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Puppy Love: What It Means, Stages, 37 Signs & Ways to Turn It Into True Love

Is this puppy love, or something real? If you can’t understand your confusing feelings, here are the stages and differences you must know.

puppy love

Love is hard as it is. But it’s even harder when you think about how many different types of love are out there. When we’re still young enough for fairy tales, most of us come to think there’s only one kind of love. But what about puppy love?

As we grow up, we find there’s a whole bunch of other types of love that we never even considered before. There’s platonic love, true love, romantic love, lust, passion… and most confusing of all, puppy love.

So, with all those types of love out there, how do you know when you’re in real love? How do you know if those flutters you feel toward that special someone are something genuine or just excitement toward someone new? [Read: All the types of love you’ll experience in your life]

It’s easy to think that your puppy love is true love, but let us be the first to tell you, it’s most definitely not. It’s not even close to the real thing, no matter how much you think it is. So, let’s find out all about puppy love.

What is puppy love?

Remember when you were younger, and you “fell in love” with another kid in your grade? Maybe you started “dating” – not that you did anything more than sit together at lunch and hold hands! Those exciting, intense first feelings of love are a perfect example of puppy love.

However, puppy love can happen to us as adults, too. When you’re in a new relationship, you’ll likely be in puppy love. You might believe that you’ve finally found The One, and you feel excited all the time.

Everything seems perfect. Even the sky seems bluer! Your new partner is all you can think about, you can’t stop smiling, and every day you spend together is the new best day of your life. You can’t keep your hands off them, either! [Read: The dilemma of love – should dating be passionate or practical?]

Yet, because your relationship is so new, you won’t have encountered any challenges together. You won’t have experienced anything that could bring out the negative sides of your partner. So, they seem perfect to you. But they only seem perfect because you don’t really know them!

That’s why puppy love is different from real love. When you’re in real love, you love every part of the person – even the bad parts. If you’re only loving your partner’s surface, you can’t build a lasting, true and genuine relationship.

The stages of puppy love

Even though it’s the first stage of a relationship, puppy love has its own stages too! You’ll go through different emotions as your puppy love deepens and you discover different positive parts of your partner’s body and personality.

Let’s go through the stages of puppy love. If these stages sound like what you’re going through, you’ll know you’re in puppy love.

First, you’ll experience a powerful crush. You’ll be taken over by an uncontrollable attraction to that person. It might even become an obsession! All you want to do is talk to them, or even just look at them longingly from a distance. [Read: How long does a crush last? The steps to get over someone ASAP]

Second, you’ll make a connection. The other person will start to feel the same about you, and you’ll get to know each other a little. Whenever you find out a new little *positive* detail about your new love, you’ll get a rush of happiness. You’ll ignore any incompatibilities, too.

You’ll start a physical relationship, and have some really great sex. It’ll feel like you’re young again, experiencing everything for the first time. This second stage of puppy love – also known as the “honeymoon phase” – will last for anywhere between two months to two years. [Read: Are you in love? The signs you’re past lust and into love]

However, you will inevitably reach the third stage. Those happy chemicals will start to wear off. You’ll notice all the ways you’re actually incompatible, and even begin to question your future as a couple. At this final stage, you’ll either break up or graduate to real, true love.

Why bother with puppy love?

So, if puppy love isn’t real love, why bother with it?

Well, you’ll fall in love so many times in your life, and always for a good reason. Nobody falls in love for nothing. Even when you feel like loving someone during your life was just pointless, it wasn’t.

Whenever you fall in love – no matter what type it is – you’re getting one step closer to finding real love. [Read: Being in love – the best things in life that only love can give you]

Each time you fall in love, you’re learning and growing, and you’re allowing yourself to love further each time. And after a while, when you’re ready, you’ll fall in love for real, and you’ll be thankful you experienced each of those types of love.

Also, sometimes, puppy love can mature into real love. If you work hard enough, you can deepen your relationship and fall in love with the whole person.

Signs it’s just puppy love

When you’re actually in puppy love, it can be hard to tell. These signs that you’re in puppy love will help you hold back on the reigns and re-evaluate your relationship. [Read: Does true love exist? Signs that might make you a believer]

1. You fell in love suddenly

If it was “love at first sight” or anything remotely close to that, it’s usually puppy love. You can’t build real love when you barely know someone.

2. You can’t get enough of them in all forms

You want to be all over them all the time, and nothing anybody says can change that. This can’t-get-enough attitude has more to do with your desire to have them around. It’s like an addiction, not really love.

3. You do nice things so they like you more

If the only reason you’re doing nice things for this person is so they’ll like you more, it’s not real love. Many people think they’re doing these sweet things out of love, but in reality, it’s just their puppy-loving side wanting to get more attention.

4. You think everything *and we mean everything* they do is adorable

Nobody truly in love will think their partner is adorable every hour of the day. If you find every single thing they do to be cute and adorable, then it’s just puppy love. [Read: Infatuation vs. Love: How to tell the difference]

5. You start to form a type of obsession with them

You want to know everything they’re doing every hour of every day. This is something of an obsession, and it’s not actually healthy. Puppy love is intense this way and nothing like real love in this sense.

6. You think about that person 24/7

As part of your obsession, you’ll start thinking of that person all day, every day. Whenever you do something, you’ll start thinking about how they would feel about it, or how it reminds you of them in some way.

7. You get a rush of excitement when you see them

Butterflies in your stomach. Blushing. A faster heartbeat. Whatever symptoms you suffer, you’ll start feeling some kind of excitement whenever your paths cross.

[Read: Sexual chemistry – 23 signs of intense mutual attraction]

8. You may blush, sweat, or get palpitations around them

Speaking of symptoms, you’ll start to feel a physical reaction when your new love gives you any attention.

You’ll begin to blush, or even feel your heart “skip a beat”; this is actually a medical phenomenon known as a heart palpitation.

9. You ignore everything bad people say about the person

Whether it’s your family, friends, or anybody else, you won’t listen when they tell you your new love is bad news. Puppy love has blinded you to your beau’s negative features.

10. You feel very sexually attracted to them

Puppy love will make you feel like you’ve just discovered sex for the first time. It can create very intense sexual feelings that catch you off-guard.

11. You’re constantly checking your messages

It’s like your phone’s attached to your hand! You can’t stop checking your social media notifications and text messages to see if the object of your puppy love has given you any attention.

[Read: Am I in love? 30 signs that prove it’s not just infatuation]

12. You only focus on the person’s good qualities

You can only see this person as perfect. It’s as if they have no flaws. If you think the other person is the most flawless individual on earth, you’re only experiencing puppy love.

13. You’re unsure of this person’s feelings for you

You’ve never asked the other person about their feelings for you. In fact, you have no idea what they think. This is because your puppy love is too shallow for those kinds of deep conversations.

14. You go out of your way to look your best for them

They only ever get to see your best side. No sloppy sweatpants or no-makeup days when you think they might see you! You’re too afraid to show them your raw, authentic self.

[Read: Love vs attachment – what’s the difference?]

15. You might lose your appetite for a while

Puppy love can be so strong it makes you lovesick: you feel pain in your chest, feel lethargic, and even stop eating. Puppy love can make you lose your appetite for a while.

16. You’ve been together for less than a year

This isn’t a strong, established relationship. You’ve been together for less than a year, so you haven’t had enough time to actually get to know each other.

17. You give too much information about yourself too soon

Even if you don’t know much about them, you feel a need to overshare. This tendency towards TMI is a dead giveaway for puppy love. You’re so desperate to be close to this person that you’re trying to force it.

[Read: 32 weird true psychological facts about love nobody seems to know]

When it’s real love

You’ll know it when it’s real love. These are some signs that you’re no longer in puppy love, but rather, you’ve graduated to the real stuff. The good stuff!

1. You’re comfortable

You feel at home with them no matter where you are. They bring you ease and comfort without even trying to. When they’re around, you feel like things are just how they should be.

2. You feel safe

Comfort isn’t the only thing your partner brings. When you feel safe and secure when you’re with them, along with these other signs of real love, then you can safely assume you’re no longer just in puppy love.

[Read: What is real love? 15 ways true love sets itself apart]

3. Your desire is still there, but it’s more of an admiration

Desire never really dies when you’re truly in love. It’s true that it can dwindle down into something more constant.

We refer to this feeling as a deep admiration for your partner. When it’s real love, you admire them, and this replaces that burning desire you once felt.

4. You feel certain

You don’t question things when you’re in real love. We don’t mean to say you don’t question whether you’re in love – because that’s why you’re here.

We’re saying you don’t question their intentions. You feel certain that what they say, they’ll do. And how they feel is true.

5. You want to do nice things because it makes them happy

You don’t do sweet things so they’ll like you anymore. You do nice things because you want to see them happy.

Your kindness flows because you know they appreciate it, and it makes you happy to do the little things. You may even do sweet things without thinking about it. [Read: How to show love – 15 sweet ways to express love without words]

6. You love them for who they are – not what they look like or what they provide

When you’re in love, you love everything about your partner, because it makes them who they are.

You don’t care if they’re not the most attractive or if their job isn’t the best. It’s no problem that they can’t cook, or that they suck at doing laundry. You love them for everything they are because it makes them the person you love.

7. You feel evenly matched

You feel like you’re treated the same as you treat them. Also, they challenge you and push you to be a better person. When you’re in real love, you feel as though you’re in a partnership with someone. You’re a team, and no one player is better than the other.

8. A feeling of contentment settles over your relationship

You have arguments here and there, and you’ll have some bad days and even more good days. The point is, even through all of that, you feel as though your relationship is content.

You feel like your relationship is solid even if other things in your life are rocky. [Read: How to know when you’re in love – 50 signs you can’t ignore]

9. Their happiness is your happiness

When you’d rather see them happy than yourself, you’re in real love. Puppy love is very selfish. True love is anything but. If you really love someone, you put their happiness above all else.

10. You trust them with everything you have

People often forget that trust is the most important indicator of love. Sure, you can trust someone and not long for them, but if you’re in real love, you trust your partner to be there for you, nurture your life, and bring compassion into it.

[Read: Real soulmates – 20 signs you’ve already met the love of your life]

11. You care more about your partner’s happiness than your own

It’s more important that they’re happy and content than you are. Putting somebody else first is the ultimate sign of love; in the end, love is all about selflessness.

12. You’re not jealous

If you’re in love, you won’t feel jealous or envious in your relationship. Even if your partner has a flirty personality or has lots of friends of the opposite sex, you’ll feel confident enough in your bond that you’ll never get insecure.

13. You’re able to forgive each other

When one of you makes a mistake, you forgive. Your relationship is stronger than any issue you could come up against, and both of you know it.

[Read: Romantic attraction – how to know when you feel the real thing]

14. You spend time together

You spend every day together, even if you don’t live together. But more importantly, you make time to be together. You always have time to spend with your true soulmate.

15. You’re free to pursue your dreams and goals

When you’re in real love, you’re each other’s biggest supporter. Being in a relationship with somebody you love will make you feel like your best self, and leave you free to pursue your dreams.

16. You encourage and support one another in everything you do

Everything is easier with your biggest fan supporting you! And you support them too; you always encourage them, because their success makes you happy too.

[Read: How long does it take to fall in love? Your personality and the accurate answer]

17. You are 100% faithful to each other

There’s no chance of either of you cheating because you’re entirely committed to each other. Real love means real trust, and satisfying each other’s every need.

18. You strive to better your relationship

Even now you know you’re in true love, you’re always striving to improve your relationship.

Unlike puppy love, somebody in love will always be thinking of ways to make their relationship perfect; they know that reality is never flawless.

19. You have your own, and shared hobbies

You don’t do everything together. Sure, you share a lot of hobbies, but you’re not joined at the hip. You know how to support each other’s interests, even if you don’t share them.

[Read: The honeymoon phase – how long will it last?]

20. You can resolve differences productively

Of course, you’re going to have a fight every once in a while. All couples do. But when you fight, you know how to resolve your problems in a way that strengthens your relationship, not tears it down.

How to turn puppy love into real love

While this may sound like real love, it’s not. It’s puppy love. When you realize you’ve graduated from this type of love and are in the real thing, it’s like nothing else on earth.

Knowing when you’re finished with your puppy love stage is crucial if you want to move things on into real love. It tells you when it’s time to determine who will be your life partner. Once you’ve realized your puppy love is ending, you need to take steps toward a more mature relationship.

If you really think your relationship has potential, here are three key ways to turn puppy love into real love that lasts for good!

1. Be honest

Let your partner know where you want things to go. If you want a more serious relationship, you need to come out and tell them. That way, you’ll both be on the same page when you make a decision about your future.

[Read: “I love you” vs “I am in love with you” – the big difference]

2. Spend more time together

Once you get over your obsessive phase, you might be tempted to stop spending time together. But don’t! Spending as much time together as possible will strengthen your bond and move you toward a deeper relationship.

3. Get to know them

The most important thing you can do to take puppy love further is to get to know the other person. Take the time to understand everything about them, have deep conversations, and listen to their answers. Once you come to love them more fully, your relationship will become fuller too.

Yes, puppy love is cute and fun in the moment, but it never lasts. Knowing when you’re finally out of that phase and in real love can help you decide who should be your lover for life.

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Preeti Tewari Serai
Preeti Serai
Preeti, the founder of LovePanky, is an eternal optimist and believer in the beauty of love and life. With an exhaustive experience in love, relationships, and ...