The Easiest Way to Know If You’re in Love

The elusive, yet powerful emotion known as love is one of the hardest things to define. It can evoke a wide variety of emotions, from the exhilarating rush of infatuation to the devastating lows of jealousy and longing. And while plenty of things can look and feel like love—like lust, infatuation, and toxic “love bombing”—it’s important to be able to distinguish between these different types of feelings in order to keep your relationship healthy.

Fortunately, advances in brain imaging technology give us an insider’s look at what happens when you fall in love. According to research from Match’s Chief Scientific Advisor Helen Fisher, when we’re falling in love, key brain regions light up, flooding our system with dopamine and a yearning for the person we’ve fallen for. It’s a rush of emotions that can make you see the world in a new way, and even makes you forget your own problems for a while.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to understanding what love really means. The most complex aspect of loving someone is that it is a combination of both altruism and narcissism. Altruistic love involves caring about the well-being of another, while narcissistic love includes a desire to maximize one’s own self-worth. The Christian concept of love is a mix of both, summed up by Thomas Aquinas as the desire to will the good of others. This includes both friends and enemies.