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How to Tell If You Love Someone (7 Signs You’re in Love)

Jorge's relationship advice is based on experience and observation. Let his trial and error be your success (hopefully).

Are you falling in love...or is it just a crush?

Are you falling in love...or is it just a crush?

How Do You Know You Love Someone?

Do you suspect that you’re in love with someone, but don’t know the signs of being in love?

As someone who has experienced the stupor of lust, the roller coaster ride of limerence, and the soft security of a more long-term love that lasted years, I’ve become familiar with the difference between these—and the signs of each.

Is It a Crush or Am I in Love?

So, how do you know you love someone? How can you tell when it’s not just a simple crush or an obsession, but real love?

Obviously, this can be a subjective thing. It really depends on how you define love, but if we’re going to look at being “in love” as a deeper, longer-term state—something that lasts beyond those early feelings of excitement—then there are some consistent signs.

If you're not quite sure whether you're in love, here are a few ways to tell.

If you're not quite sure whether you're in love, here are a few ways to tell.

7 Signs You’re in Love

When you first realize you love someone, it will usually be around the time you’re transitioning away from your initial feelings of lust or a superficial crush. It’s the moment your feelings get a bit more serious and you start seeing the person in a multi-dimensional light, instead of simply as an object for your affection.

How do you know you love someone in this deeper way? Here are some signs that this has started to happen for you.

1. You No Longer Put Your Lover on a Pedestal

The main sign that you’re in love is that you’ve transitioned from seeing the person as an image of your ideal (as you do with a crush) to seeing them as a whole human being.

When we have a crush, we tend to put people on a pedestal. They are an image more than a person, and many times we overlook all kinds of qualities in them, especially negative ones. In fact, we may even idealize the negative things about them or make excuses for them.

But human beings are messy and complex. Human beings can change and evolve. Human beings can have flaws, too—and not just ones that are “cute.”

When you start to realize this truth in your partner, one of two things can happen:

  1. The feelings of lust and “crushing” on them wither away, and you lose interest because you saw the “real” them. You may even get sad or angry with them over this.
  2. Your love deepens. It is less of a roller coaster ride, but you can connect with your partner’s true self in a way that you couldn’t when all you had was a superficial image of them.

Sooner or later, the image always fades. This is the fork in the road where you find out if your relationship really has long-term potential. The facade will have to come down as you get to know each other and cultivate more emotional intimacy.

Whether you're cooking up a meal or chilling on the couch, you can really relax around someone you love.

Whether you're cooking up a meal or chilling on the couch, you can really relax around someone you love.

2. You Feel Relaxed Around Your Partner

Do you ever feel a little nervous when hanging out with a crush?

That is because you don’t really know them on a profound level yet. You might have doubts about whether they feel the same way. To some degree or another, there is a mystery between you, and that’s the source of much of the “sparks.” People find the unknown and the unpredictable to be alluring. People like to have their curiosity tickled.

This is exciting, and some of that excitement can indeed follow you into deeper states of love. You can still be curious about your partner after you’ve fallen in love. Some people are married for decades and still learn new things about each other every day.

However, when you are in love with someone, there is usually more trust. You feel relaxed around the person. You don’t feel this sense of nervousness and doubt. You’re not constantly questioning whether they feel the same way because it kind of doesn’t matter.

This actually brings us to our next point…

3. You’re Not Obsessed With Reciprocation

We all want our partners to reciprocate, obviously. Who wants to just be following someone around while they pay us no mind?

When you’re in love with someone, though, your love does not hinge on reciprocation. You may be disappointed if they don’t feel the same way, but you can accept it and still be in love. You can wish the best for them, and even let them go if you think that they would have a better life with someone else.

Be aware of the huge difference between being in love and being in need of someone’s attention.

This can be a tough thing to imagine if you’re deeply in lust or have an obsessive crush. Crushes tend to be possessive. You want the person to only pay attention to you and you feel extreme jealousy if the person does not reciprocate and instead pays attention to others.

Of course, it’s pretty normal to be jealous to some degree. You’re only human, and we live in a society where most people are monogamous (and so someone else swiping your partner means that you can’t have them). But when you’re genuinely in love, having a healthy connection between you is more important to you than possession. You’re not obsessed with finding a way to make the person love you above all others. You want a relationship with the person. You want to get to know the person. This is completely different.

When you’re obsessed with someone, you are typically worried about how to control the situation to get the result you want. When you’re in love, you’re much more able to let things flow as they are meant to.

Is your focus on building the relationship, or on experiencing the euphoria of a crush? There's nothing wrong with either, but one is a sign of love and the other is a sign of lust.

Is your focus on building the relationship, or on experiencing the euphoria of a crush? There's nothing wrong with either, but one is a sign of love and the other is a sign of lust.

4. Your Focus Is on Building the Relationship

Crushes are about what the person can do for you and what special feelings they are providing for you. You get pleasure from entertaining the crush. You could say that you are using the person as an excuse to feel good, but in reality, it’s a personal experience you’re having with yourself. This is how you can feel good about having a crush on a celebrity, even if you don’t know them at all.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing. This is a normal phase that people go through when they first get to know someone they like, but eventually those rose-colored glasses will fall from your eyes. You will then be faced with the choice of whether you want to build an actual relationship with the person. (Remember sign #1!)

Someone who is in love is interested in an actual relationship. You’re interested in knowing who the person actually is—both the good and the bad—and aren’t simply obsessed with extracting more tingly feelings from them. This actually spills into our next point.

5. You Don’t Run Away at the First Sign of Trouble

Love is fault-tolerant. Love can survive negative emotions or confrontation. Crushes, which are based on superficial feelings and assumptions, aren’t quite so robust.

Relationships based on crushes fall apart easily. Crushes aren’t very flexible because they rely on a person living up to an idealized version of themselves. You get disillusioned easily if the person acts in a way that you didn’t expect; as soon as that heart-shaped bubble pops, the good feelings disappear.

On the other hand, if you’re in love with someone, you’re more willing to work things out. You know that you have feelings for them underneath all the superficial stuff. You could say that love is something that is rooted beneath the storm of emotions, and that it can stand solidly as the weather changes. A crush, on the other hand, exists up in the clouds and will disintegrate when the weather changes.

Snort when you laugh? Who cares! Being with someone you love means never having to be afraid to be yourself.

Snort when you laugh? Who cares! Being with someone you love means never having to be afraid to be yourself.

6. You Don’t Feel Like You Have to Change Yourself

When you’re truly in love, you can be yourself. You don’t feel the need to constantly impress the other person. You may not look at it this way while it’s happening, but changing yourself to impress someone else is actually a form of manipulation.

Real love is not manipulative. Real love lets not only your partner be who they are, but also lets you be who you are. Real love is an extension of your own self-love, so you would never compromise yourself for the other person, because you realize this is a sign that you don’t think they deserve the real you.

This actually brings up a bigger point: If you don’t love yourself, you will find it exceedingly difficult to love other people. You will find yourself instead in needy attachments, which will suck you both dry.

7. You Feel Fulfilled, Not Full of Desire

When you’re simply crushing on a person, you will tend to feel a mix of emotions, often very extreme ones. You can feel extremely high one moment, when your crush is paying attention to you, then low the next moment, when you see them looking at someone else.

Being around them is kind of like a drug. It’s unpredictable and fun, but it’s a very surface-level experience. It’s not fulfilling. Similar to an addiction, it’s like your brain created a need for them that you can never quite satisfy.

When you’re actually in love with someone, being around them will tend to give you a more peaceful sense of joy instead. This won’t be all of the time, of course; there may be moments of negative emotion, but the distinction is that it won’t be so extreme or explosive.

Love is quiet, but it’s deep.

One of the nice things about being in love is that you tend to feel more confident. Your feelings are not based on wanting something, on an all-consuming desire; they’re based on already having something: the love itself.

When you're in love, you're able to just chill, follow your life path together, and feel "normal" with your partner. It's less of an emotional roller coaster.

When you're in love, you're able to just chill, follow your life path together, and feel "normal" with your partner. It's less of an emotional roller coaster.

Lust vs. Love: How to Tell the Difference

That’s all well and good in a general sense, but how do you tell the difference between lust and love in your specific situation? In a practical way, what is the litmus test for when you are in love and not simply viewing the person as someone to be possessed?

Are You Just Filling in a Blank?

Ask yourself this: Do you feel like there’s something “missing” that your partner fills in you? A longing that they satisfy? Is it like a hunger or thirst that they quench when they are around?

That is probably lust or a crush. They are kind of like a person you are addicted to.

Or Do They Add to Your Life?

On the other hand, do you feel like your partner adds to your life? Sure, you miss them when they’re gone, but they don’t really quench an obsessive desire in you. You don’t need them; you just get a lot out of having them in your life.

That is more likely to be love.

Can't You Have Both?

Now, is it possible to have both? Yes, some people experience a mix of these. Some people never completely let go of their needy feelings, and their relationship either dissolves because of this or it falls into codependency.

Other times, a relationship can evolve into a healthy dynamic but still have feelings of lust in there. That’s totally fine, as long as you see your partner as a full human being and don’t turn the lustful feelings into everything they are to you. Most of the time, relationships will be multilayered like this. In the end, you probably won’t let go of your lust 100%, and that’s a good thing—you do want some excitement!

Quiz: Are You in Love?

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. How awesome is your partner?
    • They're great! We're a really good match.
    • Amazing. They're basically perfect in every way.
    • Meh, they're all right I guess.
  2. On a typical day, what is the PRIMARY emotion you feel when you're around your partner?
    • Happiness and/or contentment. It feels easy and comfortable being around my partner.
    • Passion. I just want to rip their clothes off every second. I can't get enough of them.
    • Nothing, really.
  3. Are you ever worried that your partner may no longer like you?
    • Never or rarely.
    • I'm constantly analyzing everything they do for "signs" that they love me or hate me.
    • I don't care if they like me.
  4. What do you focus on the most when you spend "couple's time" together?
    • Getting to know each other and strengthening the bond.
    • Trying to get them to like me more.
    • I mostly spend the time playing on my phone.
  5. When your partner shows one of the uglier sides of their personality, how do you react?
    • Hey, everyone has their positive and negative traits. It's normal.
    • What ugly side? They're perfect.
    • I don't really react to anything they do because I don't care.
  6. Your partner mentions they passionately hate a certain hobby that you were planning to try out. What do you do?
    • I try it anway. They don't have to do it with me.
    • I change my plans or do it in secret.
    • This wouldn't happen because I don't even listen to their opinions at all.
  7. What do you feel that the relationship adds to your life?
    • Lots of things! Excitement, companionship, a sense of emotional security, a helping hand, etc.
    • It fills a void in my soul. My life was empty before I met my partner, empty!
    • Nothing. Damn, why are we even dating?
  8. Would you say your partner is one of your friends?
    • Yes, one of my best friends!
    • What we have is very different from friendship. It's much more passionate. I don't think we could ever be friends.
    • Nah, I don't even like hanging out with them.

Scoring

For each answer you selected, add up the indicated number of points for each of the possible results. Your final result is the possibility with the greatest number of points at the end.

  1. How awesome is your partner?
    • They're great! We're a really good match.
      • Probably in Love: +5
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • Amazing. They're basically perfect in every way.
      • Probably in Love: +2
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +5
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • Meh, they're all right I guess.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +4
  2. On a typical day, what is the PRIMARY emotion you feel when you're around your partner?
    • Happiness and/or contentment. It feels easy and comfortable being around my partner.
      • Probably in Love: +5
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • Passion. I just want to rip their clothes off every second. I can't get enough of them.
      • Probably in Love: +3
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +5
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • Nothing, really.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +5
  3. Are you ever worried that your partner may no longer like you?
    • Never or rarely.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • I'm constantly analyzing everything they do for "signs" that they love me or hate me.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +5
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • I don't care if they like me.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +5
  4. What do you focus on the most when you spend "couple's time" together?
    • Getting to know each other and strengthening the bond.
      • Probably in Love: +5
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +1
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • Trying to get them to like me more.
      • Probably in Love: +1
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +5
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • I mostly spend the time playing on my phone.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +2
  5. When your partner shows one of the uglier sides of their personality, how do you react?
    • Hey, everyone has their positive and negative traits. It's normal.
      • Probably in Love: +3
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +1
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • What ugly side? They're perfect.
      • Probably in Love: +1
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +5
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • I don't really react to anything they do because I don't care.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +5
  6. Your partner mentions they passionately hate a certain hobby that you were planning to try out. What do you do?
    • I try it anway. They don't have to do it with me.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • I change my plans or do it in secret.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +3
      • Uninterested, It Seems: -2
    • This wouldn't happen because I don't even listen to their opinions at all.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +3
  7. What do you feel that the relationship adds to your life?
    • Lots of things! Excitement, companionship, a sense of emotional security, a helping hand, etc.
      • Probably in Love: +5
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +3
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • It fills a void in my soul. My life was empty before I met my partner, empty!
      • Probably in Love: +1
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +5
      • Uninterested, It Seems: -5
    • Nothing. Damn, why are we even dating?
      • Probably in Love: -5
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: -2
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +5
  8. Would you say your partner is one of your friends?
    • Yes, one of my best friends!
      • Probably in Love: +5
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • What we have is very different from friendship. It's much more passionate. I don't think we could ever be friends.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: +3
      • Uninterested, It Seems: 0
    • Nah, I don't even like hanging out with them.
      • Probably in Love: 0
      • Probably in Lust or Have a Crush: 0
      • Uninterested, It Seems: +5

This table shows the meaning of each possible result:

Probably in Love

Chances are high that you are in love or are in the process of falling in love with your partner. Good for you! Of course, remember that you could still have a mix of feelings, and that's OK. Things may change as the relationship progresses as well.

Probably in Lust or Have a Crush

You may still be in the beginning stages of a relationship, where you are crushing on your partner. That's totally fine. It's just a stage, which may lead to real love later on or not. Remember that you could still have a mix of feelings. Things may change as the relationship progresses.

Uninterested, It Seems

Maybe you're just super chill, but honestly you seem so detached that maybe you're just not that interested. Don't force yourself to be with someone if you're not truly into them.

© 2021 Jorge Vamos

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