Saying "I love you" is big potatoes. Those eight little letters invoke terror, fear of vulnerability, a desire to vomit, possible rejection, and oh, right, sometimes a "happily ever after." But you and your special person haven't said them yet because you're cool people who don't emote the feels you've caught. You don't want to break the "no I love you" cool-streak you have going with your partner, but you want to know how to tell if they love you as soon as possible, because face it — you love the sh*t out of them.
Are there ways to do some body language detective work to determine if your partner likes you? Well, not definitively, because it would be weird if a particular pat on the head meant "I love you" for all humans. That said, there are some actual body cues that might indicate that your partner is totally in love with you.
Maybe they held hands with you in front of their roommate last night, or kissed you on the forehead. The forehead! So sweet. Or maybe, they made out with you without their hands going straight for your bum for the first time. Body language is real. I spoke to behavioral scientist and relationship expert Clarissa Silva about what body language communicates love. Here's some real talk about what to look out for:
1. Their Palms Are Sweaty
Gross! Also, Eminem lyrics! But stick with me, because sweating is an actual sign of attract in human beings.
First, let's get technical about the science behind all of this. "There are a few neurochemical processes that are occurring for both men and women when they are falling in love," says Silva. "Your body is releasing adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin, in addition to testosterone and estrogen." The increase in adrenaline levels is what makes you sweat. "This is what most people think of as 'love at first sight'," she adds.
2. Their Heart Is Racing
This is also due to the increased adrenaline levels in a person, and is part of the "love at first sight" vibe. When I really like (love, I'm a chicken) someone, my heart starts beating as though I've just had a cold brew with an extra shot of Adderall. Boy oh boy, this is real. So if you're resting your head on bae's chest and you feel their heart racing away... signs point to love.
3. Their Mouth Is Dry
OK, so this is a weird one to do detective work on, because you're likely feeling the inside of your partner's mouth with your own wet tongue, but Silva adds that a dry mouth is another result of increased adrenaline levels. Your partner doesn't need to be sweating, having a crazy heart beat, and suffering from a dry mouth all at the same time to indicate that their adrenaline is up though, so there's no need to stick your fingers in boo's mouth to check for sandpapery-ness.
4. They "Intensely Gaze" At You
Yes, this is a real, chemical thing that happens. Silva explains that in addition to adrenaline, dopamine — which is associated with motivation and reward — and serotonin — which keeps a person in your thoughts — are also part of the actual science behind love.
"When these chemical reactions are occurring coupled with hormones, what we see is the gushing over each other [and] intense gazing," says Silva. So, Detective, if your partner can't stop staring at you intently over your candlelit dinner, they might be feeling that real, real love. Don't ask "What are you looking at? Do I have something in my teeth?" and just enjoy it. (Unless you're eating kale. Or anything with poppy seeds.)
5. They Mirror Your Behavior
Copycat! Another effect of the dopamine and serotonin means that your partner might actually mimic your behavior. "Mirroring behavior is what makes us feel like we are the only two people in a crowded room," says Silva. But don't despair just because your partner didn't run his fingers through his hair at the same moment. "Most of these microexpressions and behaviors are occurring reflexively, so we won’t recognize that they are even occurring," explains Silva. "But it is very obvious to others." Adorbs.
OK, so if you were expecting a list of particular hand placements or gentle touches, sorry, that's just dependent on what style of cuddling your partner is into. Think about what it feels like when you fall in love with someone. It's usually pretty tricky to explain. Also, if things are going well and you feel like saying the words, go for it. You only YOLO once!
Check out the entire Gen Why series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.
Check out the “Best of Elite Daily” stream in the Bustle App for more stories just like this!