Relationship

How do you know you love someone

Everyone has been in this situation before... You're with someone and it feels like they are the one. But how can you be sure? Here is a guide to find out if your relationship is going to last!

David Hall & Janet Smith November 10, 2022 • 21 minutes read
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Does he love me? She loves me not. The ages-old dilemma that poets and songwriters have been addressing for centuries. And while we can all attest to that lovesick, head-over-heels feeling at the beginning of a relationship, how do you know when you’re truly and madly in love?

Ask anyone who’s been in love and they’ll likely tell you it’s the most amazing, all-consuming emotion they’ve ever experienced. It’s exciting, passionate, and empowering. Love gives you butterflies in your stomach, makes your heart race, and fills you with hope for the future. And it strikes everyone at least once in their lifetime.[1]

Romantic love has positive effects on individuals and society as a whole. Love is linked with positive emotions like euphoria, [2] and romantic relationships are known to increase happiness and life satisfaction.[3]

But love can also be sad and stressful, especially when things aren’t going well.[4] And when love ends, it can be devastating, depressive, [5] and decrease life satisfaction.[6]

So how do you know if you’re really in love? How can you be sure this feeling will last, and that you’re not just infatuated? In this article, we’ll define love and explore how to know if you’re truly in love.

What is love?

Described as the tendency to think, feel, and behave positively towards someone special, love can have different meanings to different people. [7] Many researchers have tried to explain love by focusing on its functions or purpose. Robert Sternberg, for example, proposed that love is a combination of three separate components: intimacy, passion, and commitment.[8]

Figuring out your partner’s love language can help you have a more meaningful and lasting relationship. This comprehensive guide will show you how.

Love was given its first scientific definition in 1978 by Walster and Walster, calling it passionate love or, “a state of longing for union with another.”[9] This type of love is a combination of feelings, expressions, and behaviors, and is often associated with fulfillment and satisfaction when reciprocated, and anxiety and despair when not.[10]

Neurobiology also plays a role in love. Research that looked at people who were deeply in love found that the brain systems associated with reward, motivation, and stress were all activated.[11] In other words, love is both exhilarating and stressful, and can have physical effects on our bodies.

Certain hormones are also associated with love and attachment. Some of which you might already be familiar with, like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin.[12] Oxytocin is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone,” as it’s released during positive social interactions, like physical intimacy and hugging. Dopamine is a “reward” hormone that’s associated with pleasure, and serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.

When these hormones are released at elevated levels, they can produce physical and emotional effects, like increased heart rate, loss of appetite, and increased anxiety. You might also experience some physical symptoms, like sweaty palms, racing heart, or butterflies in your stomach.[13]

Though love can be physical, it’s more than just a hormone response. A more recent definition of love comes from Fletcher, Simpson, Campbell, and Overall, who, instead of providing a series of sentences to describe love, proposed a working definition of love based on decades of psychological research and summarized five distinct features of romantic love: [14]

  1. It is a powerful commitment device, and a combination of caregiving, passion, and intimacy;
  2. It is universal and is reflected across all cultures;
  3. It puts an end to the effort and attention given to other people outside of the relationship;
  4. It has distinct emotional, behavioral, hormonal, and neuropsychological features; and
  5. When successful, is linked with better health and better survival for adults and offspring

If you’ve ever been in love, you’ll likely recognize some of these features. You might also even say love is something that you can’t control or explain.[2] Love is something you feel deep in your soul, a feeling that’s as much a part of you as your sense of smell or the color of your eyes.

Others may see love as a choice, something that you actively decide to do.[15] After all, love requires effort and attention, and we don’t always feel loving toward our partners, especially when they’ve done something to upset us. But even in those moments, love is still a choice.

Unsure of how to tell your man you love him? These steps will show you the way!

Stages of love

When it comes to love, there are different stages that one may typically go through. Depending on which angle you look at it from, there can be three, four, or even more stages to love.[16]

Of course, love can exist in a continuum, with some couples never making it past the first stage, while others may move through all stages several times throughout their relationship.

Romantic love can gradually build over time, or it can happen instantaneously. It can grow stronger and last a lifetime, or it can fade away after just a few weeks or months.[17] No two love stories are exactly alike, which is one of the things that makes love so special.

1. Honeymoon phase

What all love stories have in common is probably the early stages of love, which are often characterized by excitement and infatuation. This is the “honeymoon” or “being love” phase, typically refers to the first 6 months to a year of a relationship, and is often considered the most fun and carefree part of a relationship.** [18]

During this phase, you might find yourself thinking about your partner all the time, feeling giddy when you’re around them, and wanting to spend every waking minute with them. This is when your infatuation and attraction for your partner are at their peak and you may feel like you’re in a love bubble.[19]

2. Passional love phase

While the honeymoon phase is definitely exciting, it’s also important to be aware that it doesn’t always last. This stage is usually followed by what researchers called the “passional love” phase [18] - where while your initial infatuation might start to fade, you’re still very much in love with your partner and invested in the relationship.

This is typically when you start to see your partner’s flaws, but you’re still willing to overlook them because you’re so in love. This is the phase where you’re becoming more attached and committed to your partner and you’re starting to think about your future plans together.[20]

This stage is thought to last anywhere from 6 months to four years.[18] This stage also presents a challenge - because when attachment and commitment are not properly established during this phase, the relationship may start to unravel and fall apart.[21]

3. Stage of true unconditional love

Passionate love gives way to compassionate love, or when the “being in love” feeling starts to fade and you enter the stage of true unconditional love.(reference18) This is usually considered the most stable and enduring form of love.

During this stage, you don’t just love your partner - you also like and respect them. You’re able to see them as a separate individual with their own thoughts, feelings, and needs, and you’re able to respond to them in a way that meets those needs.

This stage of love is often characterized by a sense of calm and safety, [22] as opposed to the passionate highs and lows of the earlier stages.

Whether you are in a long-term relationship or not, there is always a chance to show your love. To help those who tend to struggle with the right words, we’ve compiled some of our favorite letters and examples for inspiration.

You’ll still have disagreements with your partner, but you’re able to work through them in a constructive way. You know that you can rely on your partner and that they will be there for you, no matter what. This is the stage where many couples choose to get married or make a long-term commitment, because they know that they can weather any storm that comes their way.

This is the stage where many couples choose to get married or make a long-term commitment, because they know that they can weather any storm that comes their way.

Regardless of which stage of love you’re in, it’s important to remember that love takes work. All relationships go through ups and downs, and it’s important to put in the effort to keep your love alive.

If you’re feeling like your relationship is stuck in a rut, don’t give up! Talk to your partner about what you’re feeling and see if there’s anything you can do to reignite the spark.

No matter what, remember that love is a beautiful thing and cherish it whenever you can.


12 signs that you’re in love

Love isn’t always easy to spot. Sometimes it sneaks up on you, and other times it’s so obvious from the start that there’s no mistaking it. In one study of Chinese and American participants, 38 participants reported feeling love quickly and intensely, 35 percent reported a more gradual build-up, and the rest remained undecided.[23]

As you probably know from experience, love can manifest itself in many different ways. It might be the way your partner always knows just what to say to make you feel better, or the way they’re always there for you when you need them.

Or, it might be more physical - like the way your heart races when you see them, or the butterflies you get in your stomach when they walk into a room.

Here are 12 signs that you might be falling in love, according to experts.

1. They’re always on your mind

One of the first signs that you’re falling in love is that you can’t stop thinking about the other person. This is the cognitive component of love, and it’s what happens when you can’t get someone out of your head.[24]

You’ll have intrusive thoughts about them, daydream about your future together, and generally be preoccupied with all things related to them. This can be a bit of a double-edged sword because while it’s nice to be constantly thinking about someone you love, it can also be a bit overwhelming.

Neurobiological researchers often liken this obsessive behavior to an addiction, because you experience a lack of sleep, a loss of appetite, and an inability to focus on anything else when you’re constantly thinking about someone.[25]

2. You want to be close to them all the time

When you’re in love, you’ll naturally want to be close to the other person as much as possible. This may be due to the addicting nature of love, as mentioned above.[24]

Or, it may be because of the hormone oxytocin, which is released when we’re physically close to someone we care about.[26] Often called the “cuddle hormone” or the “love hormone,” oxytocin is associated with happiness, stress relief, and bonding.[27]

So it’s not surprising that you would want to be close to someone you love, in order to experience those positive effects.

When you want to tell him how you feel, why not do it with a beautiful poem? These love poems for him are the perfect way to show how much you care.

3. Jealousy is starting to creep in

Jealousy is a normal emotion, but it’s one that can be amplified when you’re in love. This is because you feel a strong desire to protect your relationship from anything that might threaten it.[28]

Multiple studies have found a positive link between romantic love and jealousy.[29] So if you’re feeling a bit possessive of your partner, it could be a sign that you’re head-over-heels for them.

While a little jealousy can be healthy for a relationship, management and communication are key. If you’re feeling jealous, talk to your partner about it in a calm and collected manner. Jealousy can quickly spiral out of control and become destructive, so it’s important to deal with it in a healthy way.

4. You love their imperfections

One of the signs that you’re truly in love is that you love your partner, imperfections and all. This is because you’ve come to accept them for who they are, and you don’t expect them to change.

In the earlier stages of love, researchers term this as the “love-is-blind” bias, [30] because we tend to overlook our partner’s flaws and see them in a more positive light. Also called positive illusions, these biases about our partners can actually be beneficial for our relationships, as they help us to see the best in them.[31]

It’s important to have realistic expectations for your partner, and to not be blind to serious character flaws. But if you’re able to look past their imperfections and still see them as the perfect partner for you, it’s a good sign that you’re in love.

5. You crave emotional intimacy

Being in love often entails a strong desire for something other than just physical intimacy. You want to be emotionally close to your partner and share intimate details about your life with them.[32]

This emotional intimacy is often a key characteristic of all close relationships, regardless of whether they’re romantic or platonic.[33] And it’s an important part of what makes love so special.

Have you ever thought of wanting just to curl up with your partner and talk for hours? Or, have you found yourself telling them things that you wouldn’t share with anyone else? If so, it’s a sign that you’re craving emotional intimacy and you might be in love.

6. Other people aren’t as interesting anymore

Perhaps you’ve noticed that you don’t find other people as interesting as you used to. Or maybe you stopped finding other people attractive entirely.[34]

If you’ve lost interest in other people, it could be because you’re already content with the one you have. When you’re in love, you often become more focused on your partner and less interested in others. You might even memorize fewer faces, [35] and you’re more likely to remember negative information about people you’re not interested in.[36]

It’s still important to have other close relationships and interests outside of your romantic relationship. But if you’ve noticed that you don’t care about the dating pool as much as you used to, it might be a sign that you’re in love.

7. Life is better with them

It’s no secret that high-quality relationships can make us happier and healthier. [37] So it’s not surprising that people in love often say that their partner makes them feel like life is just better.

Have you suddenly found yourself feeling more optimistic about life, even when things are tough? Do you feel like you can conquer the world with your partner by your side? That may be a telltale sign that you’re in love.

Of course, being in love doesn’t guarantee a happy and stress-free life. But if you feel like your partner makes everything better, it’s a good sign that you’re head-over-heels.

8. You start adopting their behaviors

Do you find yourself picking up your partner’s mannerisms or habits? Or maybe you’ve started using their favorite expressions? Have you even changed the way you dress or style your hair to match theirs?

Called mimicry, you might start adopting your partner’s behaviors because you like them or because you’re trying to establish a closer connection with them.[38]

Studies have shown that mimicry can be a powerful tool for relationship maintenance, [39] and it’s often a sign of love. So, once you start noticing that you’re copying your partner’s behaviors, it might be a good indication that you’re head-over-heels.

9. You yearn for their friends and family to like you

There’s nothing quite like feeling accepted and welcomed by your partner’s friends and family. But if you find yourself wanting their approval more than anything, it might be a sign that you’re in love.

Especially if in you’re in the 18 to 22 age range, [40] you might often look at your parents’ approval of your romantic partner as a sign of whether the relationship is worth pursuing. Family approval is also correlated with love, satisfaction, and commitment in relationships. [41]

It’s normal to want your partner’s loved ones to think highly of you, but if you’re constantly seeking their approval, it might be a telltale sign that you’re in love.

10. The future seems bright

Being in love can often make us feel like the future is bright and full of possibilities. Maybe you’ve started including your partner in your long-term plans or daydreams. Or, you might find yourself wanting to have children with them or even picturing your wedding.

Goal-sharing is a key part of relationships, and it can often be a good predictor of intimacy and commitment.[42] So, if you find yourself getting excited about the future with your partner, it might be a sign that you’re in love.

11. They become a priority

Are you always the first to respond to your partner’s texts or calls? Do you drop everything to see them when they need you? Or, do you find yourself making sacrifices for them, even when it’s inconvenient?

Because you trust and care for them, you might start making your partner a priority in your life.[43] You might even start neglecting other important relationships or hobbies to spend more time with them.

While it’s a regular part of most relationships to start making your partner a priority, it can be a sign that you’re in love if you find yourself routinely putting their needs above your own.

12. You become compassionate

Having a compassionate love for someone means that you care about their well-being and often put their needs above your own. And this is crucial in all types of relationships, whether they’re romantic, platonic, or familial.[44]

Compassion may come in the form of caring for your partner when they’re sick, listening to them when they need to vent, or sacrificing your time to help them out. When you have a compassionate love for someone, their happiness becomes your happiness.

As soon as you start feeling compassion for your partner, then you know you’re in love. As soon as you start feeling compassion for your partner, then you know you’re in love. Wanting nothing more than for them to be happy and safe is a surefire sign that your love for them is real.

If you’re wondering how to know if you love someone, there are a few key signs to look out for. From wanting their friends and family to approve of you to making them a priority in your life, being in love often changes our behaviors and attitudes.

Of course, only you can decide whether you’re in love with someone. But if you find yourself exhibiting any of the above behaviors, it might be a good indication that your feelings are more than just a passing infatuation.


The best relationship books to help you survive and thrive

Whether single or in a relationship, it can be tough to navigate the waters of love. These books offer advice and guidance from experts and real-life couples alike, giving you the tools you need to make your relationship work. These books will surely provide some valuable insights if you are looking for a way to spice up your love life or simply learn how to better communicate with your partner.

  1. Love: The Psychology of Attraction: A Practical Guide to Successful Dating and a Happy Relationship
  2. Single, Dating, Engaged, Married: Navigating Life and Love in the Modern Age
  3. The Power of Four Bases for Relationships: Can You Hit a Home Run in a Relationship?
  4. Communication and Relationship: A Guide to Deeper Connection, Trust and Intimacy to Improve Communication and Strengthen Your Bond as a Couple
  5. Couple's Bucket List: 101 Fun, Engaging Dating Ideas

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Dating Expert

David Hall

David Hall is a self-taught dating expert who works as a freelance writer to help people improve their love lives. He has always been interested in dating, physical attraction, and …

Read full bio
Dating Expert

Janet Smith

Janet Smith is a freelance writer who writes about psychology, relationships, and dating. She has always been interested in understanding the human brain and how it affects our …

Read full bio

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