6 Women Reveal What Falling In Love For The First Time Feels Like & I'm Melting

Chemically speaking, falling in love for the first time is basically magic. Your body releases a ton of dopamine — the neurotransmitter in charge of your brain's pleasure and reward centers (the same hormone released when you have an orgasm, FYI) — which makes the whole world look and feel a bit brighter. More exciting. Kind of sweaty (seriously, though, it impacts your sweat glands).

After that dopamine release comes a rush of neurochemicals like norepinephrine and phenylethylamine, which basically spike your ability to focus. You become completely enraptured by your partner, noticing every little detail about them, like the freckle under their right eye or the way they always sneeze in threes.

The symptoms are different for each individual, of course, but I think it's safe to say that everyone's first time falling in love is a unique, dizzying, and often overwhelming experience. Sometimes it's wonderful, other times terrifying.

I first fell in love when I was just 16, and I can practically pinpoint the moment it happened. My boyfriend was staying the night at my house (he was tagging along on a family trip the next day), and we'd tip-toed into my living room to eat ice cream in the wee hours of the morning. We were eating and kissing and tracing the lines on each other's palms — talking about the future, about college, about all of the unknowns.

"Even if I don't get to be the person you end up with," he'd told me, arms tangled around my waist, "I hope I get to shake the hand of the man that does."

It was utter bullsh*t (I now know), but in that second, my 16-year-old heart cracked open. It felt like hot chocolate and sunshine were rushing through my veins.

From that point on, my heart would skip a beat any time I saw his silver truck pull into my driveway or got a whiff of his off-brand cologne. I was addicted to him, much in the same way that I'm now addicted to iced lattes: Gladly, wholly, and probably to an unhealthy extent. And, though I've experienced different kinds of love in the eight years since our break-up, nothing else has ever felt quite like that.

But again: Falling in love feels different for everyone, and I was dying to hear how other women described that sensation. I asked six women what it felt like the first time they fell in love — some as giddy high schoolers, others as adults — and their responses have left me in a puddle of feels.

I'll let them take it from here.

It Felt Totally Comfortable.
The first time I fell in love I was 17 going on 18. I had said the three magic words (to quote Blair from Gossip Girl) to an ex before, but I always doubted what we had was really love. I knew I was right when I met my second boyfriend. It felt sort of like a lucid dream. Even now, I remember moments less than I remember how I felt in the moment. Always having a reason to smile. Never feeling alone. Being totally comfortable.

—Jess*, 26

It Was Like Finding Something You'd Always Known Was There.
I met my now-husband when we were 17. For me, falling in love was less like falling and more like digging away to find something that had always been there, I just hadn't seen it...
Somehow we knew everything already. The love wasn't new, it was somehow this connection to something bigger and eternal. So it's a way to connect to the bigger love of the human condition, to the reason we were created, to the purpose we were made for.
It's all wrapped up together. So being in love with this person is a way to be who I'm supposed to be and do the things in the world that I'm supposed to do.

—Katie, 31

It Literally Felt Like Falling.
It was my freshman year of college, and it literally felt like falling. Like, right after you drop down on the Tower of Terror at Disney World, or the second after you've jumped up really high on a trampoline. Every time I was around my boyfriend, I would feel this rush through my whole body, from my stomach up to the tip-top of my head (and in a few other parts, too). But the crazy thing is that I never really felt the climb: I didn't know know the feeling of jumping up, just of coming down. Which is why I don't believe people who say they're 'starting' to fall in love with someone. You don't start to fall, you just do.

—Amy*, 24

It Was All-Consuming (In A Not-So-Great Way).
It was too f*cking much. My first love was obsessive. All-consuming. I think first love is more of a big deal because you’re falling in love with someone when you don’t even know or love yourself. So, all of the love and respect that should go to yourself first... doesn’t. It all goes to that person.
Looking back on it, after having fallen in love as a much more mature adult, it’s crazy. Because, on one hand, I was obsessed with my first boyfriend on a level that I will never be 'obsessed' with my current partner. But on the other hand, I didn’t know what actual love was until I met him. He loves me for me — my faults, my weirdness — and he encourages me to show all of myself because he accepts me 100 percent.

—Tori, 24

It Felt Truly Pure.
10 years ago, I don't remember the moment it happened, I developed a crush on a girl in one of my colleges classes. We hung out with the same crowd and she and I constantly laughed together. The following semester we found each other living on the same floor of a residence hall, and a few days after move-in, switched roommates and started living together. We grew closer as friends and would skip class together to watch movies and stay in our room. We never fought, everything was perfect. One day we laid together in the same twin bed to watch a movie, after which we fell asleep. We were both so innocent. At some point during the night, I found my lips pressed against hers (we really don't know who kissed whom first) and a warmth overcoming my body. I gradually woke up experiencing the most amazing kiss from a girl with whom I had already fallen in love through friendship. I felt her soft skin and ran my fingers through her hair. Her hand grazed my thigh. We just took each other in. Not a word was said. Our clothes never came off (happened at a later date). It was such pure love.


It Just... Happened.
I never felt like I ever truly 'fell' in love, because it wasn't like that at all for me. It's like I didn't know what was happening until I found myself there. My now-husband was my best friend, and we enjoyed the process of growing closer and closer. Investing myself into that relationship just felt natural, even though I didn't fully realize (or allow myself to acknowledge) that I loved him until the later 'levels of friendship' turned ~romantic.~ And there I was.

—Kathy*, 25

Swooning? Me, too.

*Names have been changed. Quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.