How Do You Know You Love Someone? 27 Signs You’re Falling in Love, According to Therapists
How do you know you love someone? Well, it can be complicated. There are some things we know for sure in life: Would I like to upgrade my coffee to an extra-large? Yeah, I would. Am I ready for a vacation with my best friend? 100%. But when it comes to love, things are rarely so clear. During Greece’s Mycenaean age, determining whether or not someone was falling in love required little decryption. All one had to do was ask whether their beloved would incite war with a number of wrathful Spartans, and they would know whether what they had was real. Knowing how long it takes to fall in love is a question we’ve been asking ourselves for centuries, but these days love is a different kind of tyranny.
Like an accidentally vegan snack food, true love can stop you in your tracks. It can also be consciously welcomed in soft, rolling waves. Call to mind a time you’ve fallen in love, and you’ll recognize the usual trends of emotional bedlam: the giddiness (and extreme bodily grooming) before the next date, the mutinous thrill of purchasing LinkedIn Premium to stalk their exes, the soppy love letters left unsent that fill up your Notes app.
Love in the Time of Corona
Even in a time of social distancing.
Falling in love can feel like floating into an aromatherapeutic sauna and reclining against the gently sloped log seats only to realize that the door is locked from the outside—it’s disorienting and maybe full-on panic-inducing. But it doesn’t need to be this way, for we can turn to relationship experts. We need them in this modern day of social media and dating apps, when access to all those fishes in the sea is easier than ever and many of us are dating more than one person at a time. There are just so many things that can muddle our ability to decode the signs of love.
If you’re in the middle of some kind of casual inquiry into whether you’re falling in love, then this article is for you. If you’re in bed invoking a dreamless sleep to snatch you because you’re still overanalyzing their last text, this article is especially for you. Here are 27 expert-backed love signs that will help you answer the question, “How do you know you love someone?”
1. You feel adventurous.
There’s a reason you suddenly feel open to trying homemade sushi or wearing yellow. It’s love, baby! When you love someone, it can make you more daring and open to new experiences. “When we fall in love, we can expand our view of our self, who we see ourselves to be. It’s a great time to be creative,” says Clair Burley, PsyD, a clinical psychologist in the UK.
2. You’re intensely curious about them.
Forget your investigative pop culture podcasts and crime docuseries—your new lover is the latest subject of your deep dives. Feelings of love tend to make us “study our beloved’s every move, gesture, and word with steadfast interest, keen to know everything about this fascinating, one-of-a-kind creature,” says Maci Daye, a certified sex therapist and author of Passion and Presence: A Couple’s Guide to Awakened Intimacy and Mindful Sex.
3. You feel their pain.
Love can make you feel attuned to your partner’s needs. “Your love is growing when you have an increased sense of empathy toward your partner,” says Madeline Cooper, LCSW, a psychotherapist and certified sex therapist in New York and New Jersey. “When they feel sad, you feel sad. When they feel happy, you feel happy. This might mean going out of the way to give them love in the way that they want to receive it, even if it is not the way you would want to receive love.”
4. You’re full of date ideas.
From exploring the city to spending the night in to marathoning the best rom-coms from 1998 to 2002, you’ll find any excuse to spend more time with them. “You just want to drink in all that they are about,” says psychotherapist and sex therapist Kat Kova. “You will want to go on adventures together and learn more about each other by having shared experiences, and this increases the good feelings associated with novelty, challenge, and learning.”
5. You forget your other priorities.
We’ve all had a friend who vanishes the minute they start a new romance. This might even be you. “Another sign of falling in love is wanting to spend all our time with our partner, sometimes excluding our friends,” says Dr. Burley. “When we start to bond, our attachment systems are activated, which pulls us to seek proximity and closeness.” This doesn’t last forever. Attachment systems eventually settle, meaning you’ll feel ready to retrieve other parts of your life again.
We asked three women who've experienced it and an expert what the deal is.
6. You think you’ve found the One.
When a new relationship is going well, we might start asking ourselves, “Are they the One?” So how do you know if you’ve met the One? It’s tricky, because the idea can mean vasty different things to each individual, but it mostly comes down to longevity. “Knowing you’ve met the One is connected to a feeling of being in love as well as a sense that you know that this is the person you want to spend your life with,” says Elena Touroni, PsychD, a consultant psychologist and cofounder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic in London. “It’s about being able to live harmoniously together and navigate different life stages and challenges. It’s about whether the relationship can stand the test of time, beyond when the initial excitement of being in love subsides.”
7. You crave physical intimacy.
They don’t call it the honeymoon period for nothing. “When falling in love, we are turned on like a megawatt light bulb,” says Daye. “Testosterone and dopamine create an arousal spike and lower inhibition. We are willing to have sex nearly anytime and anywhere, forsaking caution and the voice inside telling us to get back to work.” This is why anyone who has spontaneous sex on a grand piano is probably in love à la Pretty Woman.
8. You feel like moving really fast—or slow.
Depending on your attachment style, new love might have you moving toward extremes. “There are individual differences in how we each fall in love,” says Dr. Burley. “In attachment terms, this is due to a preoccupied attachment (leaning in) or an avoidant attachment (leaning out). A person with a preoccupied style is more likely to press the accelerator, and a person with an avoidant style is likely to take things slow.”
9. You enjoy sex more.
For some, sex feels better when there’s a little love. “You might know you are in love when a sexual experience feels better or more fulfilling,” Cooper says. “This could be for several reasons, including the ability to be more vulnerable and say what you like and do not like to your partner, trusting your partner during the experience, and not feeling like you will be judged.”
10. You’re more affectionate.
You wanna get physical? Hear their body talk? Thank the oxytocin for that spike in physical attraction. “We are more drawn to kissing, hugging, and touching when we’re falling in love,” says Dr. Burley. “Some theorists say it’s instinctive; some say it’s learned. Either way, physical closeness causes a burst of the bonding hormone oxytocin into our system. Named the love hormone, it feels good and helps us feel bonded.”
11. You feel positive about the future.
There’s a reason Joe Cocker’s “Up Where We Belong” still absolutely slaps nearly 40 years on. Love has the transcendent power to lift us up where we belong, to set things straight. “When we fall in love, our sexual and emotional issues can go into storage,” says Daye. “The future seems bright and full of potential.”
12. You’re worried.
It’s normal to feel slightly hesitant when you’re falling in love. “We can experience insecure and anxious feelings,” says Dr. Burley. “We experience what’s called attachment panic if we feel there is a risk that a relationship is not secure, and we might be rejected or abandoned.” If you’re feeling overly anxious about your partner, it might be a sign to reassess the relationship. So check in with yourself and your mental health, and be honest about your feelings and what you’re looking for in a relationship—and try to communicate that as best you can.
"I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way."
13. You can focus only on your next date.
Whether your usual mode of distraction is kitchen-based dithering or a Zillow stalk, nothing beats love. “When we are falling in love, the dopamine levels in our brains increase because we are expecting or experiencing pleasure,” Bruley explains. “This drives us to concentrate on the source of our pleasure: our date.” It explains that can’t-eat, can’t-sleep feeling of new romantic love.
14. You feel butterflies.
Ask anyone, relationship expert or not, “What are some of the common signs of love?” Chances are, they’ll say, “Butterflies.” And they’re not wrong! “Another sign of love is a butterflies sensation in your stomach along with sweaty palms, weak knees, dry mouth, increased heart rate, and light-headedness,” says relationship and sex therapist Georgina Vass. “All of this physiological activity can increase stress levels as well as impact sleep and appetite.”
There’s a perfectly rational reasoning for this that goes way, way back. “Some researchers believe that this period of passionate love lasted for as long as it took to allow our ancestors to focus their mating energy on a desirable individual and conceive a child with them,” says Vass. “And then the intense passion would subside.”
15. You’re glued to your phone.
Nearly blacked out when you saw your latest screen time stats? That’s amore! “We can be prone to checking our phones to see if they’ve messaged and analyzing the words they used in their reply,” Bruley says. “This is our brain scanning for signs that our partner is available and responsive to our emotional needs.”
16. You feel invincible.
You don’t need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to feel like you can scale a skyscraper with your bare hands. “When we’re falling in love, we feel invincible, omnipotent, and daring,” says Daye. “We have copious amounts of energy and can feel impervious to stress. Our rise to superhuman status is due to elevated levels of testosterone, dopamine, and epinephrine. We can function on a deficit of food and sleep without feeling cranky.” Still, eat something.
17. You can’t stop smiling.
Ever wandered the streets and spotted someone smiling to themselves as if they’re in on some kind of secret? Chances are they’re either plotting a kind of interstellar diplomatic mission or they’re falling in love. “We can experience butterflies in our stomach, feelings of excitement, and not being able to stop smiling,” says Dr. Burley. “These physiological effects are due to raised dopamine levels. Smiling can establish a feedback loop. The happier we feel, the more we smile, and the more we smile, the happier we feel.”
18. You’re suddenly single-minded.
Falling in love can border on obsession. “We rehash conversations and fantasize about our lover morning, noon, and night. These thoughts are intrusive and relentless,” says Daye. “Our friends think we are obsessed, and for good reason: The sudden drop in serotonin at this early stage matches the levels of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
19. You feel more love for others.
You and your beloved might not be the only ones feeling the love. “Oxytocin and the ‘love drug’ phenylalanine make us more open and connected with others,” says Daye. “We are patient, kind, and generous. We give spare change to buskers, smile at strangers, and bear no grudges.”
Spoiler alert: there's a love gender gap.
20. You’re not as perceptive.
In the early stages you might be more conscious of how your lover is making you feel rather than who they really are. “We see our partner as flawless, possessing infinite charm, charisma, and smarts,” says Daye. “In other words, we fall prey to what scientists call selective bias. We overlook or find endearing the very qualities that would be deal breakers in different states of mind.”
21. You daydream.
New love can engage your imagination. “You begin envisioning your future together and wanting to make further plans with them,” explains Kova. “Lust, love, and attachment have evolutionarily evolved to help create lasting attachments and mutual feelings of caring, which are feelings that increase sexual engagement and thus chances for reproduction.”
22. You feel like a better person.
While self-improvement isn’t contingent on romantic love, it can certainly help. “Despite the grandiosity, intensity, and obsessiveness that accompanies the state of new love, we also become a bigger and better version of ourselves: open, trusting, loving, generous, kind, present, patient, and forgiving,” Daye says.
23. You believe things will last forever.
Love can make you feel like you’re in a fairy tale. “We merge, sexually and emotionally, enjoying an interlude of perfect harmony that leads us to assume that our partner is right for us,” Daye says. “We also believe our off-the-charts sex will last forever and that we can avert the boredom, conflict, and disenchantment that beleaguer other couples.”
24. You feel safe.
If you can be vulnerable with the person you’re spending time with, then it’s game over. “Long-lasting love is driven by the release of hormones vasopressin and oxytocin. When we feel an attachment to a partner, our bodies recognize a sense of security,” Cooper explains. “Long-lasting love gives a feeling of having a solid ground, a safe space where you can share your inner self and be vulnerable with your feelings.”
25. You’re considering saying those three words.
Have you caught yourself wondering, “How soon is it to say, ‘I love you’?” Maybe even before you’ve had that “what are we” conversation? If you are, it’s a good indication that, yup, you’re falling in love. Still, ask yourself a few questions before diving in. “There is no right time to say, ‘I love you,’” says Vass. “But some questions that may be helpful to reflect upon before leaping to say it are: What’s your motivation for saying it? How would you know if it went successfully or not? How will you cope if it doesn’t go successfully? What are your expectations after you say it?” So take your time! Think on it, sleep on it.
26. You act in their best interest.
How do you know you’re in love? When you start acting more selflessly and make decisions with your SO in mind, that they are naturally becoming one of your priorities. “Our experience of love is subjective and can manifest in different ways,” says Dr. Touroni. “You may feel a pull to do what’s in their best interest.”
27. You feel infatuated.
Infatuation in a new romance can be wild and exhilarating—it’s that state of strong passion and attraction toward your romantic partner. “Infatuation feels energetic,” says psychotherapist Kim Garrett, LPC, LAC. “When we are infatuated we actually eat less, we sleep less, we cry less, and we are more productive.”
You’ll get rest eventually: According to Garrett, this period lasts about 6 to 18 months. It’s just a necessary part of establishing a romantic relationship. “Infatuation is part of falling in love, just like getting in my car is part of going to work,” says Garrett. “Once I get in my car, I can go anywhere; once we enter the infatuation stage, it can go anywhere—self-sabotage, personal hell, or love. It just depends on where the road takes you.”
But remember, infatuation alone does not equate to love or a long-term relationship. “It’s the first step,” Garrett says. “Many people mistake the infatuation period for the falling-in-love period—and the two can overlap—but real love can only really begin after the dust from the infatuation period has settled.”
Serena Coady is a freelance journalist with a focus on relationships, internet culture, feminism, solo travel, mixed-race identity, and pop culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @serenacoady.
Originally Appeared on Glamour