Is It Really Love—Or Just Infatuation?

They had a bad day at work? You’re there with an afternoon coffee. Their childhood dog just passed? You’re in tears, too. It’s little wonder, since research shows a strong neurological connection between romantic love and a deep sense of compassion.

7. You can think beyond the present moment.

“Infatuation and lust are very present-focused emotions,” Dr. Tashiro explains. “They focus your attention narrowly on whatever you’re feeling the desire for. That doesn’t tend to lead to future-oriented thinking.” But those who are in love tend to be looking down the road. “When you look at folks who feel more of a companionate kind of love,” he says, “they think about what a coordinated life together could look like.”

In other words, instead of pondering, say, which graduate programs you might apply to based entirely on the schools’ faculties and locations, you might consider the way in which this decision might impact your shared existence with your partner. Which city is best for their career as well? How close does their family live to each program? What might a joint decision on this matter look like?

8. This love feels real to you—and doesn’t fit a pattern of false alarms.

“If you’re someone prone to infatuation and crushes,” warns Dr. Fleming, “the question is, what are the patterns? Do you pine for people who are unavailable, long-distance, married? Are you often attracted to avoidant people?” If so, she suggests taking a beat and really considering whether this time is different.

“It always helps to have curiosity about our feelings,” says Dr. Fleming, “so we have a sense of which ones to lean into”—that is, which ones to pursue versus which ones to perhaps think twice about. If you’re the type for whom romantic feelings don’t necessarily come easily but you’re absolutely wild about this new person and can’t stop thinking about them, that’s a sign that this may be the real deal.

The key, as Dr. Fleming says, is to be curious about your feelings. Sit with them, and see if they change with time or circumstance. Do you only feel “in love” with this person when they’re nearby, but largely forget about them when you’re apart? Do you feel any reservations alongside your romantic feelings—things about the person that gives you pause, but that you maybe haven’t unpacked just yet? These are all important things to consider before setting your heart on love.

9. Your feelings are reciprocated.

Of course, it’s possible to love someone who doesn’t love you back—and it’s terrible, to be sure (Bonnie Raitt gets it). But if you’re under the impression that the two of you are falling in mutual love, it’s important to be sure you’re reading the room.

How can you tell if they’re as into you as you are them? Dr. Fleming offers this tip: Pay attention to their attention. If they’re falling in love with you, too, “they’re interested in being around you, even if it’s just to banter,” she explains, warning that the flipside is equally important. Do they seem distracted when you hang out? Do they give you subtle cues that they’re not thrilled to be spending time with you, like looking at their watch or cutting things short? If so, it might be time to pull back on those feelings. If someone is in love with you, they, too, will be exhibiting many of the behaviors on this list—like accepting the full you (flaws and all) and being invested in your day-to-day life.

If they’re not, then take heart. Yes, it really, really sucks. But as anyone who’s been there will tell you, romantic rejection really does get better with time. And we don’t have to know you to understand that you deserve someone who’s equally into you.

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