You may be dating someone and one day they say they love you. Those are pretty significant words, but do you love them back? What is love exactly?
Just when you thought getting past the first date was stressful enough, you go through the whole “I love you” phase. Of course, it’s exciting. Your heart pumps, the butterflies flutter around in your tummy, but is this true love? What is love exactly?
I remember telling my first boyfriend that I loved him. I felt the butterflies in my tummy, but in my heart, I didn’t feel it. Naturally, the relationship didn’t last, but it wasn’t easy trying to accept and also figure what love is and isn’t.
What is love?
If you’re at crossroads where you try to figure out how you feel, you may ask yourself, what is love? I ask myself that question every time I’m in a relationship. Do I love this person and do they genuinely love me? How do I know? This isn’t easy.
Sometimes, we fall in love with the idea of someone or love someone who we think is a certain way but really isn’t. So, it’s not that easy of a question to answer especially when two people are involved.
#1 You can’t control it. If you think love is something you choose, you’re wrong. Love is actually an uncontrollable feeling. Neuroscientist Gabija Toleikyte told the Wired that these feelings reach deep into our subconscious. If you think this feeling is created in the moment, your brain has been processing this already in advance. [Read: 12 ways to know if you’ve experience unconditional love]
#2 It’s linked to biology. Well, here is where the whole idea of love becomes unromantic. Biologically, the feeling of love allows human beings to focus on one person for mating purposes. Essentially, this gives humans enough time to bond, make a baby, and nurture the child. I know you probably thought it’s about finding your soulmate. But actually, it’s about keeping the species alive. [Read: What are you feeling? Is it love or lust?]
#3 But what is love, especially true love? Here’s the thing, the feeling of love isn’t uniform. You will experience love differently than I will. Remember, we’re all different. How we were raised and the way we think about love plays a factor. If your family was very affectionate, you’ll probably associate love with affection. Though, if someone isn’t as affectionate, that doesn’t mean they aren’t loving people.
#4 It’s about accepting the bad and good. True love is about accepting their bad qualities. We all have bad qualities, it’s a part of being human. However, to love someone is knowing their bad qualities, yet, still wanting to be with them and share happiness with them. Sure, they always burp at the table and it pisses you off, but at the end of the day, you accept it without even blinking. That is love.
#5 It’s intense. Understanding what is love can be a little tricky especially when trying to divide love and lust. However, there are some feelings that differentiate the two. Love is intense. You’re moody, your energy is bouncing off the walls, you feel drunk.
Lust is when you physically want that person, but love, while physical, is also highly emotional and mental. You don’t necessarily need to have sex with them. You just want to be around that person all the time. [Read: The typical signs of lust and how to turn it into love]
#6 Your brain is highly active. When you’re in love, your brain is put to work. Dopamine and serotonin levels are at their highest. These hormones activate your rewards system in your brain. Meaning it activates your focus, energy, craving, and motivation. This is why when you’re in love, you feel like you can do anything and you actually do things that you normally wouldn’t do. You’re on a love high.
#7 Love at first sight? This has been a long debate of whether or not love at first sight exists. Though, scientifically it may not be the easiest to prove, if you experienced it then you know it’s possible. I had love at first sight with my ex-boyfriend, but I didn’t know what it was. I saw him, and I said, yes that’s it, that’s the one, and he thought the same. We were like magnets gravitating towards each other, it wasn’t controllable.
#8 People love in different ways. Though the feeling of love is universal, the way people express love varies. You have people who need to verbalize their emotions while you have others who will never say “I love you.” Does this mean their love is invalid? Absolutely not.
Love is emotion and how people process emotions are all individually based. This is why some couples have problems due to the fact that they communicate love differently than one another. [Read: 30 deep question to reveal someone’s true values]
#9 Love isn’t abusive. Of course, love will make you angry and cry—this is a part of it. However, love isn’t supposed to mentally, emotionally, or physically degrade or suppress you. That isn’t love. Your partner should stand beside you, make you feel free. If that’s not the case, then you know that they don’t love you. This can be hard to hear, but it’s the truth.
#10 Love is also based on DNA. Sadly, everything is connected to biology. When someone naturally smells good to us, it’s because our brains tell us that they do not share the same DNA as us. Crazy, right? So, though love is emotional, it’s also based on mating. We love people who have the opposite DNA. Therefore, if we have children, they’ll be genetically strong.
#11 Love doesn’t have to be sexual at first. There are many people who fall in love with people that they never thought they would want to sleep with. Love doesn’t have to start off with sexual attraction. It can start off with an emotional or mental connection and develop into physical attraction. Love is weird, what can I say. [Read: What is real love, and 15 special ways it sets itself apart]
#12 Love can last a lifetime. This is always a question people ask me, can love last forever? I think it can. Though, I believe it takes on different forms with time. When you’re in love during the honeymoon period, it’s a different love than being with that person for ten years. The connection grows, it deepens, life experiences change you and your partner, though it may not be that intense feeling, it doesn’t mean it’s not love.
Now that you know what is love, don’t put so much pressure on yourself to find it or figure it out. You can’t control it. When you’re in love, you’ll know because you’ll never have felt it before.