Falling in love is one of the best feelings in the world. While falling in love feels differently for everyone, it’s usually a euphoric, exciting feeling that mimics one thrilling roller coaster ride that you don’t ever want to stop. But how do you know you’re in love for real?
Thankfully, science has revealed a few tell-tale signs that the brain (yes, the brain, not the heart) is, in fact, experiencing real feelings of love. If you’re dating someone new and have love on the brain and wondering, “Am I in love?” or you’re just mimicking Rihanna, here are some clear cut signs that you’re in love.
1. You see your beloved as unique.
This person is different from the rest, you know it. You see it. You feel it. You don’t feel romantically passionate about anyone else nor have you felt this way about anyone else in your whole life. You only have eyes for this special person.
2. You can’t stop staring at them.
Speaking of eyes, when you’re in love with someone, you literally can’t keep your eyes off them. Eye contact means fixation, and if you’re constantly staring deeply into your partner’s eyes, you’re clearly fixated on them. A famous experiment by Harvard psychologist Zick Rubin found that couples who were deeply in love after several years looked at each other 75 percent of the time.
3. You focus only on the positive.
People in love only see the best in their significant other. They easily overlook their negative quirks and, instead, are obsessed with the cute little things that their partner does.
4. You feel like you’re high.
Even if you’ve never done drugs in your life before, if you’re in love, trust us, you have experienced a similar feeling. Basically, everything feels good and you’re acting erratically, feeling elated and excited one minute and then anxious and nervous the next.
5. You can’t stop thinking about them.
It’s cliché but true: if they’re the last person who you think about when you fall asleep and the first person who you think about when you wake up, then it’s L-O-V-E.
6. Your attraction to them only intensifies.
Science says central dopamine is responsible for this reaction, but you just think they keep getting hotter and hotter.
7. Their happiness = your happiness.
When we truly love someone, we feel all sorts of compassion and benevolence towards them. Seeing our partners truly happy makes us feel good, which is why we’ll go out of our way to pick up their favorite sandwich or coffee.
8. You experience some emotional dependency.
As much as we might strive to be independent, falling in love makes us feel a wide range of emotions that cause us to feel a little jealous and possessive of our partner. As long as it doesn’t venture into toxic territory, experiencing a little green-eyed monster is not a bad thing.
9. You’re feeling a little anxious.
Yes, love feels good but it can also make us feel a little stressed out because being in love often causes your brain to release the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead you to feel a little overwhelmed at times. Love is life-changing, so it makes sense.
10. You don’t feel pain anymore.
Literally, life is almost pain-free since you’ve fallen in love. According to a study by researchers at Stanford University, looking at a picture of a loved one reduced moderate pain by about 40 percent and eased severe pain by about 10 to 15 percent, compared to viewing the picture of an acquaintance. But be careful out there! You don’t want to fall down a flight of stairs just because you’re falling in love.
11. You’re trying new things.
Are you camping for the first time? Are you learning how to dance the tango? If you’re trying new things that you never thought you’d do in a million years but you’re doing them because your partner wants to, then chances are you’re in love.
12. You feel a strong sense of empathy.
When your significant other cries, you cry. When they hurt, you hurt. When they win, you win. People in love are naturally empathetic to their partner’s struggles and needs.
13. You synchronize your schedules.
When you’re in love, you have no trouble switching your schedule around, accommodating your partner’s interests and needs, and doing whatever you need to do so that you are better aligned with each other and are able to work as a team.
14. Your heart might literally beat with theirs.
Forget jitters and butterflies. A study conducted by the University of California, Davis, suggests that couples’ hearts begin to beat at the same rate when they fall in love. While a doctor might be the only one who can diagnose it, it’s a nice feeling to have.
15. You want to be exclusive.
If you want to mark your territory and make it known that you want your partner and only them, then it’s love.
16. They don’t gross you out.
Even if you’re the biggest germaphobe in the world, if you can deal with sipping from the same coffee cup or catching your boo pick their boogers, then you know it’s true love.
17. Emotional union trumps sexual union.
Sex is great and all, but have you found something that offers you emotional safety and harmony? A study found that 64 percent of people in love (the same percentage for both sexes) disagreed with the statement, “Sex is the most important part of my relationship with [my partner]” and instead craved emotional compatibility.
18. You feel sick.
Yes, falling in love can make you feel nauseous, sweaty, and downright ill. While it’s probably the stress hormone cortisol contracting the blood vessels in your stomach, you can tell your partner, “I’m not sick, babe. I’m in love.”
19. You really like their weirdness.
Maybe they have a loud laugh or the way they smirk or maybe how they hum while they cook. A study found that small quirks can actually make a person fall deeper in love with someone rather than just physical attributes because we’re all weird and when we find someone else who digs our weirdness, it’s called love.
20. You miss them when you don’t see them.
When we’re separated from our partner for brief or extended periods of time, if we’re in love, we’ll respond like a drug addict who is coming off of their high. So if you feel anxious or sad when you don’t have the opportunity to see your partner one weekend or you get more than a little upset when you miss their call, it’s all good. You’re just in love.
21. You start planning a future.
When it’s real love, you can’t imagine not spending another day without your partner. So if you find yourself thinking long-term, and seeking out ways to make your union more permanent, then you’re in deep.