To put these two feelings or expressions “Love” and “liking” in juxtaposition sounded very interesting but a little fuzzy to my little mind. To make some sense of it, I’ll begin with the obvious. Now we like a lot of people, even animals but no matter how poly-amorous you might be, you still love only one or a few people. So what really sets the two apart? When “like” isn’t enough to express how you feel about someone, I guess the word ‘love’ was added to our vocabulary. Our first exposure to this word is essentially as a baby being caressed and mollycoddled by our parents while they keep repeating, “Love you my munchkin, my kitten, my baby, etc” That sort of deep, almost unconditional affection, warmth and care is our first association with this word.
However, as a good-hearted person you would be warm, caring and loving to most people or to all whom you really like. But when you care and feel for someone more than for others, that extra depth and connect translates as a completely distinct emotion called “love”. This is true for every relationship – parent-child, siblings, friends or couples. So does that additional bit make “love” loftier, stronger and special? Maybe… maybe not…
There’s an interesting subset between love and liking. When you like someone, you don’t necessarily love them; is a fact. But when you love someone, does it necessarily mean that you like them as much? I am not entirely convinced on this. Liking someone depends largely on that person’s likability, his goodness. However, love is irrational, unreasonable, driven by so much more be it physical attraction, mental compatibility, someone’s flamboyance, blood bonds or even wealth. The recent Bollywood blockbuster “Kabir Singh” is just the right point in case. As an individual, Kabir Singh stripped of his accomplishments was an almost loathsome character yet the pretty damsel went for him anyway.
But of course you do like and love someone simultaneously too because that person happens to be an adorable individual and your liking has gone beyond to become love for him or her. (I am not writing in the filial or platonic context from this point forward.)However, there’s another interesting angle to explore here. What happens when people fall out of love, do they also fall out of liking? I don’t think so, atleast not always. When you have a certain level of maturity and as a couple you realize that being together is more effort and pain than pleasure, you might choose to separate mutually and amicably. Yet, in that separation you don’t look at each other spitefully or wretchedly. You haven’t changed as individuals, your goodness remains which each one still admires, just that the love evaporated. In that sense, liking is a stronger, healthier and more stable emotion, while love is ephemeral, fickle, irrational even corrupt if I might say. But all said and done, being in love is an extremely potent and pleasurable state, riding on whose tide, you turn oblivious and amnesiac that there can ever be ebb in it.
I may not be exaggerating if I say that love is like a drug that gives you mind numbing pleasure. While drinking from its elixir, you desire nothing else. A narcotic drug, addicts you to itself while love addicts you to the other person. You want to keep drowning in that ocean not willing to swim out. The feeling is heady, overwhelming and ridiculously good. It is this storm of endorphins, serotonins and oxytocins that makes you a compulsive lover and gradually begins to putrefy the emotion itself. You begin associating yourself only with that person and him/her only with yourself, whose absence causes anxiety, whose wait seems unbearable, and you almost forget that there’s life for both of you beyond each other. This extraordinary desire for your lover, imperceptibly muddles the love into possessiveness, where you might want to claim your right over the other’s time, decisions, choices and life. Who wants to be in love or be loved then, really?
But no, I don’t want to be all gloomy about love, it’s undoubtedly a beautiful feeling while it’s there. So let’s say that the incredible emotion hasn’t corrupted but lived its years. Now in its longevity the fizz of its newness has surely fizzled out. The excitement wanes but the love remains with its companionship, intimacy and extended liking for each other.
What separates love from liking is its romantic liaison, desirability of the other person, an attraction above affinity which leads to those very human roaring pleasures. It is such an adventure with as much thrill as challenges. It would be very juvenile of me to weigh love against liking, which was anyway not the purpose of this post. It only intrigued me to understand how differently we perceive the two and act upon accordingly. “Love” might be an overrated word and emotion I feel. Liking seems more real, stolid and accomplished where the individual, his company and his goodness are admired and enjoyed even if not celebrated.
In the book ‘Turtles All the Way Down’, there are young teenaged Aza and Davis, who are together giving each other a much needed closure in life, yet they aren’t in a relationship and decline to have one. They both share mutual attraction and affinity but aren’t lovers. John Greene in his characteristic sensitive style chooses the most beautiful words to describe this complex bond most simply. He writes and they both say, “I Like Us”. And I honestly feel these might be the most cherished and true words between two people.