, it'll be so romantic, and you'd like that, wouldn't you? I've made all these plans . . . But we can go somewhere else if you like, anyplace you want!"

"Stop trying to plan a 'romance, Dee, okay? We're having a good time now, why make plans? Can't we just take it one day at a time?" Evan gets up and heads for the door.

"Well, um, yeah, of course, it's wonderful, you're wonderful," Deirdre splutters, following him. "Whatever you want, I just thought, as long as we're together, let's make some plans. But Evan, where are you going? I thought we were going to spend the day together! Wait a minute -- I'll get my handbag, I'll come along with you . . ."

But Evan has already hurried out and closed the door.

Can two people both be "in love" and yet express it so differently? Can different styles of love actually cause conflict? Are some combinations of "love" healthier than others?

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