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Love, Like, or Lust: What It’s Like to Be Falling in Love

Love, Like, or Lust: What It’s Like to Be Falling in Love

If you ask ten different people to compare love, like, and lust, more than likely you will get ten different answers. Why is that? There’s no doubt that love and its similar counterparts are complicated emotions, in part because there could be as many definitions for love as there are people.

Love isn’t something you can see with your eyes; rather, it’s more of a feeling that occurs deep within a person that sets off a domino effect of subsequent thoughts and external actions. We use those thoughts and actions to cultivate our own perception of what love is.

Regardless of how you perceive love, like, and lust, there exists a simpler, science-based explanation that goes beyond your personal sentiments and experiences to reveal what it’s like to fall in love.

But why do we love the person we love?

People often wonder why they fell in love with the person they love. But this time, psychology takes the answer wheel.

Since infancy, we develop an understanding of what acceptable behavior looks like. Typically, the things we experience as young children ingrain its impact on how we perceive other things in our lives, including love.[1]

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We typically fall in love with people who are like ourselves, who share the same interests, values, and desires because those are the things that give us a sense of identity. The person we choose to love is usually a reflection of ourselves.

There’s something about love that science knows but you didn’t realize.

Emotions and their triggers represent some of life’s greatest mysteries, but science may have cracked the case when it comes to distinguishing the true discrepancies between like, love, and lust. A study published in Psychological Science revealed that it all depends on how you look at another person.[2]

In the study participants were shown pictures of the opposite gender, and were asked to imagine if they could feel lust or love for each person. Scientists tracked their eye movements and discovered that people who felt love lingered on the person’s face, while those who felt lust lingered on the body. The same study also showed photographs of couples, and respondents had to answer if the images conjured feelings of love or lust.

Once again, more focus was on the couple’s faces if the respondent answered “love” and on the couple’s bodies if the respondent answered “lust”.

Then, there are the noticeable changes in body function, such as an increased heart rate, palms, and a fluttering feeling in your stomach. But science takes body changes a step deeper by examining the amount of “happy” chemicals in the brain. In instances of love, seratonin and dopamine levels tend to rise.

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But since you can’t see inside your own brain, there are a few more obvious signs that could indicate you’ve found true love and not a short-lived infatuation:

  • Do you look at the person constantly? This goes back to the photograph study where people who felt love would linger on a person face rather than their body.
  • Does the person invade your every thought. The person you love is more important than anything else your brain can think of.
  • Does anyone else matter? You find it impossible to have similar feelings for anyone else.
  • Would you be deeply affected if something bad were to happen to this person? True love means you can’t imagine going back to the life you lived before you knew this person.

If you answered yes to these four questions, this person might just be “the one.”

Like, love, and lust are different, because they’re actually on an emotional spectrum.

You should know that love, like, and lust are not interchangeable, though people will often substitute one for the other in conversation. Let’s look at the differences.

Like

On the mild end of the spectrum, “liking” something or someone gives you a feeling of contentment. However, you could be just as satisfied if that person or thing in your life were absent.

For instance, you might like your neighbor because they have good taste in music. But if your neighbor decides to move away, their departure wouldn’t leave a gaping hole in your life.

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Love

On the more intense side of the emotional spectrum, love is the unceasing yearning that impacts the physical functions of your mind and body (according to science). In other words, think of love as a point of no return: once you fall in love with someone, life as you know it will never be the same.

When you find someone who sweeps you off your feet, that person is all you can think about, talk about, and look at. Of course, these feelings can happen even when it’s not true love. The key difference is if these feelings last longer than a few months.

Lust

Then there’s lust, a (sometimes dangerous) emotion that disguises itself as love, but with completely different intentions. There are three distinct attributes that separate the two:

  • Lust is temporary.
  • Lust is a superficial emotion driven by physical characteristics such as a person’s appearance.
  • Lust is easily forgotten, whereas love leaves a lasting impact.

Lust tends to be more sex-focused, with more emphasis on physical pleasure than deeper connections. For instance, a person who may have had a few alcoholic drinks might find a person more interesting than if they were sober. Once the alcohol effects wear off, life can resume as normal without a second thought.

In some ways, you might consider lust and like as precursors to love; that is, lust and like will eventually wear off. If you’re still interested in a person when that happens, you may have found your true love!

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Love could be about the balance of love, lust and like.

They each start with “L”, but they are far from synonymous.

Scientific discoveries on how the mind and body react to each “L” proves it. If you want to know if it’s real, think about how you look at a person, and how a person looks at you. If you each spend more time studying the face, you might have found a winning combination.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Alli Hill

Lifestyle Writer and Marketing Consultant

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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