Wednesday 16 March 2011

The like/love debate

For a long time now, I have heard different people of varied age groups utter: 'I love him but I don't like him' or 'Loving is easier than liking.' Well, I do understand the semantic difference between these two words but what puzzles me is the line: 'I love her but liking her is not quite my forte.' I had always assumed that the next step in liking has to be loving.

Coming to the usage, many times people associate inanimate objects with 'love.' For example, one says, 'I looove cheese' or 'I looove butterflies.' But can one actually attribute love with cheese and butterflies. Isn't 'like' the word to be used? While in personal relationships, one graduates from 'like' to 'love,' how can it be that one can 'love' somebody without liking him/her?

In that way, I'm glad that Facebook chose the word "like" instead of 'love' to show appreciation for a comment or picture. Well, this must be one of the few things that is worth praising in Facebook. Coming back to the like/love debate, I guess for many it doesn't matter whether it is 'like' or 'love.' As long as it suits the hearer, it is fine, is the attitude. But for certain contexts, using the appropriate word is quite commendable. Take for example this sentence: 'Joe, I love your wife, she is a fun person.' If a woman utters this, then Joe will be happy but if a man utters this, Joe will definitely squirm, unless he is one happy and jolly person (not many are so). So, I guess language has to be properly used.

Inspite of meandering through the terrains of 'love and 'like,' I still cannot comprehend how someone can love an individual without liking him/her. Care to explain?

I wish you happiness and love, always :)

Image: Internet


  1. i think we way over use the term love, cheapening its meaning. we use it synonymous with like in many ways. i know i am guilty. to love someone but not like them i think stems in some ways from religeous teaching to love one another...or the belief of loving all man as a human or individual...the thing is i do love people, sometimes i dont love or like their behavior...i have compassion on them, but find them frustrating...i really dont know if this clears anything up...or just muddles it...i like the topic though...

  2. There have been times when I haven't 'liked' someone I loved, or I should say I didn't 'like' their particular behavior or actions.
    I would say that everyone looks at love and like differently, and probably has a lot to do with how you are raised and your culture.
    I was raised in a very 'huggy' family, always telling each other 'I love you'. Not everyone is comfortable with that. I tend to hug people all the time and it's disturbing to me when someone takes that out of context. To me, a hug, is like a handshake, or a pat on the back.
    I believe it also has to do with the interpretation of the words and actions.
    Great post! Thought provoking by all means:)

  3. Excellent topic once again Susan Deborah and one I think is actually very important.

    Since love is an active decision we make we can choose to love someone regardless of whether we actually like them or admire anything about their character. We love through treating that person we perhaps dislike with respect because they are a human being and have dignity no matter what our own personal feelings toward them might be.

    Love the feeling is unreliable and like any feeling comes and goes. If this is one's sole definition of love then in any relationship, one is bound to be disappointed as one morning that feeling may not be there but then you have the confidence that you can get up and still love that person through your actions.

    Maybe I see it differently but I see love as coming first and if we're lucky we may come to genuinely like the person.

    I don't only mean romantic love here, just loving anyone: your parent, child, friend, enemy, boss, the bus driver...anyone at all.

    Love is an action so therefore the choice to love is always within our power. Not always easy though.:)

    That is just my take! :)

  4. Interesting topic Susan. Its true that one has to like someone before even loving them. But you cant like each and every behavior or action of that person right? And that's were loving a person but not liking them comes into picture. You dont completely dislike the person you love, but some situations and incidents may make you dislike them. Now, too much of like and love going on here :) Let me stop with this.

    Would to come back and see what others have to say :)


  5. I think you are right--context is all. Also, we do ned to think about words and how we say them. It's important not to cheapen them. I wince a little when my friends say something like "I'm starving!" because I know they aren't really, but other people in the world are.

    I liked this post. I liked it a lot.

  6. I like this post and I love to read your blog. :)

  7. Hmmmmmmmmm like the days..when i wanna strangle my kids...I love them but don't particularly like them on hat given day...smirkin here LOL..As always...XOXOXO

  8. I think the word love is often misunderstood and misused. Some say love is what we are, and we can spend a lifetime activating our true selves.

    I guess to like someone is just a preference. I like it best when my husband is sweet, kind and gentle. But when he's not, I still love him.

    The topic is wonderful for a good discussion. You are quite a thinker Deborah.

    May you have tons of love in your life.

  9. In my opinion you can love someone with all your heart and soul, but you don't always like them because of the way they act, behave or even treat other people, or yourself. Yet your love is so strong, so deep, that even though you don't like lots about them, your heart can't stop how it feels. That is my pennies worth

  10. I liked the example you've given. I wonder the same. How can anyone love someone without liking him or her. I think love has become over-rated to the point that it may become a cliché one day.

  11. English is not my native language, so I'm very far from being an expert on semantic issues.

    However, I'll say this:
    'Love' denotes a more intense feeling than 'like', so in order to love someone you have to like him/her/it first.

    I used to use 'love' for humans only, and 'like' for both humans and items. But, noticing bloggers use 'love' for food items ( your example:I love cheese) clothing items, or any other items(I love that picture) I've started to use 'love' in the same way.

  12. Hmmm... the love/like thing. Let's see. I can think of certain situations where that is possible... I mean, to love someone but not like them very much. For example, you can love a family member because they are your family... and the love flows naturally. And yet, you don't necessarily like their personality. They do things that grate on your nerves... but yet, you still love them. If something were to happen to them, you would be inconsolable.

    And hey... nothing wrong with loving cheese. I do love cheese! The older and stinkier the better, too! ;-)


  13. It has a lot to do with language. In Spanish love is never used to express liking. It is only used to express feelings.
    How can one love someone and not like them? I can't explain it, but I can feel it...Those I love are the sames who do an array of things I dislike.
    Complex individuals that we are.

  14. You always raise some great points, Susan. You give us a lot to talk about! But I'll just stick to the final question. Love can mean a lot of things, but the with the truest of love comes a level of commitment, concern, loyalty and caring that transcends personality. I hate to use this example but let's say an adult child may love a parent and would do anything for this person, but maybe there is some baggage or a history of ill feelings. Maybe personalities simply clash. Under other circumstances, they would not choose to be friends, but they still have a strong connection due to their familial ties. Every time I come here I feel the same way and say the same thing, but I "really really like" this blog! :p

  15. Interesting topic. I understand your point about the proper grammatical use of the words. When I hear someone, or even use the word 'love' myself to describe my opinion about a something rather than a someone, for me it's a way of emphasizing how strongly you feel about it. Saying that you "love" cheese more strongly defines your opinion than to simply say that you "like" it. Even if it isn't grammatically correct.

    As for relationships, I get a very specific image when I hear someone say they love a person but don't like them. A couple who has been married for so many years that they get on each others nerves and drive each other crazy. But their bond over the years goes so deep that they despite their intellectual feelings, they really do love each other.

  16. Dear Susan, you always come up with the most fun subjects to discuss.;) I think the word like and love has a bit different meaning in the English language than for example other language I speak. In my native tongue, you almost never used the words "I love you", as they are so heavy and very grave - I mean to say to someone that you love them means that you are really serious about them.;)

    In English one can say "I love you" to almost anyone at any time.
    With that said, I so not think I am capable of loving someone and disliking them at the same time, that is truly so very odd to me.;))

    Still, I do know that I use the word love with an ease, even in my comments. There is always at least one love word or a derivation of one in each and very comment I write.;))
    So, have a LOVELY day my dear.;))

  17. Amazing post as always :)
    Don't have much to say , after having read the profound comments made by everyone here..but just this that liking/loving do go hand in hand. And on the same note you are dearly loved and liked Susan Deborah!stay blessed (and this comes from the heart my friend B-)take care and have a smiling week ahead!
    warm hugs

  18. Actually ma'am, I've never heard someone say this. But now when I was reading this, though at first it seemed ridiculous, it made me think. And I realised that it happens to me also sometimes. I feel that its not about 'not liking' that person completely, but its like 'not liking' some of their habits or their reaction towards certain incidents in life. May be its such things in them that makes a person feel that 'they don't like them though they love them'....?

  19. Great writing.

    People do get love, infatuation, lust confused. Some say it plenty of times, others not enough.

  20. Love and like are terms that are considered to be relative. But actually they are not. Each person has his or her own level of like and love for things/people. What I say I like may be love for somebody else. What I love may be like for somebody else.. as in the level of "like/love" is what I am talking about. So, when we try and understand what people like/love and why.. there is a difference in frame of understanding. A gap exists.

    I don't know if I explaining it in an understandable manner.

  21. There is no need to be so contrite
    it's as clear as broad daylight
    haven't you heard of love at first sight
    To love without liking is alright
    Now don't try to pick up a fight
    coz you know very well I am not so bright.

  22. Ah Susan, am back from gallivanting they call it in formal lingo "holiday or vacation" another food for thought for you to generate your reader's opinion?

    Like/love debate. ... hmmm I think I have some idea on this but at the moment my head is still spinning because I like someone at the same time I am also feeling in love with him. And I let him know it and he doesn't seem to care (under pretense) but I can tell he is enjoying it. That is, liking him as a Friend and loving him as a Friend. Further development will rise up later if it is meant to be which I don't want to hold a torch for, rather I will leave it to Him above to bless that friendship.

    Meanwhile we're both enjoying the ride of liking and loving each other as Friends. Hope you get the picture?

    Having mentioned Facebook, please find me at Inday Leah Dancel. The one with an honest smile is me! Care to add? Thank you.

  23. YOU, lady Susan always making us think deeply into things.

    'Liking' comes first and then 'loving'. I am trying to imagine whom i love but dislike...hummmmmmmmmmmm > NO ONE!

    Maybe young people refer to the fact that they love them but do not like them that much as to go make love with them?

    Language is so rich and one single word such as *love* has so many meanings...
    fancy, treasure, venerate,prize, worship,admire,glorify,be captivated by, be crazy about, be enamored of, be enchanted by, be fascinated with, be fond of, be in love with, put on pedestal,canonize, care for, cherish, choose, deify, delight in, dote on, esteem, exalt, fall for, have affection for, hold dear, hold high, idolize, long for, lose one's heart to, prefer, think the world of, thrive with.... among others!

    SO why people don't use the words appropriately? Lazy we are, just lazy...


  24. Love and like are distinct from each other... They had said them all Susan! Their points are clear and I'm learning as I read through everyone's comments here. A good way to feed my brain cells.... Your post is always thought-provoking and I'm just he dumbest person here not being able to contribute a single point...hehe Sorry, no idea! Geez! XOXO

  25. love your blog woman! please accept this award!

  26. Susan:

    Do I dare add a comment here, so many wonderful interpretations of love and like. In one respect if I am interpreting you correctly, it seems like the word "love" is used superficially and bantered about loosely, without much regard of its genuine attributions. If you truly "love" someone or something, how can you not"like" him/her/it? Not "liking a certain behavior is not the same as not liking the person, whom you claim to "love" but not like. I believe in that regard I would rather be "liked" for who I truly am with all my good and bad traits of being human then "loved" according to the interpretations here, for love seems so ambiguous. In a spiritual or religious sense Love would be rather a deep feeling of compassion on a broader sense toward sentient beings and their frail but courageous life here on our planet accepting them as they are rather then what we want them to be and understanding what it means to love unconditionally another.
    Have a "lovely' week end, my dear blog friend,

  27. Susan

    Thank you for your kind comments on my blog, and inquiring on my absence from the blog world these last couple of weeks, it has been hectic in my world. Good to be back and reading your blog and the many wonderful comments from everyone.


  28. Brian:

    Overuse is the right word. But these days, not everyone respects words for their meanings. As long as the meaning is conveyed, people believe that their purpose is solved. But you have touched upon a higher purpose here. You have stepped out of the realms of plain language and moved to a spiritual dimension, which I believe is very important for interpersonal relationships.


    Inspite of not liking some traits or characteristics, we love someone. Perhaps that quality is limited to people whom we know. Perhaps even love is such that inspite of all those traits, I cherish and love you. But I think one cannot love someone completely without liking them.

  29. Colleen:

    You have rightly said that there is no sole definition of love. While in the Western world, hugging and kissing is the expression of love, in our part, it is things like taking care and cooking which shows love. The emotion is the same but the expressions vary. And this is not only romantic love but every other love between human, humans and non-humans, as well.

    I liked your take on this :-)


    Well, you have said it right. But love happens inspite of not liking certain things but like is quite conditional, I suppose.

  30. Betty:

    Context definitely matters and language has more than just communication. Thanks for your kind words, dear Betty. They are much appreciated.


    Thanks Chandrika.

  31. Bonnie:

    Strangle?!?!?!? Ahhhh. Quite true what you have said.


    The word love is misused, overused and abused, Myrna. Thanks for your thoughtful and kind words, dear Myrna.

  32. Larry:

    Love is all encompassing, isn't it? The human heart . . .
    Your two pennies worth is actually quite expensive and welcome.


    It has already become a cliche which many resort to.

  33. DUTA:

    I guess the ones who use the language effectively are non-English speakers like all of us. But the word 'love' is definitely overused as are many other words such as 'sexy,' 'wow' and 'awesome.'


    Your examples are just apt and well placed. That is why I await your comments eagerly, dear Nevine. I like cheese as well but haven't fallen in love, yet.

  34. Myriam:

    Even in Tamil it is the same. The words are quite distinct and have specific contexts. Only in English, this kind of confusion occurs. People are always complex and they make language complex as well :)


    And I like your presence here, Jean. Thanks for your insights. they were a great value addition to this post.

  35. Matty:

    Thoughtful insights, here. I liked both the analogies you have used. Many readers have expressed the same about this. Nice to see that thoughts fall in sync. We are so similar yet so distinct.


    The word 'love' is definitely a heavy word. Just because many overuse the word, we cannot discount its usage.

  36. Ruchi:

    Long, long time. How are you and what has kept you away from visiting here, dear Ruchi? All well?

    Thanks dear Ruchi for your kind words. Sending the same warmth in double fold back to you. Big hugs and much love :)


    Hmmm. A long way to go in life. You are blessed not to have faced confusion. All said and done, life is filled with paradoxes, which partly lend the charm to living it, inspite all odds.

  37. Janete:

    Welcome here. Wonderful to have you join the discussion.

    Quite a sensible remark from you, Janete. Do come by whenever you feel like.

    Joy always :)


    They are relative but not similar. The problem arises when we sue one instead of the other.

  38. Govind:

    Ah. No words.


    How nice of you to have shared your personal anecdote here. Honoured, indeed. I have got a very clear picture, Inday.

  39. Dulce:

    Think, lady. Wow, you have taken so much pains to decribe the many meanings of love. You are such a pet, dear Dulce.
    Lazy, is the sole reason, I suppose. Dulce, you being a teacher can well gauge the situation.


    But you have given your idea. Jorie, You are not dumb. Please don't feel so. Joy always :)

  40. Pam:

    You are one lovely friend. Thanks a ton for the honour.


    Of course, not. Your comment definitely adds to the circle of insights, dear Joanny. I have liked the physical and spiritual dimensions you have provided and I feel both are equally important for relationships.

    It is good to have you back in the loop, Joanny. Hope you are well and happy. have a great Sunday ahead.

  41. To be honest I thought it is as simple as you put in your post but after going through the comments, it now does not look so simple after all. I also thought you cannot claim to love someone and not like that person at the same time but I am not sure any more. I am now starting to think that I can love you while not liking you because of maybe what you stand for, or certain characteristics? Not sure...nice to post it as it has given me a point to reflect on. Maybe I will do a blogpost on it as well.

  42. OtienoHongo:

    I know. You are right in saying so. I shall be looking forward to that post from you :)

  43. It is always a pleasure to read your after comments. Thank you so much Susan :)
    I am doing fine. Work plus laziness I admit ( :P )were the reasons for the long absence, which I hope to improve upon!

    take care
    happy day:)

  44. Ruchi:

    You must start posting on your blog. Thanks Ruchi, for your always warm and kind words.

    Take care :)

  45. I totally agree! We completely overuse the word love and I don't understand how you could love someone you don't like. I've heard it plenty of times, but it's a strange thing.

  46. Rachel:

    Glad that you hear me. I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one with all these weird perceptions.




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