It was once written that there are all kinds of love in the world, but never the same love twice. Thanks, F. Scott Fitzgerald for yanking at our heartstrings with that one. In light of all the kinds of love in the world, we’re breaking down a lesser spoken about kind of love that of loving the idea of someone.
Loving the idea of someone, over who they actually are, is something most of us would deny. It’s understandable why too. Not many want to admit that their love lies in their mind’s own imaginings. That almost sounds somewhat narcissistic. However, once you crack the code on whether your love is in potential, versus reality, you might have a sigh of relief at why you keep having the same fights with them, or why you just can’t seem to let that one lost love go.
What does it mean to be in love with the idea of a person?
In short, being in love with the idea of a person pretty much encapsulates a version of them that you’ve created, and want them to strive toward becoming. “I can change them” ring any bells here?
True love, or at least what this writer knows of it, has something to do with unconditionality. It’s not always a case of “I love you because”, but often “I love you despite.” Now, when I talk about wanting someone to change, I’m not talking about major problematic behaviours. We can love people and still disagree with certain things, often leading us to walk away. That’s the despite part. What I am talking about however, is wanting the seemingly unimportant things to fit into your idealised version of them ie: the way they dress, how loud they laugh, what they’re studying, and the like.
Signs that you or the person you’re with might just be in love with an idea
Obsession with the future or past version of them
Thinking of them and how things will look differently in the future more than thoughts about them in the present is an indicator of loving the idea of someone according to relationship expert Kristie Taylor. This can also apply to breakups. You keep thinking of that person in a romanticised future where everything has changed, forgetting what actually happened and who they really were. On the converse, you might also be thinking of a version of them from the past. Both are actually just ideas. The nostalgic version, while it might have been the reality at one point is also now just an idea.
They or you tried to make the relationship happen pretty quickly.
According to Chelsea Leigh Trescott, a breakup coach, this type of high-intensity love can often burn out. 1. You don’t know the person well enough at all when you agree to be with them, (cue ideas of who they will be) and two: there are a lot of empty promises that occur because the person you thought was making them, was just the surface of someone else. You filled in the blanks of their character with your imaginings.
Either of you care a lot about other people’s opinions and how things ‘look’ to the outside world
Again, Taylor emphasises this point. Think of those kinds of love where people literally fought to be together despite giving a toss about what the outside world thought. Seems a lot more authentic than trying to please the world, doesn’t it? When we care more about the opinions of others, it broadens an entire spectrum of idealisation, in that we’ve fallen in love with the idea of how we look with our person.
You’re often disappointed by them, sometimes without a valid reason
According to Dr. Joshua Klapow “if you love your partner in theory only, then when you are with them they will rarely live up to the idea of being in love.” As Dr. Klapow puts it, it’s something to do with seeing perceived flaws in overdrive. Again, everyone gets disappointed in relationships, it happens. However, a good way to tell if your disappointment is a bit overreaching is when they’ve done nothing wrong at all or something minor, and you still find something to be disappointed about, or blow up a seemingly small situation. This is when the dirty bowl not put in the sink starts to become the trigger for a massive fight. What you’re actually dissapointed in, is that they’re not your true love.
You can imagine being with someone else.
There’s a famous Johnny Depp quote that goes, if you love two people, chose the second because if you really loved the first, you wouldn’t have a second option. Anyone who’s gone through a breakup wherein they really adored their person knows that it takes a village to fall in love again. If monogamy is your thing, then you probably know that developing feelings for someone else, and further, imagining being with them is probably a red flag. This isn’t about necessarily about attraction or connecting with other humans on a friendship basis. You can still acknowledge that other people are beautiful, and you can definitely still have friendships. However, actually developing feelings and downright ignoring your SO’s chats to speak to the new Jenny on the block could be a sign that you’re not in love with your person, but the idea of them. And when someone else matches this idea better, then you psychologically are drawn to them.
All in all, these are not a concrete recipe for someone who is in love with only an idea. Nothing is ever so succinct. However, if they do feel like they resonate with you, then you might need to have a conversation with yourself, and potentially the other person.