Are You Falling In Love? What To Expect And How To Handle The Stages of Attraction.13 min read

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In my primary school, I had a pretty seatmate. We were around 12 years old, but my heart leapt whenever I saw her outside of school. In secondary school, now about 16, I also didn’t really know how much I was into a classmate until we left school. 

Those can be written off as childishness or teenage delinquencies. However, the same pattern repeated in the university when I was well over 18. 

I would be with someone for months, and even though I generally liked their company, I only got somewhat (irrationally) desirous of them when we were no longer together. 

I’m over 25, and I still haven’t seen myself falling head over heels for anyone at first sight. This, of course, doesn’t mean I don’t have people I care about deeply. It just means I experience my emotions a bit differently. 

In this piece, we are going to take a deeper look into the nuances of the complexities of these emotions to know exactly what Cupid got on us.

How Do You Know If You’re Attracted To Someone?

Falling in love or being attracted to someone is often idealised as getting struck by Cupid’s arrow twice – one on the butt and the other on the head – leaving you dazed and acting silly. And, while the feeling can be powerful, it is not the same for everyone – it manifests in different ways and with varying intensities.

Generally speaking, you know you are attracted to someone when

Your body switches gears, heightening your alertness and energy levels whenever you’re around them:

When you’re drawn to someone, you might feel your heart racing or like butterflies are fluttering in your tummy. Your breath may become shallower or faster, all thanks to hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine flooding your system, and you may feel a surge of heightened energy coursing your body. 

As tension mounts – maybe they’ve caught your eye, paid you a compliment, or held your hand – you might find yourself blushing, smiling, or even sweating involuntarily because your sympathetic nervous system becomes more active. You might not even realize it, but your pupils may also dilate slightly, taking in every detail, further enhancing your focus and alertness, and non-verbally sending your own signal to them.

Seeing or thinking about the person you’re attracted to can also trigger bodily sensations like warmth. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean your bodily temperature changes.

You experience a profound sense of emotional well-being whenever you’re around or think about them

When you find yourself around someone you’re attracted to, a wave of happiness, excitement, or even nervousness might wash over you. This emotional surge is driven by the release of ‘feel-good’ hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine, making us giddy and creating a sense of euphoria and anticipation similar to the effects of certain mood-altering substances (though, much milder and shorter-lived).

The emotional high becomes a propelling force, urging you to seek their company, inducing a constant sense of anticipation whenever they’re close, and intensifying your longing for them when you’re apart. Their mere presence becomes a potent mood enhancer, promptly lifting your spirits and creating a sense of lightness.

Being around someone you’re attracted to can also provide a comforting and secure feeling. These emotions lay the foundation for a potential bond built on care, trust, and mutual understanding.

You find yourself seeking them out, being attentive, and striving to make them feel special.

When you develop a crush on someone, a natural inclination to connect tends to take hold. You may find yourself actively seeking their company or devising reasons to be in their presence. There’s an undeniable urge to linger in places where you might run into them, initiate conversations, or arrange meetups (once you’ve managed to establish a connection). It’s almost as if an invisible force pulls you toward them like metal to a magnet.

This desire to connect extends beyond mere companionship. You might feel compelled to go out of your way to make them feel special. This often involves prioritizing interactions with them and putting in extra effort to ensure enjoyment. Whether it’s offering genuine compliments or small gestures, your proclivity becomes to make them feel valued and appreciated.

Furthermore, you may find yourself paying closer attention to their words and actions, actively listening to their stories and recalling even the smallest details they share about themselves. This heightened interest allows you to gain a deeper understanding of them, their world, and their experiences, aiding you in determining if they’re a good match for you.

You can’t seem to stop yourself from thinking about them, regularly

You might catch yourself daydreaming about them or replaying past interactions in your mind. Thoughts of potential futures together may occupy your thoughts, as you fantasise about sharing intimate moments. It’s not uncommon to see them in your dreams or accidentally blurting out their name when talking to someone else. Sometimes, you may walk the streets with a secret hope – maybe the next face will be theirs. Even shapes, colours, scents, and sounds can spark a memory, a reminder of them.

Attraction is complex, and everyone experiences it differently. So, consider these points as a starting point for understanding your own feelings and behaviours. But, make sure to reflect on your own unique personality and circumstances. 

How We Fall In Love: Stages Of Love and Attraction

We do not decide who we are attracted to, and can hardly control the feeling once it’s present. It is like seeing a painting on the wall, hearing a piece of music, or perhaps getting a glimpse of the sunset and just knowing they are beautiful. You do not need someone explaining it to you – you just know it.

For most people, romantic attraction is usually felt towards the opposite sex. However, there are people (i.e. LGBTQ+) who find themselves attracted to the same, both, or neither sexes.

Despite sexual orientations, for most people, falling in love or getting attracted to someone usually follows these stages

Stage 1: Lust and Infatuation – The Initial Spark

The primary indicator of this stage is the primal biological drive to mate, often preceding or coexisting with infatuation. It is often instantaneous and subconsciously birthed – i.e. the urge often stems from subcortical structures like the hypothalamus, brainstem, and spinal cord, working in concert with cortical brain areas. These regions light up and act in unison to fine-tune this primitive, complex, and versatile behaviour – sexual attraction. This intricate system underpins our most basic sexual urges.

It is marked by intense excitement, idealisation, and consuming thoughts about the other person, fueled by a surge of hormones like dopamine and norepinephrine, creating a potent reward system in the brain. Short-term sexual behaviours such as one-night stands usually stop at this stage.

But, as in my case, not all love experiences involve dramatic emotional highs. Gradual love can also blossom from friendships or familiar connections, deepening and becoming stronger over time.

Stage 2: Curiosity and Interest – Deepening Connection

When feelings are reciprocated, a euphoric phase ensues, characterized by intense intimacy and a constant desire to be together. 

However, not everyone seamlessly transitions from infatuation to attachment; as we become more acquainted with someone, we may uncover incompatibilities or flaws that erode the initial idealisation. For instance, discovering differences in culture or values may trigger disillusionment, potentially resulting in the end of the relationship or a reevaluation leading to a more realistic, mature connection or love.

Unrequited feelings – for instance, if a crush rejects you – can also lead to hurt feelings and ultimately disillusionment.

Stage 3: Attachment and Commitment – Long-term Love

If your interests were matched and you got into a relationship, then attachment and commitment may follow. This stage entails seeing your partner more realistically while maintaining deep affection. 

As the initial intensity settles and understanding deepens, a new kind of bond begins to form. Hormones like oxytocin foster a sense of bonding, security, and care, creating a deeper connection marked by affection, companionship, and commitment. Interestingly, hugs, kisses, and sex play a significant role in releasing these hormones.

This profound bond is rooted in mutual care, respect, and understanding, requiring effort, communication, and navigating challenges together. It represents a form of love that often leads to commitment.

Commitment, or what may be referred to as True love, involves a conscious decision to nurture the relationship, work through challenges, and actively choose your partner over time (including the good and bad times). At this stage, compromises are reached, vows are usually made, and people may get married. Though, the idea of commitment can differ across individuals and cultures; as some people may be open to the idea of open relationships or polygamy.”

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Some Reasons You Are Attracted To Certain People

Even though we may not be able to choose what we are attracted to, the attraction itself is not random. Just like an artist meticulously and painstakingly places each stroke on the canvas to create art that can be instantly appreciated by a certain type of person, so also the things we are attracted to are carefully influenced by our biology, upbringing and experiences, culture and social influences, as well as individual preferences:


  • Genetics: Research suggests certain genetic compatibility might play a role in our preference for specific physical attributes. This is thought to be linked to promoting healthy offspring. Examples like symmetrical faces and clear skin for both genders, along with wider hips and larger breasts for women and deeper voices, broader shoulders, and height for men.
  • Body Odor: Our pheromones, subtle chemical signals, might influence attraction on a subconscious level. While not always consciously perceived, body odour can subconsciously signal compatibility or hormonal compatibility. 
  • Hormones: Our hormones play a significant role in initial attraction. Dopamine and Norepinephrine create the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling and heighten excitement. Oxytocin fosters a sense of closeness and bonding during the attachment stage. Without the hormones, we might not experience the initial spark that gets us interested in someone or may never get to stick around. Think about it; without these hormones, we might be as indifferent as most animals who lack long-term commitment drives.

Upbringing and Experiences:

  • Attachment Style: Our early childhood experiences with caregivers shape our attachment style, influencing who we find familiar to be around. However, “familiarity” doesn’t always equal “healthy”. Someone with an anxious attachment style might be drawn to someone emotionally distant (avoidant) because it feels familiar, even though it can recreate the same unhealthy dynamic they experienced in childhood. The good news is that we can learn to recognize these patterns and intentionally develop healthier relationships.
  • Early Experiences: Our childhood experiences and relationships with family and peers can also shape our subconscious preferences for particular personality traits, communication styles, or even physical characteristics associated with past positive interactions. For example, if someone looks, walks, or talks like your favourite aunty from childhood (who may now be dead), you may feel inclined to bond with them. It’s important to remember that these influences are often subconscious.

Culture and Societal Influences:

  • Cultural Norms: Beauty standards and societal ideals of attractiveness can significantly influence our preferences. What we find physically attractive is often shaped by the media and cultural messages we are exposed to. For example, some cultures might favour a slim physique, while others might value a more curvaceous figure.  Skin tone, facial features, and even hair texture can be seen as attractive or unattractive depending on the cultural context. The good news is that cultural norms are not set in stone.  As society becomes more diverse and inclusive, so too do our perceptions of beauty. 
  • Values and Beliefs: Our values and beliefs can unconsciously influence who we find attractive. We may gravitate towards individuals who share our worldviews, political beliefs, or even religious values, seeking compatibility beyond physical appearances.

Individual Preferences:

  • Personality Traits: Beyond the initial spark, we are drawn to individuals who possess personality traits that complement our own. We might seek partners who are funny, intelligent, supportive, or share our adventurous spirit, creating a sense of fulfilment and connection.

These factors often intertwine and influence our preferences in a complex and personal way. Also, remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and you can actively choose to shape your perception! 

Why Am I So Attracted to Him/Her?

Your attraction likely stems from a mix of factors (both within and outside of your awareness or control). It could be the exciting feelings caused by your body’s biochemistry, feeling comfortable around them due to past experiences, or them embodying societal beauty standards. But to understand it fully, ask yourself: Do you genuinely enjoy being with them and see a future together? Those deeper connections are what build lasting attraction, and eventually meaningful relationships.

For example, my idea of a soulmate used to be quite specific, with certain physical and intellectual traits. However, I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that true attraction goes beyond checking boxes.

I’ve found myself drawn to people who do not tick every box on my list, but with whom I experience a deeper connection. I feel understood, comfortable, and able to be my authentic self around them. Spending time with them feels genuine and fulfilling, similar to how I enjoy a favorite music. Yes, just like good music, despite not composing it myself, its unpredictability and occasional verses I may not adore, I still cherish it as a whole.

Genuine attraction doesn’t require rigid conditions. It thrives on shared values, mutual respect, and a sense of connection that transcends the superficial and eludes explanation. 


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I enjoy writing long-form SEO content for self-help and personal development blogs. I can also do simple graphics design and copywriting. I’m an author, coach, logician, introvert, and storyteller. I love simplicity.

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