The beginning of a new romantic relationship is an exciting time – and falling in love can be a life-changing experience.
However, at the start of a relationship, when everything is fun and new, it can be hard to tell whether it’s love or lust as the emotions associated with both feelings are quite similar.
Fortunately, according to a sociology professor who has studied hundreds of couples, there are four key differences that can help you decipher whether you are falling in love or just in lust.
Terri Orbuch, a therapist, sociology professor, and author of 5 Simple Steps To Take Your Marriage From Good To Great and Finding Love Again: 6 Simple Steps To a New and Happy Relationship, revealed the signs in a TED talk at Oakland University – and they will change the way you think about love.
According to Orbuch, the first sign that what you are experiencing is love rather than lust is connection. More specifically, a desire for connection between your partner and other important people in your life.
While lust may see you wanting to forge a deeper connection one-on-one with your partner, if it’s love, you will want to those important to you to love your partner as well.
The next clue is how you speak of your relationship as word-choice can offer a deeper insight into your true feelings.
According to Orbuch, if you continue to say “I” rather than “we,” it is more likely that lust is the driving force in the relationship, because two people in love often think of themselves in terms of a pair.
Self-disclosure is the third indicator, with love encouraging people to reveal all parts of themselves, whereas people in lust will likely reveal things about themselves at a surface level, such as favourite hobbies or foods.
If it’s love, you will be more inclined to share at a deeper level.
The final difference is impact or influence, according to Orbuch, who explained that love often means another person can have an influence on your own life.
She gives the example of a job offer in another state. If it is love, you would be more likely to consider your options if it meant leaving your partner, whereas lust would likely not have a substantial impact on your decision.
You can also rule out love if it’s your first time meeting someone as love at first sight doesn’t actually exist, according to psychologists at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, who previously found the phenomenon is actually just feelings of strong physical attraction.