From the most profound interpersonal attachment, to the most straightforward pleasure, love covers a spectrum of strong and positive emotional and mental states. The love of a brother differs from the love of a partner, which differs from the love of an activity, and so on.
Love is most often used to describe a strong attraction and emotional bond. Naturally, some traits that characterize a healthy relationship may also be found in a dysfunctional one.
The thrilling and stimulating aspects of love might lead you to disregard warning signs or unhealthy behaviors, for instance.
Love is tricky, and it can make us behave in ways we might normally not or question our own sense of morality. It can also be hard to distinguish or evolve over time, so the way you experience love now may be different than how you did in the past.
The good news is that you are not the only one who is perplexed by love, nor are you alone in your perplexity! There’s lots of resources out there, including those over at BetterHelp, that can help you dissect and better understand your feelings at any step in a relationship.
Understanding Love vs. Attraction
It’s important to understand the difference between just attraction and love. Love and attraction are two expressions that are sometimes used interchangeably.
People frequently confuse their attraction to someone with love and vice versa. Unlike love, attraction doesn’t come with any strings attached; it’s possible to be genuinely attracted to people you don’t even know.
Attraction is a feeling that compels us to want to get to know someone better. It may manifest as lust, commonly, but other times, it develops into love.
How to Tell if You’re Confusing Love with Attraction
So, if attraction can contribute to or turn into love, how can you tell when the switch occurs? What is the true indicator that you love someone or that they love you?
Unfortunately, there is no one right answer. But there are some things to keep in mind that might help clear things up.
Attraction is primarily physical or motivated by a purpose.
The majority of individuals feel that attraction is mostly physical, with a desire component. You might not be drawn to the individual as much as you were initially over time or if a certain aspect of their appearance changes.
Some critics, however, feel that attraction does not have to be physical; a person may be drawn to someone’s intelligence or personality.
You can’t think straight.
Attraction may become obsessive at times. It’s as if you can’t get enough of that person and can’t stop thinking, talking, or dreaming about them.
Sometimes, the want to be with them is so great that you are willing to go to any length to be with them.
Love can certainly drive you to spend lots of time with your special someone, but if your interest crosses into a predominant force in your life, try to remember that the intensity of these feelings will likely die down over time.
Once it’s done, you’ll scarcely notice it’s gone.
This is an often overlooked aspect of attraction: it may drive a person insane for a short period, but it is scarcely noticed once it passes.
When you’re in love, though, and it goes unsatisfied or unrequited, you’ll always feel the ache years afterward. Breakups are the same way; it often takes a while to move past someone you love once you’ve broken up with them.
If you feel like your interest in the relationship is either much greater or lesser than that of your partner, it might indicate that true, long-lasting feelings have yet to develop. When your interest in someone seems to only increase and deepen over time, it may be a sign that you are indeed falling in love.
Understanding love is no easy task: it’s a complex emotion that changes over time, just like the people who experience it.
Love and attraction, for instance, are very similar in many ways but are fundamentally different in their core aspects. Attraction is primarily physical, whereas love has many more dimensions to it.
It is easy to get confused and doubt yourself, but ultimately, only you know what feels right. Be sure to be patient with yourself as you figure out your feelings, and never let anyone pressure you into making a commitment you’re not ready to.