Can you "love" a person, but not "like" that person?

Or, is “not liking” someone a sin?

  1. Yes you can.
  2. No it isn’t.

Love is an act of the will. It is a matter of choice. It also involves actions.

Liking has to do with tastes, which may change over time, but aren’t willed simply. You don’t get up one day and say, “I’m going to stop liking vanilla, and start liking chocolate.” Okay, it’s different with people, but it’s not a simple choice. Love is a simple choice (though not always an easy one).

Sin is in the will.

That said, you could choose to nurture dislike of a person, and that could be sinful.

So, if I don’t like someone because they’re an adulterer or bully and dont’t want to be around them, or if a priest doesn’t like a parishioner because of a southern accent or the way they dress, and reluctantly shoves the host forcefully inti their hands, or if a child doesn’t like a parent because they are routinely verbally abused by them, we are still within the realm of “loving” them?

Does not liking someone mean we don’t have to be “nice” to them since niceties generally are extensions of a behavior stemming from “like?”

You’re talking about actions. Actions involve the will. So no, it wouldn’t be okay to be unloving to someone (whether because you dislike them or for any other reason).

For most of us it is certainly easier to be loving to those we like, and unloving toward those we dislike; but that doesn’t make it okay. Jesus said to love even our enemies.

But merely disliking someone is not necessarily wrong if we are not nurturing a grudge toward them. What matters is how we treat them, sometimes in spite of how we feel. That doesn’t mean we have to be best pals with everyone or even like everyone, but it does mean we have to will their good.

I would say that liking people dictates who you choose to spend your time with (who you are friends with), wheras loving people dictates how you treat everyone you interact with. Being “nice” is in the realm of loving your neighour, so yes you need to be “nice” to people you do not like.

So whatever you wish that men would do to you, do so to them; for this is the law and the prophets. - (Matthew 7:12)

You may recognize the above as the oft called “golden rule”…failure to do this is not “loving” them.


I guess I’m having a hard time understanding how you can be “loving” to someone you don’t like. If I pretend to be nice to someone I don’t like, doesn’t that make me a liar?

If not breaking the Ten Commandments are the bare minimum definition concerning loving another, I suppose most got that covered, but any expression of love beyond that for those you dislike seems deceptive and ingenuine :confused:

You can’t “pretend” to be nice. You either are nice or not. Being nice is an action you choose, not a feeling you try to fake. Being nice to someone you don’t like is loving that person, even moreso than when you are nice to people you do like (which comes easily).

Let’s say there is a homicidal maniac. We don’t like him. But we must love him (hard as that may be). That means that we can’t say “I hope you burn in Hell” because that is not love. On the other hand, if he’s about to murder someone and we can stop him, even should the means prove to be lethal such that we kill him, we can do that (may even be morally obliged to do that) without violating the love. We can say “I hope you are stopped,” or “I hope you are thrown in jail” (perceiving that it is better for everyone if he is in jail) but at the end of the day we must hope that he will “turn, turn” from his evil ways. That’s what love means, here.

It doesn’t mean you have to be nice.

I think you are using the word “loving” in an emotional sense.
Loving others doesn’t necessarily involve emotions, but choices.
It would be easier to reply if we knew the source of your difficulty, but that’s your own private matter.

Say you’re a doctor. You have a patient who annoys you intensely and you dislike them.
You have another patient whom you find pleasant and likeable.
As a doctor you are morally required to give the one you like and the one you dislike the same good care and treatment. That isn’t lying. It’s doing the right thing as a doctor.
The right thing to do as a Christian is to avoid harming, and to do good whether you like or dislike someone. Love does what is right and good regardless of whether you feel like it.

Yes some people are not a blessing to be near. If their presence is harmful, you try to avoid being unnecessarily in their presence if that is possible, be courteous, but really it’s difficult to answer your question fully not knowing the circumstances. You are probably asking the question because you’re facing a personal difficulty that can’t be treated lightly or generally.

Certainly we are called to love others in practical kindness and prayer, but it can also be that we have good reason to dislike some people who present some kind of harm or danger to ourselves and others. As Jesus said, “love your enemies…pray for them”. Loving them doesn’t mean you have warm feelings for them.

Matthew 5:43-48

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

May God protect you and keep you safe in mind, soul and body
Kind wishes,

I’ll take my father as an example. I’ll give God the benefit of the God and assume he didn’t actually call the person who fathered me to be a father, being a parent was not his vocation, to retain the little bit of respect that I have left for God, I have to believe that. Of course I’d like to repay my dad for being a cold, domineering, angry son of a gun, there are a million and one ways to do it nowadays now that he’s frail and semi-senile. In truth when he dies, which I hope is soon, I will probably shed a tear thinking how I wish I had a good father, someone with a heart growing up. That being said, he’s a practicing Catholic, so God will welcome him with open arms, a win-win situation for his children and for himself, who has never been a great lover of life. What I’m trying to say is that even though my father is possibly the person who did me most harm in my God-blessed life, I’m staying nice around him, I want him to go to Heaven, and that’s the definition of “love”, wanting somebody’s best. That son of a gun has greatly contributed to my extremely strained relationship with God, and chances are I will miss Heaven, and he will go to Heaven despite being a horrible father. I like God’s irony. I will wager my salvation that my mother will go first, though, because God is allergic to me having my way or having things go my way. The old man will probably outlive us all because he doesn’t love life and being where he is is like having a wisdom tooth pulled out. He was/is both godly, selfless and caring.:stuck_out_tongue:

On a simple and personal level, there are occasionally times I don’t like my wife very much because of something she says or does. But I still love her, even at those times, and always will. Not liking her is an emotional response to anger or whatnot; loving her is a decision made once, for all time.

Re: Can you “love” a person, but not “like” that person?

Wait til you’ve been on CAF for a while;):stuck_out_tongue:

I think I see where your confusion is, and I understand what you mean. Does being loving mean we have to treat and talk to this person like our best friend? That WOULD be fake, and wrong. But no, that’s not what is meant by loving your enemies. You don’t have to be affectionate to them, like we would to a spouse or a friend. But you do have to be kind.

Smiling and greeting them, helping them if we see them hurt or in trouble, praying for them, these are all ways we show our love for them. It’s not the SAME love we have for people we are emotionally close to, but it is love nonetheless, and it’s not lying to show them that kind of love.

It is pretty hard to do though. :sad_yes:

Can you “love” a person, but not “like” that person?

This was probably meant “in a romantic sense”. If not, from time to time there have been family members (especially) who I love to pieces but find some things (like BEING with them when they “get that way”) hard to like.

And with my late wife there were times when I loved her deeply – but found her hard to like.

I was just thinking of a time she was right, but beat the dead horse until I felt like making the mistake again … this time deliberately … in a fit of cutting off my nose to spite my face. :sad_yes::banghead:

In the Romantic sense of courtship … I usually hadn’t had that combo going at the same time. Some do though. I have seen one party in a relationship determined to “reform” their partner (and his/her terrible habit or … :confused:) where the reformer dearly loves their other … but doesn’t like the status quo. That may be more to the situation than “liking” the person. But it’s as close as I can come to this being possible at first glance.

I read this backwards at first glance, re: like and love. :doh2:

Can you “like” a person (of the opposite sex) but not “love” them (or be tempted to, romantically)?

In that case I thought of Megyn Kelly (as an example) as other people in that category for me would be unknown to any of you. I LIKE her a lot. But I respect her marriage (and all marriages) and hope hers goes on and on. :yup: Part of what I like about her is that she is proud to be a (multiple time) Mom. :thumbsup: Her name is Irish … like mine … and she looks Irish (even if Kelly is her married name). She looks like a combination of some of my sisters and cousins too - (and I say this to remind you of people YOU like for other than romantic reasons – for instance he/she seems like “family”).

In the case of many other “beautiful women” in my life that I might have “loved” had we connected as single people (but are now happily married - to my delight, not displeasure) … the Holy Spirit can help us all not to covet.

And LIKING someone without coveting (another’s spouse especially) seems perfectly OK to me. All of us could probably make a list of their favorite men and favorite women in separate columns rather easily. With many entries on the opposite sex side having nothing to do with romantic love directly.

Bolding mine…

Of all the great answers above - I think this gets to the heart of the matter.
We need look no further than the words of our Lord found in Mt 5 for confirmation of this…
43 "You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Praise be to God who calls us to love so perfectly, so completely, so earnestly.

As pointed out by others, the “love” referred to here is not a romantic love. The Greek word used here - as in most of the NT is agape. It means a close, brotherly, self sacrificing kind of bond. In this kind of love one wants only the highest good for another.
So this is the love that we are called to be perfected in…


Thanks for the input everyone :slight_smile: You’ve all given me some things to think about.

Been pondering this a bit more.

So, if “liking” is not a requirement of “love,” and if God “is” love, would it be fair to say God can have favorites, and not be breaking His own nature?

Thus, God can “like” one person “more” than an other person?

I don’t know what it would mean for God to “like” someone or something. Liking is somewhat arbitrary, involuntary, and part of our being affected or influenced by other beings. God is totally in control and subject to no being or influence. He does love, but not the same way we do. His love is not based on the excellence of the object, but rather gives things their excellence. And to some he gives greater excellence than to others; take our Lady for example. It follows, therefore that God does in fact have favorites in one sense; though he is also a Just Judge, and in that sense does not “play favorites” in the way we do.

Liking someone is a human emotional reaction, loving someone is not limited to that. God is unchanging, so does not have emotions in the sense that we recognize them. So talking about God “liking” someone more than others doesn’t really make sense. Now, certainly God will favor some more than others, with respect graces and types of gifts. He does this to further His will.

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