Maybe you’ve been in love before, and perhaps you haven’t. But have you ever wondered what falling in love feels like? What if all the times you think you’ve been in love, weren’t love at all, and were no more than infatuation? What if you’ve fallen in love with a guy, perhaps a best friend, but you didn’t realize it was love at the time *facepalm*?
Scientists have found that the brain of a person falling in love looks totally different from the brain of a person who is only experiencing lust or someone in a long-term committed relationship. There are a ton of happy hormones flooding your body, and everything feels exciting, all-consuming, and magical. This means that the infectious “in love” phase we all know and can’t get enough of is wildly unique.
There’s a good chance you’ve experienced some of the signs of falling in love before. Perhaps not being able to get your crush out of your head, daydreaming about eloping to Hawaii with him and what he looks like sans shirt. But these are just a few of the many signs you’re falling in love with someone.
Although falling in love will look slightly different for everyone, some common signs can help you figure out if it’s the real deal or just lust on steroids.
Here’s what falling in love feels like
1. You feel like he is a rare one-of-a-kind diamond
A 2017 article in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found that when you’re falling in love, there are elevated dopamine levels in your brain, and this chemical affects your attention and focus. This is why you start to think this man is a purple unicorn with a rainbow horn. You feel like you’ve never met anyone so handsome, so sexy, so smart, so wonderful, so sophisticated, so cool because your brain is preventing you from even noticing anyone else. Geroge Clooney could stroll right by you as you’re shopping for organic peanut butter in Whole Foods, and you wouldn’t even know. Gutted, right?
2. He is always on your mind
Did you know that according to a 2012 study of men and women in love, they think about the person they love for around 65% of the time they’re awake?! That’s more than two-thirds of your time. Does that feel borderline stalkerish/obsessive? Not gonna lie to you; it kinda is.
Is he always on your mind? This is what falling in love feels like for a woman. And if you’re at this stage, you’ve probably reached what I call Little Love Step #5, where one guy is standing out from the crowd, and you’re starting to think he’s worth exclusivity.
3. You want to see him 24/7
As human beings, when we enjoy spending time with someone, the reward system in our brain will make us want to see them more. It won’t be long before you find yourself craving them like the best Philly cheesesteak in town.
You’ll start thinking of ways to be nearer and feel closer to him. For example, let’s say he is really into rock climbing. You’re indifferent to it, or maybe you actually can think of nothing worse than scaling a fake wall with fake rocks for fun in what seems to be a slightly larger version of your old high school gym. Yet, you find yourself there on a Wednesday evening, turning down drinks with the girls so you can climb this fake wall with him. Or maybe he’s not even there, and you spontaneously book yourself onto a crash (ooophf, wrong word) rock climbing course because it helps you feel closer to him by proxy. Although that sounds insane, it happens more than you think it does. Love can make us do crazy things.
4, You’re more focused on the positives than the negatives
According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, if you’re falling deeply in love with someone, your reality can become a little warped, leaving you with a slightly skewed view of them. In addition, relationships where partners idealize one another are usually more successful.
Before you know it, you’ve turned into Positive Polly. If it feels like he can do no wrong, he is a heaven-sent angel who is perfect in every sense of the word; even when he wears socks with sandals, you still think he’s sexy—you’re probably falling in love.
This can be dangerous because sometimes you may see what you want to see rather than what’s actually in front of you. So make sure you keep your eyes open and watch out for blatant red flags. And remember, we all have flaws. There will be traits and quirks he has that will eventually drive you bananas; it’s just a case of deciding whether it’s forgivable (like humming while he pees) or unforgivable (like pulling a bank heist).
5. Everything feels unsteady at first
A 2017 article in the journal Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology found that when people in love are shown pictures of their loved ones, the brain activates in the same regions that trigger when a drug addict takes a hit. In other words, being in love can be compared to a form of addiction, which means the thought of it being snatched away from you (or it actually being taken from you) can lead to someone experiencing withdrawal or relapse. Researchers in the 2010 Journal of Neurophysiology also found that brain activation areas involved in cocaine addiction can explain how people in love become obsessive when they’re rejected.
This rings true when you think about how falling in love feels. It’s a rollercoaster of different emotions from euphoria, to energy, infatuation, anxiety, panic, racing hearts, and nervousness. One kiss can soar you straight to the moon, while a late response to your text can thud you straight back down to earth.
6. But it’s not long before you feel secure
The longer you’ve been dating a guy, and the more consistent he has been, the easier it is to start trusting and feeling secure with him.
Falling in love feels like this:
- You’re not watching the clock waiting for him to text you back
- You’re not worried that he might sleep with someone else while he’s away with the guys on a stag weekend
- Double texting is no longer something you care about
In the early stages of a relationship, everything is new and uncertain, and you’re worrying and overthinking small details like text messages. But as you fall deeper in love, all those things become so low-key and irrelevant. You’re confident that he will text you back and not ghost. You feel secure enough to act naturally without scaring him away. And even though you may not have gone exclusive with your relationships yet, you know him well enough to know that he’s not cheating on you in Vegas with a stripper. Hell, he could do that without leaving his house and save himself the plane ticket and hangover (if he wanted to, but he doesn’t).
7. You start to feel you can depend on him
Wondering what falling in love feels like? You’ll start to feel like you can depend on this man to follow through with his promises, show up when he says he will, and do what he says he’s going to do. This can be a great thing that helps build trust between you.
However, make sure you don’t become too dependent on any man because this quickly turns into codependence, leading to a toxic, unhealthy relationship. Maintain your independence, nurture your friendships, build your career, pursue your hobbies and interests, and don’t stop doing these things once you find a man.
All the women who independent
Throw your hands up at me…
8. You’re dreaming of a future with him
What does it feel like when you fall in love?
You are dreaming of (and planning, in your head) a future with him. An article by Harvard University suggests that when serotonin levels in the body begin to return to normal levels (i.e., after the initial lust phase), oxytocin increases, which is the hormone associated with forming more serious relationships. So it makes sense why a woman falling in love will look for ways to be closer to the man she’s seeing. Maybe you indulge in the odd fantasy of you cracking up at his hilarious joke on the back of his Vespa as you both explore the cobbled streets of Rome and devour generous bowls of Mama’s homemade pasta pesto.
But remember, before you get too carried away imagining what your future kids will look like, make sure you sit down and define the relationship (I call this Little Love Step #6).
9. You feel a lot of empathy toward him
Falling in love with a man can increase your empathy towards him. This was proven in a study where scientists found mirror neurons (linked to feelings of empathy) were more active in people in a loving, long-term relationship.
When he is going through something painful, you feel his pain like it’s your own. Yes, even when you laugh out loud when he stubs his toe for the fourteenth time, deep down, you still feel bad for the guy. You’re willing to make sacrifices for him (within reason). You want him to be happy the same way you want to be happy yourself. Life is no longer just about you and your needs; you’re focused on his too.
10. You’re more affectionate
What does falling in love really feel like? Oxytocin has got you singing let’s get physicaaaallll, physicaaaallll;
I wanna get physicaaaallll, physicaaaallll.
Think more kisses, more hugs, more hand-holding, more totally cringe PDAs, more closeness smoshness that couples do just to piss all the single people off and are so wrapped up in each other’s tongues that they don’t even realize everyone’s giving them a death stare.
Falling in love makes you crave that physical touch and closeness with your man because it helps you feel more bonded to him.
11. At first, you want sex all the time
When you first start falling in love, testosterone and dopamine levels will be raging and make you want to do it all the dang time. Any time. Any place. The kitchen table. The backseat of an uber. In your boss’s office. Who cares? Let’s just hurry up and get naked and do it already.
12. But then cuddles become more important
After the desire to jump each other’s bones wears off (slightly), the emotional union will take over, and by that, I mean cuddles.
A 2002 study by Fisher found that 64% of people in love disagree that sex is the most important part of their relationship with their partner. You see, even though the world seems fascinated by sex and orgasms and acts as though it’s the ultimate prize when all is said and done, you can’t beat a Sunday night snuggled up on the sofa with someone you adore. You just can’t. And once the honeymoon sex wears off and you move to the next level of your relationship, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. It’s not that you’re not excited to get down anymore; it’s just that there are now other things that mean more to you.
13. You have fun with him (even when it’s a train wreck)
The car got a flat tire on the way to your friend’s 30th birthday party, so you start playing “I’ve never” while you wait for AAA (without the drinking, obvs). It starts pouring with rain in the city, and then a bus rams round the corner and splashes you with a great big dirty puddle of water, and you burst out laughing and spontaneously go shopping for new outfits. You’re drunk outside a club at the end of the night, and you can’t find an Uber (#firstworldproblems), so you decide to go grab breakfast at a diner and watch the sun come up.
It doesn’t matter what happens or how mundane of a task you’re doing; you always manage to have fun together. This is what falling in love feels like.
14. You feel safe with him
Don’t get me wrong; you’re a strong, independent woman who can take care of herself. You don’t need a man to take care of you. But you feel an attachment to this guy where your whole body feels safe and secure. The ground beneath you feels steady; you feel like this bubble is a safe space to be your authentic self and be vulnerable with how you feel without getting hurt. And this is one of the best feelings in the world.
15. Your ex is so far out of the picture
Maybe after your last breakup, you were shocked, hurt, and feeling oh-so-crappy about yourself. You couldn’t get him out of your mind. You’d drunk text him constantly, and you even made a fake Insta account so that you could stalk him guilt-free.
If you went through a bad breakup, you know you’re falling in love when your ex is so far out of the picture that you can’t even remember the last time you thought about him. And if for some reason, he does resurface in your life, you’re unphased by it. You don’t get mad or sad, or confused. You just think, “whatevs, I’m off to yogalates, and Brody’s taking me to that vegan restaurant for dinner afterward that you never wanted to eat at, peace out, motherf*cker.”
16. You feel more love for everyone
When you’re falling in love, you won’t just have a ton of love for each other; that love will overflow into the rest of your life. Oxytocin, aka the love drug, will force your heart open (even if you’re a stone-cold scrooge) and make you feel more connected to everyone and everything.
You’ll buy that homeless guy a coffee on your way to work, you’ll smile at strangers you’d usually be too busy to notice, and things that would usually put you in a funk (like subway running out of turkey) ain’t no big thing at all.
You’re like a brand new woman. Your friends might even ask you, “who are you, and what have you done with Betty?”
Next time you start dating a new guy, pay attention to these clear signs that you’re falling in love. And remember to set realistic expectations about what love really is. Long-term relationships look entirely different from that lusty honeymoon phase that feels so good at the start and always fades out like a killer summer. That doesn’t mean the passion and romance should die, but it does mean there’s a possibility you won’t have sex sprawled out on a fancy grand piano like a Bond Girl again, and that’s okay. Time leads to a deeper bond that can offer us even greater gifts.
What does falling in love feel like to you? Let me know in the comments below!