Love is a universal human emotion that encompasses a wide range of strong and positive emotions. It can take a lot of different forms, from deep and long-lasting friendships to the intense love you have for your pet. It can be a powerful motivator, enabling us to do things we wouldn’t normally do for the people who we love most in our lives.
But defining and understanding what love is can be tough. It has different meanings for everyone, and scientific research on the subject has been criticized by some. Nevertheless, it’s important to understand what love really is in order to get to the bottom of it and figure out how to make sure you’re getting the most out of your relationship.
You’ve been feeling a little less happy lately, and you’re looking for ways to make things better. You might be craving a new adventure, or you might be searching for the next big step in your life.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit of a midlife crisis or an empty nest syndrome, or maybe you just want to do something more meaningful with your life. Whatever the case, you’re probably in a place where you’re ready to say “I love you” and show your partner that you’ve grown in a way they can’t ignore.
There’s no set timeline for when you should say those three words. That said, there are some key clues that can help you know if it’s the right time.
Do you feel a rush when you think about your significant other? According to Match’s chief scientist, Helen Fisher, PhD, these feelings are caused by a release of dopamine in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), which is a brain region that’s linked to craving and focus.
Are you wishing you could be more like your partner? Do you have a tendency to look for signs that they’re missing you or feeling similar?
Is it more than just a passing fancy?
If you’re not completely sure that you’re in love with someone, it might be best to keep those feelings a secret until you’re absolutely sure. Otherwise, you might end up scaring them away, says psychotherapist Jenn Mann, who works as a counselor and host of VH1’s Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn and is the author of The Relationship Fix.
Does your partner seem to have trouble controlling their emotions?
If your partner has a hard time expressing their feelings, it might be a sign that they’re not ready for the kind of commitment you’d expect to see in a romantic relationship. They may not be ready for the emotional and physical intimacy of a commitment.
They might also have a tough time staying focused. If this is the case, it might be a good idea to give them some space until they’re more comfortable.
When you’re in a relationship, you might feel tempted to give your partner a big hug or kiss, but it’s not always necessary. Instead, try a more subtle touch such as a pat on the arm or back.