Why do so many of us often wonder about the meaning of love? Could it be because love remains one of the strangest (and strongest) feelings a human can experience? Or is it simply because the more we learn about love, the more we realise we’re still unable to truly understand it?
While love is different for everyone, there are some common thoughts and feelings that can help people identify when it’s happening. Whatever that feeling is, falling in love in today’s dating age is undoubtedly complicated. That’s why, to help simplify things a little bit, I listed 5 scientifically proven signs that you’re falling in love. You’re welcome!
Sounds pretty cliché, I know but there’s a reason 72 per cent of people believe in love at first sight. Losing yourself in the eyes of someone else is seen as a classic sign of infatuation. Consultant psychologist Marc Hekster went as far as to explain that it is one of the most obvious signs that you’re falling in love with someone. “Why wouldn’t you want to look into the eyes of someone who you experience as the most beautiful and attractive person in your world?” he said speaking to The Independent.
When you look at someone you love, you’re not just seeing what they look like—you’re looking for something else, imagining a future. Excuse the creepiness, but you’re basically staring at your ‘love object’. According to Dr Fisher’s TED talk, the deep attachment you feel is due to a basic mating drive that encourages you to focus your energy on just one partner in order to start the mating process with a single individual.
Again, please keep in mind that these signs have been listed by researchers and psychologists, not me. I can definitely agree that while some of my usual pet peeves became insignificant during my most important relationships, I still can’t stand seeing and hearing a partner picking at their nails (which I do myself) or mixing ketchup with mayonnaise—probably the most unattractive thing in the world.
My point is, however, that when in love, especially during early stages, you don’t mind much. In fact, you might not even notice it. Love is commonly associated with the loss of all inhibition, and there’s a reason for that!
True love has the tendency to distort reality, making you focus instead on that person’s positive qualities. This stage often includes daydreams and replaying trivial moments. That’s because you have increased levels of central dopamine along with a spike in central norepinephrine, which is a chemical that improves your memory when you first encounter someone or something new.
If you are falling in love with someone, chances are, your time with them will go by very quickly. This is often the case when you’re doing something you enjoy, which is why spending time with someone you’re falling in love with is no different than hanging out with your best friend. You’ll be so focused and interested in that person that you won’t notice the ticking clock. This leads me to my next sign.
Couples invest a lot in the relationship, including time, energy and emotions. In the early stages of a relationship, people falling in love will gradually increase this investment by seeing each other more often, and therefore pushing other usual activities aside.
This can easily become a vicious cycle, as when you’re enjoying spending time with someone, the reward system in your brain increases your motivation to want more of that time. You start to crave their presence and end up forgetting about the other things you used to spend your time on.
You might go as far as to start taking up their interests too in the hope it could potentially strengthen the bond between you. Do you require an example? Fine. I once spent my evening in a board games pub playing Monopoly and other games. Board games are not my thing, I ended up losing all night too, but there I was, and I didn’t even flip one board.
Fluttering feelings of love are often quickly followed by a desire to make plans for the future. Why? Our evolutionary impulses, of course! From booking a holiday a few months down the line to daydreaming about kids or buying a house, making plans with your partner increases emotional ties and can bring a couple closer to long-term commitment.
Love might also make you feel unusually positive about what’s next. This is the result of all those ‘dopamine hits’ you have been getting from thinking about your partner and doing things with them.
These are five important signs that prove you might be in love. But here’s my personal last advice. Remember how you stare at that person and how you want to spend all your free time with them, if not more? Well, that feeling of complete surrender where you merge with that person so much that you become completely preoccupied with them might not just be true love—it might be great sex.
Oxytocin, which is released in the brain during sex, can affect emotion, cognition and social bonding, all of which can make you feel closer to someone and foster feelings of love. On that note, I will leave you to decipher whether you’re in love or simply having amazing sex. Hopefully, it’s both!