Why do we fall in love?

Knowing you’re in love feels different for everyone. Some have been in love often and know the feeling well, and others may be not so sure if it’s love or just a deep infatuation.

Luckily, your body has some pretty sneaky ways of tipping you off to whether these feelings for your partner are more than just a passing phase. Keep an eye out for these tell-tale signs the next time you catch yourself wondering if you’re actually in love.

Top 10 reasons we fall in love

1. Love is a drug. Neuroscientist Thomas Insel and colleagues at Emory University in Atlanta conducted studies showing that that monogamous pair bonding among prairie voles (small rodents that mate for life) affects the same brain reward circuits that are responsible for addiction to cocaine and heroin.

They say their conclusions are probably true for humans, too. As Robert Palmer said, you’re gonna have to face it.

2. We are created for love. Who said that? I did.

Okay, so now we know some of what the world of science has to offer on the subject of falling in love. Meanwhile, what’s the best way to stay in love? Psychologist Arthur Aron says the best predictor for lasting longterm relationships is kindness.

In other words, despite all that science has to offer, there’s something about love, falling in love, being in love, showing love, maintaining lifelong love – whether that’s between romantic partners, parents and children, friends or people in the world at large – that transcends all our definitions and attempts to understand. True, scientific studies have shown neurochemical, psychological, olfactory, evolutionary and psychological reasons for love. But, in the end, we love who we love, and the act of loving makes us who we are.

3. Our hormones. You know how your heart pounds and your mouth goes dry when your new lover rings the doorbell? It’s basically a stress response. Romantic, eh? Adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin all come into play in love’s early stages. Love-struck couples also have high levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which stimulates an intense rush of pleasure, essentially the same effect on the brain as taking cocaine (see #9, below). Want to learn more about hormones in love? Try this post from Scientific American: Your brain in love.

4. Sex is good for us. Sex relieves stress, boosts immunity, burns calories, boosts heart health, improves intimacy … and so much more.

5. Your heart rate synchronizes with theirs

Your heart may skip a beat when you think about the one you love, but a study showed that you may also be beating in time with each other. A study conducted by the University of California, Davis, suggests that couples’ hearts begin to beat at the same rate when they fall in love.

6. To make and raise babies, together. Martie Haselton, a psychologist at UCLA, believes love is a “commitment device,” a mechanism that encourages two humans to form a lasting bond to ensure the “long-term health of children.” Haselton and her colleagues conducted experiments, asking people to think about how much they love their partners while suppressing thoughts of other attractive people. They then have the same people think about how much they sexually desire their partners while suppressing thoughts about others. It turns out that love does a much better job of pushing out potential rivals than sex does. This is what you’d expect, Haselton says, if love was a drive to form a long-term commitment. She said:

Natural selection has built love to make us feel romantic.

Although you may not be able to tell if this has happened without a few stethoscopes, feeling a deep connection to your partner is a good a sign as any that you’re in love.

 

7. You love their quirks​

If you really get to know a person, chances are you’ll pick on the little things that make them uniquely them. And if you’re in love with them, these are probably some of the things that attract you most about them.

A study found that small quirks can actually make a person fall deeper in love with someone rather than just physical attributes because people have unique preferences. So although you may have judged your partner a little harshly on first glance, if you find that you’re suddenly in awe of their uniqueness, you might be in love.

8. You don’t feel pain as strongly.​

Falling for someone might be painful, but if you’ve noticed that literally falling doesn’t bother you as much anymore, it could be a big sign you’re in love.

A study conducted by the Stanford University School of Medicine had participants stare at a photo of someone they loved and found that act could reduce moderate pain by up to 40%, and reduced severe pain by up to 15%.

So if you’re getting a tattoo, you may want to keep a photo of your partner handy. Just in case.

9. You want them to be happy.​

Love is an equal partnership, but you’ll find someone’s happiness becomes really important to you when you’re falling for them.

So-called “compassionate love” can be one of the biggest signs of a healthy relationship, according to research. This means that you’re willing to go out of your way to make your partner’s life easier and happier.

If you find yourself going out of your way to keep your partner dry when walking in the rain or making them breakfast on a busy weekday morning, it’s a sign you’ve got it bad.

10. You’ve been stressed lately.

 

Although love is often associated with warm and fuzzy feelings, it can also be a huge source of stress. Being in love often causes your brain to release the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead you to feel the heat.

So if you’ve noticed your patience is being tested a little more than normal or you’re kind of freaking out, you may not need to carry a stress ball just yet; you may just be in love.