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Falling in love and love

When we talk about love, we most often mean love between people in different relationships. Love in a relationship offers a sense of security, mental and physical closeness, a sense of belonging, care, and nurturing. Everyone experiences love in their own way.

A person experiences and feels love:

  • as unconditional love from parents and siblings;
  • communicating with pets;
  • towards their parents and other family members;
  • towards their friends;
  • when growing up, in their close love relationships.

Therefore, love is present in the life of a person at any age, whereas when they become an adult, sexual attraction is added to the emotional world of most people, but not always.

Falling in love is a strong emotional experience in which the person in love feels like they are merging with another person. It is a relatively short and intense period of experiencing feelings that lasts from a few months to a few years. The person in love sees the surrounding life as better, the beloved through "rose-colored glasses," and themselves as stronger and more capable than before. Falling in love brings changes that can turn life upside down in a short time. All people can fall in love - teenagers and adults alike.

Falling in love cannot last for a very long time because the body cannot constantly stay in the intense state characteristic of falling in love. Scientific research has found that within a few months or a few years, falling in love develops into a deeper and more lasting affection, which can also be called "true" love. It is characterized by lower intensity but longer-lasting feelings. It can be a lifelong attachment – based on mutual devotion and trust, sexual attraction, and a desire for intimacy.

Modern scientific research has also helped highlight the difference between love and falling in love. Researcher Helen Fisher from Rutgers University in New York has found that when a person is in love, receptors for several substances, including dopamine and noradrenaline, are activated in the brain. These substances cause elevated mood, increased activity, decreased sleep, anxiety, and loss of appetite. When the amount of dopamine in the brain increases, the level of testosterone, the sex drive-increasing hormone, increases in both men and women. However, long-term love is characterized by a sense of safety, well-being, and satisfaction, which is mainly associated with the effects of serotonin and oxytocin on the brain.

Source: Seksuaaltervis (EN)

Healthy and unhealthy relationships

If two people are compatible with each other and create a relationship, often at the beginning of the relationship, in the so-called "falling in love" phase, they see the other person through "rose-colored glasses." After a while, they begin to see their partner more realistically and notice the partner's weaknesses and less pleasant qualities. A similar "dating process" occurs in friendships. In order to discover the character and personality of another person, it is good to use an open way of communication - talking openly about your feelings and thoughts.

Through open communication, you may discover more and more similarities in your friend or partner. You can tell each other what bothers you without hurting each other. Thus, satisfaction with the close relationship increases, and the relationship becomes more permanent.

But you may also discover differences between yourself and your partner or that your partner is not what you imagined. It also helps to understand the reasons for dissatisfaction with the relationship, and the relationship may become more unstable, or it may even end. Especially for this reason, dating relationships started at a young age can remain short-lived because the expectations for one's partner are often unrealistic. A healthy and satisfying relationship makes you feel good about yourself and your partner. You will have fun together, and you can both be yourself.

Healthy friendships and intimate relationships are characterized by:

  • an open way of communication;
  • honesty - partners do not hide anything important from each other and can say exactly what they think without fear of being laughed at; can admit their mistakes and resolve disagreements by expressing their opinions honestly;
  • recognition - accepting each other exactly as they are, appreciating each other's peculiarities without trying to "fix" the other in any way;
  • respect - partners value each other highly and do not feel either superior or inferior; they respect each other's right to disagree;
  • security - the feeling that you don't have to worry about your partner hurting you physically or emotionally, and you don't feel tempted to hurt them yourself;
  • equality - e.g., in making joint decisions, sharing responsibilities, and support in difficult situations;
  • time spent together, conversations and joint activities, sharing your dreams and worries;
  • enjoyment - a good relationship must also be enjoyable and satisfying so you feel energetic and joyful beside your partner.

The opposite of a healthy intimate relationship is an "abusive" relationship in which there is exploitation and dishonesty. In such a relationship, everything revolves around control, fear, and lack of respect. As a rule, one of the partners controls the other, sowing fear and anger. In an abusive relationship, there may be threats, ridicule, and blaming of the partner, bouts of jealousy, and outright violence.

Problems in a relationship are indicated by:

  • lack of mutual respect and trust;
  • the feeling that you can't be "yourself" in the relationship;
  • feelings of loneliness and isolation;
  • lack of common interests and activities;
  • lack of frank conversations;
  • unequal distribution of responsibility and obligations;
  • constant dissatisfaction;
  • occurrence of physical, mental, or sexual violence.

In order to effectively solve problems, the will and commitment of both partners are needed. You have to listen to the other person in order to understand them. You need to understand and talk about your feelings and try to understand what is causing the negative feelings. Suppressing your dissatisfaction and resentment and avoiding conflict will not help solve problems.

Unresolved problems in an intimate relationship can cause long-term dissatisfaction and be harmful to a person. For example, violence in close relationships, child abuse, and even bullying in teenage relationships are not examples of safe, close relationships.

If it seems like the relationship is abusive, it most likely is. Maybe deep down, you know that it would be better to be alone, but you are afraid of leaving your partner. If this is really the case, you should definitely turn to a parent, school psychologist, youth counselor, family physician, social worker, or someone else you can trust for help.

In such a situation, no one should be forced against their will to maintain unsafe and damaging close relationships.

Child Helpline is available at any time and for any concern!

Source: Seksuaaltervis (EN)

What is dating violence?

Dating violence is intimate partner violence that occurs between people who have met and are in a relationship but do not live together. In dating violence, all forms of violent behavior can gradually occur.

Usually, all couple relationships start with love. However, the partner's violence emerges over time. Young men/girls with violent behavior may even be excessively caring at the beginning of the relationship, adore the girl/young man, and want to move in together, be engaged, or marry soon. In the attitude and behavior of the young man/girl, there may be signs of the need for control, possessiveness, and violence, but the girl/young man may not notice them.

The following behavioral patterns may indicate the start of violence in a couple's relationship:

  • The young man/girl is jealous. Jealousy is directed not only at acquaintances of the opposite sex of the girl/young man but also at their friends and relatives.
  • They claim that they cannot live without the girl/young man.
  • They speak disparagingly of their previous partners.
  • They constantly use the expression "MY girlfriend/boyfriend" and want the girl/guy to commit to them only.
  • They constantly investigate where the girl/young man goes and with whom they communicate.
  • They ask for the passwords of the girl's/young man's social network user account and email addresses and check the phone's call log and messages.
  • They make their partner feel guilty that the latter does not do anything right, is wrong, and has to ask the young man/girl for forgiveness 'for something.
  • They demand sexual intercourse from the girl/young man to prove love, and they may also attempt rape.
  • They do not consider the wishes, opinions, or feelings of the girl/young man. They claim that only they are right and cannot tolerate different opinions.
  • They always blame others when there is a problem.
  • They treat the girl/young man roughly, insult and humiliate, and use or threaten to use physical force.
  • They break objects in a fit of rage.
  • Their behavior creates fear and confusion in the girl/young man.
  • They threaten suicide if the girl/young man leaves them.

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