Do You Know When You Are Truly in Love?
A man, John, meets a beautiful lady, Anita! So what?
Well, as short as it looks, a big novel can be written from this sentence. It can explode into various plots, many of which you are familiar with. However, one thing we don’t seem to understand well is the point at which the man falls in love with the lady. At what point can they say they are in love?
Very often, what we flaunt as love is merely sexual passion and desire tinged with obsession. And often times after a session of sex, you could have one party, “Oh, I thought I was in love.” With ‘love’ gone so soon, John and Anita will now be avoiding each other.
Signs of love
Love is a complicated word, not quite easy to define. Rather, people find comfort in the attributes or signs of love. According to experts, when you are in love you are likely to do the following:
- You think and talk about each other constantly. When you’re apart, you’re dissecting the last conversation, both in your head and to family and friends.
- You’re smitten. Work, friends, family and hobbies take a backseat to your newfound partner.
- You’re a communication addict, constantly awaiting his next call, text or e-mail.
- You find no faults. Your mate seems perfect through the blurred goggles of love. All the habits that would annoy you in anyone else seem cool in your lover.
- You feel her pain. The idea of your love feeling pain makes your heart hurt.
- Your conversations never cease. Talking to your partner is effortless because you have so much in common.
It is not all about sex
Note that there is no mention of sex in these signs of love. The kinds of love we find around seem to be driven by sex and money. But experts say that while the desire for sex is important to people in love, the craving for emotional union takes precedence.
A study found that 64 percent of people in love (the same percentage for both sexes) disagreed with the statement, “Sex is the most important part of my relationship with [my partner].”
It is safe then to say that love is not lust or some crazy infatuation. To anchor the subject safely to enable people to know convincingly when they are in love, scientists have now taken keen interest in the subject.
Researchers have found that an in-love brain looks very different from one experiencing mere lust, and it’s also unlike a brain of someone in a long-term, committed relationship. Studies have revealed that the brain’s “in love” phase is a unique and well-defined period of time, and there are telltale signs that you’re in it. Below are some of the many research findings:
Like Me, Like You: Liking is different from love, but is often a prerequisite for falling in love. In a cross-cultural study, researchers showed that a critical factor recognized as directly preceding falling in love is reciprocal liking, when you both clearly like each other.
Missing each other: In many ways, how much you miss a person reflects how interdependent your lives have become. If you are questioning whether you love someone, perhaps consider how much you miss him or her when you’re apart. A study shows that how much people miss each other tends to correspond with how committed they feel to the relationship.
Addition: Love changes the brain. In early-stage relationships, that euphoria that people feel appears as heightened neural activity in areas of the brain linked to the reward system, and in areas associated with the pursuit of rewards. There’s even some hint of activity in the area of the brain linked to obsessive thinking, which is a classic experience when people are falling in love. As a relationship progresses into a long-term partnership, thinking about the partner activates the reward centers as well as brain areas implicated in attachment, but less so obsessive thinking.
Sense of Self: When people fall in love, their whole sense of self changes. They take on new traits and characteristics, growing in the diversity of their self-concept through the influence of their new relationship partner. In other words, the you before falling in love is different from the you after falling in love. Maybe you feel the difference, maybe others notice it, but the things you care about, your habits, how you spend you time—and or all of this is subject to the (hopefully positive) influence of a new romantic partner.
Jealousy: A certain amount of jealousy is actually healthy, not toxic. From an evolutionary perspective, jealousy is an adaptation that helps relationships stay intact by making its members sensitive to potential threats. People who are jealous tend to be more committed to relationships.
What Science didn’t say
For what kind of love are these signs applicable? It, of course, can’t be erotic love. The love we all desire, which I preach, is mature love. It is sometimes known as Pragma: actions backed up with commitment.
This develops over a period of time and involves actively practicing goodwill, commitment, compromise and understanding.