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The 10 Stages Of Falling In Love That Signal It’s The Real Deal

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Falling in love with someone is a truly beautiful experience…

It’s also terrifying, exhilarating, nauseating, and generally a veritable rollercoaster of emotion that’s wonderful and hideous at turns.

If you’re fortunate enough to have met someone special and think you’re falling in love with them, you’ll likely experience the following.

In fact, pretty much everyone who has ever fallen for another has gone through these stages, so you can be certain that most of the people in your life can relate to what you’re going through.

Hell, most films and TV series have drawn from these steps when portraying realistic relationships, because people can relate to them.

Think you might be falling in love? Here’s what to expect:

Speak to a certified relationship counselor about this issue. Why? Because they have the training and experience to help you figure out whether you have fallen in love (and how to make this relationship a success if you have). You may want to try speaking to someone via RelationshipHero.com for practical advice that is tailored to your exact circumstances.

Stage 1: Realization That You’re Interested In This Person As More Than A Friend

This often strikes out of nowhere and leaves you with your jaw hanging somewhere around Antarctica.

One minute you’re sharing lunch with a colleague, and the next minute, your takeout pad thai is getting cold because you’re enraptured by the way their nose bobs up and down when they chew.

Then it hits you: holy hells, you like this person.

A lot.

After this realization hits, it doesn’t take long before some kind of a date is arranged, whether it’s drinks after work, or a movie, or a shared meal… without the guy who sits next to you at work and eats Cheetos all day tagging along.

Stage 2: Preoccupation

The person you’re falling for is constantly in your thoughts.

You overfill your coffee cup because you’re thinking about them, your eyes glaze over in class or during a meeting at work because you’re trying to determine your next step.

You miss a deadline because you were thinking about how they looked the last time you saw them, instead of being able to focus on your tasks.

Seriously, they fill your every waking thought, and might even keep you from proper sleep at night.

couple hugging outside

Stage 3: Idolization

Everything they do is just so cute, isn’t it? Yeaaaah. It is. It REALLY is.

Also known as “the smittening,” this stage turns you into a quibbling mess of heartsick jelly that’s just oozing with delight about everything your partner does.

You may fall for their fondness for huge, messy sandwiches that they get all over themselves when they eat, or find the way they snore at night to be completely adorable.

You’re peeling back onion layers and getting to know this person better, and pretty much every single thing they do is the most endearing thing in the whole entire world.

They can do no wrong, they’re amazing, and you want to just sew yourselves together so you never, ever need to be apart ever again ever.

Maybe less of the sewing part, but still. ADORBS.

Stage 4: Awkwardness And Insecurity

This is where you’re getting seriously involved with the person, but you’re still uncertain about exactly how they feel about you because you’re too nervous to discuss it, so you’re awkward and flustered and you worry about what you say (BREATHE) and think that they probably believe you’re a complete idiot and did they notice that you forgot your deodorant today omg you better not hug them too closely (BREATHE) but if you don’t hug them then they might think you don’t really like them as much as you do but you don’t want them to think you smell and and and (PANICKED BREATHING)…

^ Like that.

At this point, you’ll obsess about everything from whether you waited too long to send a text reply to if you ordered something too snooty the last time you went out to eat.

You’re walking on imaginary eggshells, thinking that they have you and your behaviors under a microscope.

They don’t.

They’re likely just as insecure as you are, and you’re both doing the emotional equivalent of running around like panicked emus while desperately trying to keep it cool on the outside.

couple sitting on chair together

Stage 5: Increased Intimacy

You may have already slept together several times, but it takes a while to be truly comfortable with a person.

The more time you spend together, the more intimate you can really become: protective walls are dropped, you let each other get a bit closer, maybe share stories about your past.

You might even find yourself in a situation where you’re helping one another through a difficult time, like a family issue, a health problem, or a difficult time with work.

Either way, there are new levels of closeness being discovered, and you’re getting a strong sense of who you both really are, beneath the masks we all wear on a day-to-day basis.

Stage 6: Exhilaration

Everything in the world is so amazing. Life is beautiful. Hello sky! When you did you become so blue?

When you hit this point, you’re generally so blissed out that you aren’t even walking on solid ground anymore: you’re pretty much floating above it.

In fact, this very concept was encapsulated in the film My Fair Lady. When dudebro was completely smitten with Miss Whatsername, he sang:

I have often walked down this street before, but the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before… all at once am I several stories high, knowing I’m on the street where you live.

Kind of adorable, huh? Also very cheesy in a 1960s musical kind of way, and most of us have only seen it when dealing with really bad fevers around 3 am when nothing else is on TV, but that’s okay!

It just illustrates perfectly the kind of giddy fervor we experience when all the feel-good lovey hormones are bouncing around inside us.

Stage 7: The Freak Out

Internal dialogue: “Omg omg this is getting really intense and I don’t know wtf to do with it”.

Normally at this point, it becomes abundantly clear that this… this is REAL. This is a maelstrom of really powerful emotions for a person, and that is HUGE.

This person is really special to you, and you want them to play a significant role in your life, and you’d be really, really upset if you lost them.

Those feelings can make people really scared and vulnerable, and often causes them to retreat a little bit in order to sort out how they feel about the whole thing.

This retreat can cause upheaval in the blossoming relationship, especially if the parties aren’t being really open and honest about what they’re experiencing.

Sometimes there will be a get close/withdraw back and forth dance for a while, which is especially daunting if both people are doing it.

couple holding hands across coffee table

Stage 8: Jealousy And Possessiveness

Both of these ugly little gremlins rear their heads during the closeness/retreat phase, and can manifest in a number of different ways.

You may not yet know what kind of a relationship you want with the person, but you sure as hell want to make sure no-one else edges in while you’re thrashing around in indecision!

Fear of rejection or loss can make you act like a complete imbecile right about now.

You might be scouring your partner’s social media accounts to try to find clues that they’re interested in other people, or checking their phone when they’re in the bathroom, or any other number of things that make you a giant asshole.

We get it, you’re scared, but don’t be a d*ck.

Don’t assume: ask.

Then ask more. And talk more.

Stage 9: Do, Or Do Not

This is the stage at which you either find yourself wanting to cement “whatever this is” into a relationship, or finally run screaming because you’re overwhelmed by your own emotions.

If you love this person and want to cultivate something authentic with them, be brave and take the leap.

Stage 10: Union

If you’ve managed to get through step nine without fleeing in abject terror, chances are you and your partner have had a good talk and decided to make a go of a relationship.

This is awesome.

A sincere partnership with someone you care about really is one of the most beautiful and fulfilling things a person can experience in a lifetime, and love – real love – is the most powerful force on the planet.

Still not sure whether it is love you are feeling? Chat online to a relationship expert from Relationship Hero who can help you figure things out.

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About The Author

Catherine Winter is an herbalist, INTJ empath, narcissistic abuse survivor, and PTSD warrior currently based in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. In an informal role as confidant and guide, Catherine has helped countless people work through difficult times in their lives and relationships, including divorce, ageing and death journeys, grief, abuse, and trauma recovery, as they navigate their individual paths towards healing and personal peace.