When you think about falling hard and fast for someone, movies would have us believe some grand romantic gesture will be the thing that does us in. But the truth is, the signs of falling in love are often made up of the little, everyday things. Pay attention to adjustments you've made in your day-to-day life that may be an indication that, of all of the people you've dated in the past, this one (this person, this relationship) might be different.
Scientists say your brain goes into a specific state when you're intensely in love. This means brain scans that show which parts are most active look significantly different from scans when you're not in love or when you've ended a relationship. But since we can't just pop in for a brain scan to double-check if we're falling for someone (or not) like a Target run, we consulted the experts instead.
Below, we rounded up 16 signs you're falling in love, according to science and relationship experts.
You're Trying (and Enjoying) Your Partner's Hobbies
Have you bought odd gear and accessories related to a new activity your partner introduced you to? You might be falling in love. Experts interviewed in a 2008 New York Times article reveal people in relationships who try new hobbies together help keep the spark alive long after the honeymoon phase is over. New is the imperative word here. "Rather than visiting the same familiar haunts and dining with the same old friends, couples need to tailor their date nights around new and different activities that they both enjoy," according to Arthur Aron, professor of social psychology.
You're Singing Along to Every Love Song
Falling in love causes feel-good chemicals—namely dopamine, adrenaline, and norepinephrine—to put you in a happy state of mind (meaning there's no longer a need for sad songs), so you might find your self humming along, even to tunes you're not keen on. According to Science Daily, "Falling in love causes our body to release a flood of feel-good chemicals that trigger specific physical reactions," said Pat Mumby, Ph.D.
Pain Is Almost Irrelevant
Yes, you read that right. Studies have shown that even looking at a photo of someone you love can reduce moderate pain by a whopping 40 percent, according to a 2010 Stanford University School of Medicine study. "When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain,” according Sean Mackey, M.D., author of the study.
You Care More About Your Partner's Happiness
When you can place their feelings first, that's how you know it's true love. Compassionate love, a type of love in which you are capable of empathizing with your partner, is a sign of a healthy, long-term relationship. According to marriage researchers at UC Berkeley, "One should expect spouses who love each other compassionately to stay together longer, be happier, and support each other more effectively than couples who do not love each other compassionately."
You Care What Their Friends Think About You
If you find yourself caring about their friends, creating opportunities to hang out as a group, and asking your S.O. after a hang out what they thought about you, you could be falling in love. "By making the effort to become friendly with your S.O.’s friends, you are showing your S.O. how much you care about them," says relationship etiquette expert Mara Opperman.
You're Attracted to Their Quirks
Another sign you may be falling in love is if habits that normally bother you don't. In fact, you may find them kind of endearing. We all have different preferences, and someone's quirks can actually make us fall deeper in love with them, so don't be afraid to be yourself. "The very thing you’re trying to hide from [them] is what will make [them] connect to you, open up to you, and endear [them] to you," writes relationship expert Rori Raye in an eHarmony blog post. Yet another reason to be authentic, "Your vibe changes when you have a sense of passion, and you light up from within," Raye writes.
You Seem More Stressed Than Usual
According to an article in Psychology Today, there is a connection between falling in love and the stress hormone. "As welcome as falling in love might be, evidence links the experience with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol (Marazziti & Canale, 2004)," the article reads. "So if you’re anxious, tense, or just plain jittery, it might be a normal response to the strain of repeated social encounters with someone whose impression matters deeply to you."
Sometimes Your Heart Skips a Beat
Scientifically speaking, your heart begins to speed up when you're around someone you love.
Their Scent Is Actually Intoxicating
Experts say that scent can be an important part of your attraction, and we may even have a perfect scent match. It's the reason why you like the way your sheets smell when they get up in the morning or you want to wear their old T-shirt to bed.
You're Not as Hungry
Maybe it's because your stomach is filled with butterflies. One small study of a sample of men from researchers at Harvard Medical School, published in the journal Obesity, has found that oxytocin, commonly known as the "love hormone," may not only be a "feel-good" chemical but an appetite suppressant too.
The Future Comes Up a Lot
Like that wedding six months down the road and where you'll spend the holidays. It means you want to be together long-term. Many people have a fear of discussing the future, so the fact that you've already gotten over that pesky hurdle probably means love is in the air.
It's Just Plain Easy
As in you don't have to overthink everything like you normally have in past relationships. When you're with that person, you can just "be."
You Talk About Them All the Time
To the point where it can get a little annoying to family and friends—but it's endearing so you get a pass (it may all be because of those feel-good hormones in your brain we discussed earlier.)
You Crave Being Connected
We're not saying you need to be attached at the hip, but you want to know where your person is and how their day is going. Serena Goldstein, a naturopathic doctor in New York City, says being separated from your partner even for a short time is kind of like coming down from a high.
Goldstein tells CNN, "Corticotrophin releasing factor is increased as part of a stress response when we are away from our partner, contributing to anxiety and depression," she says. This may be why you feel such an urge to keep in touch, and in the case of long-distance couples, even more so. The CNN article writes that growing attached to a partner's voice is one way long-distance couples learn to cope with this stress response.
You Miss Them
Similar to the example above, when you're falling for someone, you want to be around them all the time. If you find yourself missing your S.O. instead of relishing in your alone time, you might be falling in love.
They're the First Person You Call With News
One of the signs you may be falling in love with someone is when they become the person you rely on through thick and thin. You are investing a lot of time, energy, and emotion into this person, and that means a lot.
Song H, Zou Z, Kou J, et al. Love-related changes in the brain: a resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Front Hum Neurosci. 2015;9:71. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00071
New York Times. "Reinventing Date Night for Long-Married Couples." February 12, 2008.
ScienceDaily. "What Falling in Love Does to Your Heart and Brain." February 6, 2014.
Stanford Medicine. "Love Takes Up Where Pain Leaves Off, Brain Study Shows." October 13, 2010.
Greater Good Magazine. "To Know You is to Love You." March 1, 2004.
Psychology Today. "How Do You Really Know if You're Falling in Love" July 16, 2015.
Seshadri KG. The neuroendocrinology of love. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2016;20(4):558-563. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.183479
Kromer J, Hummel T, Pietrowski D, et al. Influence of HLA on human partnership and sexual satisfaction. Sci Rep. 2016;6:32550. doi:10.1038/srep32550
Lawson EA, Marengi DA, DeSanti RL, Holmes TM, Schoenfeld DA, Tolley CJ. Oxytocin reduces caloric intake in men. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015;23(5):950-956. doi:10.1002/oby.21069
CNN. "How Your Body Reacts When You Fall in Love." February 12, 2016.