Gay or straight, single or taken, young or old, there’s one thing we can all agree on: love is tough. When you’re deep in the throes of being ~in love~ with someone, it can feel useless to try to explain why or how you got there. It’s because that person is just perfect for you, duh!

But if anybody knows what causes you to fall for one person and not another, it’s the researchers who investigate this very phenomenon for a living.

Ayala Malach Pines is a clinical psychologist and faculty member at Ben Gurion University in Israel. Ayala studies couples, and she’s written around 60 research papers and a handful of books on the subject.

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In one book, “Falling in Love: Why We Choose the Lovers We Choose,” Ayala breaks down the 11 factors that are involved in falling in love.

The first factor is “similarity in attitudes, background, personality traits,” Joanie Faletto at Mental Floss writes. The next factor is geographic proximity, and the third factor is “desirable characteristics of personality and appearance.”

After that is reciprocal affection — or, whether the person has feelings for you too. So if there’s a cute, nice person who lives nearby, has some things in common, and likes you? You’ve already got several of the factors involved in falling in love with them.

Additional factors include whether the person satisfies your needs, physical and emotional arousal, and “social influences, norms, and the approval of people in our circle.”

Readiness for a romantic relationship also plays a role, as well as opportunities to be alone together (ahem). Then there are the specific cues in the person’s “voice, eyes, posture, way of moving.”

And lastly, there’s mystery, because sometimes not knowing everything about someone can make things more alluring.

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While this information probably won’t make relationships any less confusing and hard, it does provide a helpful starting place for understanding how to get into one in the first place.

Have you noticed any of these factors in your life?

Let us know in the comments!