7 Differences Between Love and Habit

A couple that starts their relationship very much in love, with time, may exhibit certain behavior that shows that it's not love but habit. Get to know what the differences are between love and habit.
7 Differences Between Love and Habit
Bernardo Peña

Reviewed and approved by the psychologist Bernardo Peña.

Last update: 25 July, 2022

Spending so much time with a partner can give way to monotony and cause us to begin to question ourselves as to whether what we feel is love or habit. And the thing is, there are differences between love and habit, and we’ll mention some in this article.

Being in a relationship implies many challenges, and not all of these are dealt with in the best way. In this stage of a couple’s relationship, it is common that the magic and the excitement that they felt at the beginning disappear little by little. Thus, it may be that one of the two, or even both, begins to be with the other person out of habit.

However, there are always ways to try and bring a spark to your relationship, as this study from the Carleton University in Canada affirms. Don’t throw in the towel if there’s still love there!

What is love?

Love is a feeling, first of all. If we review the term from a philosophical approach we find that the term “love” is used to designate diverse activities, or the effect of activities; love is seen, depending on the case, as “an inclination, an affection, an appetite, a passion, an aspiration” (Ferrater Mora Dictionary of Philosophy).

There are also different forms in which love can present itself. There’s maternal love, usually the first one you meet upon your arrival to this world. There’s also love linked to passion, to taste, to physical love. This is the one that binds a couple together.

When we love we feel happy and fulfilled. We admire everything or almost everything in the other and we don’t regret being with them, on the contrary, there’s a kind of pride in walking beside them, in supporting one another. Being together is always the best plan; the where and the how can take a back seat.

But, it might be time to stop and think about what’s happening to you if your relationships used to be like but you’re suddenly overwhelmed and the alarm goes off and the complaints start to pile up one after another. It’s time to stop and think about what’s happening to you. Perhaps what you are feeling is no longer love but habit.

“Love is like a fever: it’s born and dies out without your will playing the slightest part in it”. Stendhal

The differences between love and habit

Here are some questions that will help you differentiate whether you are with your partner out of love or habit.

1. Does everything they do bother you?

differences between love and habit

One of the strategies for knowing whether it’s love or habit that we feel consists of asking ourselves the following: Why do so many things bother me now that at first did not matter? If it really bothers you when they make noises when eating, if they forget to buy something, or if they don’t wear that shirt that you like so much, then there’s no doubt your relationship dynamics have changed.

That is, if whatever thing they do or don’t do bothers you, then you should evaluate whether you want to continue with them.

2. Are you unsure about planning things with your partner?

You want to take a trip in a couple of months, but you wonder if you really want to go with your partner or you begin to make any excuse for the plan not to happen. If this or a similar situation happens to you, something is not right with your relationship.

This insecurity and lack of commitment to your relationship is nothing more than a sign that you are with your partner out of habit and not out of love. According to this investigation by the University of Granada, Spain, the absence of commitment in the decision making may be a sign a breakup is imminent.

3. Are your “I love yous” automatic?

A couple representing romantic love.

Saying “I love you” is a very special act, and when you really feel it, it becomes twice as special. However, it’s a phrase that loses its true meaning when you say it without wanting to or out of commitment because you’re not feeling it like you did before.

If you repeat it automatically just so that the other person doesn’t feel bad, something isn’t right in your relationship. On the other hand, if you feel worried and fear that the absence of the sentence could be a trigger to instigate an argument, you definitely may no longer feel love but rather act out of habit.

4. Is there a lack of sex?

Making love infrequently could be one of the other differences between love and habit. Intimacy is very important for any couple. When sexual relations improve with the passing of time, it’s because both partners have built very strong bonds.

On the contrary, if you don’t feel like making love with your partner, it’s possible you’re not with them out of love any more. You might feel you have sex with your partner sexually because you’re expected to or feel you should.

Maybe there are other, deeper problems, as this study from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México points out, and where they highlight problems of self-esteem or past traumas.

5. You no longer have details with your partner?

An ex-couple.

Small gestures make all the difference. They are small things that make life more beautiful. When it comes to being in a couple, this is even more true. There are endless things you can do to surprise that special person: a homemade dinner, an unexpected “I love you,” a motivating message or a romantic outing.

However, when your partner doesn’t even make the slightest effort, or you don’t even feel like telling them that they look good, then you’re probably together out of habit and not love.

6. You’re no longer interested in having a conversation with your partner?

Bad or little communication is another of the six differences between love and habit. Thus, evaluate in your relationship if that’s the case. The thing is that good communication is the foundation for all emotional relationships, for that balance that we aspire to experience with a partner. Without a doubt, two people who really love each other overcome communication barriers.

Do you keep your problems to yourself and it doesn’t interest you to talk about your plans with your partner? It might be that something is wrong with your relationship.

In this case, you may no longer feel the same confidence as when your love story began.

7. There’s no longer joy in being together?

Last but not least, there’s that feeling of joy that comes from being with a special someone. The popular Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges once said: “I do nothing without joy.”

He was referring to reading but it may well apply to a romantic relationship. There’s no joy, much less love if there’s no longer enthusiasm in being with someone. Do you no longer smile and sit at the table with a bitter expression?

What to do in this situation

Can you identify with any of these differences between love and habit? It’s important to know them because something is likely wrong with your relationship if you begin to experience any of the above.

However, try to spice things up if you feel that you still love your partner. It’s much easier to deal with and overcome the problem once you’re aware something’s happening to your relationship.

Do you both really want to save your relationship? Then, you must put all your effort into recovering the magic you had at the beginning.

There are different actions you can take. You can go to couples therapy, on a date, to the movies, or just to dinner. Or you could also take a trip together and escaping your routine.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.