Couples therapists on 9 signs you’re in love

Couples therapists list nine signs of being in love – and explain why they’re important

If you are in love with someone, you may need to think about the person constantly – from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep.

You may also physically long for him or her, plan a future together, and want to show your affection whenever possible.

Being in love also means that you are willing to work on making your relationship grow.

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If you’ve ever asked your friends how you can tell you’re in love, they probably answered something along the lines of "you’ll just know". For some people it really is that simple. But not everyone experiences the feeling in the same way. For some, more practical advice may be needed to help them identify and categorize their feelings. If you’re looking for concrete clues, here are nine signs that you might be in love.

1. You go to sleep and wake up – thinking about this person

If you are in love, it is likely that you think about this person a lot. It’s to the point where you think only of them before you go to sleep and think of them first thing when you wake up, says David Khalili, a couples therapist in private practice. Thinking about the person is pleasant and makes you feel good. Because being in love, especially in the early stages, activates the brain’s reward center. This area is responsible for the release of dopamine – a neurotransmitter that can complain intoxicating moments of happiness. Some experts even refer to infatuation as a "natural addiction".

2. You want to take care of each other and vice versa

When you are in love, it is only natural that you want to take care of the person, comfort and protect him/her when he/she needs it – and you wish that he/she does the same for you. "You express your love for the person by providing them with comfort," says Khalili.

3. You feel like you are growing together

When you are in love, you both have the opportunity to grow. Your partner can push you to be the best version of yourself – and you may learn that you’re better able to self-reflect and adapt when you love someone, says Krista Miller, couples therapist at Align Couples Therapy. Even challenges you face together can help you grow and become even closer as a couple.

Couples therapists on 9 signs you're in love

4. You are motivated to show affection

When you’re in love, you often want to show it to maintain a loving relationship and show your partner that you care about them. Depending on what "love language" you and your partner speak, you may have your own unique ways of showing your affection – whether through physical touch, services, time, gifts, or affirmation.

A nice bonus is that intimacy is even healthy for you. "High levels of intimacy correlate negatively with depression and positively with immune function and cardiovascular health," researchers report in a 2016 study.

5. You complement each other rather than "complete" each other

If you have a healthy sense of self-love, self-esteem, and self-compassion, you are probably not looking for someone to "complete" you. Rather, you need someone to complement you. You know you are in love because you truly enjoy spending time with and caring for the other person. This is different than liking someone just because it makes you feel better, Miller says.

6. You physically long for the person

Since this can also be a sign of lust, make sure you notice this along with any other signs of infatuation – so you know if it’s more than just sexual attraction. "You crave the touch, the smell, the taste or whatever you can get," says Khalili.

You want to feel connected to the person you’re in love with, and physical closeness is one way to do that. Researchers suggest that love as a whole evolved from the basic physical urge to reproduce. But humans have managed to distinguish between lust and love. That’s according to studies that show the two affect very different areas of the brain.

7. You feel physical symptoms

There is some truth to the term "heartbreak". Khalili says you may experience physical symptoms such as stomach cramps or loss of appetite while doing so. In a 2016 study, it was found that such symptoms could be due to higher levels of the stress hormone norepinephrine being released in the initial stages of love. Here’s why these feelings can be especially pronounced in the early stages of infatuation.

8. You realize that you are planning a future together

You may be imagining future dates, adventures, travel, marriage or starting a family with the person, Khalili says. It can be difficult to imagine life without them. "Whatever it may be, it shows that you are excited about this person and that you feel secure enough to include them in your future," Khalili says.

9. You are willing to put in the work

Relationships are not easy. They require active work from both partners to function in the long run. According to Krista Miller, couples therapist at Align Couples Therapy, you know you love someone when you are absolutely willing to put in the work over an extended period of time. Also important, he says, is that everyone in the relationship is grateful for the opportunity to do this work.

Look for signs such as the need to care for your partner, the motivation to show affection, and the willingness to make an effort to find out if you are in love or not. Everyone experiences love differently – but these signs are good indicators that you are on that path with your partner.

This text was translated and edited from English by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.

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