Love. It’s the basis of many novels, films, and songs. It can make us crazy, in both good ways and bad.
We grow up with ideas of love from the films we watch, and as enjoyable as romantic movies are, they aren’t always the most realist.
So for many of us, knowing what real love feels like is a complete mystery.
We spend a good portion of our lives searching for love, hearing about love, seeing love around us, and finally wondering whether we are in love when we are in a relationship.
Sometimes we think we’re in love…and then once the relationship ends we doubt whether it was ever even love in the first place. It can be hard to see the difference between infatuation, or lust, and love.
For something which is so ingrained in our lives, it’s also one of the least understood feelings.
There are plenty of scientific explanations for some of the emotions we feel when we’re in love, but not many that can actually explain the truth depth of this feeling.
In this article we’ll look at the different signs that signal what love feels like, and we’ll also explore the difference between love and lust.
What does love feel like? 27 signs to look out for
1. They feel like home
Home can be much more than just a physical place, you can feel it in people too. When you are really in love, that person can make you feel a number of emotions, such as:
- Comfortable when around them
- Secure in your relationship
- Content and relaxed
When we think of a happy home, it includes all those feelings, because after all, home is where the heart is.
No matter where you go in the world, home will always be the place you look forward to returning to, and the same goes for someone who you are in love with.
Being in love will make you naturally more attached to that person, so you can often find yourself looking for support and reassurance from them.
2. You feel an intense connection
When in love, you often feel like your life, emotions, and dreams are entwined. You feel like you know and understand that person, and the empathy you feel towards them is far greater than to those who you don’t love.
As described by MBGRelationships:
“An emotional connection is a feeling of alignment and intimacy between two people that goes beyond just physical attraction, having fun together, surface-level conversations, or even intellectual similarities. Instead, it feels like you’re connecting on a deeper soul level—and feel secure connecting that deeply.”
This is one of the reasons why we give second (and third, fourth and fifth) chances to the ones we love.
We feel something deep inside us which can sometimes be so confusing and strong, as it rises above any superficial feelings.
3. Love brings out this instinct in men
Does your man protect you? Not just from physical harm, but does he make sure you’re okay when anything negative arises?
This is a definite sign of love.
There’s actually a fascinating new concept in relationship psychology that’s generating a lot of buzz at the moment. It goes to the heart of the riddle about why men fall in love—and who they fall in love with.
The theory claims that men want to feel like a hero. That they want to step up to the plate for the woman in their lives and protect her.
This is deeply rooted in male biology.
People are calling it the hero instinct. We wrote a detailed primer about the concept which you can read here.
If you can make your guy feel like a hero, it unleashes his protective instincts and the most noble aspect of his masculinity. Most importantly, it will unleash his deepest feelings of attraction towards you.
Because a man wants to see himself as a protector. As someone a woman genuinely wants and needs to have around. Not as an accessory, ‘best friend’, or ‘partner in crime’.
I know this might sound a bit silly. In this day and age, women don’t need someone to rescue them. They don’t need a ‘hero’ in their lives.
And I couldn’t agree more.
But here’s the ironic truth. Men do still need to be a hero. Because it’s built into our DNA to seek out relationships that allow us to feel like one.
If you would like to learn more about the hero instinct, check out this free online video by the relationship psychologist who coined the term.
Some ideas are game-changers. And for relationships, I think this is one of them.
4. You can’t stand the thought of them being hurt
When you truly love someone, just the very idea of them being hurt, physically or emotionally, makes you feel upset and stressed.
Whilst your happiness shouldn’t depend solely on them, you can’t help but feel your emotions are linked to each other. If they experience hardships, you feel as though it’s happening to you as well.
And, the idea of you hurting them can be especially upsetting. You know you wouldn’t be able to live with the guilt and hurt, so even picturing a situation where you hurt them can feel like you’re in a bad dream.
5. You feel a rollercoaster of emotions
The cliche that you feel euphoria, happiness and overwhelming joy can be true when you’re in love, but in reality you’ll probably experience a mix of emotions.
You might feel vulnerable, scared or confused, especially if you’ve been hurt in the past or have never been in love before.
Love has the ability to make you feel on top of the world, but it can also feel like you’re losing control to something bigger than yourself.
Suddenly, you become aware that if you ever lose that person, your life might change significantly, so it’s natural to feel a roller coaster of feelings and emotions.
6. You miss them
When you’re in love, you just can’t get enough of them. Even after years of being together, their absence leaves you feeling like a part of you is missing.
It’s healthy to spend time apart and have personal time, but when you’re in love, you won’t be able to help looking forward to seeing them again.
Tiffany Henson explains the science behind missing someone for Odyssey:
“If your body is used to producing all of those chemicals, and processing them quickly, can you imagine what happens when you leave the person that causes it? In short, withdrawal happens. Your body stops producing an abundance of serotonin, oxytocin, etc.”
The good news is, there’s nothing you can do about it because it’s all chemical. The bad news is that it can make you feel miserable.
7. You happily prioritize them in your life
Prioritizing someone in your life is a big step to take. There’s a lot of people that we meet in our lives who don’t always deserve to be a priority, so if you start making room for someone in your life, it’s because you have strong feelings for them.
Prioritizing someone can mean things like:
Putting their happiness and welfare above your own
Making time for them even if you’re busy
Making sacrifices to help them when they need it
Always being considerate of their needs and feelings
When we think of the unconditional love a mother has for her children, she will always make them her priority. The same goes for romantic love, because ultimately you want what’s best for that special person.
8. You dream of a future with them
When you like someone, it’s easy and comfortable to make short term plans, but being in love is a whole different ball game.
Even if you don’t want to, you can’t help but daydream of what a future together would look like. Let’s face it, when you’re head over heels in love, you can’t even imagine being with someone else.
Whether it makes you happy and excited, or uncomfortable and nervous, planning a future with someone is a sure sign that you’re in love.
9. You tend to focus on their positives and overlook their flaws
We all have flaws, but being in love can sometimes make us downplay their shortcomings and focus only on their good qualities.
The popular saying ‘love is blind’ may be overused in films and songs, but it definitely has an element of truth to it.
As Aaron Ben-Zeév writes for Psychology Today:
“Lovers do not see clearly, if at all, their beloved’s negative traits and tend to create an idealized image of the beloved. One reason for idealizing the beloved is that we tend to evaluate positively that which we desire. Our inclination toward something often leads to its positive evaluation.”
But that’s not to say we won’t ever notice their flaws. As time goes on, this illusion of perfection can fade away and their flaws become more noticeable.
When you’re in true love though, you will notice and accept these small flaws and continue to focus on the positives.
10. You feel safe and secure around them
In life, we all crave (and need) certain things, like being safe, secure and stable with another person.
When you’re in love, you should feel safe around that person, both emotionally and physically.
You should feel secure enough to speak your mind, be yourself and not feel judged by that person.
John Amodeo ,a writer for PsychCentral, says, “feeling emotionally safe means feeling internally relaxed with a person. We feel free to let down our guard and show our authentic self, including our hurts, fears, and longings.”
11. You feel ‘caught up’ in love
Feeling caught up, or in other words, consumed, is a typical feeling when you’re in love.
Taking into account the previous nine points, it’s an incredibly large amount of feelings, emotions and expectations to go through, and a lot of it is out of your control.
You might find yourself feeling overwhelmed, even obsessed, when all you think about is that person.
This is normal, and as Deborah Khoshaba explains it for Psychology Today:
“Your new love life may consume your energy, focus, and time to the point where everything else going on in your life may feel like a rude intrusion. You can’t stop thinking about your lover.”
This can fade the longer a relationship lasts, but it when you’re in love, that person’s role in your life will continue to be very important to your emotional wellbeing.
So rather than feel stressed by these feelings, it’s best to accept and adapt around them. And remember, it gets easier with time.
12. Love feels unique to every one
As said above, love means different things to different people. Therefore, we also experience it and feel it in unique ways.
Some people say love is about the feeling of excitement and passion when you’re with your partner.
Someone else will say it’s about the unquestioned trust, honesty, and comfort that comes with having a long-term relationship.
13. When we talk about actual feelings, it could be several
There isn’t a singular emotion of love.
For example, some people will describe love as intense and passionate, yet others describe it as peaceful and comfortable.
In other words, love can feel like several different emotions, even at once.
14. It usually begins as an intense feeling of joy
When you initially fall in love, most people are very happy and passionate.
“Love stimulates all of your happy chemicals at once. That’s why it feels so good.”
Yep, in the brain, love is a cocktail of feel-good chemicals: dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, endorphin.
At least that occurs initially.
“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.”
So to understand how love feels, let’s go through each chemical in the brain it stimulates and how it will make you feel:
Recommended reading: What are the 4 bases of love? Here’s everything you need to know
15. Dopamine is released in the brain
Dopamine is a brain chemical that it released to alert us that our needs are about to be met.
When a baby hears his/her Mother’s footsteps, dopamine is released through the brain.
When you finally kiss that girl or guy you’ve been chasing, dopamine is activated.
When you believe you’ve finally found “the one” dopamine is activated in droves.
Dopamine is basically responsible for the head-over-heels, elated part of love.
According to University Health News, dopamine is associated with feelings of euphoria, bliss, motivation, and concentration.
So if you’ve found your love, you might feel extremely happy and blessed to be with them. You’ll also be motivated to keep the bond alive.
Also, it’s important to note that phenylethylamine or PEA is a chemical in the brain that causes the release of dopamine.
This chemical is also released when you begin falling in love in the early stages. It is a stimulant and can give you a pounding heart and sweaty palms.
Also, these chemicals (dopamine and PEA) can make you feel great in the early stages of love, but according to Thought Co, they can also make you feel anxious and obsessive.
Dopamine is responsible for the initial elated part of love and can make you feel euphoria and bliss when you’re with your lover, a pounding heart, sweaty palms, and even obsessiveness and anxiety.
16. Oxytocin is released in the brain
This is a brain chemical that is stimulated by touch and trust, according to Psychology Today. This chemical can erupt from holding hands, hugging and being comforted to orgasm.
When you’re in a loving relationship, oxytocin builds up a circuit, so it’s easily triggered.
For example, an elderly couple will experience a flood of oxytocin when they hold hands.
For a lot of people, love is about trust and comfort, so oxytocin is certainly a big factor in producing those feel-good feelings.
Funny enough, oxytocin is also called “the cuddle hormone”. This chemical is also released in droves when a Mother is in labor and breastfeeding.
What does oxytocin feel like?
Perhaps the best feeling to describe this brain chemical, according to Science Daily, is feeling warm and fuzzy.
Feeling warm, fuzzy and comforted is also a common way people describe being in love.
Oxytocin is released mostly through touch and gives us the warm, fuzzy feeling of comfort and trust that likely exists throughout the whole duration of a relationship.
17. Serotonin is released in the brain
It may seem a little “fake,” but throughout the animal kingdom higher status social groups have more reproductive success.
Your brain rewards you with the feel-good chemical serotonin when you seek status.
However, keep in mind that human beings are complex animals and status can be seen in many different ways.
It could be money, success, kindness, authenticity, social skill, physical fitness, or a whole host of reasons.
And while you may not want to believe it, the fact of the matter is this:
When you receive affection from an individual that is considered “desirable” serotonin will be triggered in the brain.
And when your partner receives admiration from others, that will trigger serotonin, too.
Relying on serotonin release can also trigger dependence on another person, as well.
How does serotonin feel? Great!
Having high levels of serotonin are associated with feeling positive, happy, confident and flexible.
Low levels of serotonin can have you feeling negative, worried or irritable.
Being involved in a happy and stable relationship where you desire being with your partner will contribute to your serotonin level throughout your relationship.
However, keep in mind that serotonin levels are influenced by many different things that do not include your relationship.
Serotonin is released when we’re happy, stable and positive about our relationship, and gives us that stable and solid-state. Serotonin may also be responsible for obsessiveness and anxiety in a relationship.
18. Endorphins is released in the brain
We all know endorphins give you a high. But did you also know that it is stimulated from physical pain?
Endorphins play a key role in long-term relationships. They are released during physical contact and sex.
Interestingly, according to Bustle, endorphins become more prominent around 18 months to 4 years into a relationship.
Because this is the stage where the brain stops relying on love stimulants like dopamine, and instead rely on chemicals oxytocin and endorphins for relationship pleasure.
According to Mind Health, the brain chemical oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are crucial to help two people stay connected.
Because endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin are associated with feelings of attachment and comfort.
Endorphins calm anxiety, relieve pain and reduce stress. This is why you may feel calmed and comforted by the presence of your partner.
To find out if you’re in love, check out these signs that you may be experiencing:
19. You can’t keep your eyes off them
Whether there’s a handful of people or hundreds of people, it doesn’t matter, you can’t keep your eyes off of your love.
You have eyes only for them and you want to see more of them. You don’t just see the beauty on the outside, you see what makes them beautiful inside too.
According to Jack Schafer Ph.D. in Psychology Today, people look at people they like and avoid people they don’t like.
He says that elevated oxytocin levels increase mutual eye gaze and provide a sense of wellbeing and increased mutual attraction.
20. You feel like you are floating
If you are in love, you’ll go through life feeling like your feet never touch the ground.
Some say you’ll feel like you are high or in a dream – whatever you call it, you’ll feel it as you move through your day. It will feel amazing.
A study from the Kindsey Institute discovered that the brain of a person falling in love looks the same as the brain of a person who has taken cocaine. This is thanks to dopamine.
21. It hurts when you fight
If your partner hurts your feelings, it will cut like a knife.
Everything they say impacts you. If you’ve been hurt, you’ll feel like that disappointment will never end. That’s love. You just want everything to be good all the time.
According to Live Science, “people in love regularly exhibit signs of emotional dependency on their relationship, including possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety.
22. You can’t focus
Love can make you feel off your game and it can be hard to focus on the things you need to do.
Whether you are at work or you are on the beach, if you are in love, you’ll have a hard time listening to others, getting things done, and following a regular schedule.
You’ll be counting the minutes until you are together again.
23. You’re always thinking about them
Love not only blinds you to the rest of the world, it also fills your brain with lots of amazing thoughts and keeps you from getting to the thing that need to be done. You are always thinking about your love.
In the book “The Anatomy of Love,” by biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, she says that “thoughts of the ‘love object’ begin to invade your mind. …You wonder what your beloved would think of the book you are reading, the movie you just saw, or the problem you are facing at the office.”
24. You want nothing but the best for them
Love is a funny thing.
If you love someone, you want amazing things for them. If you need a surefire way to tell if you are in love, ask yourself if you’d be happy for them if they decided to be with someone else.
Sure, you’d be sad to lose them but when you love someone, you know you need to let them go if they aren’t happy with you.
25. You are willing to try new things
Love makes you do all kinds of crazy things, but it also makes you more open to the things you were keeping at bay before.
You might find yourself skydiving or trying new food. There’s no rhyme or reason to your decision-making when you are in love.
In fact, a study suggested that people who claimed that they were in love had varied interests and personality traits after those relationships. This is because they were open to trying new things with their partner.
26. You feel on edge
When your brain is filled with a distraction from love you can feel on edge because you can’t concentrate.
This will not only be difficult to manage the day-to-day of your life, but you might find yourself getting really frustrated with your lack of focus. That’s what love does to you.
Yep, falling in love can cause you to get the jitters! While it’s certainly true that love can make you feel great in the early stages of love, but according to Thought Co, they can also make you feel anxious and obsessive.
27. You feel connected to them.
Love means you can sit in silence and not have to fill up every minute of the day with conversation or activity. When you are in love, you appreciate one another’s company and don’t need more than just to be together.
According to Live Science, when you’re in love, you begin to think your beloved is unique. This belief is also coupled with an inability to feel a romantic passion for anyone else.
If Your Love Isn’t Mutual? Here’s What To Do…
Nothing sucks more than unrequited love. It feels like all of your energy and potential have been snuffed out. It’s tempting to wallow in your sorrow and give up on them.
However, you should fight this instinct and instead remind yourself that your love is born from a pure and special place. And if the person is worth fighting for… then fight for them.
Especially for women, if he doesn’t feel the same way or is acting lukewarm towards you, then you must get inside his head and understand why.
Because if you love them, it’s up to you to dig a bit deeper and figure out why he’s hesitant to return serve.
In my experience, the missing link in any relationship is never sex, communication or a lack of 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 this:
You actually have to understand what your guy needs from a relationship.
Men need this one thing
James Bauer is one of the world’s leading relationship experts.
In his new video, he reveals a new concept which brilliantly explains what really drives men in relationships. He calls it the hero instinct. I talked about this concept above.
Simply put, men want to be your hero. Not necessarily an action hero like Thor, but he does want to step up to the plate for the woman in his life and be appreciated for his efforts.
The hero instinct is probably the best kept secret in relationship psychology. And I think it holds the key to a man’s love and devotion for life.
My friend and Hack Spirit writer Pearl Nash was the person who first introduced the hero instinct to me. Since then I’ve written extensively about the concept on Hack Spirit.
For many women, learning about the hero instinct was their “aha moment”. It was for Pearl Nash. You can read her personal story here about how triggering the hero instinct helped her turn around a lifetime of relationship failure.
So, what is love?
According to ancient Greeks, love is “the madness of the gods.”
Western psychologists define it as an “emotional union” with another person.
But to be honest, ask anyone and they’ll probably give you a different definition of what love means.
So what is love?
Well, for this we can turn to Biological Anthropologist Helen Fisher. She says there are three basic brain systems that evolved for relationships and reproduction:
1) Sex drive: Sexual desire evolved to seek mating partners. Sexual attraction doesn’t necessarily have to be focused on one individual. It can be focused on many individuals at the same time.
2) Romantic attraction: This is a romantic attraction focused on one person. You could say it’s “deeper” than sex drive. This type of thinking has evolved to enable you to focus on one individual to build a relationship with them.
3) Attachment, or creating a deep connection with one partner: This feeling of deep union evolved so that you can be with someone long enough to raise a single child through infancy together.
According to Fisher, these three brain systems work together to create many different forms of love.
Interestingly, Fisher’s studies suggest that “attraction love” tends to last from 6 months to 2 years before it turns into “attachment love”.
But if you’re looking for a more simple definition of love, you can’t go past Google’s definition:
“An intense feeling of deep affection.”
Simple, but sounds about right.
Love is a complex emotion that triggers different chemicals in the brain at different stages in the relationship.
Dopamine is associated with the beginning of the relationship, where the relationship is passionate, fun and in its early stages.
From there, the brain chemical oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins are crucial to helping two people stay connected as they are associated with feelings of attachment and comfort.
You may also like reading:
- The strangest thing men desire (And how it can make him crazy for you)
- The Hero Instinct: How Can You Trigger It In Your Man?
- What makes an average guy instantly become “hot”?