First of all, attraction is necessary when it comes to falling in love, but being attracted to someone won’t necessarily lead to falling in love.
This means, of course, that developing genuine and deep feelings for another person is quite rare. At the same time, we are attracted to different people almost on a daily basis.
And yet, how can we tell the difference? Does love at first sight really exist or is it just lust? Helen Fisher, who is an expert on the subject, tells us about science behind these differences.
Brain in Lust
Lust refers to a mere physical attraction towards a person and to the desire for sexual gratification. This is primarily fueled by high levels of the estrogen and androgen hormones. Attraction is a powerful ingredient when it comes to mating. But falling in love afterwards isn’t mandatory.
However, engaging in sex can spark feelings of emotional attachment because of the release of the oxytocin hormone. This is what creates a stronger bond between partners in long-term relationships.
Brain in Love
Falling in love obviously requires a deeper commitment and it transcends the initial phase of desire or attraction. Unlike lust, love is primarily driven by the dopamine hormone. The process of falling in love is also associated with heightened activity in our brain region that deals with the reward system.
The presence of dopamine means we become ecstatic, euphoric, exhilarated and so on. No wonder we think about the person we love all the time, obsessively even. It’s science. The main motivator behind falling in love is for romantic partners to find the most suitable one to mate with.
Fisher’s research also found that men are generally more attracted by women in physical terms. While women are attracted by men based on their education, social or financial status.
Although the differences between love and lust may be sometimes subtle, scientifically, they are there. So don’t mix the two!