One of the most beautiful aspects of falling in love is that no two love stories are the same. Everyone falls in love and experiences romance differently. Each moment you spend with a partner throughout your life is precious — and totally unique. As someone who writes about relationships for a living, I’ve always been intrigued by this concept. One of my favorite questions to ask couples I meet is, “How did you know you were in love?”

Some folks have an immediate answer. Maybe it was their first weekend getaway together, while they took a sunset stroll on the beach, hand-in-hand. For others, it was a gradual thing based on the consistent ways their significant other always managed to show up for them. Occasionally, some people don’t have an answer. They just knew

“Even if it settles in over time, falling in love with someone is one of the most powerful and brilliant parts of the human experience.”

Even if it settles in over time, falling in love with someone is one of the most powerful and brilliant parts of the human experience. The vulnerability and intimacy required to truly love someone enrich our lives and deepen our connections in ways very few things can. Ahead, we share 10 people’s stories about how they knew they were in love. 💞

When you think about your current or past partnerships, did you have an “aha” moment when it came to loving your S.O.? Was it the first time they delivered lunch to you at the office because you forgot to pack one, or after you met their family? Share your love story in the comments!

Katie, 26

It was simple and sweet. One morning, maybe six-ish weeks in, I woke up next to him and realized he had been looking at me sleeping (it’s only creepy if you make it!) with the most loving expression I had ever experienced from a romantic partner, or maybe anyone. It was like I was sunshine or something, and the best part was I felt the exact same way about him. Catching him in that wordless and heart-achingly cinematic moment made me realize I was being properly loved for the first time ever, and I was properly loving for the first time ever. 

Sarah, 52

We started talking to each other over the phone and my heart skipped a beat when I heard my phone ringing and saw his name come up on my phone. That was after we had talked a few times, and I just knew that I was falling in love even before I saw him in person over FaceTime. When we finally met in person, I took one look at him and he was so handsome, with such a gentle persona that I knew 100 percent that I was in fact in love. We have been together ever since.

Caroline, 26

I think I knew it was love when I started instinctively wanting to say “I love you” every time we said goodbye. I would have to stop myself each time because as much as I wanted to say it, I wasn’t sure she felt it back. Finally, I worked up the courage to tell her and she said she felt the same way and had been wanting to tell me but waiting too!

Tim, 39

It was our fifth date, and we were just laughing at each other’s jokes so much. By that point, we’d started to develop a few inside jokes of our own and we just kept building on them. That specific date, she was really flirtatious, looked gorgeous and we were having such a wonderful conversation. I remember it so clearly. She took a break from dinner to excuse herself to use the washroom — and I was smiling from ear to ear — and then I thought: Holy fucking shit. I am totally in love with this person. It’s happened! This is it!

Beth, 25

I knew we were in love the first time we went to the Oregon Coast. We’d been friends for a while but weren’t even officially dating yet. It was a cold, sunny day at the beach. We spent the day walking and talking about the silliest things as well as our hopes and dreams for the future. At one point, I stopped and found a heart-shaped rock and excitedly picked it up. Previous partners had ignored or teased me for finding so much joy in silly little things, but he was just as excited as I was. In that moment I knew I loved him, whatever would happen between us. Two years later, he surprised me with a necklace made with the heart-shaped rock as part of our proposal.

Frances, 37

I met my husband via quite close to when it first started. We are one of their early success stories. We immediately clicked. After our first date, we stood in the cold for hours chatting. I don’t believe in love at first sight but it wasn’t far off, everything just felt easy. It was the kind of love that creeps up on you. Where you want them there all the time and the shared experience eventually morphs into love. I remember when I took him back with me on a trip to meet my parents after about nine months, my mum asked if I thought he was “the one.” I said I didn’t believe in it really but I thought so. I walked back into the living room to find him and my ex-army boyfriend-scaring dad asleep on one sofa and my (now) husband asleep on the other…they seemed to have bonded and I took it as a sign! He became my favorite person almost overnight and we’re still each other’s favorite person after 12 years of marriage.

Emily, 35

[I knew I was in love] when he was all I could think of, in the best way. Everything I was experiencing, I wanted him there with me for it. When I realized I feel completely safe and free around him — I don’t have to be something or someone I’m not, he just accepts and loves me as I am. When I read back over the list I made of qualities I wanted in a potential partner, I realized that he had every single one of the things I wanted. (When I wrote the list, I remember thinking that I would be happy to find someone with even half the things!) When I realized that I was thinking of a future with him and it gave me nothing but happy and positive feelings, with no anxious or fearful feelings hovering in the background (which as a chronic overthinker, is a big deal). But mostly it was when I had that “when you know, you know” moment shortly after we’d started talking — he feels like coming home.

Hannah, 28

I knew I loved him from the first date. I had never clicked with anyone so quickly and so organically. How I knew it was really love and not just pure infatuation or lust was when we were having consistent sexual tension and I was fearful of him knowing I had HSV, because all of this could quickly be over if he viewed the disease the same way I did. I finally got the courage to tell him because I wanted to get down more than I was scared of his reaction. His response was, “I don’t care, it doesn’t change how much I care about you.” That was the first time he told me he loved me. Now with two years married and a baby on the way, he was always meant to be my lover, and he’s the person who taught me to love myself.

Alex, 29

I knew when I was working the worst job I have ever had. I was having my first panic attack, and I texted her telling her I couldn’t keep doing the job. She called and heard how shaken I was, and immediately supported me in wanting to quit, with no other job lined up. She was supportive, caring, and wanted to do whatever she could to help. I knew that day that I would marry her.

James, 39

At age 17, I fell seriously ill and was in hospital for about six months. Donna visited me pretty much every day and I can remember thinking, “If I come out of this okay, she is the woman for me.” We’re now married. I turn 40 next year and we have two kids.

Lexi Inks (she/her) is a lifestyle journalist based in Jacksonville, Florida. Lexi holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Jacksonville University, which she has chosen to make everyone’s problem. A self-proclaimed “hot mess with a big heart”, she is a Libra sun, Capricorn moon, and Sagittarius rising. When she’s not hunched over her laptop, you can probably find her drinking an ungodly amount of Diet Coke, oversharing on social media, draining her limited social battery, or being codependent with her rescue dog, Remi. You can follow Lexi on Instagram and Twitter.