If you’re reading this article then you’ve probably met someone special and you’re starting to wonder: am I in love?
This can be a frightening question. After all, if you love someone it’s a big risk and it means opening your heart.
I know what a broken heart feels like, and it’s something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. Sadly, that’s how love turns out sometimes.
So now you’re wondering: am I really in love? Let’s be honest: you’re wondering if it’s worth the risk this time around.
Circumstances, feelings, and thoughts have brought you to the point that you just can’t dodge the question anymore.
You think of the other person all the time, you start to picture a future together. You get distracted during the busiest time at work or your studies, or in the middle of making dinner.
Well, you can finally settle that burning question in your heart. Scientific and relationship research has begun turning up a number of indicators that help tell you if you’re really in love.
Is it love or just a crush? Read on and find out.
48 big signs it’s real love
1. There’s just something about them you can’t get off your mind
At first this might be hard to define. Maybe it’s when you look deep in their eyes or share a laugh.
This individual you are wondering if you are in love with feels different and special. They aren’t just attractive, funny, smart or anything – they feel like so much more.
Scientific research has shown that the release of large amounts of dopamine occurs when we are taking a strong interest in someone beyond the superficial or momentary.
This makes us start to see them as unique, special, and irreplaceable.
2. Everything about them seems good…
The French writer Stendalh talked about this way back in 1822 in his book On Love. He called it crystallization.
When you’re falling in love everything about your beloved seems good and you are focused on their positives. Everything good that happens seems related to them.
Isn’t their smile amazing? And all the hardships they’ve overcome with their determination? How about their love for family? Incredible.
Their laugh can be a bit annoying and sometimes they seem kind of cold, but it’s also kind of cute how they laugh like that and their coldness and occasional rudeness is sort of intriguing.
Welcome to falling in love.
3. Your moods are all over the place…
When you’re falling for someone your hormones get thrown in a blender. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down.
It’s a merry-go-round of emotions and you often feel on edge. You may feel extremely euphoric and then confused, deep in serious fantasy about your future together and then laughing your head off at a joke they tell you …
It’s a wild world out there, especially when you’re falling in love with someone.
QUIZ: “Does he like me?” Every woman has asked this question at least once about a guy. I’ve put together a fun quiz to help you figure out whether he likes you. Take my quiz here.
4. You’re full of physical desire that doesn’t go away
Of course you can be attracted to any person without it being love or even close to love. But when you’re in love you will feel strong physical desire and want to be around your love interest as much as possible.
The thought of his or her hair alone will light you up like a summer bonfire.
Your desire won’t wax and wane: you’ll be like a radio turned up to max at all times.
Play on, rockstar.
5. The movie of them is playing 24/7 in your head
When you like someone a little or go on a few dates you may think of the other person now and then or feel attraction at times. ‘Hey, they’re kind of hot.’
Love is an entirely different ballgame.
When you love someone there is a movie of them playing basically all the time in your head.
Their smile, their laugh. That cryptic thing they said. That movie they recommended.
This is because your serotonin is flooding your brain. Welcome to the show.
6. Things just seem to… work
Some love stories aren’t easy and are full of tragedy – come on we all know about Romeo and Juliet…
But one of the biggest signs you’re falling in love is when it just seems to … work out.
Your schedules align, you share similar values, your plans dovetail.
You don’t have to chase them and they don’t have to chase you.
You just want to spend time together and get to know everything about each other.
7. You trigger this instinct in him
What does a man want from a relationship?
Above all else men want to stand up and provide for and protect his partner. He wants to feel essential to her overall wellbeing.
This isn’t some old fashioned notion of chivalry but a real biological instinct…
There’s a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment. People are calling it the hero instinct.
Simply put, men want to be your hero. It’s a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to provide for the woman he cares about. And it’s a desire that goes beyond even love or sex.
The kicker is that if you don’t trigger this instinct in him, he will stay lukewarm towards you and eventually seek out someone who does.
The hero instinct is a legitimate concept in psychology that I personally believe has a lot of truth to it.
Let’s face it: Men and women are different. So, trying to treat your man like one of your friends is not going to work.
Deep inside, we crave different things…
Just like women generally have the urge to nurture those they really care about, men have the urge to provide and protect.
How do you trigger this instinct? And give him this sense of meaning and purpose?
If you want to learn more about the hero instinct, check out this free video by relationship psychologist James Bauer. He’s the one who first popularized this concept. And in this video, he offers several unique tips for triggering the hero instinct in your man.
Some ideas are life changing. And when it comes to relationships, I think this is one of them.
8. What does the future hold?
Are you sipping wine on a balcony in Paris or sitting on the back deck having a mug of cocoa on the ranch in Wyoming?
Either way, you see your guy or gal in that picture sitting right beside you.
You’re thinking of the future. And them. Together.
Caution: love ahead.
9. You care what they do
What this means is that the person you are thinking of is more than just someone you might be into or want to message sometimes.
It’s a person you feel sad when you’re not around, who you wonder what they’re doing at random times of the day, who you feel jealous about if they flirt with someone else …
Being jealous and possessive is not good, but recognizing that these emotions can come up and letting them go is a positive step …
It also means you might well be in love.
10. You want to understand them and be their biggest fan
When you’re in love you’re not a neutral bystander. You’re the love object’s biggest fan.
You want him or her to conquer the world. You want to understand what makes them tick … intimately.
You want to know about their childhood, their traumas, their triumphs.
You want it all: you’re not jumping on a bandwagon, you’re cheering for team love all the way to the finish line come hell or high water.
11. It’s a lot more than just physical
Physical intimacy is important and wonderful, but when you’re in love it’s about a lot more than just physical …
You’re thinking of profound conversations you had, the way the sun went down as you held each other close on that trip, the feeling you got when you realized nobody’s ever understood you this well or made you feel this way.
Sure, your body might have tingled: but it probably didn’t only buzz in all the usual places – it tingled in your heart.
12. You want them to meet your friends and family
When you love someone you want everyone to know it. You want your friends and family to meet that special someone.
You want them to get to know every corner of your life.
You’re ready to introduce them and let the chips fall where they may. You’re proud of your special someone and you want them to get to know the people who are most important to you as well.
13. You’re losing it
You (hopefully) are not actually going insane but you’re kind of losing it nonetheless.
Maybe you have the urge to recite a love poem in the middle of a crowded coffee shop, or present a bouquet of roses to your paramour at a busy subway station and high-five the guy next to you.
You are in love and your brain is not controlling everything you do anymore.
14. You love them even once the initial flame dies down
One of the biggest signs you’re in love and not just infatuation is that you still love and think about this person and care for them often even once the first big spark dies down.
You still want to spend time with them.
You still think of how beautiful they are and the special way you feel about them.
You love them.
15. You miss them for real
Another sign you might be dealing with more than a case of the likes is that you miss the person for real.
You don’t just say you do to get sex or try to boost your own feelings.
You say it and you mean it 100%.
When they’re gone you miss them. Your life is just brighter with them around even if you’re both just sitting by the lake feeding ducks.
“DOES HE LIKE ME?” QUIZ: If you don’t know whether a guy likes you, you need real and honest advice. My new quiz will help you figure it out. Take the quiz here.
16. You’re willing to compromise and see their point of view
You honestly want to see things from their points of view and even when you disagree you do so respectfully.
And you know your different point of view won’t be a dealbreaker.
Whether it’s scheduling, competing ideas where to move, or anything else you are willing to truly compromise and so are they.
That’s the recipe for love.
17. You change as a person
When you’re in love you will change as a person. Your interests may begin to gravitate more towards your new object of passion.
So will your thoughts and behaviors.
You are still you, of course, but you’re different, too.
This new person you are in love with will bring out new qualities in your personality you might not have even realized you had.
You’ll become a better and stronger person because of their love and help them do the same.
18. You can be yourself with no problem
When you’re really in love you won’t have the nagging feeling that you have to hide or downplay a part of your core identity.
You can be open about your feelings on religion, sex, politics or any other subject.
And even if you and your partner don’t agree you know it won’t change their fundamental attraction to you or their perception of you.
To truly be in love you have to know all of someone – no hiding.
19. You don’t feel insecure about your relationship
Anything can happen in life, we all know that.
This morning I was positive I had one bagel left but when I went to look in the cupboard it was gone. And I don’t have a roommate. But those are my problems – back to the topic.
When you’re truly in love with someone you don’t stress about whether they’re going to ditch you.
You don’t wonder all the time whether you’re both going to crash and burn. You’re living in the moment, imagining the future and glowing in their gaze.
20. You’re not distracted by other possible romances
Love is like a giant eraser. OK, that sounded more romantic in my head.
But what I mean is that when you fall in love then those you have dated or had relationships with in the past will no longer be on your mind.
Sure, you may occasionally think of an ex, but you won’t pine for them.
When you’re really in love you’ll feel so blessed to be with who you are and the thought of going back, trying again or having a do-over with someone from the past will not interest you at all.
21. Your ex is history
When you meet someone you like but don’t love you always think about the ways in which they’re not really as good as your ex.
Or at least the ways in which something is missing.
When you’re in love your ex is history.
Who was that person again? The one who broke your heart? Nowhere in sight.
As for a few key signs you’re not in love?
22. You don’t listen to what they say and you find them boring
Pretty self-explanatory here, right? You’re tuning out constantly and couldn’t care less what they say.
You just don’t want to listen and you find everything about them unappealing and boring. Yikes.
23. They don’t turn you on emotionally or physically
Again, not a good sign. It’s possible you’re just going through some personal issues and it’s really not them it’s you.
But it’s more likely you’re no longer in love or not in love in the first place.
24. You never compromise with them and don’t want to help them
This is a red warning light. When you only see your point of view and never want to help out you’re in an egoistic zone.
And the egoistic zone is not where love happens.
Even if you’re still very physically attracted or attached in other ways this kind of situation is a big warning sign that something is going very wrong.
25. You’re with them out of duty or expectation
This feeling is the worst. Hopefully, you’ve never had it and never will.
If you’re with someone because you’re expected to or just don’t want the hassle of a breakup but you know you’d be better off going your separate ways then you aren’t in love.
26. You constantly check out other people and fantasize about being in a different relationship
When you’re in love your attention is absorbed by your other half. When you’re not, your attention wanders.
If you find yourself checking out pretty strangers all the time and dreaming of chilling with them by the beach or being with them, then chances are that you’re not in love with the person you’re with.
27.You see something in them that others don’t.
When you are in love, you see the special qualities in a person that others overlook.
If you’ve ever looked at a couple that seem grossly mismatched, you’ll understand when you are in love that people see special things in one another that others don’t.
28. You only see the good things.
Even if someone has bad qualities, you aren’t able to see them. It’s not always a good thing, mind you, but it is a sign that you are in love.
The saying, “love is blind” is a real thing and is a tried and true way of knowing you are in love. If you find yourself saying, “yeah, but” to a concerned friend, it might be love.
29. You feel like you are all over the place.
Love makes you do wild things and you’ll be having all kinds of unexplained thoughts. Some good and some bad.
If you feel like you are all over the place and can’t focus, it’s a good sign that you are in love.
30. Nothing makes sense anymore.
What seemed really important to you just a few short weeks or days ago is going to feel really unimportant now that you are focused on your love.
Love provides us with clarity around what is important. You might find yourself changing the way you do things or show up because of how you are feeling.
31. You are wildly attracted to them.
Without a doubt, you want them more than anything.
You can’t stop thinking about them and how they make you feel. Intense attraction doesn’t last, but it is a very good sign that you are compatible and that you may love this person.
32. You feel like you need them.
Regardless of what you have going on in your life, if you love someone, you feel like you need them by your side.
For the good and the bad, the more this person can be around you and help you through things, the better off you’ll be. That’s love.
33. You feel a strong connection to them and you can’t explain it.
You don’t know where these feelings came from and you aren’t quite about to explain them, but you know something is going on between the two of you and you don’t want it to go away anytime soon.
This is because in your brain, you’re experiencing all these feel-good feelings from love which is enhancing the connection, according to neuroscientist Loretta G. Breuning:
“Love stimulates all of your happy chemicals at once. That’s why it feels so good.”
You are connected to them in a way that you’ve never felt.
However, these feelings may not last forever, according to Breuning:
“But our brain evolved to motivate reproduction, not to make you feel good all the time. That’s why the good feeling doesn’t last.”
34. You see yourself with them for the long-haul.
You are already planning your walk down the aisle and where you’ll spend your honeymoon.
Marisa T. Cohen, PhD, associate professor of psychology at St. Francis College says that when partners ask each other questions about the future, it shows “a certain level of intimacy”.
You imagine coming home from work and spending time on the weekends to relax with them. Love fills you with lots of hope for the future.
35. You are surprised that you even like them.
One funny characteristic of love is that we can’t control it. We haven’t yet figured out how to choose the people we fall in love with.
If you find yourself attracted to someone and you are surprised that you are attracted to them, it could be love. It takes us by storm and doesn’t let us have a say.
36. You can put yourself in their shoes.
Empathy is strengthen with the people you love. If you can understand someone’s pain and their happiness, it might be because you love them.
Of course, all of these signs alone are not enough to justify love, but combined, in any order, it’s a good indicator that this person has your attention and your heart more than you may realize.
Jonathan Bennett, a Dating/Relationship Coach, told Bustle, “If your partner possesses the ability to brighten your mood with a few words of praise when you need it most, it’s a great sign that he or she understands what makes you tick and appreciates your authentic self. This person is a definite keeper!”
37. You worry about losing them.
One of the most telling signs that you are in love is that you worry that you are going to lose this person.
Whether by chance or by choice, if you don’t have them in your life, you feel like you will just give up.
Love makes everything we feel more intense. If you worry they will walk away and you might screw things up between you, it’s love, darling.
38. You feel settled.
Finally, you’ll know you are in love if you feel like you don’t need to keep looking for someone else in your life.
You’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of your life with. There’s no need to think about “what if” anymore. You feel at home and at peace around this person. Love gives you confidence in yourself and your relationship.
39. You make him feel essential
Men thrive on solving women’s problems.
If your computer is acting up, or if you have a problem in life and you simply need some advice, then seek your guy to help out.
A man wants to feel essential to you. He wants to be the first person you turn to when you genuinely need help.
Although asking for his help may seem fairly innocuous, it actually helps to trigger something deep within him. Something that is crucial to a loving, long term relationship.
For a man, feeling essential is what often separates feelings of ‘like’ from ‘love’.
Don’t get me wrong, no doubt your guy loves your strength and abilities to be independent. But he still wants to feel wanted and useful — not dispensable
Simply put, men have a biological drive to feel needed, to feel important, and to protect the woman he cares about.
Relationship psychologist James Bauer calls it the hero instinct. I talked about this concept above.
As James argues, male desires are not complicated, just misunderstood. Instincts are powerful drivers of human behavior and this is especially true for how men approach their relationships.
So, when the hero instinct isn’t triggered, men are unlikely to commit to a relationship with any woman.
He holds back because being in a relationship is a serious investment for him. And he won’t fully “invest” in your relationship unless you give him a sense of meaning and purpose and make him feel essential.
Triggering this instinct doesn’t require you to pretend to be anyone you’re not or play the “damsel in distress”. You don’t have to dilute your strength or independence in any way, shape or form.
In an authentic way, you simply have to show your man what you need and allow him to step up to fulfill it.
In his new video, James Bauer outlines several things you can do. He reveals phrases, texts and little requests that you can use right now to make him feel more essential to you.
By triggering this very natural male instinct, you’ll not only give him greater satisfaction but it will also help to rocket your relationship to the next level.
40. You can’t take your eyes off of them.
When you love someone, you literally can’t take your eyes off them. You find every excuse in the book to look at them.
According to Jack Schafer Ph.D. in Psychology Today, people look at people they like and avoid people they don’t like.
You want to just look and wonder at them. You’ll find yourself wondering, “how did I get so lucky?”
There might be a room full of people staring at you, but you’ll be staring at your love. It’s so interesting how much you’ll miss around you when you fall in love.
You only have eyes for them, as the saying goes. And there’s a reason why that cliche has stuck: it’s true.
41. You can’t focus.
An interesting side effect of love, and one of the ways you can tell that you are, in fact, in love, is that you can’t focus.
You are making silly mistakes, dropping coffee, feeling giddy, and can’t seem to get out of your own way.
Love makes us all a little unraveled from time to time, but if you are feeling like you can’t get it together when you are around your love interest, it’s probably because your brain is hyperfocused on them.
According to biological anthropologist Helen Fisher:
“I began to realize that romantic love is not an emotion. In fact, I had always thought it was a series of emotions, from very high to very low. But actually, it’s a drive. It comes from the motor of the mind, the wanting part of the mind, the craving part of the mind. The kind of part of the mind when you’re reaching for that piece of chocolate, when you want to win that promotion at work. The motor of the brain. It’s a drive.”
If you can’t get your life together after meeting someone who makes you feel like you are floating on air, it’s love. Congratulations.
42. You are always thinking about them.
Another tried and true sign that you are in love is that you cannot, no matter how hard you try, stop thinking about them. Every little thing reminds you of them.
The food you eat, the socks you wear, the shows you watch – all of it has a way of bringing you back to the one who has your heart.
According to a study by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, “there’s a good reason to suspect that romantic love is kept alive by something basic to our biological nature.”
“But the main characteristics of romantic love are craving: an intense craving to be with a particular person, not just sexually, but emotionally. It would be nice to go to bed with them, but you want them to call you on the telephone, to invite you out, etc., to tell you that they love you.”
It’s overwhelming, isn’t it?
When you realize that you might be in love. What do you do with that information?
Your brain has plenty to keep itself busy with thoughts of “what if” and your love interest. You can’t be responsible for living a normal life after this. You are in love!
43. You want nothing but the best for them.
Interestingly enough, a lot of people who are in love will tell you that they love their partner so much that they want them to be happy – even if it’s not with them.
It might seem backwards to say that you want your love interest to be happy with someone else, but it’s a mighty sign that you are really in love.
Being in love means wanting nothing but the best for someone and doing whatever you can to help them be their best.
If that means they need to be with someone else to be happy, so be it. It sucks, totally. And if that doesn’t make sense, it might not be love.
44. You feel irritable and don’t know why.
Because our bodies and brains are freaking out at the prospect of love, you are not going to have a lot of brain power and energy to dedicate to other things for a while.
This means you might find yourself being short with those around you. Getting irritated that things are just so or perfect as you imagined them is a great sign that you’re in love.
You want things to be just right and although that’s pretty impossible to attain, it doesn’t stop your brain from doing all it can to shake things up and make you feel like you are annoyed or irritated with people.
Often, we project our feelings in different ways. If your love interest is suddenly annoying you, it’s because your brain is afraid of the love you have and wants to try to reduce it.
Pay attention to these underhanded signs from your own body.
45. You feel like you can get through anything together.
When you are in love, you feel like you are on top of the world. Even bad news has a way of being good news because you get to spend time with your love.
Together, you are better than when you are apart and that makes you feel like you can take on anything.
Wondering if you are in love? Do you see yourself coming home to this person to rant and rave about the day you just had? Do you imagine running to them when things are hard at work? That’s love.
46. You don’t want to screw this up.
Finally, if you are thinking you might be in love but aren’t sure, there’s a surefire way to know. If you worry that you might be screwing up your relationship or driving your partner away, it’s love.
We worry that the good things in our lives are going to up and leave us and it’s hard not to place that blame on ourselves.
Be careful you don’t create a self-fulfilling proficiency though. Pay attention to your thoughts about losing them and make sure you show up to keep them in your life instead of driving them away.
47. You get jealous when they’re speaking to someone else
You can’t help but feel jealous when they are talking to someone else who might be a romantic competitor.
Relationship expert Dr. Terri Orbuch says:
“Jealousy is among the most human of all emotions. You feel jealous when you think you are going to lose a relationship you really value.”
Even in large groups, you’re probably going out of your way to make sure you’re close to them.
Marriage therapist Kimberly Hershenson says:
“They don’t want to talk to anyone else. If they were around you the entire time and didn’t bother to meet other people or strike up a conversation with anyone else, it’s a sign they think you’re special.”
You might not even realize it yourself, but your actions speak louder than words.
48. The truth about love
The truth about love is that all of us are different. Nonetheless we all have experiences and emotions in common that tie us together on this human journey.
Are you in love is not an easy question to answer and – even if you are now certain you are – love will always be a risk.
But it’s a risk worth taking.
Love can be beautiful and transformational.
Think about the signs that you’re in love above and really answer honestly.
If you take it slow and stay true to yourself without becoming dependent on someone else for your happiness you can set forth on a path together that leads to wonderful days ahead.
After writing about relationships on Hack Spirit for many years, I think many women overlook one crucial ingredient to relationship success:
Understanding how men think.
Getting a guy to open up and tell you what he’s really feeling can feel like an impossible task. Especially if you guys are apart in a long-distance relationship. And this can make building a loving relationship extremely difficult.
Let’s face it: Men see the world differently to you.
This can make a deep passionate romantic relationship—something that men actually want deep down as well—difficult to achieve.
In my experience, the missing link in any relationship is never sex, communication or going on romantic dates. All these things are important, but they are rarely deal breakers when it comes to the success of a relationship.
The missing link is actually understanding what drives men.
After 12 years as a private therapist, relationship psychologist James Bauer is now a best-selling author and sought after relationship coach. And in his new video, he shows you what makes men tick romantically—and the type of women they fall in love with.
James also reveals a relationship “secret ingredient” few women know about which holds the key to a man’s love and devotion.