If You’re Actually In Love, You’ll Recognize These Signs For Sure
With additions by Ashley Keegan
Most people know the feeling of crushing hard on someone, but how the heck do you actually know when you’re in love? Sure, you probably think about them all the time, you might feel really excited — or even nervous — when you’re around them, and of course, you can’t stop thinking about how attracted you are to them. So that’s love … right?
Well, maybe yes and probably no. It can actually be pretty difficult to tell the difference between love, lust, and sheer, unadulterated infatuation if you’re not paying close attention.
“It’s not our fault. We’ve been brainwashed,” says clinical psychologist Michael Tobin, PhD, author of the upcoming Riding the Edge: A Love Song to Deborah. “Most of us are clueless about what love is, how love is supposed to feel, and what we’re supposed to do with it once the love bug has started messing with our DNA.”
Tobin met his wife, Deborah, nearly five decades ago when he was in graduate school — and he wasn’t even looking for love back then. But, in the midst of becoming a psychologist (as if that wasn’t hard enough), his unscheduled romance began to blossom.
“By two in the morning, five weeks after first laying eyes on her, I showed my hand,” Tobin reveals in his memoir. “The crazy thing was that my ‘I love you’ was so unrehearsed, and so unlike me to express, that it had to be real — terrifyingly so.”
He was fortunate to realize quite early on that he was in love, but it isn’t always so easy to predict whether your feelings for your partner will persist past that “honeymoon phase.” And yes, you may be able to say that you love them, but that isn’t always quite the same as being in love with them. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up a few surefire ways to help you figure out if you’ve finally tipped over to that oft-imitated “in love” territory.
Telltale Signs You’re In Love With Someone
1. They’re Always On Your Mind
This one’s fairly simple, and it may be one of the very first things that tips you (and others) off to the fact that you’re falling in love with your partner. They’re just always on your mind, even when you’re not together!
This could manifest itself in multiple ways. Maybe you’re always bringing them up in conversations with your friends or family. Or maybe the two of you had a lively fake-argument about the best dog breeds last week, and now you’re grinning inanely at a Jack Russell on the street. Or, maybe you shot them a quick “thinking of you” text because you know they were anxious about a work meeting, or you picked up a case of ginger beer simply because you know how much they love Moscow mules.
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear they’re at the forefront of your mind if it takes just the slightest detail for you to be reminded of them.
Keep in mind that this is something that may begin to happen very early on in the relationship. But if you continue to be reminded of your partner in every little mundane thing, find yourself wanting to do random acts of kindness for them, and continue to talk positively about them to your friends and family well beyond the honeymoon phase, then it’s a pretty good indicator that you’re in love.
2. You Care About What They Care About
When you’re really into someone, you want to be able to engage with them about the things they love, even if it’s something super simple, like their favorite coffee brand or TV show. Or, maybe it’s something you never thought you’d be interested in. (You’re turning into a cat dad? Who would have guessed!). Whether big or small, picking up knowledge about your partner’s interests and hobbies is a good sign that you value them on a deeper level.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself seeing their favorite things through their eyes, and gaining a better understanding of why they enjoy them. It’s no longer simply about what makes you happy, but your eyes become open to finding joy in things you never would have expected because now you care about their happiness too.
“Unlike the experience of falling in love where it’s all about the faller’s feelings of euphoria, in this experience of love, you’re focused on the other person,” says Tobin. “What interests her, interests you. You want to give to her as much — perhaps even more — than you want to receive.”
That said, you shouldn’t feel like you have to do the things they like to do just to hold their interest. Make sure you’re not compromising your elf simply because you think it will make your partner like you more. You also shouldn’t feel like you have to hold back your own opinions on things. There’s no need to be mean about it, but you should both feel comfortable being honest about your likes and dislikes as that shows you both are secure in the relationship.
3. You Feel Comfortable Being Yourself
Speaking of feeling secure, that can be another big sign that you’re in love. Though you shouldn’t completely abandon putting effort into yourself, the fact that you can let loose and be real is a major indicator of a deep and true romance.
When you first start dating, it’s easy to feel like you’re constantly trying to put on a show. You’re impeccably dressed, are careful to only talk about the highlights of your day, and you try hard to give off the impression that you’ve got your stuff 100-percent together. Over time, however, you should find yourself at ease when they’re around.
“With authentic love, you feel like she gets you; she challenges you to drop your mask and be real,” says Tobin. “You want to be your best self with her — no games, no ego trips, just raw and transparent.”
So if you can both lay around and relax in sweatpants, talk openly about a bad day, and live with morning breath for a little while before brushing your teeth, you should feel pretty confident in these subtle, yet significant signs of love.
“She can’t love a role,” Tobin points out. “She can love you when she can see the true you. And the same goes for you toward her.”
4. You Accept Them Completely
No one’s perfect. We all have some quirks or bad habits that are not ideal, and your partner is no exception. (And if you think they don’t, they may not feel comfortable enough to show you their true self just yet.) This won’t stop you from truly falling in love with them, however. It’s important to see your partner as a whole — including all those little things that might bug you — and, if you can accept all of that unconditionally, then you’re probably in love. (However, major red flags, such as abuse, should never be accepted or ignored, no matter how in love you may believe yourself to be.)
“Seeing means loving,” says Tobin. “It doesn’t mean being blind to her warts but seeing her warts as part of what makes her real.”
Just don’t let small annoyances snowball into something you might blow up about in the future. Being in love also means feeling secure enough to gently speak up about how things make you feel and how you might be able to support each other going forward.
5. You Want to Put in the Work
No relationship is effortless. It’s easy to float through the honeymoon phase feeling like nothing could ever slow down this incredible love you’re feeling for your partner. But that sort of euphoria naturally fades over time. Maybe you’re not having sex as often because you’ve got a lot on your plate, or you don’t go on as many dates as you used to because you basically know everything about each other already. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re not in love; it’s just that the normal routine of life takes over and can make things a little more mundane. But if you find that you actually want to put in effort to make your relationship more exciting, or put in the work to find things that will keep you and your partner feeling close, then that’s a good sign that you’re in love. If you weren’t, you might just get bored, give up, and move onto the next, chasing an eternal rotation of honeymoon feelings.
6. You’re Willing to Compromise for Them
Did you always insist to your past partners that nothing would get in the way of your Sunday video game marathon, but now it just doesn’t seem as important? And it’s not because they’ve nagged you to stop or guilted you into spending time with them instead. Rather, it’s because you’d actually prefer to chill with them.
Your difference in attitude is clearly giving away how much you care, and it probably goes far beyond just one instance.
If it can make their day brighter or easier, you find that you’re willing to make little compromises to put a smile on their face, even if it takes some time away from an activity you really like. That’s the give-and-take of a fair and loving relationship. Just ensure that you’re not making huge sacrifices that could be detrimental to your values or personal taste, or have a massive effect on your life. Obviously you shouldn’t go around neglecting work or moving across the country on a whim because you’re blinded by love. Any big sacrifice you make should be preceded by careful consideration to ensure it’s something you want for yourself, too.
7. You Can’t Wait to See Them Again
Maybe you just spent the entire day or weekend together, and now you’re sad to see them leave. They could be out the door for 30 seconds and you’re already dreaming about the next time you’ll get to hang out! You may even have plans set up for your next date, but it’s agonising zing to think about how you could possibly get by waiting for that time to finally arrive. This sign that you’re in love could also be confused with lust if most of your daydreaming and longing involves a certain state of undress. However, if you can’t wait to see your partner again, even if it’s just to talk or share a meal together, then this is a huge sign that you really may be in love, rather than just lust.
8. You Factor Them Into Your Future
This one is quite possibly the biggest indicator that you’re in love. Not only are you thinking about them and involving them in your life currently, but you’re actually making plans with them for the future. This is especially significant if you find that you don’t even have to give it a second thought to include them in upcoming plans, as it shows how much you want them to be a part of your life going forward, even on a subconscious level.
So if you get an invite to a wedding that’s six months away and you immediately think to invite your partner, or you’re factoring them into all the aspects of your five-year plan, these are surefire signs that you see this thing lasting. Does it feel as if you don’t even want to think about not having them in your life going forward? Then it’s time to face it, friend: you’re probably, most definitely, certifiably in love!
But seriously, there isn’t just one thing you can point to that screams “you’re in love!” Rather, you have to pay attention to all the little things — actions, feelings, and behaviors — that build up the framework for a loving relationship.
“In real love, you invest. You create an intimate connection with loving actions,” Tobin reminds us. “You don’t get love because you demand or deserve it. You get love by giving, by seeing, by your willingness at times to put your needs aside for another.”
We’ve pointed out just a few examples of those loving actions here, but it’s pretty safe to say that the more you can identify with, the more likely you are in love.