Is It Lust Or Love?

New research says there’s finally a way to distinguish between a crush and true romance…wait till you hear what it is...

by Jessica Brown

ongratulations, you’re swooning over your new sweetie. Maybe you haven’t taken to movie-star-style couch-jumping and love declarations, but your honey is all you can think and talk about. You could swear you’re deeply in love. Friends, however, may say, “You’re just in lust.” Who’s right?

Researchers have been puzzling over the answer to that question, and have recently found evidence that shows that people can distinguish between true romance and a plain old sexual attraction. For the
There is a (very costly) way to tell whether it’s love or just your libido talking…
study, scientists performed MRI’s on men and women as they looked upon photos of the person they were in love with and photos of acquaintances, both attractive and less attractive. The results showed that the two sets of photos affected the brain very differently: Photos of loved ones triggered more activity on the right side of the brain (an area associated with romantic emotions) than did the other photos; photos of attractive people triggered more activity on the left side of the brain (a hotbed for sexual urges) than did the photos of subjects’ beloveds.

What this suggests, says study author Arthur Aron, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the State University of New York-Stony Brook, is that the emotions of love and lust are more distinct than we think, and that people can discriminate between the two. So can you prove your love to your sweetie (and your cynical friends) by getting a brain scan? “Not without advanced equipment and about twenty- to thirty-thousand dollars,” says Dr. Aron. Looks like flowers, chocolate, and “I love you” will have to do for a little while longer.

Jessica Brown is a writer in New York City who has contributed to Fitness and Redbook.
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