There's a reason why love and lust are totally different. Researchers who scanned the brains of people experiencing either emotions have found significant differences on how it affects our mind. Below are 13 signs to help you figure out if you're head-over-heels in love, and some of them might be a little off-putting:
When you're in love, you begin to think your beloved is unique. This belief is often coupled with an inability to feel any romantic passion for anyone else. Researchers believe this single-mindedness results from elevated levels of central dopamine, which is a chemical in your brain that controls attention and focus.
People who are truly in love tend to focus on the positive qualities of their beloved, while overlooking his or her negative traits. This consists of day-dreaming about precious little moments and mementos, trivial events and objects that remind them of their significant other. Such focused attention is believed to be the result from elevated levels of central dopamine, as well as a spike in central norepinephrine, a chemical associated with increased memory in the presence of new stimuli.
Emotional and physiological instability. There's a reason why some people act crazy during the initial stages of love: emotions can bounce between exhilaration, euphoria, increased energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, trembling, a racing heart and accelerated breathing, not to mention anxiety, panic and feelings of despair when the relationship hits a rough patch.
Such mood swings are said to parallel the behavior of drug addicts. A study showed that people in love who looked pictures of their loved ones displayed brain activity in the same regions of the brain akin to that of a drug addict taking a hit. Adversity intensifies feelings of love. Central dopamine may be responsible for this reaction, as research has shown that when a reward is delayed, dopamine-producing neurons in the mid-brain region become more productive. So going through some sort of adversity tends can also intensify romantic attraction. Being obsessed. It is reported that people who are in love spend an average more than 85% of their waking hours thinking of the person they desire. That's a huge chunk of time to spend just thinking about somebody!
Also known as intrusive thinking, this form of obsessive behavior may be a result from decreased levels of central serotonin in the brain. This condition that has also been associated with obsessive behavior. Yearning to be around each other. People in love regularly exhibit signs of emotional dependency on their relationship, including possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety.
Feeling a powerful sense of empathy towards their beloved. For those in love, the intensity of the other person's pain will almost like their own. And they're are even willing to sacrifice their own pleasure just to please the other person, which can be a dangerous trait if the feeling is not mutual. Change of normal behaviours. Falling in love is marked by a tendency to reorder your daily priorities and/or change your clothing, mannerisms, habits or values. This personal adjustment serves to better align with those of your beloved. The need for exclusivity. When it comes to sex, strong emotional strings are usually part of the package including possessiveness, a desire for sexual exclusivity, and extreme jealousy (when the partner is suspected of infidelity). The reason for this is thought to have been evolved in order to compel the other person to spurn other suitors.
Sex isn't everything The craving for emotional union far outweighs that of a sexual one. A study found that 64% 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]." No control. Individuals who report being "in love" often report their passion as being involuntary and uncontrollable.
If you're feeling a little overwhelmed after reading about these signs, just remember that these traits aren't permanent. Eventually, if all things go well, it will either evolve into a long-term, codependent relationship that psychologists call "attachment," or will simply dissipate which is when the relationship will likely cease to exist. However, if there are physical or social barriers inhibiting partners from seeing one another regularly (such as in long-distance relationships) then the "in love" phase generally lasts longer than it would otherwise.