How Long Does It Take to Fall In Love?

“You can be in a relationship for two years and feel nothing; you can be in a relationship for two months and feel everything. Time is not a measure of quality, of infatuation, of love.” – Author unknown

It’s been a while since I’ve written about love, my favorite topic. As a follow-up to my posts on this subject, I’ve never actually addressed the hows of love. I’m thinking specifically about the duration of time it takes to fall in love.

Recently, a study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. The aim of the study is passionate love, and to compare and contrast it with other types of love (such as maternal love and unconditional love for persons with intellectual disabilities). The study found that it takes all but one-fifth of a second after looking at someone for euphoria-inducing chemicals to be released in the brain — the same effect as a hit of cocaine.

These chemicals affect 12 different areas of the brain, and are complex enough to give way to different types of love: primarily, passionate and companionate love. Passionate love is the initial rush to the head (literally), and companionate love can actually grow between couples over time. This means that falling in love at first sight is actually feasible: the same hormones released upon first looking at your significant other are also released when simply thinking about them.

I remember meeting someone and feeling blown away at a simple glance. Speaking in cliches, it was like time stopped and my life fast-forwarded with him front and center. It took almost no time to start talking. Never had I experienced love at first sight. I never believed in it. He invited me out for a date the following weekend, but we talked non-stop until then. I felt like I’d fallen in love by the time our date came to a close some seven days later. Everything was fast and furious, much to our fear and partial attempts to slow down. Why slow down when it felt so right? At this point, I’d known him one week.

For the next six or eight weeks, we were inseparable and it felt amazing. We traveled and went to concerts and ate dumplings. We confided in each other about vulnerable topics. I felt like my heart was whole. Around the end of two months, some big things happened for him and we grew apart. He needed some space, and I didn’t understand his communication.

At this point, real life came back to remind us that the bubble we were floating in would pop. I was devastated and could not understand why. All the why questions went unanswered, my speculation getting the best of me. It was best not to talk often. When we did, we inevitably had another setback.

We needed time. He went out of town for a while and I dated someone else. When we started talking again, the circumstances were different. I found a friend in him, and yet my affection for him grew. The love changed to companion love —  with electronic communication being the vehicle for a new development in our relationship. When we FINALLY saw each other again, I had that same screaming in my head. It exclaimed “don’t pass this up. Go for it.” Butterflies flipped and danced in my stomach, and I was smitten again, still. It was a chemical reaction over which I had no power.

As we agreed to spend more time together, the love I felt was passionate, friendly, trusting, companionate, silly, fun. I wanted nothing more than to see him often, to develop something, to plan our lives together.

This took a little more than eighteen months, from the date we met.

Remember being a kid and reading Choose Your Own Adventure novels? Well here are two possible endings for my love story.

Option One

And then I messed it up. In the interest of privacy, I can’t go into the specific details that are usually told in love stories. I will say that I betrayed his trust by omitting some details and it broke our connection. He was stuck trying to forgive me but ultimately could not move past the facts. And that’s, unfortunately, where the story ends. I wish I had a happier ending, but this is how it ended. This major love took eighteen months to flourish and a brief conversation to end. I still feel it.

Option Two

We decided to go all in! We’re now fully committed to each other. The relationship is better than I could have dreamed. As awesome as the first couple months felt, this new phase feels stable, real. I didn’t know what it would be like to feel supported and seen in this way, and I’ve found someone who accepts me. To reach this point, we were very honest with one another and talked through some misunderstandings. I now know what open communication means, and it’s remarkable. We’re moving forward in our love with each other, and I know without a doubt, he’s The One.

Just to close this out tidily, Option One is what really happened. I wish Option Two had a fair chance. 

* * *

I want to hear about your love stories. Did it take you a minute to fall in love or did it grow over time?

Please contact me with your love and relationship questions. I work with couples and individuals who are looking for love, need help in their relationships, and are confused about dating. Contact me!

Other love posts: My Heart Beats In Allegretto, John Steinbeck’s Love Advice and A Recipe for Love.

 

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9 thoughts on “How Long Does It Take to Fall In Love?

  1. I’m sorry it ended with Option 1. I hate what-ifs. There are two past loves in my life that I still struggle over. I don’t think I ever really healed from those heartbreaks.

    I tend to fall in love steadily over time. Lust & attraction has to be there from the beginning, though.

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  2. I’ve experienced both myself, but here’s the thing: in both cases, there was SOMETHING that sparked the attraction. That is to say, can companionate love /really/ happen if you start from a zero? I feel like there has to be a LITTLE something, like either one or both (does it have to be both?) of you finds the other person attractive, funny, clever – whatever. There’s that old chestnut about women deciding whether they’d sleep with a guy during that first meeting, and I feel like that’s part of why you can’t start from a zero and get to a relationship. There has to be SOMETHING you or they like about you… right?

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    • Alan, this is an excellent point and question. I failed to mention that. Yes I think there has to be a nugget of attraction. And I do think both need to feel a spark or it stays unrequited and friendly.

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  3. I always fall in love at first sight and I thought that’s how it happened for everyone until kind of recently when a few of my girlfriends told me stories about how they fell deeply and passionately in love with their partners over time. For me, if I am not burning in the crotch for them by the end of the first date then it will never happen. No amount of appreciating that person will bring it on. I wish it wasn’t the case, trust me! I’ve tried a few times to let someone “grow on me” but it always ends badly. They feel led on and I feel like a jerk who wasted both of our time. Even though I still haven’t found my Option 2 I’m glad that I know what it feels like to fall madly, head over heels in love with someone at first sight and I’m just waiting for the guy who I can feel that way about for the rest of my life.

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    • I don’t always fall in love at first sight, but it’s often love at first week. There was a time I dated someone for a long time (4 years) and didn’t fall, but more like limped to love over time. I should have known then that this was the wrong relationship. I’d much rather fall than crawl in love.

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