Have you ever met someone and felt as though you immediately fell in love with this person?
I’m sure we’ve all experienced that tingling sensation of having that kind of butterflies in our stomach, but here’s the truth.
Love at first sight may be a common phenomenon, but it’s not really love that you’re feeling. That feeling that overwhelms your body, that sudden rush you get when you meet a person who triggers a fire inside of you, that strong desire, is called lust.
But, sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference. Our brain analyzes the situation we are in and sends signals to our bodies. And since the first hormones that our bodies release when we meet someone attractive are produced in our sex organs, we immediately associate that feeling with love.
So, let’s analyze these two sensations.
Love is pure, intense emotion. It is a feeling of affection toward another human being. It starts as an attraction, but as time passes and we grow closer, it forms a deep, emotional attachment that makes us capable of doing even the most unimaginable things for the one we love.
Lust, on the other hand, is a result of sexual arousal due to an intense physical attraction. It is a powerful erotic connection to another human being that with the right amount of effort and time has the potential to transform into romantic, deep love.
However, it is not that simple as it seems. Love is more than just a feeling. It is the result of many complex, chemical reactions in our bodies. Our brains produce hormones that can be associated with different stages of a relationship. And these chemical messengers are responsible for triggering emotions such as lust, attraction or a deep, emotional attachment.
Here are all of the stages that our body and mind go through when we meet someone we like:
STAGE 1: LUST
It is said that lust is the initial stage of falling in love. In this stage, we are driven by our sexual desire. This sensation is triggered by the two sex hormones known as estrogen and testosterone that flood our bodies with sudden sexual arousal and lust for sexual connection with another human being.
Some experts state that this feeling can last up to more than one year.
The most usual common signs that you’re in lust with someone:
-You’d rather keep the relationship open than discuss your real feelings
-You have an intense urge to engage in sexual activity
-You are more focused on their physical appearance than who they truly are
STAGE 2: PHYSICAL ATTRACTION
Do you remember what it feels like to have those butterflies in your stomach? Well, that is the second stage of falling in love. Also known as the love-struck phase.
This is the stage when we usually start to feel the love. The phase when our heart starts racing, our palms sweating, and we cannot stop thinking about the person we like.
These sensations are a direct result of the three main hormones that our body releases during this period of time.
Dopamine is a natural stimulant that puts us in a state of ecstasy. Norepinephrine (adrenaline) is responsible for making our heart rush and mouth dry. And last but not least, serotonin, also known as the happy chemical, is the hormone that triggers feelings of happiness and makes us feel blissful whenever we think about our partner.
This hormone cocktail fills us with energy, increases our excitement, lowers our appetite and make us obsessed with our partners.
STAGE 3: EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT
When two people finally pass these two initial stages, fall in love with each other and accept each other’s flaws and weaknesses, that is when the oxytocin kicks in.
When you become intimate with another person up to a point where you see them for who they are and fall in love with them regardless of their imperfections, that is when the commitment phase starts. And that is how long-term bonding begins.
In this phase, the brain produces the powerful neurohormone oxytocin, also known as the love drug, the cuddle hormone or the love hormone. This chemical is responsible for making us grow attached to the people we love. It is released during orgasm and close intimacy.
Another attachment chemical that our bodies produce in this stage is vasopressin. Also known as an anti-diuretic hormone, vasopressin is released quickly after sex. It is known that it promotes meaningful and long-lasting relationships.
All things considered, love is truly the most wonderful feeling in our lives.
There you have it. Now you know exactly what goes on inside your mind and body when you’re around the person you love. It’s much more than just butterflies in the stomach.
So, which phase are you in? Are you in love or are you in lust with someone?
Feel free to share with us in the comment section below.
This article was inspired by the book Love: The Psychology of Attraction by Dr. Leslie Becker – Phelps, a licensed therapist, author, speaker, and a teacher.