What does love feel like?
Well, that depends on whom you’re asking and the stage of “love” they happen to be in at the time the question is posed. Someone in the “throes of love” will undoubtedly list feelings such as:
- Euphoric sensation of being on Cloud 9
- Heart palpitations
- Searing longing when you’re apart
- Inability to concentrate on anything else
- Desire to spend every waking moment together, preferably without interruption from the outside world.
- Renewed optimism, as if anything is possible
So let’s jump into it!
Love is the Drug
This is the phase where strong, heady emotions run high.
It’s an intoxicating sensation like no other sometimes likened to drugs—which is not that far off because chemicals are at play.
If you have never experienced it for yourself, it can be quite challenging to imagine what it must actually feel like to be in love.
Gushing commentary about new love, such as “it’s like no other feeling in the world” do little to explain the state of mind.
With such an abstract thing as love, no rules apply.
Every person experiences it in a different manner, so it’s difficult to make comparisons. In fact, people experience it differently during different times of their lives, or with different partners.
So, what does love feel like?
There are limitless definitions for the word. Some consider it an idea, others more a feeling. Let’s start with the basics.
Love is a strong affection for another arising out of kinship, personal ties, sexual desire, admiration, benevolence, or common interests.Merriam-Webster definition
This includes the maternal love of a mother to her child, love among friends, and love between adults.
Sadly, not everyone gets to experience love in its many different forms, and not all people are lucky enough to experience being truly in love.
There are so many factors involved and so many things that have to fall in place before love can happen.
The good thing is that there are countless opportunities to fall in love if you are open to it.
Falling in Love with You
Falling in love is both an exhilarating and somewhat terrifying experience.
If you believe you are about to fall in love for the first time, you have to be prepared for the roller-coaster ride that is about to happen.
Although love is fundamentally a feeling, the experience is more than emotional. It is also chemical and comes with numerous physical manifestations that might surprise and even scare you.
You will soon realize that love affects your mental and psychological outlook, as well. It will change you and the way you see yourself and the world.
Don’t worry, because these changes are usually for the better.
As we said earlier, there’s no single answer to the question, “What does love feel like?” We can, however, give you a more in-depth look at the symptoms of it. To find out if you are in love or close to getting there, check out the following signs.
Signs That You Are in Love
Here is a list of the psychological manifestations of love that some jokingly refer to as afflictions. If you’ve ever been in love, you’ll be able to relate. If you haven’t, it can be a real eye-opener.
1. You can’t stop thinking about them
No matter what time of day, you are always thinking about them.
From the moment you wake up in the morning before you even open your eyes, they are the first thought to cross your mind, up until the time your eyes are fluttering shut as you are falling asleep at night, you are still thinking of them.
2. You constantly daydream about them
In the middle of class or a business meeting, you find yourself staring into blank space wondering what they’re doing. You get lost in conversations because your thoughts frequently drift to them.
You have to be careful about this, though. It certainly feels good to be lost in your fantasies, but it can get you in trouble.
At the very least, it would be embarrassing if you were caught daydreaming by your boss.
3. You Can’t Stop Talking About Them
No matter what the topic, your mind manages to create a link to that person. Even when it has nothing to do with them at all, you find ways to bring them into the conversation.
Warning: while you may be in the newly in love, your friends might find it annoying after a while.
4. You Trust Them Implicitly
Wisely or not, you can comfortably tell them things—your deepest fears, your greatest dreams—that you can’t imagine divulging to anyone else in the world.
Ultimately, you allow yourself to be completely vulnerable when you are around them.
5. You Find Yourself Imagining Your Future Together
The life that you will have several years down the road may seem so clear to you now. You imagine getting married, living in a house together, having kids, and so on.
Maybe you even have details of these imaginings in your mind, like how many children you’re going to have, what you’ll name your dog, or where you’re going to spend your honeymoon. Try not to get too ahead of yourself.
6. You Think They Are Perfect
Well, maybe not really perfect, but you focus much more on their positive traits and downplay the negative.
This is why people say that love is blind.
You basically ignore their negative qualities because you are so focused on what makes them wonderful in your eyes.
And those are just the emotional aspects of love.
Physical Signs of Love
Aside from the emotional changes that are taking over your being, there are also tangible physical signs that you are falling in love.
An anthropologist from Rutgers University, Helen Fisher, has studied these physical signs that people experience when they are in love.
Even if these signs feel magical and surreal, there is a scientific explanation for them. Your brain produces an influx of certain chemicals when you are in love, like dopamine and norepinephrine, and less of others, like serotonin.
These changes are what cause your body to react accordingly. So what does love feel like physically?
Here are some of the most common signs:
- You find yourself involuntarily smiling a lot, often because you are thinking of them.
- You tremble visibly and get nervous when they are around. Your hands might also get sweaty.
- Your heart beats rapidly when you are with them, near them, or even just thinking about them.
- You have a glow about you that makes you look attractive to other people.
- Your appetite just disappears sometimes, or you skip meals because you don’t feel hungry.
- You find it hard to sleep at night.
- Your eyes light up when they enter a room or even at the mere mention or thought of them.
- You might notice that you have a higher level of energy than usual.
These physical changes are primarily the result of a rise in certain hormones in the body.
Be on the lookout for:
- An increase in dopamine makes your brain—and, consequently, your body—focus on the object of your desire.
- Higher norepinephrine makes you highlight the person’s positive traits.
- A boost in testosterone increases your sexual attraction to them.
- Adrenaline increases your energy and your heart rate.
- Your sympathetic nervous system kicks in, and your eyes dilate, enlarging your pupils—which, by the way, science has discovered is considered an attractive trait in potential lovers.
Love vs. Emotional Dependency
Besides asking yourself, “What does love feel like?” there’s the additional question of emotional dependency.
A lot of times, people have thought they were in love, only to figure out later on that what they had was actually just a case of emotional dependency.
In other words, they were more in need rather than in love. The person they think they are in love with serves as a projection of something that’s missing in their lives.
When you are emotionally dependent, you may experience constant feelings of jealousy or possessiveness when it comes to the person you think you are in love with.
You might feel suspicious when someone else gets too close to them, and you may want to have them with you all the time.
Maybe you also experience separation anxiety when you are away from each other. You find yourself checking your phone frequently to see if there are messages from them and become agitated when there aren’t.
Some people count the hours until they are together again.
According to relationship experts, a person is truly in love when he or she is not needy and is not worried about controlling the relationship. It is more about giving rather than getting.
You are not so concerned about your fears about the relationship because you are secure. You do not expect the other person to fill your emotional voids, which you should learn to fill on your own.
Love vs. Infatuation
Another common relationship misconception that people make is mistaking love for infatuation. This is easier to identify than the confusion surrounding emotional dependency.
Infatuation is more like a strong physical attraction.
The dictionary definition is a feeling of foolish or obsessively strong love, admiration, or interest in someone. It could be like an obsessive crush for younger people, or an intense sexual desire for more mature men and women.
Another word for that is lust.
Infatuation can range from harmless to toxic and addictive. It makes you reckless, disrupting your priorities while you chase sexual satisfaction.
It can lead to questionable decisions that you know are wrong, but you keep making them, anyway. It’s like a manic drug, and you’ll stop at nothing to get your fix—which is another reason the feelings of love are sometimes compared to drugs.
Love, on the other hand, feels distinctly different—at least healthy love.
Yes, it can be addictive, but it’s not detrimental to your wellbeing and overall life. It is not centered on the physical aspect so much, although physical attraction is undoubtedly part of it.
You are more attracted to the other person’s heart and soul rather than the more superficial elements like looks, money, or possessions.
Infatuation is short-lived usually, only lasting for a few weeks or months, while sexual attraction is still new and intense.
Once this infatuation fades, and it always does, there’s frequently nothing left to base a relationship on unless love was also present in the beginning, or unless by some means the infatuation had managed to evolve into love.
Real love, on the other hand, has a longer shelf life and is based on a strong foundation of friendship and trust. Frequently, people who fall in love are good friends first before either of them finally fell in love.
There is an open, selfless, and unconditional bond between the two people that grows steadily over time.
Staying in Love
Once you’ve established that you are really, truly in love—not infatuated, or obsessed, or emotionally dependent—then you should do what you can to stay in love.
As mentioned earlier, not everyone is lucky enough to experience being in love. Some never find the right person. Others do, but circumstances might not allow them to be together.
So if you have found your special someone and are genuinely in love, you should count your blessings and consider yourself fortunate.
Real love does grow over time, but it also requires work. Just like a garden that you tend to in order to flourish, so should you tend to your relationship. Statistics show that almost 50% of marriages in the United States currently end in divorce.
These couples may have been head over heels in love during the early part of their relationship, but something went wrong somewhere along the line.
There are things you can do to keep your relationship from fizzling out, of course, so don’t lose hope. There are plenty of ways to prevent the fruit of your labors from withering on the vine.
Keeping Love Alive
During the early stages of love, there is usually a lot of sweetness and shows of affection between couples.
Unfortunately, these displays gradually dwindle over time until they disappear entirely. But that doesn’t have to happen.
The ways that you express your love may change over the years, but it’s critical that you continue to let your partner know that they are special to you and that you still care.
This is accomplished through simple gestures, not high-ticket items like jewelry or cars.
Spend Alone Time Together
Many couples stop going on dates after having kids, thinking that it is more important now to be good parents. This is a common misconception.
While the children are definitely a priority, your relationship as a couple is equally important.
Spending quality time with the kids is great, but periodically spending alone time together is essential to a healthy, loving relationship.
Maintaining Physical Attraction
When two people get married or live together, it’s relatively common for them to start slacking on the effort it takes to maintain their looks.
Eventually, this can lead to a decline in physical attraction between them, which can lead to marital dissatisfaction.
Studies reveal that while physical contact is a rather arbitrary measure of happiness in a marriage, it’s been found that most happy couples that are in love have sexual intercourse at least once a week.
While it may seem shallow and unfair, letting yourself go has zero benefits to your relationship or your physical and emotional health.
Once the new car smell wears off, it is easy for couples to fall into a passive period. They settle into the routine of daily living, and eventually, the relationship becomes just that, routine. Established love doesn’t have to be dull or boring.
Of course, it isn’t going to be all fireworks, so ditch the unrealistic expectations. However, there is no reason the relationship has to fall into a rut, either. Veer away from routine every once in a while.
- Try out a new restaurant.
- Travel somewhere neither of you have been before.
- Learn a new skill together.
Doing these things as a couple can help keep the relationship interesting and the love burning.
There’s new love, established love, and mature love. If you ask couples in decades’ long relationships, “what does love feel like,” their answers will differ greatly from either of the first two groups.
Mature love doesn’t rely on sex, game playing, or excitement. It is not predicated on sparks as much as it is on deep affection and mutual respect.
At this point, you know each other in and out, good and bad, and you can still bear the sight of one another (which is something a lot of couples in far shorter relationships can’t always say).
More than that, losing a mate at this stage of life is akin to losing a limb.
In fact, it’s not unusual for couples in enduring marriages (40, 50, and 60+ years) to pass with hours, days, weeks, or even a few months of one another, that’s how strong the bond of mature love is.
When asked what true love is, those in the know—the ones who have experienced real or genuine love over time—will say it’s the willingness to step in front of a speeding train or a bullet for the one you care about most.
That’s the kind of love usually seen between parent and child, but it’s nice to know the feeling can extend to romantic partners in the jaded world we live in.
There’s hope for humankind yet.