Loving someone isn’t the same as being in love with them.
Being in love is the intense feeling at the start of a relationship, when you only see the positive things about the other person and walk around with your head in the clouds. This feeling can be so intense it actually hurts – especially if the person doesn’t feel the same way about you.
The feeling of being in love develops over time, and becomes a deeper, steadier, tender feeling for the other person – you love them.
Love develops in stages, and doesn't always follow the same pattern. But in most cases love begins with the passion of sexual attraction, then the dreamy, overwhelming 'in love' stage, and finally the deeper attachment that develops over time and can last for years – sometimes for a lifetime.
Are you in love?
When you’re in love, you think about the person you’re in love with all day. You think everything they do is wonderful. Being in love can make you feel on top of the world, but it can also make you nervous and edgy.
You get a strange, restless feeling when you see the person. You might even get stomach ache. You can’t help smiling. You don’t know what to say when you see them – or you talk too much because you’re trying to impress them.
If all this sounds familiar, you’re probably in love!
Scientists have tried to find out what makes us feel this way, and what happens to our brains when we're in love. They found that really does go to our heads: our bodies produce more of certain hormones like oxytocin, commonly known as the 'love hormone'.
Having sex is also called 'making love' because it's such an important part of a romantic or intimate relationship. But love and sex aren't the same thing – you can have one without the other. Many people only have sex with someone they love, but you can also have sex out of lust – just for the pleasure of having sex. Still, most people find deeper pleasure in having sex with the person they love.
Read more about making love.