Relationship coach Michelle Fraley says learning to read your partner’s body language can be key for deciphering whether they've fallen for you. “Nonverbal behavior is a big part of healthy and loving communication,” she says.
Can you really sense when someone is in love with you?
The short answer? Yes. It is absolutely possible to get a sense of whether someone is in love with you based on physical and non-physical signs. “Usually, we sense this through their micro-expressions or behaviors,” says relationship expert Parisa Bady. “However, sometimes it’s just a feeling, maybe a warm feeling of openness and safety.” After all, “our subconscious has a tendency to pick up on things that we may not even consciously realize,” she adds.
8 body language signs someone is in love with you
If someone is in love, they’ll close the physical gap between you as often as they can. According to Fraley, you’ll want to consider the following four questions to sense whether that's happening:
- Do they make an effort to get closer to me while standing?
- Do they inch closer to me while seated?
- Do they place objects, like their drink or phone, in my physical space?
- Do they lean in when talking, or put their body (including arms and legs) near my physical body?
If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, it's clear this person has a desire to be physically close. To be a love signal, this proximity should feel comfortable and easy, not necessarily charged, says clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD. “When someone is falling in love, they’ll often lean toward their partner in a way that feels different from being sexually interested,” she says. “It’s a leaning-in that says, ‘I enjoy you; I want to be closer to you.’”
Think about it: You likely touch people for whom you have feelings of affection more often than you do those for whom you feel nothing—whether you're kissing a partner, hugging your mom, or patting a friend on the back or shoulder.
To assess whether someone is in love with you, watch for the potentially unnecessary use of touch because that's a key physical sign. “Do they brush up against you, or touch your arm or hand when talking?” Fraley says. “If your partner is craving your physical touch, that is another indication that they may be in love.”
Attentiveness is a huge physical sign that someone is falling in love; if it's clear that they're hanging on your every word, for example, they’re enthralled, and it could very well be love. “Love often brings with it tunnel vision,” says Fraley. So if it seems like your partner is able to focus exclusively on you and not get overly distracted by other stimuli, that's a good sign.
4. Eye contact
Eye contact can create such an intense physical connection that researchers have even used it to trigger feelings of love. So, if your partner is looking deeply and comfortably into your eyes, that communicates a lot about their desires.
“Eye contact is an intimate and vulnerable act and can be very meaningful,” says Fraley. “Deep eye contact, or holding your gaze for at least four seconds, may indicate feelings of love.” Bonus points if they smile in your presence, too. “When we’re in love, we almost cannot help but smile around our love interest,” Bady says.
"Deep eye contact, or holding your gaze for at least four seconds, may indicate feelings of love."—Parisa Bady, relationship expert
However, while it's important to note that someone going out of their way to hold eye contact with you is a sign of affection, Dr. Manly cautions that a lack of eye contact isn't necessarily a sign someone doesn't desire you. They could have attachment wounds, trauma, or just cultural practices from their upbringing that make eye contact particularly tough for them—so, don't take a lack of eye contact as disinterest, particularly if other signs of love are present.
“A person that is in love with you is [emotionally] open to you, and that’ll be reflected in their body language,” Bady says. “Their body will be facing you, especially their hips, knees, and feet, and they may lean in closer, too.”
By contrast, being physically closed-off or turning away from you while sitting or standing can indicate the opposite. “Crossed arms often indicate that someone is closed off to feeling loved or giving love,” says Dr. Manly. “When someone is ready to love and be loved, they’ll be open in their heart space instead.”
Bady adds that openness in a person's extremities is also a good sign of love. “Our bodies often reveal our deepest feelings, despite our efforts to hide them,” she says. “As such, we tend to carry emotions in our hands and feet. When someone has their palms up while interacting with you, this is a clear indication that they are emotionally open and receptive to you.”
6. Protective gestures
Dr. Manly says it’s common for a person in love to feel highly protective of the person they care for. Physically, this may take the form of gestures that involve protection or help. “When we love someone, we care about their safety,” says Dr. Manly. “A person who is falling in love will often take great care to protect [the person they love], whether it's by opening doors for them, walking street-side, or putting an arm out in front of them at a crosswalk.”
If your partner seems to be extending an extra hand without thinking twice, they might be falling in love. And if their actions make you feel cared for, you’re likely in the clear to take the leap and say those three words without fear of being left hanging.
7. Relaxed demeanor and breath
When someone is in love with you, they won’t just feel (and look) open and receptive; they’ll likely also feel relaxed and at ease around you.
What does this look like? Think of the opposite of how someone might carry themselves when they're stressed or trying to shield or protect themselves. “A loving posture includes gentle shoulders, relaxed neck, and relaxed mouth,” says Dr. Manly. A person who loves you may also have a steady, calm, and relaxed breath because they don't feel stressed or uncomfortable in your presence, she adds.
Notice whether your partner tends to adopt a similar posture to yours while seated and often walks at a similar pace. Bady says people tend to mirror the mannerisms of the people they love. Do you find that your partner adjusts their pace to match yours? They could very well be in love with you.
What happens physically when you fall in love?
Though falling in love is certainly a psychological process, it also has key physical components. “Being in love triggers neurotransmitters such as dopamine and oxytocin to be released in our brains, signaling responses in the body regions associated with pleasure and reward,” says Bady, “and that can generate feelings of euphoria, increased sexual desire, and a spike in energy.”
Coupled with these responses come all the physical signs of love above. To recognize if you’re falling in love with someone, Bady recommends paying attention to your own body language when you’re around the person. If you smile a lot around them, mirror their body language, and turn your body toward them, those are all signs that you’re falling in love, she says.
Can you see love in someone's eyes?
While the eyes can certainly convey elements of love, they're not a portal to love alone. “You can often tell someone desires you with their eyes, and you can tell that they’re feeling affectionate and fond of or interested in you, but I would say you can't tell true love through the eyes because love is so much deeper than only the eyes can show us,” says Dr. Manly. Also, there are a plethora of different gestures that can indicate love, and the eyes play just a singular role.
How do I know if I'm in love or just infatuated?
It can be tough to differentiate between love and infatuation because they share a lot of the same physical and psychological signs, but according to Dr. Manly, there's one key difference: Love doesn't happen instantly while infatuation can.
Love is a combination of romantic and sexual desire, typically with a foundation of friendship. To love someone requires really knowing them, and that only happens once you've spent enough time with them to see their true nature. "True romantic love builds over time, and it's built on a base of friendship that generally gets stronger and stronger," says Dr. Manly.
"True romantic love builds over time."—Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist
Compared to love, infatuation is "about the high of getting to know someone," says Dr. Manly, before you have all the information necessary to actually form that deeper connection. She says it can be especially common in the first six months or year of dating because at this point, people are still feeling each other out, and they haven't necessarily bared themselves fully.
This lack of information can cause someone to fill in the gaps with whatever they want, which can feed infatuation until something happens to break the spell. "We often become infatuated with someone when the masks have not been taken off yet," says Dr. Manly. So, if you've recently started dating someone, and you're wondering how soon is too soon to say, "I love you," it might be worth taking a beat; the passion of infatuation can fade once you get to know someone... or it could deepen into love. But giving yourself enough time (aka, at least a couple months) is essential to seeing how things unfold.
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