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The difference between 愛 and 恋 is worth diving a bit deeper into. My view is as follows:

  • 愛: sacrificial, unconditional, love for the other person's sake (often parallels the Greek agape, but can extend into philos as sawa mentions)
  • 恋: selfish, conditional, love for one's own sake (often parallels the Greek eros)

While both can be used for romantic love, you cannot simply swap out one for the other. The contrast between the two shows up clearly in the したい forms of 愛する and 恋をする:

愛したい I want to love [someone in a deep, unconditional way]

 

恋がしたい I want to [fall in] love [with someone and experience the "high" of being in love]

With 愛, the focus is on the other person: you are loving that person for his/her sake, and even if he/she doesn't return your love, that won't change your feelings. With 恋, the focus is on you: it's all about experiencing that feeling of being in love, and it rarely continues if the feeling turns stale or if the object of your love fails to return your love.

The same difference appears in the ~たい passives:

○ 愛されたい I want to be loved [by someone in a deep, unconditional way]

 

△ 恋をされたい I want someone to fall in love with me

While the first is perfectly OK and common, the second, while not wrong, can sound strange, as it essentially means you want to be the object of someone's shallow (compared to 愛) love. Granted, the feeling of knowing that someone loves you, whether that love is 愛 or 恋, can be pleasant, but when given a choice, most people would rather be the target of 愛 as opposed to 恋.

The difference between 愛 and 恋 is worth diving a bit deeper into. My view is as follows:

  • 愛: sacrificial, unconditional, love for the other person's sake (often parallels the Greek agape, but can extend into philos as sawa mentions)
  • 恋: selfish, conditional, love for one's own sake (often parallels the Greek eros)

While both can be used for romantic love, you cannot simply swap out one for the other. The contrast between the two shows up clearly in the したい forms of 愛する and 恋をする:

愛したい I want to love [someone in a deep, unconditional way]

 

恋がしたい I want to [fall in] love [with someone and experience the "high" of being in love]

With 愛, the focus is on the other person: you are loving that person for his/her sake, and even if he/she doesn't return your love, that won't change your feelings. With 恋, the focus is on you: it's all about experiencing that feeling of being in love, and it rarely continues if the feeling turns stale or if the object of your love fails to return your love.

The same difference appears in the ~たい passives:

○ 愛されたい I want to be loved [by someone in a deep, unconditional way]

 

△ 恋をされたい I want someone to fall in love with me

While the first is perfectly OK and common, the second, while not wrong, can sound strange, as it essentially means you want to be the object of someone's shallow (compared to 愛) love. Granted, the feeling of knowing that someone loves you, whether that love is 愛 or 恋, can be pleasant, but when given a choice, most people would rather be the target of 愛 as opposed to 恋.

The difference between 愛 and 恋 is worth diving a bit deeper into. My view is as follows:

  • 愛: sacrificial, unconditional, love for the other person's sake (often parallels the Greek agape, but can extend into philos as sawa mentions)
  • 恋: selfish, conditional, love for one's own sake (often parallels the Greek eros)

While both can be used for romantic love, you cannot simply swap out one for the other. The contrast between the two shows up clearly in the したい forms of 愛する and 恋をする:

愛したい I want to love [someone in a deep, unconditional way]

恋がしたい I want to [fall in] love [with someone and experience the "high" of being in love]

With 愛, the focus is on the other person: you are loving that person for his/her sake, and even if he/she doesn't return your love, that won't change your feelings. With 恋, the focus is on you: it's all about experiencing that feeling of being in love, and it rarely continues if the feeling turns stale or if the object of your love fails to return your love.

The same difference appears in the ~たい passives:

○ 愛されたい I want to be loved [by someone in a deep, unconditional way]

△ 恋をされたい I want someone to fall in love with me

While the first is perfectly OK and common, the second, while not wrong, can sound strange, as it essentially means you want to be the object of someone's shallow (compared to 愛) love. Granted, the feeling of knowing that someone loves you, whether that love is 愛 or 恋, can be pleasant, but when given a choice, most people would rather be the target of 愛 as opposed to 恋.

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Derek Schaab
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The difference between 愛 and 恋 is worth diving a bit deeper into. My view is as follows:

  • 愛: sacrificial, unconditional, love for the other person's sake (often parallels the Greek agape, but can extend into philos as sawa mentions)
  • 恋: selfish, conditional, love for one's own sake (often parallels the Greek eros)

While both can be used for romantic love, you cannot simply swap out one for the other. The contrast between the two shows up clearly in the したい forms of 愛する and 恋をする:

愛したい I want to love [someone in a deep, unconditional way]

恋がしたい I want to [fall in] love [with someone and experience the "high" of being in love]

With 愛, the focus is on the other person: you are loving that person for his/her sake, and even if he/she doesn't return your love, that won't change your feelings. With 恋, the focus is on you: it's all about experiencing that feeling of being in love, and it rarely continues if the feeling turns stale or if the object of your love fails to return your love.

The same difference appears in the ~たい passives:

○ 愛されたい I want to be loved [by someone in a deep, unconditional way]

△ 恋をされたい I want someone to fall in love with me

While the first is perfectly OK and common, the second, while not wrong, can sound strange, as it essentially means you want to be the object of someone's shallow (compared to 愛) love. Granted, the feeling of knowing that someone loves you, whether that love is 愛 or 恋, can be pleasant, but when given a choice, most people would rather be the target of 愛 as opposed to 恋.