How do you know you love someone? What differentiates love from attraction or infatuation? The realization that you’re falling in love can be different for different people. Some can spot these feelings as they emerge while others take longer in acknowledging and processing this complex emotion.
Luckily, recognizing whether or not what you’re feeling is love isn’t that hard. Your body, mind and behavior send out some clear signs you are in love. All you’ve got to do is take notice. But what are these signs that help you know you love someone?
We’re here to help you decode the mystery with insights from counselor Neelam Vats (certified CBT and NLP practitioner), who has over two decades of experience helping children, adolescents and adults cope with issues related to depression, anxiety, interpersonal relationship and career concerns.
What Does Being In Love Feel Like?
How do you know you love someone? To figure out the answer to this question, you’ve got to understand what does being in love feel like. What makes spotting the signs of true love so difficult is the unpredictable ways in which this emotion manifests. It can be sweeping and all-consuming or it can be calm and simmering.
Love can be the rainbow at the end of a storm or the storm itself. It can feel surreal and magical or very real and reassuring. What does being in love feel like depends on the person falling in love and also the one they’re in love with. Even with all its diversity, this emotion does stir up some universal feelings.
Neelam says, “True love looks and feels a little different from the warm feelings we usually associate with falling in love.” Here are some signs of experiencing love that will help you know you love someone truly without any ambiguity or confusion:
1. It feels special and unique
Even though people fall in love all the time, everyone feels that it’s something exclusive and unique that only they’re experiencing. This is also because people do feel love differently. One person’s experience of being in love can be markedly different from another.
Whether it’s the feeling of your heart skipping a beat at the sight of the one you’re in love with or a spring in your step, the feeling of being in love makes you feel different.
Neelam says, “You love someone unconditionally when it is more than just lust or physical attraction. It is important to recognize the difference between love and lust. Lust is one stage on the way to love, you are going to need more than physical attraction to make it last.”
Related Reading: 20 Signs You Are A Hopeless Romantic
2. It’s a roller coaster of emotions
What does being in love feel like? A roller coaster of emotions is the most accurate description of this experience. That’s because love isn’t a singular feeling but entails a broad spectrum of intense emotions, ranging from elation to peacefulness.
The nervous excitement of your love materializing into a happily ever after. The uncertainty about whether your feelings will be reciprocated. The fear of heartbreak. Love can take you on an emotional roller coaster where you touch the highest highs and lowest lows, all in one swing. This rush of emotions also pushes you to take risks you wouldn’t normally.
“You know you love someone with all your heart when you are not concerned with the risk. Love pushes you to open yourself up completely to the other person, to really be seen and understood. Love is a huge risk but it seems to be the one we are all willing to take,” says Neelam. After all, what’s a bigger risk than wearing your heart on your sleeve and letting your guard down so that that special someone can see you for who you truly are.
3. It feels like joy
No matter who you are or how you experience and process feelings, being in love has one universal manifestation. That’s a feeling of joy. Being in love almost always feels like being hit by a giant wave of joy. Unless, of course, it is unrequited love. At which point, the joy can turn into equally intense pain. So, you know that you know when you’re in love with him or her if they become the main source of your joy or pain.
How to know if you still love someone or were in love with them, to begin with? When despite the joy or pain, it feels just right. “It doesn’t always feel easy or even necessarily positive, but it always feels like you are right where you need to be,” says Neelam.
4. Love is an all-consuming feeling
When you fall in love, the object of your affection takes up a major chunk of your headspace. They’re the last person you think about at night and your first thought on waking up the next morning. Love is undoubtedly an all-consuming feeling.
It transports you into a blissful, fantasy world. A part of you never wants to come back from it. What keeps you hooked to this feeling is a strong belief that your love will prevail. Neelam explains, “When you love someone romantically and with all your heart, you trust your feelings will last. Despite the risk or difficulties, there’s a deep sense of conviction that you want this person in your life, and trust they’ll be around for the long haul.”
5. Enduring love is peaceful
Love evolves over time. The thrill, exhilaration and heady rush that you experience at the beginning of love may give way to a sense of calmness over time. That’s why long-lasting love is peaceful. One of the signs you’re falling in love with the right person is that this emotion makes you feel more grounded and secure. As if you’ve found your anchor.
Where does this peace and calm come from? Neelam says, “You accept the good with the bad. Loving is all about realizing all the ways you’re not perfect together and making it work anyway.” When you’re in love with him or her, you’re bound by the conviction of not giving up on that person.
Related Reading: What love is NOT
How Long Does It Take To Fall In Love?
You may have seen people falling in love within weeks of meeting someone and those who have been interested in a person for months but still aren’t sure about how to define their feelings. So, it is only natural to wonder how long does it take to fall in love.
While it isn’t improbable to develop intense feelings for another person quickly, often these feelings can be lust or infatuation masking as love. If you’re one of those who take time to evaluate their feelings before acting on them, don’t beat yourself up about it. It is better to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters of the heart.
Given that feeling love and accepting those feelings are a very personal process, it is hard to draw out a specific timeline for how long it takes to fall in love. However, the average drawn from surveys done in the past does give us a rough estimate.
On average, men take about 88 days to fall in love whereas women may take up to 134 days. Out of the men in love, 39% tend to profess their feelings within the first month. In the case of women, the process of falling in love can be accelerated if there is sexual intimacy involved.
It is best not to let these timelines and estimates interfere with your instinctive process of experiencing love. What’s more important is that your feelings are strong and lasting, irrespective of how quickly or not you fall in love.
How Do You Know You Love Someone? 11 Signs To Look Out For
Even if you recognize the signs of love, it can be confusing to apply them to yourself. The ‘how do you know if you love someone or just used to them’ dilemma can weigh on your mind, as you try to sort your feelings. For this, Neelam advises, “If you are experiencing confusing new feelings, it’s natural to have some uncertainty about how to handle them. Asking yourself the right questions will give you some insight into your feelings.
“Ask yourself, what type of connection do you want with this person – emotional, physical or a combination of both? Can you see yourself sharing your life with this person? What would your life look like without them?” The answers to these questions will give you a lot of clarity about your feelings and emotions.
How do you know you love someone? Some introspection is definitely a good place to start. In addition to that, you can also look out for these 11 tell-tale signs of love to put those intense feelings in context:
1. Feeling high is one of the signs you are in love
No, not figuratively. Being in love gives you a high quite literally. A study carried out at the Kinsey Institute indicates that the brain of a person in love and that of a person on cocaine looks exactly the same. If you feel infused with unprecedented energy and positivity that makes you feel like you can conquer the world, it is one of the signs you are in love.
You can thank the dopamine in your system for it. This feel-good hormone is what makes the feeling of being in love such a pleasant experience. If you’re wondering how to know if you still love someone or have ever been in love with them, just pay close attention to how they make you feel. If you feel that rush and a high you can’t explain, it’s probably love.
2. You can’t take your eyes off them when you’re in love
“Thinking of someone as being special is only natural when you’re in love with him or her. Love makes you see your beloved as unique,” says Neelam. If you’ve ever caught yourself unwittingly staring at the object of your affection or your friends have pointed out your staring tendencies to you, it’s one of the unmistakable signs you’re falling in love.
You realize you love someone when your eyes begin to search for them. You may not be aware of it but a part of your subconscious mind is yearning for their presence. That’s why you look for them or can’t take your eyes off them.
The constant need to have your eyes fixed on a person is an indication that you’re fixated with them. Besides, maintaining eye contact helps strengthen romantic feelings. So all that staring is also your mind’s way of keeping you hooked.
3. When do you realize you love someone? When they’re always on your mind
When do you realize you love someone? Or know if you love someone or just used to them? This question has confused many a mind for ages. Well, if the other person is always on your mind and you just cannot stop thinking of them, it is one of the classic signs you are in love.
You may find it hard to concentrate on anything else because you’re forever preoccupied with the thoughts of the person you’re in love with. And even if you actively try not to think of them, you can’t keep your mind off them for more than a few minutes (a couple of hours, tops). It’s about time you accept it instead of fighting off your feelings.
4. When you truly love someone, you want to see them happy
Relationships are about partnership and equality. Ironically, love, which is the root of romantic relationships, doesn’t understand these rules and dynamics. When you truly love someone unconditionally, you want to see them happy. Even if it means putting their happiness ahead of your own.
Neelam explains that the reason behind it is a strong sense of empathy stemming from love. “People who are in love generally feel a powerful sense of empathy toward their beloved. Feeling the other person’s pain as their own and being willing to sacrifice anything for the other person comes naturally when you love someone unconditionally,” she says.
This selfless desire to see the other person happy no matter what is one of the telling signs of true love. If their happiness lies in not being with you, you won’t bat an eyelid in letting them go. Even if it crushes you inside. On the bright side, if such intense feelings are mutual, you can build the most wholesome relationship together.
5. How do you know you love someone? You feel anxious and stressed
Yes, love is typically associated with warm and fuzzy feelings. However, it also makes you anxious and stressed to no end, especially during those early days when you’re just beginning to realize you’re in love. All those butterflies in the stomach and being a nervous wreck around the person are natural manifestations of your inner dilemmas when you realize you love someone.
The fear of rejection or lack of clarity about the other person’s feelings can cause the stress hormone cortisol in your system to spike. This stress hormone is responsible for those bouts of anxiety that leave you tongue-tied, legs trembling, whenever you’re in the company of the person you’ve fallen for.
“Falling in love often leads to emotional and physiological instability. You bounce between exhilaration, euphoria, increased energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, trembling, a racing heart and accelerated breathing as well as anxiety, panic and feeling of despair when your relationship suffers even the smallest setback,” says Neelam.
6. Feeling happy is one of the signs of love
If you feel a constant streak of happiness and joy running through your bloodstream, it is without a doubt one of the signs of love. The prospect of meeting the person makes you happy. You go to bed with a content smile on your face because your mind is teeming with thoughts of them.
A text message, a phone call, an accidental run-in – everything makes you happy. Even the wait. One of the signs you’re falling in love is when you start building scenarios of what being with this person will turn out to be like. These thoughts then become the source of your happiness.
7. Even the mundane seems fun and exciting
One of the sure-shot signs you’re falling in love is when even the routine, mundane things suddenly start to seem fun and exciting. All because you’re doing them with this special person. Be it going to the movies or watching the sunset from your balcony, everything around you has a refreshed appeal. Thanks to those love-tinted eyes.
Apart from adding a new appeal to every mundane little detail of life, that love-tinted perspective also almost makes you see the other person as perfect and devoid of any flaws. “People who are truly in love tend to focus on the positive qualities of their beloved while overlooking his or her negatives,” says Neelam.
8. You become more affectionate in your expressions
How do you know when you’re in love with him or her? It shows in your gestures and behavior. If you’re already dating this person, it could mean more intense make-out sessions, holding hands and longer hugs. If not, then you might find yourself looking for ways to make physical contact. Leaning on them, ruffling their hair lovingly, sitting a little closer than usual.
There’s no denying you love someone romantically when being in that person’s proximity is the only thing that brings you joy and you feel an uncontainable affection toward them. No matter how hard you try to not let your feelings show, they will find an outlet, one way or another.
9. A tinge of jealousy is also one of the signs of love
Jealousy is often condemned as a negative emotion but it is also an inevitable feeling that comes with the territory of love. Being jealous of their proximity to another potential love interest indicates that you want exclusivity. That is one of the telling signs of love.
However, you have to learn to rein in these feelings and learn to differentiate healthy jealousy from unhealthy one. Unhinged jealousy can quickly become toxic, casting a dooming spell on even the strongest relationships.
10. How do you know you love someone? You want them around your family and friends
One of the tell-tale indicators that your feeling have gone beyond infatuation and attraction, chartering into the territory of love, is when you want them involved with other important relationships in your life. If you’re wondering how do you know you love someone, think about whether you want to introduce them to your family and friends.
Do you want them to be a part of all the important moments of your life? Are you desperately wishing that your friends and family like them and vice-versa? Yes? Well, then, you have your answer because this only happens when you’re in love with him or her.
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11. What it means to truly love someone – You see a future with them
When you think about the future, you naturally see your love interest in it. That’s what it means to truly love someone. Be it a vacation six months down the line or making plans for your retirement home, you imagine that person by your side through it all. You know you love someone truly when you just cannot picture your life without them.
Do you feel these things for a special someone? Now that you’ve solved the how do you know you love someone riddle, it’s time to act on your feelings. Lay your heart bare, let them know!
The differentiating factor that can help you know if you love someone or just used to them is the way that person makes you feel. If you’re just used to their presence in your life, your heart won’t skip a beat on seeing them. You won’t feel those butterflies in your stomach or that nervous energy grip you. Being used to someone is just about finding a comfort zone with them.
If you truly love someone, you would do anything for their happiness. The willingness to move mountains for the person you have feelings for and doing everything in your power to save them from hurt and anguish are signs of true love.
To explain your love to someone, you need to just be honest about your feelings for them. It doesn’t come easy because it requires you to be vulnerable in front of them. But if you want them to understand and appreciate your feelings, there is no alternative to it.
You can say I love you to someone without saying it in as many words through your thoughtfulness, your actions and kind gestures. When the person sees how much you value and cherish them, they will know that you’re acting from a place of love.