People fall in love for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes it’s a specific, magical moment where everything just seems to come together. Sometimes it’s a simple thing someone says to us or does for us. Maybe it’s a personality quirk or character trait or the way they smiled at us in just the right sunlight at just the right time. Here’s when we knew deep in our bones we were goners.
Heather Hogan, Senior Editor
I’ve written and rewritten this answer about twenty times because the truth is I can’t remember the thing Stacy did to make me fall in love with her. I actually don’t think it was a thing. There was no arrow, no anvil, no epiphany. It was who she was and it was the way we fit together. When I was with her, my body and my brain and my spirit buzzed with energy. Laughing was easy, talking was easy, sex was easy, just being together in the same space doing nothing was easy. The first time I told her I loved her we were fighting and the reason I blurted it out right then was because I wouldn’t have been fighting with her if I didn’t love her. My entire life up until then had been bolting the second things got tough.
Maybe that’s the real answer. Love comes naturally to me. Loving Stacy, falling in love with Stacy, was effortless. I can’t tell you what she did to make me love her, but I can tell you what she did to make me stay: She learned how to fight with me. She worked on herself while I worked on myself and then we worked on ourselves as a couple so we could learn to fight with each other, not against each other. No matter what I’m battling, Stacy is the one I want fighting beside me. She knows how to comfort me and how to empower me; she knows when to push and when to just hold on. And when we have inevitable conflicts she knows how to position herself so we’re on the same team, working to make our relationship better instead of trying to score points off each other. When we go through scary, stressful things we don’t lash out; we lean in and say over and over how grateful we are to be going through it together.
That did not come naturally. Stacy worked on it with me deliberately, relentlessly.
I walk to meet Stacy at the train when she’s coming home from work most days, my heart skipping like a puppy. Sometimes I wake up in the night and am so overwhelmed with affection for her steady breathing beside me I want to jump up and tackle her. I love her. I just love her. And I know I’ll be with her for the rest of my life because the things that are easy have just gotten easier, and she’s proven over and over and over again that she’s willing to work on the things that are hard.
Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, Staff Writer
I can’t pinpoint the exact moment when I fell in love with Brandi, but she is such a good listener that at some point I realized she knows me better than anyone else simply because she puts the basic effort into asking me how I feel and then really listening. I am terrible at talking about my feelings, but Brandi makes me feel comfortable doing so. She is incredibly intuitive, making me feel like sometimes I don’t even need to say something out loud. She just gets me, you know? We have little telepathic moments all the time that make me feel incredibly close to her. I’ve never had that with anyone else.
Valerie Anne, Staff Writer
I fell in love for the first (and thus far, only) time when I was 21. It was with a girl I worked with at Barnes & Noble in Union Square and I remember the first time we met even though it was so inconsequential because it is seared forever on my soul. There was something about her, something that made a little voice inside me scream to keep the conversation going where my shy self would otherwise have wanted out, something that made me want to be near her longer, to get her to talk more, about anything, everything. I realized I was in love the first time she was going to come over my place. (My senior dorm, very romantic.)
The night before I spent hours cleaning and pacing and worrying about what I would wear and where we would sit and where we would order pizza from. I tried to sleep but my body was vibrating with energy and I couldn’t even lie still. I had never felt anything like it, and it got to the point where I Googled, “What does being in love feel like?” (#nerd) Well, friends, Google told me that being in love could result in physical feelings of euphoria, increased energy, sleeplessness, etc. And so science proved what I suspected: I was in love with this girl. (I have no photo of us because while she eventually said she loved me too, we never even ended up dating. It was complicated, and a longer story for another time. Ultimately I was glad to have known her, even if just to finally understand what all those sad songs were about.)
Stef Schwartz, Vapid Fluff Editor
I knew I would fall in love with Mila the first morning we woke up together, when I made her coffee with cinnamon and vanilla almond milk and we made up every excuse in the book to get her ride to pick her up just a little bit later. I knew I loved her shortly thereafter when we talked about books, both realized we were referencing The Master and Margarita and kissed excitedly. I didn’t tell her for months, because that was a weird thing to tell somebody you’d just met, I didn’t want to freak her out – but there were false starts. I’ve been working with my therapist lately about how I grew up viewing love as transactional, something you didn’t deserve unless you did x, y and z, and I was terrified that if I told her too soon, the whole thing would disappear. I almost told her once, and she maybe blurted it out once when we were wasted, but it didn’t count.
One night while we were walking back to her apartment, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell, ripping my knee open. She rushed me inside and cleaned, disinfected and bandaged my bloody wound like I was the most precious thing in the world. I was mostly embarrassed and sheepishly told her she didn’t have to do all that, when she looked me dead in the eye and told me, “Well, I love you.” I believed her.
We broke up a few months later and were positively awful to one another for about a year. We didn’t speak to each other for a whole other year; that’s how much time I needed to heal. Sometimes I don’t know if I believe I’ll ever feel that way about another person ever again, or even close. I will say that we miraculously came out of it very, very close friends who still love each other, and if she’s still talking to me now she’s stuck with me for life. Love’s definitely a lie, except for sometimes when it isn’t.
Carolyn Yates, NSFW Editor and Literary Editor
Sometimes you meet exactly the right person at exactly the right time.
We met; and then we met again; and then we fucked for hours in a bathroom, and then in her car, and then in her bed. Everything about it felt impossible — impossibly good, impossibly bright, impossibly logistically complicated, since we lived in different countries.
I knew we would get married a few weeks later, when we were standing on an escalator going up and she was standing a few steps ahead, looking to back at me, with the sun glowing white and her eyes shining blue and this one smile she has playing across her lips, which was also the moment I thought, very clearly, oh fuck.
I live in Los Angeles now, but I can only handle so much woo. I don’t think I knew in that moment that I could see how hard we would fight to be together, and after that, how we would fight. I don’t believe that love is a lie even though I try to and I don’t believe that you only get one great love and I don’t believe in soul mates and I don’t believe that love doesn’t mean anything just because it gets messy, and I don’t want it to be over, either, even though it probably is. But every single day we had together was a gift, and if in those early moments I could have seen how much the end would burn I still would have chosen every second of that light.
Raquel, Staff Writer
It’s hard to ever say you know when; I fall hard, I always have, and falling out of love has always been a strange rejiggering of my worldview, in which the thing that I just had was not the End-All-Be-All. After a good while of that, you tend to harden. To keep yourself from giving in, to remind yourself, when things are good, that this is ephemeral, this will end, and it will probably end in a way that will hurt you and make you realize that much of what you believed was untrue. That when you love someone, you can give them everything they need from you. That when someone loves you, they will be faithful. That love is something that falls upon you like a mantle, and attaches itself to you like it’s always been meant to be.
But I did fall in love again, this time slowly. Really carefully. Through healing parts of myself with work, therapy, and self-reflection, and letting other parts of myself be healed through small kindnesses and nudges.
When we first started dating my namoradx would tell me they looked forward to our first fight, and I’d freak out. Why would you ever want to fight? If you’re in love, doesn’t it mean you don’t fight, ever? That you’re attached at the hips, the minds, the inclinations, the souls?
Well, no. I’ve learned to love in a way that means listening to myself as much as I listen to the person I love, that love comes and goes and grows and shrinks, sometimes permanently, but sometimes not. That you can never hold someone — or yourself — up with only love to stand on. That it’s as much about building something together and choosing to nourish it as it is about a thunderclap.
Not that we’re without thunderclaps. When I first saw their picture, I fell in love with their mouth—with the perfect bow of their top lip, with the tiny sneer that poked at the corner of it. Our first kiss felt inevitable, a magnetic draw we wouldn’t resist, up against a pool table during a perfect night in a neon-washed cowboy bar. The first time we slept together it felt like we fit, and we knew one another, our bodies and our wants, already. I woke up in the morning and knew I had to find ways to keep them around. We spent the whole day together, doing nothing, and I knew this was good. Love is also full of knowing and unknowing—the former which only makes you love someone more, deeper it goes; the latter which surprises you and lets you know you still have more to learn. To hold in the softest part of your palm.
There have been many moments in which I’ve known I love them, but one that stands out to me the most is when they stood up to the Texas Legislature, not for the first time, to speak up for the queer and trans youth of Texas that they work for. Their patience, as they waited for hours to speak. Their strength, as they heard hate and ignorance spewed from ugly mouths and made sure the kids still knew they were loved and wanted. Their fire, as they spoke in their defense and spoke truth to power. Their beautiful, sweet, exhausted face as they left, and their soft head that I held in my arms that night, wanting to imbue it with all the love I could generate in my body. That’s when I knew that I loved them, yes, had been loving them, and will still love them even if we don’t remain together, because they are one of the most beautiful human beings I have ever had the pleasure of being near.
Mey, Trans Editor
I met my girlfriend Shelby at a wedding, which is already super romantic and basically a Hallmark movie. I guess technically I had met her a few days before at the Bridal Luncheon, but the day of the wedding was when we really clicked. I was the officiant and she was a bridesmaid wearing this gorgeous purple dress and she had her hair all done and she just looked like she was from a Disney movie. At the reception we both got drunk and made out on the dancefloor and then on a table where we spilled a drink on one of the brides. But at that point, it was just physical. For the the final piece of the reception, we all lined up across from each other holding sparklers while the brides ran through and it was really beautiful. When that was done, I licked my fingers, turned to the person next to me and said, “watch this, I’m a fire sign, so fire can’t hurt me.” Then I put my fingers on the metal sparkler, failing very badly at trying to put it out. As I ran towards the bathroom to run my fingers under the faucet, I saw someone else doing the same thing. It was Shelby, with her big, beautiful, olive eyes and her always-puckered-lips and her fingers freshly burned trying put her sparkler out. We were perfect for each other. That was when I knew I wanted to keep making out with her every day.
A month later after dozens of texts about how much we liked each other and lots of kisses and hookups, I texted her asking, “so, do you want to have a label for our relationship?” She replied with “do you like ‘girlfriends’ or something else?” She completely fell for the trap I set and I texted back “are you asking me to be your girlfriend?” to which she confusedly replied, “wait, is that not what you were asking?” But I’m a bottom and a sub, so I don’t ask questions like that. I make the girls I like ask me instead. A few days later we said “I love you” to each other for the first time.
After that, things got better every day. She comforts me and sings for me. One time she sang “Rainbow” by Kesha and it was perfect. She lays with her head in my lap while I scratch her scalp. She loves my cooking. She does things in bed with me no one else has ever done. She calls me a cowgirl. Really, Shelby is amazing and I love her more every day. Even when she spent three months in Japan recently she was still the perfect girlfriend because it meant that I had someone to text with while I stay up until 3am every night. Shelby’s kind of a Dirtbag, but not really, she’s more of a Dustbag. Like, she’s ridiculous and loud and great at a party, and she looks like that cool lesbian who stole your older brother’s bike and her daddy’s cowboy hat and scares bullies and shoplifts candy to give to kids at the lgbt center.
I love Shelby. I love the way she watches TV and the way she dances and the way her butt looks in a skirt and especially her laugh and the way she makes me feel safe and they way she chews her food and, gosh, I love the way she looks and acts when she dresses up like me. I love her love of horror movies and anime and the way she listens while I talk about outsider music for hours. I love that she’s always up for having fun and making me laugh and laughing at my jokes. I love that she’s excited to get all dolled up with me and look fancy. I love the way she looks when she sees a capybara. I love the way she rolls her eyes. But most of all, I love the way she tries to put out sparklers with her fingers.
Vanessa, Community Editor
I don’t feel like there was a huge auspicious moment when I fell in love with Alley but rather a million small moments that we’ve woven together to form the life we share now, the life that brings me more joy and comfort than I ever knew was possible to have with another human being. I find this kind of falling in love extremely romantic, and I feel excited about the never ending opportunities we have to continue to fall in love for the rest of our lives. If you were to force me to pick a specific moment, though, I’d have to say that when she accompanied me to the women’s writing group I attended every month when I lived in Southern Oregon, filled with lesbians in their seventies who have lived on the land for decades, and read vulnerable poetry to that rapt audience of self-proclaimed land dykes, well… I knew I was in trouble then. I was right.
Reneice, Staff Writer
I didn’t want to fall in love with Tara. We met when I was still in the place that I knew the exact date and time that someone I thought I could love forever shattered that dream and thought about that day not as much as the month before, but still too often. We met when I’d sworn off loving, or liking, or doing anything but casually hooking up with a few people on a regular schedule to ward off loneliness. We met when the only people I wanted to meet were people I knew there wouldn’t be anything real with so it didn’t feel wrong to engage them cause we knew what we were doing and why. We met at the worst possible time.
At any rate, we met. Carly and Robin put out a call for extras for a pilot they were shooting, and there, on a set staged as a queer bar we met and pretended to talk to each other and laugh at each others jokes for a few hours. She was adorable and awkward and stunning and the way I felt when she looked at me terrified me. I left and tried not to think of her. Someone else gave me a reason not to and I latched onto that and moved forward with my crusade of loneliness. Two months later we met again. I wasn’t so angry or jaded and had no doomsday date floating in the back of my mind. She was still just as adorable and sweetly awkward. She still made me feel things i didn’t expect and couldn’t explain when she looked at me, but it wasn’t so scary this time. It was inviting. We went on our first date the next week.We drank local beer and played a very heated game of UNO at my favorite bar then watched Suicide Kale in honor of Robin and Carly bringing us together for an amazing first date.
We went on more dates. We said were scared of how we felt for one another because we weren’t sure if we were ready for it. We found out we’re both runners. We chose not to run. We realized we’d rather be scared and figuring it out together than safe and apart. I never stopped swooning when she looked at me. I never stopped missing her when she was gone. I woke up one morning after we’d dropped our “no sleepovers” boundary about six months into our rollercoaster courtship and felt safer and warmer than I had in years and realized we’d fallen asleep in each others arms. I’d slept the entire night with my head on her chest, her hand on my back, our hearts dancing with each other all night long. This was NOT a thing I did.
Any former version of me would’ve panicked but I knew in that moment it was a thing I did want to do. I wanted it then, I wanted it the next day, I wanted it forever. With her. It didn’t matter how hard I’d tried to talk myself out of wanting it, love went right ahead and booked me a ticket on its flight anyway. When she woke up and realized how we’d slept she was surprised at first too. Then she looked at me and smiled. I felt weak. Then she kissed me and said “ I feel so safe with you” and my heart filled with light. With warmth. With love. I wanted to say so just then but per usual got in my own way and got scared. I wasn’t sure if I could trust it, or trust myself with her. I waited. I wanted her to say it first. It was excruciating. I’m a Sagittarius and youngest child so if there’s one thing I can be it’s stubborn but a few weeks later I couldn’t take it anymore. I very bravely asked her “What would you do if I said a thing that’s a big thing.” She looked at me like the oldest child she is, completely uninterested in my games and said “What would I do if you said I love you? I’d say I love you too. There. Is that better? I love you Reneice. I do. You can stop being a wimp about it now.” It was perfect. Still is.
KaeLyn, Staff Writer
Falling in love for me has always been accidental and often for the wrong person at the wrong time. It’s hard to pinpoint. Falling out of love feels more clear to me. I know I don’t love an ex anymore when I look at them, at their face, and I don’t find them beautiful. Or, rather, I can fixate on the flaws, the devastatingly normal things about them, a scar on their cheek or a pimple or the way their eyebrows are asymmetrical. But that’s not what this roundtable is about.
I said I loved Waffle way before I knew if I meant it. We had… tumultuous beginnings and the sex was incredible and intense, but the relationship was confusing and rocky. It was in bed, about two months into formally dating and several into hooking up, that I blurted out, “I love you!” I had just ended a long-term relationship and it was something that felt natural in the moment, but immediately terrifying when I realized what I’d said. Everything stopped abruptly and I laid there with my eyes wide for a few seconds. It was so unlike me and Waffle responded in the best way. He said, “I love you, too,” and immediately moved on. It definitely could have killed the vibe, but we both just kind of pretended it was fine and continued. Later when we talked about it, he wasn’t mad that I wasn’t sure if I meant it. He knew I totally freaked myself out.
I guess I don’t know when I first fell in love with Waffle. Our beginnings were tawdry and complex and scary and kind of awful. And it was one of those deals where a friendship love turned quickly into a more-than-friends love and it was also a forbidden love (neither of us was available when we kissed) and there were trust issues and messed up histories and it was just…a lot. I committed to our love when I knew that we had done the work to be healthy as individuals and as a couple and that we were both willing to put hard work into our relationship, which took seven whole years. Even on our wedding day in 2011, that wasn’t the day I felt love most intensely for Waffle.
That day was the day Remi was born. It’s almost cliche, but I have never in my life felt more connected to another person. I’ve never been more vulnerable, more open and raw, or in more actual physical pain than when I was in labor. Every time I reached for Waffle, he was right there, for over 24 hours. He was right there with me, pouring warm water over my back as I screamed into a towel in the bathtub, catching me when I reached for him, letting me hang off him with all my weight, feeding me ice chips, and holding my hand for every contraction when I’d been laboring for hours and hours and I whispered, “I don’t know if I can do this,” and finally, being right there watching in the mirror with me when our child came into the world. I’ve never felt more in tune with Waffle, more in love with him and with us. You should know that I take pride in my pain tolerance and that I hate asking for help. You should know that I’m usually the one who takes the lead in stressful situations and the chill one when things get intense. I’ve never trusted that someone would be there if I allowed myself to be totally exposed.
I don’t believe in one true love. I don’t believe love is forever. I’m still that commitment-phobe girl who blurted something awkward out in bed and took it back as soon as possible. But I do believe that Waffle and I can get through almost anything because we have such a strong foundation—one that we built together after starting with a shaky, broken, falling apart one—and that’s why I know I’m in love, every day.
Laneia, Executive Editor
I was really honestly just hoping to find friends in my area and Megan’s dating profile was really sweet and she seemed like the kind of girl you’d want in your contacts. There was a line in her profile saying that she’d give you the last cookie, and just thinking about that now is making me cry because SHE WOULD. She has! At that time though, I thought it was simply a cute way to signal that she saw herself as selfless, and I needed a person like that. Sometime before we’d gone our first date, she texted “Hey, are eggplants a nightshade?” and I was like wtf is a nightshade and had to google it. I thought it was cool that she’d wondered a thing in a grocery store and thought I’d have the answer. That’s what I wanted! A queer woman who’d casually ask me about vegetables in the afternoon. And then there was the time I had to reschedule that first date, which I’d stupidly planned for Valentine’s Day like some kind of asshole in a movie because I’d forgotten that “next Monday” was February 14. So I texted her “I’m sorry, can we move our brunch to Friday? I didn’t realize Monday was Valentine’s Day!” and she replied, “I guess I’ll have to find someone else to give this enormous teddy bear and chocolates to,” which might not seem super cute to YOU, reader, but to me it was confident and familiar and breezy and perfect. For all she knew I could’ve taken that seriously! But she was just being herself.
So I was all geared up to be this cute girl’s friend and maybe we’d do chill things together and she’d text me with questions and who knows maybe one day, eventually, we’d think about dating? That was the deal as far as I was concerned. When I was sitting on the bench outside the brunch place and she walked up — tall and lanky, bad posture, wearing jeans with the exact perfect wash that’s my favorite, hands shoved down into her pockets, blue eyes totally unable to meet mine for even a second — and came in for a hug, it was like pushing off at the very top of a very high, very long water slide. If she hadn’t been so cute and so entirely my type since jr. high, I probably would’ve been fine.
I don’t remember the first time we said ‘I love you’ or the minute when I finally knew it’d be safe to marry her, but I’ll never forget the nightshades or the cookie or the way she looked walking toward me that morning. Those memories come back and pin themselves to every new time she asks for help, and every time she does something for me, and every time she’s hot, all of which happens a lot.
When I met Sarah, my heart was broken and locked up tight, like “love is a lie” tight, like “i don’t trust myself to know my ass from my elbow from a person who could win me over and spit me back out like I was nothing” tight. Plus I hadn’t been truly single since before iPhones were invented, let alone apps, let alone Tinder — so Tinder and its customs were very strange to me. I don’t remember swiping right on Sarah — I know it happened when I was in LA for the week, visiting from Michigan, where I’d unwisely bought a house with my ex that took me a year to unload — but she remembers. Even her first message, “This is the most important thing to ever happen to me,” made me laugh. She was too young, absolutely entirely too young, but also in one of her pics she was dressed up for Halloween as the “PC Police,” so how could I resist. We had friends in common. She was so fucking cute!
The first time we talked on the phone I laughed so much my face hurt. When I told her I didn’t really like college that much, she yelled I HAVE SO MUCH SCHOOL SPIRIT and collapsed on her bed and I thought “I need more of this.” The first time she came to visit, she made me watch The Notebook and said it was responsible for her formative understanding of romance and love and honestly I love how bananas that is, and that she cried during it.
I fell for Sarah because she’s as earnest and enthusiastic and outgoing as I am cynical and grumpy and introverted. Because she’s brilliant and ambitious and driven and so so funny. I love her brain. We’re both invested in the same issues, but are tackling them from entirely different fields, and I love getting her perspective on the things that matter to us both. There’s a shared vocabulary I didn’t know I needed in a partner but it turns out that I do. I fell for Sarah cause when somebody took our seats at the Tegan & Sara concert, she took action immediately and wasn’t cowed into submission by the fact that the concert had already started and what if strangers look at me and hate me what then!! I fell for her because she sees my work as important, not inconvenient. I love all her stories about her weirdo childhood and thinking about them when I look at her face now, at the person she’s become. I love how passionate she is about her work, and how her face scrunches up when she laughs and I love her self-deprecation and how sometimes she’s so excited about something that she literally leaps in the air. I love how we take turns helping each other through shit.
It’s almost been a year and my stomach still does backflips when she walks into the room with her eyes wide like she’s just happy to be here, on this planet. ‘Cause she makes me feel that way too.
Yvonne, Senior Editor
Gloria and I have been together for over 7 years now so it’s difficult for me to pinpoint exactly when I fell in love with her; I feel like being in love with her has always been true. We’ve changed so much over the years but she’s always been my best friend. I do know for a fact that I’ve fallen deeper in love with her each year in so many beautiful ways. It’s like in yoga when you make a correction or deepen your posture, you inhale and then exhale to deepen your twist or move a millimeter more and that one subtle change makes all the difference. I feel like each year I spend with Gloria is like that; I discover new things about her, however small and slight they are, and my love for her is renewed and feels so right.
When I first met her, she swore a lot and was never afraid to speak her mind or talk loudly in public about vaginas or menstrual blood or pubic hair. I was the complete opposite and I was terrified of her boldness and loudness but also attracted to it. Over the years, she has helped me become better at describing my jumbled up feelings, asking for what I want, and arguing because she’s a supreme communicator and I learned it all from her. She is so passionate and still speaks her mind, mostly on Instagram stories, about why this or that is fucked up in the world and what we should do about it. Lately, I fall hard for her every time she makes me surprise brunch, or when she dances with the music turned way up in the middle of the day, or when she kisses me goodbye when she leaves for her 6 a.m. shift and I’m still dreaming. I can’t wait to marry her!