couple meeting at bar

12 Alternatives to the Question “What Do You Do for Work?

Tips For Great First Date Conversation

First-date conversations are tricky. The difference between dull, boring small talk and asking overly personal questions can be difficult to see in the moment. Often, singles opt for the safe bet and spend their dates talking about their jobs. Discussing what you do for work isn't a bad place to start, but can we do better? Yes!

Don’t waste a great opportunity to genuinely connect with your date. This is the time to get to know them, not just learn about their job. Asking interesting questions can help keep the connection going and reveal the shining personality of your new love interest. Read on for our advice for having great conversations and some fun thought-provoking questions to get you started.

Start With “How Was Your Day?”

Dating and relationship coach and author of The Secret Rules of Flirting, Fran Greene recommends starting off simply. By asking your date how their day went, you can show them right away that you’re interested in hearing their perspective. It can also help your date get more comfortable talking to you. “It sets the stage for your date to start talking about something they know,” she says. From this point, they can share as much or as little as they’d like.

Stay Positive

It’s true that your mindset matters. The way you think about things can profoundly affect your behavior. That means that believing your date will go poorly makes you more likely to behave in a way that makes your date go poorly. You can avoid this self-fulfilling prophecy by being conscious of your negative thoughts and trying to reframe them in a more positive light. For instance, you might find yourself worrying that your date won’t like your outfit, your hair, or your jokes. You can try to change your mindset by reminding yourself that you look and feel great in your outfit. 

You are funny, smart, and charming, but your date won’t see that if you allow negative thoughts to control your behavior.

Practice Active Listening

Active listening means being fully present, giving your date your undivided attention, and genuinely hearing what they have to say. When your date speaks, pay attention to their words, the emotions behind them, and their body language. Get rid of distractions and make eye contact to show that you’re interested in the conversation. Active listening sends a powerful message to your date that they are valued, and what they have to say matters to you.

12 First Date Questions

The key to great first-date conversation is giving your date opportunities to talk about things they enjoy. These questions will keep the conversation positive and allow both of you to show off your best selves.

1. Do you have any passion projects that you're excited about right now?

Learning about someone's passion projects can give you a sense of their drive and what they find fulfilling outside of their job and regular responsibilities. Asking the question in this way also invites them to share something they are enthusiastic about, hopefully sparking an interesting conversation about your date’s passions.

2. What is something you've always wanted to do but were afraid to?

This question invites your date to share something personal and potentially vulnerable. It shows that you are interested in getting to know them on a deeper level. Discussing your fears and aspirations in a lighthearted way can lead to a more genuine and meaningful conversation.

3. If you learned a giant meteor was going to hit the Earth in 48 hours, how would you spend your time?

This is a silly question that will encourage your date to reflect on their values and priorities. Their choices and the reasons behind them could give you a fuller understanding of who they are. Depending on the answer, it may help you understand if your values are aligned. If their priorities align with yours, it could be a positive sign of compatibility.

4. If you could switch lives with someone for a day, who would it be?

This is a fun and lighthearted way to find out more about your date’s values and interests. By inviting your date to share details about someone they admire or find interesting, you can learn more about what they’re paying attention to regularly. For example, if they name a political figure, you can infer that political action is important to them. 

5. What is one thing you know now that you wish you had learned at 18?

We all find things out the hard way sometimes, and your date is bound to have a story or two about lessons learned. This allows your date to tell an anecdote from their past and to show off some of the ways they’ve grown. This honesty creates a sense of openness and authenticity, fostering a stronger connection between you.

6. What’s the most fun thing you’ve done recently?

Asking this will give you some insight into what your date likes to do for fun. They might tell you about a recent beach vacation, a sunrise hike, reorganizing their pantry, or something entirely unexpected. You may be able to discern how adventurous or spontaneous they are. Their answer could also give you insight into whether they’re a social butterfly or a more quiet type, what kind of activities they enjoy, and so much more.

7. What’s your favorite meal?

Food is a universal topic. Asking about your date’s favorite meal can serve as a great conversation starter and a way to bond over shared culinary experiences. Their answer may also tell you more about their background. They might love an old family recipe, or maybe they’re still in love with a dish they tried on a trip abroad.

8. What is something that people are always surprised to learn about you?

People often have hidden talents, unexpected quirks in their personalities, or unique life experiences. This question allows your date to talk about something they might not think to bring up otherwise, letting you see another facet of their unique personality.

9. What was your dream job when you were a kid?

While this question is likely to segue into a conversation about careers, it introduces the topic in a fun and light-hearted way. Kids’ career aspirations typically range from unrealistic to outlandish. Superhero, Movie star, and Professional Athlete are all popular answers. Whether this sparks a deeper conversation or just a good laugh, it’ll be a fun chat.

10. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Talking about personal advice can help build a sense of connection with your date. It creates a shared space for vulnerability and understanding without crossing boundaries. Your date might tell you about someone they love who helped them, giving insight into their life. This question can help you have a more intimate and meaningful conversation without veering too far into heavy subjects.

11. What’s your favorite way to unwind after a long day?

How someone chooses to relax says a lot about their interests, hobbies, and social habits. You could discover they like to unwind by going for a relaxing three-mile run, or they could reveal that the time they spend with loved ones is the most relaxing part of their day. 

12. Who is the person you talk to the most? 

This question can tell you about the important relationships in your date’s life. Do they talk to their best friend most? The way someone talks about their friends can be very revealing of their character, so pay attention. You might also learn that their #1 conversation partner is their boss, their mom, or their cat. 

When in Doubt, Be Yourself

Knowing what to ask on a first date can be difficult sometimes but don’t get too hung up on doing things “right”. Be yourself and keep your intentions well-meaning. The art of asking good questions is about having a genuine curiosity to want to know someone on a deeper level, not about getting the scoop on their past or sniffing around for red flags. Unconventional questions will help you see a less rehearsed side of your date, which will help gauge if a real connection is possible.


How to Have a Successful Second Marriage

When you walk down the aisle for the second time, it’s different. It's not just saying "I do" again; it’s saying yes to a second chance at lifelong love and connection. In remarriages, we may feel extra pressure about what's at stake, but with teamwork, understanding, and solid communication, finding success in a second marriage is wonderfully possible.

Why Second Marriages are Harder

While remarriage is a fresh start for happiness, the statistics reveal that reality is a bit different from “happily ever after”. Data shows that over 60% of second marriages in the United States end in divorce, compared to around 50% for first marriages. Second marriages often face challenges that can lead to big problems down the road. 

Unresolved Issues From the Past

One big obstacle second marriages often face, according to remarriage expert Terry Gaspard, is jumping into a new marriage without really figuring out why the first one didn't work. Carrying issues from a past divorce into a new relationship can cause problems before your new relationship has a chance to blossom fully.

If you've been through tough times before and still find it hard to trust people in your current relationships, that's a big clue that there might be some unresolved issues from the past. You might unconsciously be looking at your past experiences and using them to figure out what to expect now.

When you're going about things based on templates from painful past experiences, it's pretty natural to feel afraid or paranoid that those same bad things might happen once more. Unresolved trauma can make people feel more intense feelings than they might have otherwise. Holding onto past relationship issues can make it difficult to trust your future partners, making your new relationship vulnerable to conflict and tension.

Finances

Money issues, especially when there's child support or spousal maintenance involved, can add extra stress to a relationship. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly one in three married couples say that money is a major source of conflict. Arguments about finances also tend to be more intense and less likely to be resolved. 

Partners are more likely to bring personal assets into a second marriage, so money expectations should be discussed before tying the knot. Couples should consider whether a prenuptial agreement is appropriate, especially those with complex financial situations. 

Stepparenting

Not being ready for the challenges of step-parenting is another thing that can go wrong. Although kids are not the ones deciding whether or not their parent marries someone new, experts say they do play a major role in deciding whether the marriage is successful.

Stepfamily expert Maggie Scarf says that a stepparent’s role is distinctly different from a traditional parent. She says that many stepparents go wrong by leaning into a disciplinarian role when what kids need is a friend and ally. A solid family unit requires buy-in from everyone, not just the adults. A major part of being a stepparent is earning your partner’s child’s trust.

How to Strive for Success

A successful second marriage, much like any enduring relationship, demands a healthy dose of realism. Despite the desire for a better marriage, the reality is that second marriages aren't automatically smooth. The key to a successful second marriage is being aware of the challenges, approaching the relationship with openness, and working together to build a stronger foundation.

Disagree When You Need To

Disagreements may not be anyone's idea of fun, but steering clear of conflict may not be the best approach either. A 2013 study in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research revealed that suppressing emotions can lead to poorer health outcomes. The study also found that in extreme cases, holding in your feelings can lead to premature death. 

Licensed professional counselor Dr. Mark Mayfield says that it’s much better to address negative feelings than to bottle them up. He says that healthy conflict can bring couples together. This is because working through an issue together can make you feel more committed to your partner. In times of stress, remember that you and your partner are a team; you’re working together to solve a problem, not against each other.

Appreciate Each Other

In any relationship, it's important to let the other person know you appreciate them. Malini Bhatia, founder and CEO of Marriage.com says that she notices when couples are not appreciative of each other. According to her, making each other feel appreciated is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship. 

When you acknowledge and value things about your partner, it boosts their spirits and shows them that their efforts matter to you. Especially if one or both of you are still processing the effects of a previous relationship, it is so important to share your appreciation freely and often. 

Bhatia says that couples can benefit from developing the habit of thanking and appreciating each other for “every little thing they do.” Doing this will help you acknowledge and appreciate things you may have taken for granted. A culture of appreciation and understanding will help keep your relationship solid through stressful times.

Forgive and Move On

Dr. Lisa Fierstone argues that people will always be flawed, so forgiveness will always be crucial to maintaining a healthy relationship.  Forgiving doesn't mean you're okay with the pain caused, but it helps you move forward and reminds you that you're on the same side. It’s also important that both partners are willing to apologize when necessary without causing resentment to do so.

Forgiving couples tend to show better control over their actions and a positive attitude towards their partner. They’re more likely to let go of issues instead of holding onto anger or resentment. Instead, they focus on maintaining a positive relationship and not being harsh or punishing.

It’s not as simple as it was the first time around. Some unique challenges and pressures come with getting married again. It helps to talk openly and understand these things to make a second marriage more likely to succeed. Building a strong foundation of trust and closeness is crucial to overcome these difficulties.

While it might seem challenging, a successful second marriage is possible through teamwork, understanding, and good communication. Remember that second marriages aren't automatically easy, but by acknowledging the challenges and working together, you can build a solid foundation for a successful and enduring connection.


Professional couple walking together after work

5 Signs You’re Ready for a Serious Relationship

You've been navigating the dating scene, but lately, something feels different. Could it be that you're ready for a committed, serious relationship? Here are five signs that could be telling you it's time to jump into the deep end and get serious about your relationship.

You’re Emotionally Equipped

The work that goes into building a serious relationship begins before you even know the person you’ll spend your life with. It might be cliche, but the work really does start within; being a good partner requires a certain level of emotional intelligence.

In 1995, Daniel Goleman popularized the term emotional intelligence in his book “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ.” He breaks the concept down into five basic areas:

Self-awareness

Being self-aware means that you recognize patterns in the way you behave and realize the impact your emotions and actions have on others. You have learned how to name your emotions and pinpoint what sets them off. You embrace humility as a key part of being human, and you’re not scared to apologize when you mess up. If you've had previous relationships, you've learned from them and are ready to apply those lessons to your next relationship in a new, more mature way.

Self-regulation

If you're good at self-regulating, it means your emotions match up with what's happening around you. You don't overreact or underreact – your feelings are appropriate for the situation. You know how to pause, reflect, and control your impulses. You think before you act and consider the consequences. You’re able to adapt to changes, showing that you can handle your emotions well. You also know how to manage conflicts and ease tension when necessary. 

Motivation

If you’re intrinsically motivated, you have a thirst for personal development.  It's not just about external rewards like money or fame; you have an internal drive for personal growth and understand how it directly enhances your ability to be a good potential partner. It's about being inspired to succeed—whatever success looks like to you—as a way of developing yourself. 

Genuine growth isn't motivated by a need to satisfy someone else's image of you—but by the desire to focus on your own goals of self acceptance and happiness. This is important when you’re building a life alongside someone else because, in a serious relationship your success in life will impact your partner and vice versa. 

Empathy

The fourth part is empathy. This means understanding where other people are coming from in conversations. It allows you to put yourself in your partner’s shoes, drawing on your own experiences—and even when you can't relate-you extend compassion.. When you can be compassionate to what others are feeling, it's easier to remain non-judgmental and recognize that everyone is doing their best in their circumstances. You respect others as individuals and are ready to build a partnership based on mutual respect and understanding.

Social skills

If you’ve developed your social skills, you know how to play well with others. It means being aware of their needs during conversations or when resolving conflicts. You understand that a relationship requires compromise and are willing to work together to find solutions to conflicts. Effective communication, active listening, and open body language all contribute to building connections. These social skills improve your ability to navigate and thrive in all relationships, but especially with your significant other.

You Have Time to Date

Even with a matchmaker to do the heavy lifting, carving out time to date can be difficult. Co-founder of the Gottman Institute Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman says that career is a major factor for many singles, especially those still establishing themselves professionally. The demands of a budding professional career make it difficult to prioritize a budding romance. 

This is reflected in the continual steady rise in the median age of marriage in the US. In 1970, men and women were married for the first time at about 23 and 21 respectively; by 2023, median ages had risen to 28 for women and 30 for men.

For younger singles, single parenthood is another factor that can make it hard to find time for a relationship. Gottman says that younger singles tend to be more focused on their careers than those looking for companionship later on in life. Coupling this with the time and financial demands of single parenthood, it becomes difficult to emotionally invest in a new partner.

This should also be a consideration for those who have gone through a divorce or experienced the loss of a spouse, Gottman says. It may be tempting to suppress your feelings with the excitement and novelty of a new relationship, but it’s essential to take time to grieve. According to Gottman, leaving these feelings unaddressed can allow them to “sneak out the side door” and affect your new relationship.

You Crave Stability

When you’re ready to get serious, confusion and playing games are not attractive; they're a turn-off. According to AASECT certified sex therapist Caitlin Cantor, when you’re ready for something more serious, casual hookups, dating people you know won't work out, and engaging in relationships that bring intense highs and lows will all become less appealing to you. A connection that’s based on lust just won’t cut it for you.

When stability becomes something to look forward to, you’ll notice. If someone is distant or playing games, you won't see it as a challenge but as a warning sign; you don't have time for that kind of behavior. When you find yourself ready to exchange the excitement of chaos for the steadiness of stability, you're prepared for a serious relationship.

An unfulfilling relationship won’t make you happy. You deserve a stable relationship, and recognizing this is another sign that you’re ready. Cantor says that this is critical because accepting less than you deserve will not lead to a happy or fulfilling relationship. Stability also comes in the form of emotional reassurance; someone who makes you question their feelings about you is not a good relationship partner. 

You Found a Compatible Partner

Sharing similar values is a great indication of compatibility, according to licensed marriage and family therapist and author of “The Seven Destinies of Love,” Claudia de Llano. Seeing eye-to-eye on the important things leads to greater relationship satisfaction, while the opposite is a recipe for conflict and stress.

She says that some important areas to consider are family, finances, lifestyle, politics, and religion. While your partner doesn’t need to share your exact set of values, a fundamental difference in your worldview can make a serious relationship hard to maintain.

When you’re seeing someone new, dating expert Julie Spira recommends testing this by talking about your values and desires about the future generically at first. This will give your new partner a chance to chime in with their own opinion, giving you an idea about whether they are on the same page. Then, you can decide to be more vulnerable and share more if you’d like.

If you and your partner feel emotionally connected and comfortable sharing vulnerable aspects of yourselves, it may be another sign to take the relationship to the next level. Consistent and open communication is essential in a serious relationship. You should feel able to share your feelings with your partner, and talking to them about things that interest you—shared interest or not—shouldn’t cause you anxiety. In fact, the feeling of being seen for who you truly are can deepen the intimacy of your connection.

You See a Future Together

To assess whether a baseball player should become a Hall-of-Famer, statistician Bill James created a list of 15 questions. Oddly, these were based on something other than scientific evidence or data; James created the list based on his expert intuition. Relationship Psychologist Gary W. Lewandowski put together a list of questions that can be asked and answered in a similar way to see whether your relationship is “Hall of Fame worthy”.

The questions are pretty straightforward, but they’re not all easy to answer. They include: ‘Do you and your partner think more in terms of “we” and “us,” rather than “you” and “I”?’, and “Do your close friends, as well as your partner’s, think you have a relationship that will stand the test of time?”. The questions are not meant to have definitive answers but rather are meant to make you reflect on different aspects of your relationship. 

Trying to imagine how your current partner might fit into your life in ten, twenty, or thirty years can be hard. By thinking about the questions here, you can reflect more deeply on what being together long-term might be like. Being able to answer the questions on Lewandowski’s list honestly and affirmatively is a great sign that your relationship has a future. 

Love is a journey, and sometimes, you find yourself at a crossroads, wondering if it's time to take a detour into something more serious. If these signs hit home with you, it could be a signal that you're ready for a serious relationship. Trust your gut, take things at your own pace, and when the moment feels right, dive in.


In Conversation with Lindsay Mills: Mastermind Behind Executive Matchmakers

In the fast-paced world of top executives, finding time for love can be tough. Executive Matchmakers is a seasoned player in the matchmaking arena specializing in connecting male clients with exceptional women. I sat down with Lindsay Mills, the brilliant Director of Matchmaking here at Executive Matchmakers, to unravel the secrets behind this brand's success. According to The Atlantic more singles are seeking professional help in their dating lives. In our conversation, Lindsay shares the common misconceptions people have when it comes to matchmaking and why her clients trust her so much. 

Aly: How does this brand differ from other matchmaking services?

Lindsay: One thing that is critical to this business is understanding the delicate balance that high-profile individuals maintain between their careers and personal lives. Having worked with hundreds of clients that live the CEO life, we really understand how their needs differ from other singles. Our approach is personalized and flexible because we acknowledge the demanding schedules our clients juggle.

We aim to take the stress out of the dating process. We have a tailored concierge service that handles the logistics of date planning for our clients, allowing them to focus on making meaningful connections.

Privacy is paramount for public figures, and our commitment to confidentiality is woven into every step of our process. Our network of matchmakers and recruiters specializes in understanding the intricate preferences of high-profile individuals, going beyond basic compatibility to consider lifestyle preferences, social circles, and the unique expectations that come with their public image.

We take a proactive approach to networking within exclusive circles, as well as discreet and targeted outreach, and a recruitment strategy that goes beyond external appearances. Our recruitment process delves into personalities, lifestyles, and aspirations, ensuring connections are not only compatible on paper but have the potential for a genuine and lasting connection.

"Our recruitment process delves into personalities, lifestyles, and aspirations, ensuring connections are not only compatible on paper but have the potential for a genuine and lasting connection."

Aly: Where are the bulk of your clients located?

Lindsay: Well, we are a nationwide company. Currently, our hot spots are Florida, California, Texas, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Nevada.

Aly: What should potential matches understand about the high-profile clients we work with?

Lindsay: Potential matches should understand that working with high-profile clients involves a nuanced and personalized approach that goes beyond the surface level. It's not just about connecting people based on external factors, it's about understanding the complexities of their lives, values, and aspirations while respecting their need for discretion and confidentiality.

Aly: What does it feel like when you hear back from a client who found a relationship through the process?

Lindsay: That’s easy! It's an incredibly rewarding experience! It's more than just a professional achievement. It's a deeply personal accomplishment too. Knowing that I played a role in bringing two people together who have connected on a profound level is both gratifying and humbling. You get to witness the whole love story start to unfold before your very eyes! Matchmaking is a genuine passion of mine but when someone finds a true connection that grows into something magical, it becomes a sense of purpose!

"Knowing that I played a role in bringing two people together who have connected on a profound level is both gratifying and humbling."

Aly: Tell us one of your favorite client success stories.

Lindsay: I was working with a client (let's call him Jack for the sake of this story) who initially had reservations about the match I had selected for him. Despite careful consideration and an in-depth interview process with his match, Jack struggled to fully trust that this particular match would lead to a lasting relationship. 

It was a delicate situation because he had been taken advantage of in previous relationships by women who were in it for the wrong reasons. It required an understanding of the client's fears and insecurities and what those triggers were that were affecting his trust in the process. What made this story stand out is the remarkable transformation in the client's perspective and the ultimate success of the match.

Instead of dismissing his concerns, I took the time to engage in open and honest communication, addressing his apprehensions and ensuring he felt heard and understood. Building a relationship of trust was paramount in Jack's case. The initial skepticism Jack had gradually transformed into genuine connection and affection with his match. It reinforced my belief in the transformative impact this process can have on individuals who are willing to take a leap of faith. It's moments like these that make all the challenges truly worthwhile.

Aly: What’s the hardest part of the job?

Lindsay: One of the significant challenges is managing unrealistic expectations that clients may have. While we strive to find the best possible matches based on a thorough understanding of their criteria, chemistry, and compatibility, the intricacies of human connection mean that not every match will result in a lasting relationship. Balancing the optimism of our clients with the realities of the dating landscape can be emotionally challenging, especially when there are high hopes invested in the process.

Another difficulty lies in navigating the delicate task of informing a client that a match they were excited about has chosen not to pursue an introduction.  These are individuals accustomed to success and achievement, and the prospect of someone declining an introduction can be a blow to their confidence. My responsibility is not just limited to making successful matches, it extends to guiding our clients through the emotional journey that comes with the territory of matchmaking. I always say that rejection is just redirection.

Aly: What is a common misconception people have about matchmaking?

Lindsay: One prevalent misconception is that individuals turn to matchmakers as a last resort. In reality, our clients are successful, busy professionals who recognize the efficiency and personalized approach that a matchmaker provides. Seeking the assistance of a matchmaker and recruiting team is a proactive and strategic choice for those who value their time and are serious about finding a compatible partner. 

Another misconception is that using a matchmaker implies a lack of dating skills or an inability to find a partner independently. Our clients are highly capable individuals who understand that finding a genuine connection requires a specialized and targeted approach. Matchmaking complements their efforts by introducing them to carefully curated matches.

"One prevalent misconception is that individuals turn to matchmakers as a last resort. In reality, our clients are successful, busy professionals who recognize the efficiency and personalized approach that a matchmaker provides."

Aly: How do you handle clients who are hesitant to trust a matchmaker?

Lindsay: Building trust is a delicate and essential aspect of my role. I believe in fostering an open line of communication and transparency from the very beginning. I also discuss the very personalized and tailored approach we take by highlighting the thoroughness of our process and the effort we invest in understanding each client's unique preferences, values, and lifestyle. With all clients, I take the time to build a rapport and personal connection that demonstrates genuine care and continued support.

Aly: So, what’s the key to successful matchmaking?

Lindsay: Trust is the cornerstone of any successful matchmaking service, especially when dealing with high-profile clients. Transparency, personal connection, ongoing communication, and support are key elements in building and maintaining trust. I understand the intricate balance of chemistry and compatibility. Matchmaking is more about understanding the unique dynamics that lead to a successful and lasting connection. 

Aly: What’s your advice for high-profile singles?

Lindsay: Take care of yourself – self-love is the best foundation for a healthy relationship. Be crystal clear about what you want, and don't settle for anything less. Focus on quality over quantity in your dating adventures. Trust me, it makes all the difference.

Thank you for sharing these insights with us, Lindsay!


Explaining the Chemistry of Lust

When we talk about love and lust, we're diving into the feelings that make human connections so complicated. It's not just about the excitement and nervousness; there's a whole emotional landscape at play. And that’s not to mention the explosion of chemical reactions happening all around your brain and body, making you feel a million things all at once.

Lust and love might seem like similar experiences on the surface. Truthfully, they aren’t all that different from a chemistry standpoint. They both cause faster heartbeats and sweaty palms, and they both make your brain light up like a Christmas tree. If we look deeper, however, we can see they have some key differences.

The Chemistry of Lust

Let's start by talking about lust, which is like a powerful magnet that can pull people together. A mix of hormones, neurotransmitters, and chemical reactions are in the driver's seat. These all contribute to our libido, or our sex drive, and they play a crucial role in stoking the fiery feelings of lust.

Before you even speak to your intended mate, the communication has already begun. A mix of chemicals called pheromones act as chemical messengers in the air between you and your possible bedmate. All over the animal kingdom, smell is hugely important in mating. Pheromones can convey things like health, fertility, and evolutionary fitness.

Scientists disagree on how important pheromones are to human sexual response, but there is evidence to suggest that our olfactory system—that’s our sense of smell—can read these signals and use them to decide the viability of our intended mate.

Testosterone is closely associated with male libido. This means that when the heat turns up in the bedroom, testosterone spikes. In female libido and health, testosterone plays a relatively small but important role as well. It works with estrogen, the most important sex hormone for women, to increase sexual desire and arousal.

Increased estrogen production is also the reason many women feel an increase in their libido around ovulation, about two weeks after their menstrual cycle begins. This is when estrogen production peaks, before slowly declining through the latter half of the cycle. This causes an increase in sex drive as well.

All the hormones coursing through you create a mix of intense feelings, drawing you in. Then dopamine, one of the pleasure-causing chemicals in our brains, rushes in, making you feel euphoric. It works with oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” to make sex feel rewarding, driving you to keep going.

A burst of oxytocin floods your brain during orgasm. This helps make a one-off romp feel more intimate. Oxytocin fosters feelings of trust and attachment. This contributes to a sense of connectedness. It also helps explain why you might feel emotionally closer to a partner after some time in the bedroom.

A chemical cocktail in your brain is telling you this is perfection, but don't trust it blindly. The feeling of lust is all about temporary, physical attraction. A passionate introduction doesn't always mean there's a deeper connection.

Love vs. Lust

So, what’s the difference between love and lust? One big thing is timing. Lust peaks in the early, exciting phase of a relationship, fueled by the novelty and mystery of a new partner. It activates the brain's reward center, making you feel euphoric and ready for another hit. This sudden rush of passion may create a strong initial connection, but according to relationship expert Dr. Terri Orbuch, lust always fades over time.

Love can certainly grow from this place. However, lust alone cannot form the basis of a lasting romantic connection. Lust puts us into a heightened state of arousal, making it difficult to sustain over a long period. In simple terms, what goes up must come down.

Unlike lust, love sustains itself over time through a more steady and consistent release of oxytocin and serotonin. When you're in love, parts of the brain associated with attachment and memory light up too. However, the differences aren’t just chemical; Dr. Orbuch says that love and lust are two completely different emotions.

The Complexity of Love

While lust is about sexual gratification, falling in love is about deep emotional attachment. This is the basis of a lasting connection that goes beyond the temporary excitement of lust. According to Dr. Orbuch’s research, there are four key features that distinguish love from lust.

The first of these is connection. While lust makes it easy to connect with our partner, people in love want to connect with each other’s friends and family as well. Whether we like it or not, the approval of our loved ones is a big factor in our choice of relationship. We want our loved ones to spend time with our partner and be impressed by them.

The second sign is something Dr. Orbuch calls mutuality. Someone in a relationship with mutuality might say things like “We went to the store” instead of “I went to the store.” Their partner is a main character in their story, because their lives are intertwined. Lust won’t drive you toward mutuality; thinking of yourself as part of a couple is a sure sign of loving feelings.

The next difference Dr. Orbuch says to look for is self-disclosure. Lust is a temporary feeling that doesn’t leave much space for emotional vulnerability. As you fall in love, you’ll begin to trust your partner with more intimate details about yourself. This could be anything from discussing your hopes and dreams to confiding something private.

Finally, Dr. Orbuch says that you’ll know it’s love when your relationship has a degree of interdependence. She describes this as the influence you and your partner have on one another. This might mean asking for their advice about a big decision. It could also look like asking them for support when you’re going through a hard time or calling to celebrate your successes.

Please note that this is different from codependency. In any relationship, it’s important to maintain a sense of individuality and to be present in your other relationships. At the end of the day, you should still be making your own decisions in a healthy relationship. Your partner should add to your life, not take over it.

Love and lust might start from a similar place, but they have different purposes in our lives. Lust might spark the initial attraction, but it's love that keeps the fire burning. Neither is morally better; in fact, both are important in our emotional lives. The key is finding a balance and learning the difference between these emotions. So, the next time you feel passion flaring up, ask yourself—is it the temporary thrill of lust or the lasting warmth of love?