Are you really falling in love? How do you tell?
There’s no question that the early stages of a relationship can be confusing. You might puzzle over your own feelings, and wonder what the individual you’re dating genuinely thinks of you. Your own emotions may be hard attempting to categorize them or as only a passing interest can be tricky, and to fully decipher. Is what you’re feeling the real thing, or are you just prone to feeling this way and need to be careful moving forward?
Drawing on recent research (focused on heterosexual relationships), here are some questions to help you sort it out:
Are you suddenly doing new things?
They usually branch out beyond their normal range of activities and attempt those that their partners favor, as folks fall in love. You might find yourself attempting new tasks like fishing, running, or gambling, seeing new shows, or trying new foods. Those who fall in love have a tendency to report growth in the content and diversity of their own self-concepts (Aron, Paris, & Aron, 1995).
Have you been especially stressed recently?
So if you’re stressed, stressed, or just jittery, it might be a standard response to the strain of continued social encounters with someone whose opinion matters deeply to you.
Are you currently highly motivated to be with this individual?
Transitioning from a casual relationship to falling in love may have a chemical underpinning: Evidence suggests that dopamine-rich regions of the brain are involved in the beginning stages of love (Fisher, Aron, & Brown, 2005); these areas are considered part of the brain’s “reward system” and function as highly inspirational. Once couples are “in love” for some time, the intensity of these emotions has a tendency to decrease and distinct spaces of the mind, possibly more closely linked to connection, be active.
Does the individual you’re falling your feelings?
Maybe women are more inclined to hold back their emotions until they believe they can be returned, or perhaps girls are more successful at seducing partners. In either case, women who think they’re falling in love are inclined to have their feelings returned more commonly than men, making them more likely to see their feelings become relationships.
How intense are your emotions?
Folks high in connection tension (i.e., they question their own self-worth in relationships) tend to experience a high amount of passion when romance is budding (Sanz Cruces et al., 2015). A dearth of extreme feeling isn’t necessarily an indication that Cupid hasn’t if that’s not you struck —not everyone experiences falling in love exactly the same manner. Actually, those who have avoidant attachment orientations are inclined to fall in love with less intensity.
Does one fall in love often?
If falling in love is a feeling you feel often, you’ll have less chance of missing the real thing—but more opportunity of heartache from mistaking fascination for something more. New evidence suggests that men fall in love more often than women (Sanz Cruces, Hawrylak, & Delegido, 2015). Research workers can clarify this inclination from an evolutionary standpoint, linking love to sex: Whereas women are likely to be more stringent inside their partner criteria before declaring love, because their potential investment within an offspring is greater (e.g., pregnancy, childbirth), such emotions for guys might promote reproduction and could hence be considered evolutionarily advantageous.
Are you really tempted to say, “I adore you”?
A sure sign of romantic interest, some people are more hesitant to utter these three words than others. Although folks might envision that girls are the first to voice it, though, research on heterosexual couples again signals that it’s men who are more inclined to say “I adore you” first (Harrison & Shortall, 2011). Additionally they have a tendency to fall in love quicker.
Have you been in this person?
Their investment is likely increasing in an individual, linking their lives in a way that may promote dedication and equilibrium.
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Falling in love is an uniquely extreme period of time for anyone. But we need to sort out a lot of other questions -in-love stage: Beyond attraction that is clear, is this individual someone who will support you, respect you, understand you, and be compassionate with you? And does this person share your values and priorities?
If you’re lucky, putting in the time and effort during this initial period will pay off, and your reciprocal appeal can transition into a more secure (and less nerve-racking) long-term relationship.
Aron, A., Paris, M., & Aron, E. N. (1995). Falling in love: Prospective studies of self-concept change.
Cruces, J. M. S., Hawrylak, M. F., & Delegido, A. B. (2015). Interpersonal Variability of the Experience of Falling.
Fisher, H., Aron, A., & Brown, L. L. (2005). Romantic love: an fMRI study of a nervous mechanism for mate choice. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 493(1), 58-62.
Girls and men in love: who says it first and really feels it?. The Journal of social psychology, 151(6), 727-736.
Marazziti, D., & Canale, D. (2004). When falling in love hormonal changes. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29(7), 931-9
Rusbult, C. E. (1980). Commitment and satisfaction in intimate associations: An evaluation of the investment model. Journal of experimental social psychology, 16(2), 172-186.