1. Second-guess everything — every joke, every status update, every outfit — for fear they might read the wrong thing into it and completely call your bluff on your feelings.
2. Clam up and avoid using the word “love” when you’re around them. Even if you’re eating some particularly amazing French fries and saying “I love these French fries” would not be able to become misconstrued as “I love you,” nope, no, no way, you’re not saying it.
3. Use the word “we” for the first time when talking about something you did together, and subsequently backtrack as to how exactly you got to this point of the holy “We.”
4. Find yourself remembering random bits of information about what they like and dislike and things that could possibly be inside jokes, and consciously making a little effort here and there to show them you care by repeating them until you’re sure you ran that insider knowledge into the ground.
5. Think of them when you hear certain love songs, only to freak out because you never realized you were in this deep and how do you get out of this rabbit hole, or are you never going to be able to listen to Drake the same way ever again? (Probably not.)
6. (Okay, let’s face it — it’s something super cheesy and probably sung by a boy band.)
7. Fret over when you can finally upload photos of them to Instagram or tweet about them without it being seen as weird and clingy.
8. Start thinking about them as you’re going through your day — what it would be like to wake up with them, meet for lunch, exchange a text throughout the workday — only to realize that you’re probably being weird and delusional and reading way too much into what could be (though isn’t it a lovely way to waste time?)
9. Look up random exes of theirs (who they dated for a week) and take every photo and personality trait as an example of what the person you like is looking for in a significant other, and measure yourself against these findings accordingly.
10. … Until you work yourself into a meltdown because, before the “I like you too” conversation, you’re always worried you’re somehow not good enough. Eventually you decide “they’re going to like me for me, and that’s it!” and you wonder why you’re so jittery over someone who probably thinks you’re pretty cool just as you are.
11. Run them through hypotheticals: What your names would look like on wedding invitations. What your kids’ last name(s) would be. What job they have and where they want to live and how these things align with your desires. (You’ll feel mildly creepy about this, and swear you won’t make a wedding album, How To Lose A Guy In 10 Days-style.)
12. Mentally size up their friends. Imagine what they’d be like as pseudo-uncles and aunts, what the wedding party would look like, etc.
13. Imagine yourself in all these ideal made-in-Hollywood scenarios when they run into you when you’re coming home from work and looking flawless, and they’re simply compelled to profess their love for you right then and there on the street.
14. Cringe at the fact that you’re still as well-equipped to deal with fluttery, falling-in-like emotions as your average 14 year-old.
15. Make eye contact with them from across the table or when you’re out with a group of people, suddenly feel that piercing connection deep in the cells of your bones, and realize, “welp, I’m a goner.”
16. Refuse to admit to yourself that you’re doing any of these things — to the point where your friends are just like, “duh, everyone but you knows you like them, stop trying to play coy.”
17. Start thanking your deity of choice that it didn’t work out with your last partner (even though it hasn’t worked out with this new one yet either?) Regardless, you thank your lucky stars that what was made way for what could be, because those first jitters and butterflies might be mildly embarrassing but gosh, they’re nice. Especially when you have a feeling that the other person has them, too.