What Does Love Feel Like? Recognizing The Signs And Understanding The Heart

Medically reviewed by Kimberly L Brownridge , LPC, NCC, BCPC
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may be wondering what love feels like. Will intense feelings will arise? What thoughts will you have? Is it possible this is all in your head? Different people may experience love differently, but there are some commonalities often shared by people in love around the world that you may be able to look to for guidance.

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Five signs that you might be in love

The term “love” can refer to many types of love: romantic love, familial love, love shared between friends, and self-love, to name a few. In this article, we will be referring to love shared in a romantic relationship. It’s the love you might feel toward your partner when you are dating and falling hard for each other. It’s also the long-term deeper love you might feel when you are building a life together – for some, this means having a marriage and family.

If you’ve never been in love before, you might wonder how it feels. Or, if you were in a relationship in the past that ended badly, you may be wary of rushing to label your strong feelings for a new partner as love, especially if you are worried they don’t feel the same way. This may be particularly true if you believe that you and your partner don’t match up in certain ways, like you have different goals in life or different levels of lust, desire, intimacy, and physical attraction. 

Of course, not everyone in love will identify with every sign on this list. You may also believe only the positive ones apply to your relationship. Still, you may be in love if some or all of the following signs resonate with you.

1. You can’t stop thinking about them

One of the eight critical elements of romantic attraction outlined in a study about mating choices is “focused attention” on the one you love. You might find your thoughts wandering to them at all hours of the day, causing you to lose focus on work or school. In addition, you may worry about them when you’re apart or miss them constantly when they are away.

2. You retain details they say about themselves

If you find yourself able to quickly rattle off your partner’s interests, middle name, favorite ice cream flavor, or describe the breed of dog they had when they were a kid, it could be a good sign.

The same study above also lists an improved memory as another of the eight elements of romantic attraction. It explains that you might “tend to remember tiny details” about this person and the time you’ve spent together, and there’s a scientific reason to back this up.

The elevated levels of central norepinephrine that people in love often experience are associated with “increased memory for new stimuli.” So, if you remember every little thing this person has told you, there most likely isn’t anything wrong with you. Instead, it may indicate that you are in love with them.

A couple are sitting together, and the woman has her head on the man’s shoulder; he is smiling, and she has a thoughtful expression.

3. You make a lot of eye contact with them

A study by a Harvard psychologist found that people in love tend to make eye contact for about 75% of their interactions. 

The elevated levels of central norepinephrine in the brain that people in love often experience are associated with “increased memory for new stimuli.” So, if you remember every little thing this person has told you, there most likely isn’t anything wrong with you. 

4. You imagine your future together

If you frequently daydream about a future with this person, it could be a sign that you’re in love with them. You might consider it a pretty good idea (rightfully, in some cases) to introduce them to your friends and family, take a trip, or live together. All of these actions may be done in an effort to create a deep connection with this person. 

Whatever your thoughts may consist of, wanting to share the things that matter to you with this person and remain together over a more extended period could indicate that you love them.

5. Your eating or sleeping patterns have changed

You may expect to get a racing heart when you’re around them, but you can thank the hormone norepinephrine again if you’re experiencing trouble sleeping or losing appetite. It’s associated with giddy and euphoric feelings, but it's also normal for this hormone to cause decreased appetite and insomnia.

Does love always feel like this?

There’s a lack of consensus on how many stages of love there are. However, many agree that how a person experiences it can change over time. Many individuals have highlighted the “honeymoon phase” that often characterizes the early stages of getting to know and falling in love with someone. 

The signs outlined above may be more related to the infatuation or beginning stages of a relationship. However, it can feel different later on than it does in the present.

If a new relationship lasts through an immediate infatuation stage, it may then enter one of building trust and commitment. The Gottman Institute posits that most disagreements in long-term relationships will happen in the first two years for this reason—because the individuals are spending time learning about each other’s good qualities, shared values, whether they can trust and respect one another, and how to handle conflict and overcome obstacles together. 

After that, the couple may begin to feel calm or settle into a more comfortable dynamic over the long term, and the levels of passion may change as you feel safe and connected. How your relationship makes you feel may change the longer you spend time together, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve fallen out of it, nor is it necessarily a reason to feel sadness. If you’re unsure what a change in your feelings for your partner means, consider reaching out for support.

iStock/Ridofranz
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Getting advice about romantic love or a romantic relationship

Being in love with someone can feel exciting, but it may also seem overwhelming to accept at times, and these things are not mutually exclusive. You may also be confused about what it means to you or what it means to that special someone. Some people choose to turn to a trained counselor to help them sort out what they’re feeling. For example, a therapist could help you get a sense of how to stay true to your authentic self, identify healthy and unhealthy relationship dynamics, set boundaries to avoid getting hurt emotionally, or build other skills that may help you sustain a fulfilling romantic relationship.

If you don’t have the time to drive to weekly appointments with an in-person therapist, or if one isn’t available in your area, you might try online counseling. Online counseling is available for individuals and couples, and research suggests it’s as effective as traditional, in-person therapy. 

With a platform like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples, you can get matched with a therapist who you can speak with virtually.

Takeaway

Figuring out whether you’re in love may feel confusing and may cause fear in some people. It may be beneficial to note that it can change over time, even when it’s with the right person, and may cause physical sensations or changes. If you’re struggling with love or another aspect of romantic relationships or sexual activity, consider reaching out to a counselor or family therapist to gain further professional insight.

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