Photo by Anastasia Sklyar
“You’ll just know.” This was my mother’s vague response when I asked her how to know if you’re in love with someone, and needless to say, I was less than enthused by her response. To be honest, it seemed like a cop-out. Why, I wondered, can’t anyone seem to accurately describe what being in love feels like? We’ve all heard rom-com movie characters talk about fireworks and pop stars sing about the all-consuming obsession that comes with a new romance, but is that really love? Or is it just infatuation? How can you tell whether you’re just experiencing fiery passion or you’ve truly fallen for someone?
As it turns out, there are ways to know you’re in love. And no, they have nothing to do with feeling butterflies in your stomach. In fact, research has revealed some common signs of being lovestruck. For example, people reported having new interests and personality traits after entering a loving relationship, according to one 1995 study. Another study revealed that falling in love can cause you to exhibit symptoms similar to those that come with anxiety, such as sweating more (woof, I know).
Of course, if you’re thinking and talking about the person nonstop, or you’re already envisioning a future with them, you may suspect you’re in love. Still, those signals don’t always indicate that it’s the real thing. After all, in the beginning, your excitement around this new relationship could cloud your ability to see whether there’s real potential for a long-term relationship. The chemistry is great, you have endless topics to talk about, and you haven’t discovered all of their quirks, irritating habits or “flaws” yet. So it’s pretty easy to fool yourself into thinking you’ve fallen head over heels. Here are some of the things you feel when you’re in love:
1. You’re happy and just a little bit nervous.
When you’re in love, you’re genuinely a happier person. It’s like you’re on a natural high. The thought of spending time with your partner really excites you and just looking at the dozens of selfies you took together is enough to put a cheesy smile on your face. But being in love also makes you a tiny bit nervous. You’re anxious for what the future holds. Because you know that you want your relationship to last. "Lots of people compare love to something they could not lose or let pass them by, yet the uncertainty of its unknown outcome is exciting," Maria says.
2. Everything feels new and exciting.
When you’re in love, you’re excited to do things you’ve already done a million times before because it’s with your partner this time. They’re the first ones you think of when you see a romantic movie preview or when you’re planning to make a quick trip to the nearest fast food place. You’d even be willing to sit through four hours of a sports game if it means spending time with them.. Maria says that’s because love sparks a new change in you. "When you’re in love, the basis of your perception changes. I compare it to a feeling of being really awake and excited," she says. "You have found someone that makes everything feel new and intriguing – even if it’s just sitting on the couch watching TV.”
3. Your relationship feels easy.
Being with your partner isn’t hard work. You don’t have to struggle to find time to spend with them because you really want to. Even the arguments don’t feel as intense as they did in other relationships. While all couples argue and bicker, when you’re both in love, your priority is your relationship, not your pride. You’re not worried about being the first person to give in or lose the argument because you can’t imagine your life without this person. Even one day apart really feels like forever.
4. This person is on your mind literally all the time.
When you’re in love, your partner is always in the back of your mind. You might have a sudden thought to call them because you haven’t chatted in a few hours. Or, maybe, you go into a clothing store with the intention of buying something for yourself and then end up buying something for your partner, too. "Love is determined. When you like someone, you can brush it off and think of other things as you go about your day," Maria says. When you’re in love, this person is always on your mind, but it isn’t overwhelming. "When you love someone, you are physically, mentally and emotionally impacted at theoretically any/all time(s). It is a calm and secure reality you will consistently crave," Maria says.
5. You get just a little jealous.
A little bit of jealousy is natural. Jealousy becomes dangerous, however, when you start obsessing over what your partner’s doing, so much so that you do stuff like look through their phone without them knowing. That is toxic behavior and it might signal you’re not in a healthy relationship.
6. You become more affectionate towards them.
When you’re in love, you’re obviously attracted to your partner, so it’s only natural that you want to be all over them all the time. Whether it’s simply holding hands or turning your cuddling into an intense make out session, you want to be affectionate towards your second half. If you’re completely repulsed by them, that’s something to think about.
7. You want to bring them around your family and friends.
When you’re really into your relationship, you want to bring your partner into all aspects of your life. You want to introduce them to your family and friends because you genuinely want your relationship last.
8. You start feeling a sense of empathy towards your partner.
When you’re in love, you start seeing your bae as an extension of yourself, so when they’re hurt, nervous or really excited about something like getting accepted into a school or program they really wanted, then you experience the same feelings as them. Feeling empathy towards your partner also makes you want to make tiny sacrifices for them, like getting up and going to the store for some soup and medicine when they’re sick. Small things like that are easy to do when they’re for the person you love.
9. You’re becoming a better person.
You know you’re in love when being with your second half makes you want to improve yourself in some way, whether it’s setting new goals or having a more positive attitude. Your partner should push you towards becoming better, but not in a way that’s consistently negative. "If a partner isn’t building you up, then you must consider looking elsewhere for love – no matter what other characteristics he or she may have that you are infatuated with," Maria says. When you’re truly in love with someone, you want your partner to succeed as much as you because you want to create a stable future for the both of you.
10. You start planning for the future.
When you truly love someone, you know that you don’t have plans to let them go any time soon, if ever. So, you start to include them in all your future plans, whether it’s going on vacation or figuring out your plan after high school. You start thinking of your partner when you’re making big decisions because you want them to be there for it all. When you’re in love, your bae becomes your permanent "plus one."