How to tell when you’re in love, according to an expert

happy couple in love
An expert has revealed the tell-tale signs that you are in love. (Getty Images)

There really is no feeling quite like love, be it loving someone or feeling loved.

Love comes in all different forms, from romantic love to familial love and even the love you have for your friends - but it’s romantic love that people mean when they talk about being in love.

Yet, if you’re just at the beginning of a new relationship you might not be able to distinguish the difference between your feelings of like, lust and love as this tends to be the stage when you’re completely infatuated with the other person.

Read more: How long does it take the average person to say 'I love you' in a relationship? (Yahoo Life UK, 3-min read)

If you’re currently trying to figure out these feelings, then you’re in luck. We’ve spoken to Dr Becky Spelman, Psychologist and Founder at Private Therapy Clinic who explains exactly what love is and the signs you (or your partner) may be in love.

What love feels like

Dr Spelman says that love is characterised by a genuine concern for the wellbeing and happiness of the person you love.

couple in love
Love involves prioritising the other person's needs. (Getty Images)

"You prioritise their needs, support them through both joys and challenges and you accept and appreciate them for who they are," she adds.

Read more: The dating red flag for each zodiac sign, according to an astrologist (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

"You can expect a sense of emotional intimacy, where you feel comfortable being vulnerable and sharing your deepest thoughts and feelings with the person you love. You might feel a desire for a long-term, committed relationship, encompassing trust, loyalty, and a willingness to work through difficulties together."

Signs you’re in love

Dr Spelman says some further signs you’re in love could include:

  • Feeling a strong emotional connection and intense happiness when you're with the person

  • Constantly thinking about them and wanting to spend time together

  • Prioritising their well-being and happiness

  • Feeling a sense of comfort and vulnerability around them

  • Experiencing a deep desire to support and care for them

  • Being willing to make sacrifices for their happiness

  • Envisioning a future together

  • Feeling a mixture of joy, excitement, and a sense of completeness when you're with the person

happy young couple relaxed at home on bed
Lust is mostly driven by a physical attraction. (Getty Images)

Sings your partner is in love with you

If you’re trying to figure out whether your partner is in love with you (as you might be trying to decide how long to wait to tell them ‘I love you’), Dr Spelman says some signs to look out for include:

  • Consistently showing genuine care and concern for your well-being

  • Making an effort to spend quality time with you

  • Expressing their love and affection verbally and through actions

  • Being supportive of your goals and dreams

  • Actively listening and being attentive to your needs

  • Prioritising your happiness and making sacrifices for the relationship

  • Displaying trust and vulnerability

  • Demonstrating a deep emotional connection and a desire for a long-lasting, committed relationship with you.

The difference between like, lust and love

"Distinguishing between feelings of love, like, and lust can be challenging as they are all distinct but interconnected emotions," Dr Spelman says.

Read more: 5 signs you should give your relationship another go like Maya Jama and Stormzy (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

"Like involves enjoying someone's company, finding them enjoyable to be around, and sharing similar interests and values," she adds.

She explains that love involves a "profound emotional bond and attachment to someone" that goes beyond physical attraction and infatuation, while lust is "primarily driven by intense physical attraction and desire for someone".