It's hard to distinguish between like, love, and lust. First of all, they all start with the letter L and that is very confusing.
But really, it's hard to figure out when you've moved from one stage of your relationship to the next. When you meet someone, lock eyes with them from across the room, or swipe right on them on Bumble, that's usually lust, right?
And then, after going on a few dates and getting to know them, you start to like them. This is when things get bad.
You wait for them to text. You wonder when you're going to make plans with. And if you continue to date, you keep hoping you'll have that "let's be exclusive" conversation.
Then, finally, you're in a relationship. You've been dating for a few months. You know each others' friends, you spend a few nights a week together, and his sister follows you on Instagram. Does this mean you're in love yet?
Well, that's not exactly how it works. Here's how to tell the difference between liking and loving someone, as explained by dating experts.
Dating and Relationship Coach Monica Parikh, of the School of Love NYC, points out the telltale differences between love and infatuation (or liking someone a lot).
According to her, liking someone, or being infatuated with them, usually happens quickly. But loving someone is a slow process that is built on a healthy foundation.
She told Elite Daily, "Love understands that true intimacy is developed over a long time and through many seasons of life."
In addition, liking someone a lot is an obsessive feeling. You want them to call or text all the time. You might stalk their social media. You force them to have plans, or use sex and hooking up to control them. But love is different.
“Love understands that we are all autonomous beings seeking our individual fulfillment, which may not perfectly align to your vision,” says Parikh.
Finally, Parikh says conflict can end a relationship that's just in the "like" stage: "In infatuation, when one partner hurts the other, the trauma pulls apart the relationship. In love, each partner sees the trauma as the catalyst for deeper intimacy and understanding"
When we fall in love with someone, it also tends to be a chemical roller coaster, and it can affect us physically more than "liking" someone can.
Alyssa Bunn, professional matchmaker at Tawkify and creator of Love + Co, told Elite Daily, "When a man starts to fall in love, his testosterone levels drop. They may feel fatigued, moody, and you may witness a reduced sex drive, weight gain, or muscle loss."
You might also notice that when you're in love with someone, your body feels like it's on a high. As Bunn explains, "When we are truly in love, we're all on 'drugs.' Not only are our dopamine, oxytocin, and vasopressin levels at all-time highs, but our amygdala — our fear — is 'gone.'"
When you actually move into the stages of loving someone, rather than just liking them, Bunn says the feeling can be "as addictive as cocaine."
But love can change over time, and not always feel like you are on cocaine. Because that would suck if love always made you feel like you were insane, right?
“Over time, the intensity does not disappear, but, instead, it becomes one of many mutually positive feelings. Long-term, mutually happy couples in love say that they feel peaceful, confident, empowered, and other positive feelings,” she said.
So, to summarize, "liking" someone a lot is often a controlling, obsessive feeling. At times, it can feel fear-based or unsafe. Additionally, it doesn't necessarily have a complete foundation. It is more fragile, it's different chemically, and often, it passes over time.
Love, however, is a chemical roller coaster, but it is also something that is earned based on truly knowing and respecting your partner. It is sturdy, deserved, and feels safe. It evolves over time, but it doesn't dull.
So, what do you think. Are you in love right now?