During Greece’s Mycenaean age, 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 if what they had was real. These days, love is a different kind of tyranny.
Like an accidentally vegan snack food, 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 exes, the plugging of headshots into a future baby generator.
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 have gathered the relationship experts.
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 over-analyzing their last text, this article is especially for you. Here are 22 expert-backed signs you’re falling in love.
1. You feel adventurous.
There’s a reason why you suddenly feel open to trying homemade sushi or wearing yellow. It’s love, baby! Love can make us 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, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist in the U.K.
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. When we’re falling in love, we tend to “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 towards your partner. 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,” says Madeline Cooper, LCSW, a psychotherapist and certified sex therapist in New York and New Jersey.
4. You’re full of date ideas.
From exploring the city to spending the night in to act out every Olsen twin film 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. 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,” says psychotherapist and sex therapist Kat Kova.
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. When we start to bond, our attachment systems are activated, which pulls us to seek proximity and closeness,” says Burley. This doesn’t last forever. Attachment systems eventually settle, meaning you’ll feel ready to retrieve other parts of your life again.
6. You crave sex.
They don’t call it the honeymoon period for nothing. “When falling in love, we are turned on like a megawatt light bulb. 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,” says Daye. This is why anyone who has spontaneous sex on a grand piano is probably in love.
7. You feel like moving really fast—or slow.
Depending on your attachment style, new love might have you moving towards extremes. “There are individual differences in how we each fall in love. 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,” says Burley.
8. 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. 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,” Cooper says.
9. 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. 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,” says Burley. “Named the ‘love hormone’, it feels good and helps us feel bonded.”
10. You feel positive about the future.
There’s a reason why 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. The future seems bright and full of potential,” says Daye.
11. You’re worried.
it’s normal to feel slightly hesitant when you’re falling in love. “We can experience insecure and anxious feelings. 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,” says Burley. If you’re feeling overly anxious about your partner, it might be a sign to re-assess 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.
12. You can only focus 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. This drives us to concentrate on the source of our pleasure: our date,” Bruley explains. It explains that can’t eat, can’t sleep feeling of new romantic love.
13. 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. This is our brain scanning for signs that our partner is available and responsive to our emotional needs,” Bruley says.
14. 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. 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,” says Daye. Still, eat something.
15. 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. These physiological effects are due to raised dopamine levels,” explains Burley. “Smiling can establish a feedback loop. The happier we feel, the more we smile, and the more we smile the happier we feel.”
16. 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.”
17. 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. We are patient, kind, and generous. We give spare change to buskers, smile at strangers, and bear no grudges,” says Daye.
18. 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. 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,” says Daye.
19. You daydream.
New love can engage your imagination. “You begin envisioning your future together and wanting to make further plans with them. 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,” explains Kova.
20. 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.
21. You believe things will last forever.
Love can make you feel like you’re in a fairytale. “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.”
22. You feel safe.
If you can be vulnerable with your new partner, 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.”.
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