In the first rush of being in love, you might feel completely dedicated to your partner, ready to do anything and everything to help them through a tough spot or even just make their lives a little easier.
You may find it easier to openly share your feelings with a partner you love and feel comfortable with. Love often conveys a sense of security, so you may not feel like you need to hide your feelings or opinions to protect the relationship.
In fact, scientists have pinned down exactly what it means to "fall in love." Researchers have found that the brain of a person in love looks very different from one experiencing mere lust, and it's also unlike the brain of someone in a long-term, committed relationship. Studies led by Helen Fisher (opens in new tab), an anthropologist at Rutgers University and one of the leading experts on the biological basis of love, have revealed that the brain's "in love" phase is a unique and well-defined period of time. Here are 13 telltale signs you're in love.
People who are truly in love tend to focus on the positive qualities of their beloved, while overlooking his or her negative traits. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (opens in new tab), relationships are usually more successful when partners are idealized.
Those who are in love also focus on trivial events and objects that remind them of their loved one, daydreaming about these precious little moments and mementos. According to research published in 2013 in the journal Motivation and Emotion (opens in new tab), being in love prevents people from focusing on other information.
As is well known, falling in love often leads to emotional and physiological instability. You bounce between exhilaration, euphoria, increased energy, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, trembling, a racing heart and accelerated breathing, as well as anxiety, panic and feelings of despair when your relationship suffers even the smallest setback.
When extreme, these mood swings parallel the behavior of drug addicts, according to a 2017 article in the journal Philosophy, Psychiatry and Psychology (opens in new tab). And indeed, when in-love 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". According to Fisher (opens in new tab), being in love is a form of addiction and when this is taken away from someone they can experience "withdrawals and relapse".
People who are in love report that they spend, on average, more than 85 percent of their waking hours musing over their "love object," according to Fisher. Intrusive thinking, as this form of obsessive behavior is called, may result from decreased levels of central serotonin in the brain, a condition that has been associated with obsessive behavior previously. (Obsessive-compulsive disorder is treated with serotonin-reuptake inhibitors.)
According to a 2012 study published in the Journal of Psychophysiology (opens in new tab), men who are in love have lower serotonin levels than men who are not, while the opposite applies to women. The men and women who were in love were found to be thinking about their loved one for around 65 percent of the time they were awake.
People in love regularly exhibit signs of emotional dependency on their relationship, including possessiveness, jealousy, fear of rejection, and separation anxiety. For instance, Fisher and her colleagues looked at the brains of individuals viewing photos of a rejected loved one, or someone they were still in love with after being rejected by that person.
The functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed activation in several brain areas, including forebrain areas like the cingulate gyrus that have been shown to play a role in cocaine cravings. "Activation of areas involved in cocaine addiction may help explain the obsessive behaviors associated with rejection in love," the researchers wrote in 2010 in the Journal of Neurophysiology (opens in new tab).
Longing for emotional union with a beloved, seeking out ways to get closer and day-dreaming about a future together are also signs of someone in love. According to an article by Harvard University (opens in new tab), when serotonin levels begin to return to normal levels, the hormone oxytocin increases in the body. This neurotransmitter is associated with creating more serious relationships.
"Functional MRI studies show that primitive neural systems underlying drive, reward recognition and euphoria are active in almost everyone when they look at the face of their beloved and think loving thoughts. This puts romantic love in the company of survival systems, like those that make us hungry or thirsty," Brown told Live Science.
"I think of romantic love as part of the human reproductive strategy. It helps us form pair-bonds, which help us survive. We were built to experience the magic of love and to be driven toward another"
Falling in love can result in someone reordering their daily priorities to align with those of their beloved. While some people may attempt to be more like a loved one, another of Fisher's studies, presented in 2013 at the "Being Human" conference, found that people are attracted to their opposites, at least their "brain-chemical" opposites.
Those who are deeply in love often experience sexual desire for their beloved, but there are strong emotional strings attached: The longing for sex is coupled with a desire for sexual exclusivity, and extreme jealousy when the partner is suspected of infidelity. According to the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, oxytocin is released during sexual activity. This hormone, as mentioned above, creates social bonds and develops trust.
For her 1979 book "Love and Limerence," the late psychologist Dorothy Tennov asked 400 men and women in Connecticut to respond to 200 statements on romantic love. Many participants expressed feelings of helplessness, saying their obsession was irrational and involuntary.
Luckily, your body has some pretty sneaky ways of tipping you off to whether these feelings for your partner are more than just a passing phase. Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs the next time you catch yourself wondering if you're actually in love.
If your partner has ever caught you staring at them lovingly, it could be a sign that you're head over heels. Eye contact means that you're fixated on something, so if you find that your eyes are fixed on your partner, you may just be falling in love.
A study from the Kinsey Institute found that the brain of a person falling in love looks the same as the brain of a person who has taken cocaine. You can thank dopamine, which is released in both instances, for that feeling.
If you love someone, you may feel like you can't get them off of your mind. That's because your brain releases phenylethylamine, aka the "love drug" when you fall in love with someone. This hormone creates the feeling of infatuation with your partner.
So-called "compassionate love" can be one of the biggest signs of a healthy relationship, according to research. This means that you're willing to go out of your way to make your partner's life easier and happier.
Although love is often associated with warm and fuzzy feelings, it can also be a huge source of stress. Being in love often causes your brain to release the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead you to feel the heat.
A study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine had participants stare at a photo of someone they loved and found that act could reduce moderate pain by up to 40%, and reduced severe pain by up to 15%.
Everyone wants to impress their date in the beginning of their relationships, but if you find yourself consistently trying new things that your partner enjoys, you may have been bitten by the love bug.
In fact, a study found that people who have claimed to be in love often had varied interest and personality traits after those relationships. So even if you hate that square-dancing class you're going to with your partner, it could have a positive effect on your personality.
Your heart may skip a beat when you think about the one you love, but a study showed that you may also be beating in time with each other. A study conducted by the University of California, Davis, suggests that couples' hearts begin to beat at the same rate when they fall in love.
If you're a notorious germaphobe and totally cool kissing your partner after just watching them pick their nose, you might just be in love. In fact, a study by the University of Groningen in the Netherlands found that feelings of sexual arousal can override feelings of being grossed out.
If you're nauseous and sweaty, you either have a bad stomach bug or are falling in love. A study found that falling in love can cause you to feel sick and display physical symptoms similar to that of anxiety or stress, like sweat.
If you really get to know a person, chances are you'll pick on the little things that make them uniquely them. And if you're in love with them, these are probably some of the things that attract you most about them.
A study found that small quirks can actually make a person fall deeper in love with someone rather than just physical attributes because people have unique preferences. So although you may have judged your partner a little harshly on first glance, if you find that you're suddenly in awe of their uniqueness, you might be in love.
The signs were hand painted by artists Jacob Rafati and Katie Williams. Each sign features text designed by a different artist including Daniel Miramontes (Spanish), Shirin Abedinirad (Farsi), Anup Mutalik (Kannada), Meitzu Chou (Traditional Chinese), Jacob Rafati (English), and Yosef Lule (Amharic).
While driving down Highway 62, you can easily pull off by the side of the road to take striking photos of the signs contrasting against the desert and, above all else, take a moment to appreciate love.
Relationships exist on a spectrum and it can sometimes be hard to tell when a behavior goes from healthy to unhealthy (or even abusive). Typical warning signs of abuse from your partner include: 041b061a72