We were in the car driving on the motorway, when I suddenly had the urge to say I love you. Only a while back; I was a single girl seeking casual relationships. I thought this year would be about fun and exploration. But as the saying goes, ‘you will find love when you least expect it’. How do you know if you’re in love or if you’re falling – when is it just lust?
While it can be argued no definitive list can prove love, there are certain signs that can help strongly confirm. Most of us grow up on fairy tales – one dance and a sing-a-long leads to happily ever after. For years, I’ve labelled myself a hopeless romantic. I adore handwritten letters, kissing in the rain, sunset walks.
But as much as I’ve become a connoisseur to romance, I knew little about what love itself meant. Each time I thought I had fallen in my early twenties; I grew older and changed my mind. Funnily, although love is difficult to summarise, we each have a rough idea on when it happens and what it looks like. Love at first sight for instance, think about how much that divides people.
Here are 7 signs to consider:
1 . When saying I like you no longer cuts it
Maybe you’re describing your feelings over text, when you decide the words you once used no longer feel strong enough. You don’t want to merely tell them you care or you like their company. For me, when I started thinking about love, writing ‘like’ stopped making sense.
2. You feel your partner’s pain
Glamour magazine spoke to sex therapist and psychotherapist, Madeline Cooper, who said you can experience ‘an increased sense of empathy towards your partner.’ When you like someone, you may feel more annoyed for yourself at them cancelling a date due to an unexpected work deadline. In love however, you might feel more for your partner.
If my boyfriend is stressed or worried about something, I have an urge to either immediately solve the issue or find a way to make things better. Otherwise, the stress can fall on my head and impact my emotions.
3. You willingly open yourself up
In the early dating stages, we try to appear at our best. We’re like walking ads – 24/7, don’t over text, don’t ask too many questions, mention only our funniest, most charming stories. Then as we develop relationships, our masks start to slip and certain parts of ourselves become uncovered.
According to Psyche Alive, ‘love makes us feel vulnerable’. When falling in love, this vulnerability can greet us and encourage us to open up about things we haven’t told others. We put ourselves willingly in place where we can get hurt.
4. You want to introduce them to friends and family
It’s easy to bump into family and friends when you’re with someone you like. If you’re in love, there is a specific desire to have the closest people in your life meet them. You want to show off your partner and have everyone see for themselves how great they are.
To me, it’s a huge commitment. I wouldn’t want to introduce my family and friends to someone I’m not in love with. I’d be more focused on us doing things as a couple and sticking to a romantic bubble. Love in a way, takes you away from being a two and puts you together in a wider circle.
5. You feel more open
Elite Singles looked at a 90’s study which found people in love ‘reporting higher levels of self esteem and increased openness to trying new ideas and diversifying their hobbies.’ Since developing my relationship, I have put more energy towards my blog, worked harder at reaching my career goals and dedicated extra time to working out.
I’m also enjoying arranging plans in the week. In the beginning of my relationship, I was satisfied with meeting at the weekends alone. As a perfectionist, I had my weekdays scheduled consistently: When to clean, when to catch up with social media… However, as I began falling, I eased up and moved away from rigid timings. Not to say that planning isn’t important, but making time for my boyfriend became more of a priority.
6. They become part of your future
As an article on Oprah says, it stops feeling weird booking future dates together. You almost know they’ll be there with you. Perhaps it even feels inconceivable to think otherwise. I recently discussed Christmas with my partner and I didn’t worry about how that sounded. And yes, I mentioned it while we’re hopefully near summer in the UK.
7. You just know
A friend said this to me and it irritated me at the time. It’s similar to when I read blog advice which states, ‘listen to your gut’. I think, my gut is screwing up. That’s not going to give me blog post direction!
For all its cheesiness (and being a major cliché), I feel this does ring true. You can read every potential sign out there, you can analyse each meticulously, yet intuition doesn’t lie. Sometimes we ignore it because we feel scared, afraid to be vulnerable, insecure. We might immediately go to that place in our minds which tells us we’re wrong. If you can silence negativity and move past ego, you should be able to listen to what your intuition believes.
How do you know if you’re in love?
There isn’t a 100% proven answer. No one can reach over and tell you straight. Though hopefully, these 7 signs will have added clarity and given you more confidence in how you feel.
Remember – signs can look and feel different for each person. Not ticking these off doesn’t automatically prove you’re not in love.
Below are some additional signs I relate to:
- Sex feels more intense. And dare I say, ‘love making’.
- Happier about yourself.
- A crippling emptiness when saying goodbye.
- Proud of your partner’s achievements, as though they’re your own.
- Feeling less worried and more protected.
- Enjoying yourself as long as your partner is around.
- Wanting to give more than you take.