The early stages of a romantic relationship holds tons of excitement and potential energy; you’re learning new things about your new partner, settling into new routines, and figuring out your feelings. At a certain point, though, you’ll probably be ready to say those three magic words, but you’re nervous about uttering them first for fear that you won’t hear them in return, or–worse–that your partner won’t share your sentiment. Because picking up on signs someone is in love with you isn’t a science or easy to do with any semblance of confidence, the act of saying it can feel like a game of chicken–but that doesn’t have to be the case.
Relationship coach and founder of Spark Matchmaking Michelle Fraley says learning to read your partner’s body language can be key for deciphering whether they’ve fallen for you. “Nonverbals are a big part of healthy and loving communication,” she says. Below are six body-language signs someone is in love with you, even if they have yet to say it.
Look out for these 6 body language signs someone is in love with you, regardless of whether they’ve said the words.
If someone is in love, they’ll close the gap between you as often as they can. According to Fraley, you’ll want to consider the following four questions:
Do they make an effort to get closer to me? Do they inch closer to me while seated? Do they place objects, like their drink or phone, in your physical space? Do they lean in closer when talking, or put their body (arms and legs) near your physical body?
If you answered yes to any or several 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 in 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 close to you.'”
Think about it: You rarely touch people you don’t have feelings of affection for–whether it’s a kiss from a partner, a hug from your mom or a pat on the back from your best friend. Watch for the potentially unnecessary use of touch, because it’s one of the signs someone is in love with you. “Do they make an effort to touch you?” asks Fraley. “Do they brush up against you, or touch your arm or hand when talking? If your partner is craving your physical touch, that is another indication they are in love.”
Ever feel unsure as to whether your date is actually paying attention to your words? Attentiveness is a huge sign someone is falling in love; they’re enthralled, says Fraley. “Love often brings with it tunnel vision,” she says. So if it seems your partner is able to focus exclusively on you and not get overly distracted by other stimuli, it’s a good sign.
And, bonus, Fraley adds that full attention is not only a sign of love, but of respect, too.
4. Eye contact
Eye contact is so intense that researchers have even used it to trigger feelings of love. So, if your partner is looking deeply and comfortably into your eyes, it communicates a lot about their desire. “Eye contact is an intimate and vulnerable act, so intense eye contact can be very meaningful,” says Fraley. “Deep eye contact, or holding your gaze for at least four seconds, may indicate feelings of love.”
You may catch this gesture (or lack thereof) while standing, sitting, or after a tense discussion about your relationship. “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 rather than close off.” You’ll see a much more relaxed stance as one of the signs someone is in love with you.
6. Protective gestures
Dr. Manly says it’s common for people in love to feel highly protective of the person they care for. This may take the form of gestures or of lending extra help. “When we love someone, we care about their safety,” she says. “A person who is falling in love will often take great care to protect [the person they love], whether it’s by opening doors, walking street side, or putting an arm out in front at a crosswalk.” If they seem to be extending an extra hand without thinking twice, they might be falling in love. And if a person’s actions make you feel loved and cared for, you’re likely in clear to take the leap and say those three words without fear of being left hanging.