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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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Published on April 7, 2021

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

6 Signs Of A Controlling Person To Be Aware Of

Some of the most manipulative people are so good at what they do that their words and actions can convince you into thinking they truly care about what’s best for you when in reality, it’s quite the opposite. The most common signs of a controlling person are rarely obvious to outside observers. And for someone enmeshed in a controlling relationship or friendship, it can be incredibly challenging to stay away from this toxic person, even if you’re aware of their emotionally abusive tendencies.

While it’s ultimately up to you to decide whether to preserve or leave a lopsided, unfulfilling relationship, it’s nevertheless critical to understand the following six signs of controlling people so you can better advocate for yourself and mitigate the influence of their manipulative tendencies in your own life.

1. They Push Their Own Personal Agenda

Do you know someone who always tries to micromanage the words, behaviors, and attitudes of people around them? Does this person act like they have the right to know anything they want about you, including your location, what you’re doing in a given moment, who you’re talking to online, or any other private information about you? And when planning events and special occasions, does this person dominate conversations, steer plans in their own preferred directions, disparage others’ suggestions, and refuse to collaborate with anyone who might disagree with them?

If you answered “yes” to some of the above questions, then those are clear signs of a controlling person whom you absolutely need to be cautious around. Controlling people are reluctant to even consider alternative ideas, let alone enthusiastically work with people who have differing views. They prefer to be the captain of every ship—regardless of how much or how little an issue personally impacts them—and they have an arsenal of manipulative tactics to deploy if someone stands in the way of them achieving their own personal agendas.

In long-term relationships with controlling people, you may feel constantly pressured to meet their demands, follow their schedule, and focus on whatever they feel is most important. It’s not an exaggeration to say that these people act like the universe revolves around them, which can be exhausting to deal with for their family members, friends, and colleagues.

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2. They Make Everything Transactional

Controlling people aren’t always self-centered, but they’re not too empathetic either. Empathy for them tends to appear in the form of strategic concessions they use as a means to get what they want. They typically view interpersonal relationships as transactional opportunities to extract more value from people surrounding them, which can have a draining effect on those they interact with.

For example, one sign of a controlling person may be their insistence on “keeping score.” This can involve doing nice things for you with the ulterior motive of demanding something from you at a later date in exchange for what you thought was just an act of kindness or a friendly support.

Perhaps they shower you in praise (also known as “love-bombing”) or gifts then blow up at you if you don’t intuitively know they’re expecting something back from you. None of us are mind-readers, but controlling people behave as though everyone else should think and act like they want others to and those who fall out of line are punished for failing to meet their impossible expectations.

A controlling person may also threaten to withhold support if you don’t adhere to their demands, but they do so in such subtle ways that the guilt they impose blinds you from the unreasonable nature of their behaviors.

Some statements to be wary of include:

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  • “I did ___________ for you. What do you mean you can’t do ___________ for me?”
  • “Remember how I helped you with ___________? That took a lot of time and energy from me, but I guess you didn’t appreciate my help.”
  • “I always give you ___________. Don’t you care about my needs too?”
  • “You’re so selfish!” or “You don’t care about me at all!” (gaslighting if you respond with hesitation or politely decline their request for help for perfectly valid reasons, such as not having enough time or resources to assist them)

3. They Criticize Everything

One of the most common telltale signs of a controlling person is their capacity to criticize anything and everything, even small things that seemingly don’t matter. As with many toxic traits in relationships, these problems typically start out so small that you may not even notice. At first, you may even agree with their criticism or at least be able to understand their perspective when they bring up an issue.

However, the criticism tends to get more intense, more constant, and more perplexing for people who maintain relationships with controlling people. You’ll likely notice how they rarely seem to criticize something they do. It’s almost always other-oriented and these types of people are so manipulative that any rationale they offer can seem plausibly legitimate.

Some warning signs of a controlling person who’s overly critical to the point of abusiveness include:

  • Criticizing things about you that you have little to no control over (e.g., appearance, disability, family)
  • Criticizing your personal choices and interests, such as educational pursuits, career, clothing, favorite music, time spent on your hobbies, etc.
  • Punishing you for expressing vulnerability by invalidating thoughts and feelings you share with them
  • Attacking you whenever you express an opinion counter to theirs

4. They Balk When Someone Criticizes Them

We all know the adage, “what goes around, comes around.” But this statement doesn’t apply as much to toxic, controlling people. They’d much prefer to dish out criticism without ever having to take it in return.

For instance, if your friend constantly talks about your appearance with little regard for your emotions but flips out if you make just a single comment about their appearance, there’s a possibility that they could have some hidden controlling tendencies left unchecked. Remember, these people aren’t just controlling in their behaviors towards others. They’re also actively trying to stay in complete control over every aspect of their lives, which includes how others view them.

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This seemingly insatiable desire for control can prompt them to lash out against even the smallest bits of criticism, leaving people around them too weary or scared to speak up again in the future. While it’s possible they may suffer from something called rejection sensitivity dysphoria, this does not excuse them from the consequences of their words and actions. They should seek professional help to better manage their reactions to criticism.

5. They Socially Isolate You

Not all controlling people do this, but for manipulative narcissists, socially isolating victims is a go-to strategy for maintaining control because it’s effective at preventing people from truly understanding how toxic their partner, family member, or friend is treating them. Think of it this way—if you don’t talk to many other people in your life, there’s less of a risk that you’ll damage their reputation by revealing their abusive tendencies.

Socially isolating others also gives the person more control over you and your life as it becomes more difficult to break away from them if you don’t have other healthier channels of communication and interpersonal support to turn to.

This process doesn’t happen overnight, nor is it something you can readily recognize as abusive. At first, it may seem reasonable, such as asking you to stop engaging so often with family members with whom both of you disagree on major social or political issues. As the social isolation progresses, they may suggest cutting people out of your life—especially if they don’t like that person, regardless of how you personally feel—or even conjure up high-stakes problems like “it’s me or them” under the guise of saving you from people in your life whom they don’t like for whatever reason.

In a controlling person’s life narrative, they’re always the protagonist who’s incapable of any wrongdoing. The blame is always redirected at someone else, whether that’s you or other people in your life. The more they isolate you from other supportive people in your life, the more susceptible you’ll be to falsely believing that they’re right and you “don’t need” your other friends and family when you have someone as perfect as this person.

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6. They’re Emotionally Abusive

It’s hard enough to be in control of your own emotions but when someone else is constantly belittling you and your interests or leveraging guilt and shame to manipulate you into saying or doing what they want, this can make it even more challenging to stay in control of your own life and emotional well-being.

Emotional abuse is another sign of a controlling person that is often overlooked in relationships. After all, human personalities vary widely in terms of passivity, and it’s not uncommon for one person in a relationship to be significantly more passive than the other. This becomes an issue when the controlling partner or friend exudes signs of emotional abuse, which can start subtly and become much more pronounced over time.

Concerning signs of emotionally abusive language or behavior to watch out for include:

  • Dismissing your needs and/or belittling your interests in counterproductive ways
  • Privately or publicly shaming or humiliating you
  • Making you feel as though you can never live up to their expectations or do anything right (according to their own vague, subjective standards)
  • Gaslighting you into thinking they said or did something that never actually happened (making you question your own reality)

Final Thoughts

It’s sometimes hard to see the negative things about someone with whom we have a relationship. We may sometimes unconsciously overlook the signs of a controlling person, especially if that person is someone we have known for a long time or are close to us. However, cutting them off your life is the best thing you can do for yourself. Just watch out for these six signs of a controlling person and take immediate action when you spot them.

More Tips on How To Deal With a Controlling Person

Featured photo credit: Külli Kittus via unsplash.com

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