To be able to predict your partner’s emotions and know what he or she is trying to tell you is just as important as romance and attraction. How do you know if you’re in love? Think you might be in love? Gain some insight by this test:
Here are some other insights from psychologist Theresa E DiDonato Ph.D.:
- You’re addicted to this person.
Love changes the brain. In early-stage relationships, that euphoria that people feel appears as heightened neural activity indopamine-rich areas of the brain—areas linked to the reward system—and in areas associated with the pursuit of rewards. There’s even some hint of activity in the anterior cingulate, the area of the brain linked to obsessive thinking, which is a classic experience when people are falling in love (Aron, Fisher, Mashek, Strong, & Brown, 2005). As a relationship progresses into a long-term partnership, thinking about the partner activates the reward centers as well as brain areas implicated in attachment, but less so obsessive thinking (Acevedo, Aron, Fisher, & Brown, 2011).
- You really want your friends or family to like this person.
New evidence shows that people are often motivated to “marshal support” for someone they are dating (Patrick & Faw, 2014), which is consistent with the idea that the people in a person’s social circle often play an important role in the success of a relationship (Sprecher, 2011). Being attuned to how your family and friends might think about your partner or potential partner is a good sign that you are becoming increasingly attached to the person.
- You celebrate this person’s triumphs (even when you yourself fail).
If you’ve fallen in love with someone, you probably have an atypical reaction when witnessing them excelling at something you don’t. Because romantic partners feel connected and can share the outcomes of each other’s successes, romantic partners will often feel pride and positive emotions when they see their partner succeed, even at something they themselves can’t do, rather than feeling negative and inferior (Lockwood & Pinkus, 2014).
- You definitely like this person, and this person likes you.
Liking is different from love, but is often a prerequisite for falling in love. In a cross-cultural study, researchers showed that a critical factor recognized as directly preceding falling in love is reciprocal liking, when you both clearly like each other (Riela, Rodriguez, Aron, Xu, & Acevedo, 2010). In addition, an evaluation of the other person’s personality as highly desirable tends to be a precursor to falling in love.
- You really miss this person when you’re apart.
In many ways, how much you miss a person reflects how interdependent your lives have become. If you are questioning whether you love someone, perhaps consider how much you miss him or her when you’re apart. Le and colleagues (2008) showed that how much people miss each other tends to correspond with how committed they feel to the relationship.
Falling in love and building an attachment are a wonderful basis for a healthy relationship, but keep in mind that staying in a relationship is often based on more than satisfaction and feeling good in another person’s presence.
Models of relationship success show that the staying power of relationships takes mutual investment and commitment. If love is passion, security, and emotional comfort, commitment is the necessary decision made within one’s cultural and social contexts to be with that person.
Relationship observers—and people who watch romantic comedies—know that love needs the buttressing of commitment to flourish into a stable and healthy partnership.