Love is one of the most complex human emotions. It encompasses feelings of deep affection, attachment, and a blend of other emotions like jealousy, desire, anxiety, anger, fear, and guilt. It’s also a culturally-defined concept that has religious and spiritual meanings. These factors, along with its complexity, make it challenging to consistently define. Yet, it’s also the most important emotion we experience. Love can be found in a variety of situations: with a spouse, a friend, a family member, or a pet. It can even be found in the workplace, where studies have shown that love can reduce employee turnover and increase job satisfaction.
But is it always easy to know when you’re in love? For many people, the answer is a resounding “yes.” They know it when they see it. They feel a surge of excitement and a rush of butterflies in their stomach. They may even feel their heart pounding when they glance at the person they’re in love with.
That’s because love is a powerful combination of emotions and behaviors that affect our body, mind, and soul. It’s the reason why the last time you saw your crush, your palms probably sweated, and you said or did something irrational (or was it just me?). It’s the reason why scientists have found that when you look at someone you are attracted to, certain parts of your brain (such as the ventral tegmental area and caudate nucleus) fire more than they do when you look at a picture of someone you’re not attracted to.
Depending on the type of love, it can include passionate feelings of desire and an intense longing to be in that person’s arms. In addition, it can also involve companionate feelings of closeness and affection, such as when you think about them all the time.
According to psychology, most romantic relationships – whether heterosexual or same-sex – are combinations of both passionate and companionate love. However, if there’s too much emphasis on the passion, and not enough on the companionate love, it can lead to problems in the relationship.
There’s another thing about love: It can change over time, but with commitment and communication it can also deepen and withstand the test of time. The key is to remember that love is a choice, and it’s up to you and your partner to decide what kind of love you want to build together.
When you’re in love, it’s important to appreciate and acknowledge the good things your partner does for you. This could be anything from taking out the trash to washing your mug, says psychosexual and relationship therapist Sarah Calvert. It can even mean saying “thank you” and giving them affection, like a hug or kiss, she says. But the best way to show your love is by being present and listening to them, says marriage therapist Carolina Pataky. In this way, you can show your partner that you care about them, and that you want to spend time with them.