Falling in love feels like you’re on all of the happy drugs. It's equal parts “Daniel After Dentist,” “I just joined an amazing new cult and I would do anything for its leader,” and “Am I coming down with the flu?” Falling is love is (clearly) difficult to explain. However, falling into lust, falling into post-two-martini like, or falling into infatuation all conjure similar sorts of euphoric feelings — at least for a moment. If you’ve ever had any of the above feelings and then thought “HELP! Am I in love?” you’re absolutely not alone.
How do you actually know if you’re in love? (And also, when will there be a pee-on-a-stick test you can buy at the drugstore for it?) Here’s me playing devil’s advocate: If you’re not sure if you’re in love yet, can you really be in love? Don’t you just "know when you know"?
To gain clarity on this somewhat ambiguous matter, I spoke to Clinical Psychologist and host of The Web Radio Show, Joshua Klapow, Ph.D about what red flags that can indicate you're not quite in love yet. Here's what he shared with me.
1. You ignore certain things about your partner that bother you.
One of the first red flags that you might not be in love love with your partner yet is that "you find yourself 'overlooking' idiosyncrasies and irritants that you believe you will learn to deal with," says Dr. Klapow. Of course it is natural for your partner to bother you from time to time, but if you're pushing past major frustrations to "make it work" it might not be true love. (Whatever that is...)
When you are in love with a partner "you want to be connected to them no matter what they say or do," explains Dr. Klapow. "You can be mad or frustrated with them, but you still want to be with them." If you don't feel this way, it doesn't mean you should break up! It just means that you might not be in love just yet.
2. You're worried you'll have to make changes to your life to be together.
While meeting someone from another city on your random vacation in Brussels and having them be the total love of your life is totally possible, sometimes things should just feel easy. However, if "there is a feeling that they need to make changes or you need to make changes to be together for the foreseeable future," then maybe you're not in love just yet, says Dr. Klapow.
Again, if your sweetie is about to go to India for four months, don't fret — it's early still! "These red flags do come up from time to time in any relationship," says Dr. Klapow. Breathe easy for now, but maybe pay attention?
3. You find yourself thinking about other relationships.
When you're in love, there may be thoughts of other people, or relationships — especially from your past — that pop into your mind from time to time. But when you're in love, "you envision yourself with the person in the worst of times and you have the confidence that you can ride out any storm," explains Dr. Kaplow. True, we all can self-sabotage with exes and have crushes on coworkers, but at the end of the day, who do you feel most solid with?
"Love is both 'known' and never known at the same time," says Dr. Klapow. "So often what we feel is novelty, attraction, and frankly lust." However — just because you're feeling those "David After Dentist" feelings, don't assume it's lust and not love. "Give it some time, [and] don't jump to conclusions," says Dr. Klapow. "People do fall in love over time — and so these red flags may very well fade over time. If they don't, time to move on."
This article is not meant to scare you out of the feelings — I think we all do a good enough job of that ourselves. Instead, I want to remind you that love is crazy intangible, and if you're not sure how to label your feelings yet, consider that you might just not be there yet. Time will tell. I really mean that.