How Do You Know if You're in Love?

Tamsen Butler
Teenage couple enjoying each other

Though love is a strong emotion and can feel like a rollercoaster at times, it's actually rooted in science. When you are truly in love, a specific hormonal reaction occurs that wouldn't happen otherwise.

The Science of Love

The brain produces specific feel-good chemicals during different stages of love. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are present in increased amounts during the attraction stage of love, which comes after lust but before attachment. When attachment happens, the hormonal shift of increased oxytocin and vasopressin occurs. These feel-good hormones help strengthen the bond between two people and help them crave time together. It's certainly not reasonable to measure your brain's chemical reaction to someone to figure out if you're in love, but there are other ways to tell.

The Body's Reaction to Love

The brain's chemicals have an effect on what your body does. For example, increased cortisol in the very early stages of falling in love (the lust phase) can prompt nervous behavior, like shaky hands and increased respiration. So people who say someone gives them "sweaty palms," they may actually be experiencing the physical manifestation of the brain chemicals responding to attraction.

Emotional Response

Brain chemicals that surge during love can be blamed for some behaviors people in love experience. For example, the increased dopamine a person in love experiences can make it feel as though they are "addicted" to the other person -dopamine is known to be an active hormone in addiction. Likewise, increased serotonin acts as a natural appetite suppressant, which explains why some people in love feel as if they simply can't eat.

Biologically Based

Love isn't merely an emotion that one chooses to pursue. It has a basis in biology and is well studied but not fully understood.

Is This Love?

There are certain thoughts that can be expected when you are in love with someone. If these thoughts happen when you think about the other person, it may point to love.

Apart From Others

This person may stick out in your mind more than the other people you know. You aren't sure why, but there is just something special about this person. You may also find that the person pops into your mind throughout the day more so than anyone else.

Strong Empathy

If you feel as though you can actually feel the other person's emotional pain, this signifies heightened empathy. This is a characteristic of love. You may also find that you are more considerate with them than you typically are with other people.

Rollercoaster Emotions

Though a rollercoaster of emotions can be the result of fluctuating hormones, it's also a symptom of being in love. You may feel as if you can't get control of your emotions as you bounce from euphoria in anticipation of seeing them to despair when they are away.

Feeling Possessive

If you think to yourself, "Oh, look - there's my person" when you see them, it's a good indicator that you are falling in love or are already in love. You may also experience jealousy, even if you have never been a jealous person before.

Future Plans

Even if you aren't making tangible plans for the future with the other person, the fact that you naturally assume they will be a part of your future may point to love. This is especially true if you've both had conversations together about what the future holds for you as a couple.

Love Is Amazing

Falling in love can be a confusing and exciting time. Take solace in the fact that so much of love resides in the chemical reactions in your brain and if you feel silly or a little erratic, it's not something you can necessarily control.

How Do You Know if You're in Love?