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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 August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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