Falling in love is one of the most defining, exciting, amazing and terrifying moments in someone’s life. When you are in love, you are filled with a host of feelings that range from rewarding and thrilling to scary and nerve-racking. Falling in love can be an intoxicating and fearful moment because, for the most part, it is totally out of your control. Once you are in love with someone, you feel like life never had the same meaning before that moment.
Interestingly, a groundbreaking study on how people fall in love, named ‘The Neuroimaging of Love’, revealed that falling in love can actually elicit the same euphoric feeling as using cocaine. Stephanie Ortigue from Syracuse University found that falling in love takes only a fifth of a second and that ‘when a person falls in love, 12 areas of the brain work in tandem to release euphoria-inducing chemicals such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression.’ (Syracuse University)
Everyone experiences love in different ways and at different times. There is also no timeframe of how long after you have been with someone you should feel like you love them. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University supports that ‘the brain’s “in love” phase is a unique and well-defined period of time’. Although there is no textbook on how love feels like, scientists have pinned down some vital and undeniable signs that you have, actually, fallen in love.
1. You focus on positive traits. People who are truly in love tend to concentrate on all the good qualities of their loved one. Although they might see them as ‘perfect’, they are well aware that they are not. They choose, however, to overlook their negative traits and appreciate and admire everything that is good about them.
‘They also focus on trivial events and objects that remind them of their loved one, day-dreaming about these precious little moments and mementos. This focused attention is also thought to result from elevated levels of central dopamine, as well as a spike in central norepinephrine, a chemical associated with increased memory in the presence of new stimuli.’ (LiveScience)
You know you’re falling when time goes by in fast forward and you desperately wish there was a pause button on life so you could be with them forever, frozen in a perfect moment.
2. You want to spend all of your time together. People in love, exhibit signs of emotional dependency in their relationships. These signs can include possessiveness, jealousy, separation anxiety and fear of being rejected. They want to see and be with other and give little importance on the actual activity as long as they are together. Even going for a walk, talking on the phone or simply spending time watching tv sounds like the perfect night in.
3. The first person you think about. Your loved one will be the first person you think when you wake up in the morning and the last one before you sleep. When you feel happy you will want to share that with him/her and when you feel sad or down you will seek that person for comfort and support.
Your ‘love subject’ will always be on your mind throughout the day regardless on what emotional state you are in. Especially when the initial stomach butterflies stage has past and you still find yourself thinking about that specific person very often, then the relationship has deepened and formed a more secure bond.
You know you’re falling when you forget you’re hungry and all you can think about is how amazing the other person is.
when you can sit in silence with the other person and feel like it’s the best conversation that you’ve ever had.
4. Addicted to love. Love changes the way the brain functions. People who are in love report spending more that 85 percent of their waking hours pondering over their loved one. Decreased levels of central serotonin in the brain which results from this kind of ‘intrusive thinking’ has been previously linked to obsessive behaviour. ‘As a relationship progresses into a long-term partnership, thinking about the partner activates the reward centers as well as brain areas implicated in attachment, but less so obsessive thinking’, (Acevedo, Aron, Fisher, & Brown, 2011).
How much people miss each other tends to correspond with how committed they are to the relationship (Le, 2008), so, if you feel like you miss your loved one all the time, you are definitely falling for him.
5. It’s not about sex. You will enjoy every sexual activity with your partner and it will be an important part of your relationship. However, when in love, the desire to be intimate fades before the need for emotional union. As the emotional depth of the relationship increases, so will making love to your partner become a vital piece of the closeness between you.
6. You experience mood swings. Love is an amazing feeling which often brings about emotional and physiological instability. You go from sleeplessness, accelerated breathing, exhilaration and increased energy to loss of appetite, trembling, panic and feelings of anxiety and despair when your relationship faces the smallest of problems. Researchers believe that being in love is a form of addiction. Indeed, ‘when in-live people are shown pictures of their loved ones, it fires up the same regions of the brain that activate when a drug addict takes a hit.’ (LiveScience)
Like versus Love
Responsible. Admitting your mistakes instead of pointing fingers as to who started what shows great maturity in the relationship
Unselfish. Putting your significant other’s needs and feelings before your own shows how much your care.
Constant. Though love does have it’s occasional rough patches, love will always bounce back to its original state of happiness
Comfortable. You may find yourself exhibiting habits that you only would show in front of your best friends (ie: dressing sloppily, stuffing your face food, and even showing your emotional sides)
Like may be:
More Shy. You might not feel comfortable talking about your feelings and thoughts that run through your mind because you might be afraid that they might judge you and not like you as much anymore
Misunderstanding. If someone texts you or calls you when they’re not supposed to, you might point fingers as to whose fault it was and you may argue for a little bit thinking that whoever was wrong should apologize. (ReachOut)
Then there’s love, which is much deeper, much different. It’s a thing of beauty. The way love is relaxed, yet still full of passion; similar to those emotions felt when you first met that person. It’s no longer about gaining the upper hand. There’s no not calling her because she hasn’t texted you or flirting with someone to garner more attention. Love will eliminate the imbalances and different degrees of feelings seen during like.
It’s unconditional or bust. You can’t kind of love a person and they can’t sort of love you. You just love each other wholeheartedly, which is so much easier. Everything can be removed from the bag of blemishes, all the gas can be passed and nothing changes. Now that’s a thing of beauty. It may not smell so good, but it’s certainly a beautiful thing to see. (ThoughtCatalog)
7. You think of the future. When you are in love with someone, it is very hard to imagine a future without that person. You make long term plans, and think of ways to build a life together. And although ‘permanent’ relationship goals might feel a bit scary, you can’t help but give in to such temptations.
8. You are willing to let your loved one go. True love allows people their freedom. If you really love someone you care about their own personal happiness and are able to not let your own feelings stand in the way of that. Love doesn’t hold tightly on people and crush their wings in an attempt to keep them. If you truly love someone you will be able to set them free if that is what they want. Love includes letting go.
9. It is not about you anymore. When you are in love, the other person’s happiness becomes more important that your own. You care about them in a way that exceeds any other feeling you have had in the past for anyone else. When your partner feels tired or stressed, you find ways to help them through it. If he/she is sick, you are out getting medication for them and soup ingredients.
You’re falling when you trust them enough to tell them your deepest, darkest secret, and you know they won’t run away. You feel comfortable enough to be at your most vulnerable, and you know they will try and protect you from your demons and fears.
You find yourself prioritizing our partners well being over many other things and feeling the need to be there for them and support them through anything. Because when your loved one is happy, cheerful and laughing, there is no better feeling in the world.
10. You just…know. When you are in love, everything is different. You find yourself being more patient and understanding. feel more at home with your loved one than you’ve ever felt in your entire life. You love all your partners imperfections and you feel comfortable expressing any kind of feeling you might have without fearing that it will affect the way they feel about you. You never get bored of listening to them talk and you never grow tired of their company. Although you have moments of insecurity and doubt, their reassurance makes it all ok again.
When you do fight, you try to find ways of calming your partner down and making up. You wake up happy just because you ll get to see them that day and you realize they look cuter when they are sleep and that is not creepy. Seeing them smile feels like you won the jackpot.
When you fall in love with someone, you’ll know. All of these things can be signs, but the moment you realize you actually love the other person, you will feel like you never had ever before. It hits you like a ton of bricks. It knocks the air out of your lungs. And it’s the best feeling in the world.