What is love, and how long does it really take to fall in love? As humans, we complicate love in a lot of ways, but really it is just a noun. It means “an intense feeling of tender affection and compassion” or “a strong liking for or pleasure gained from.”
Now, if you are someone like me who has intense feelings about nearly everything, then you might think that it doesn’t take long to fall in love at all.
However, if you are someone who views the world through logic, data, and facts, then you might think that it is impossible to fall in love quickly. Is there a right answer to this question?
Whether you are head over heels about your current partner who you have been with for a month or wondering if you should say yes to that proposal from the guy you have been seeing the last six months, you have probably wondered if it is “too soon.” In fact, if you have talked to anyone about it, you have probably heard, “Are you really sure it is love?”
“She wasn’t exactly sure when it happened. Or even when it started. All she knew for sure was that right here and now, she was falling hard and she could only pray that he was feeling the same way.” ― Nicholas Sparks, Safe Haven
How do you know if it’s love?
Cher claims there is only one way to tell if it’s love. She claims you can’t deduce this through his sighs or his arms. You can only tell for sure by his kiss! It’s an old song, but it begs an interesting question.
Is love something that you can just instantly know when you lock lips? Or is that just a chemical reaction to physical stimuli (again, humans often complicate things)? Is it something that comes on suddenly or is built little by slow?
According to Elsbeth Riley, in an article medically reviewed by Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., ABPP, these are five signs you might be in love:
- You feel no pain.
- You want to try new experiences.
- You care about their happiness.
- You can’t stop looking at them.
- You want to tell them you love them.
Each of these things could happen quickly, though. Let’s say you have a stress headache at work, but you think about the last few exceptional dates you have been on lately and you find the pain and stress slowly ebbing away.
Maybe you went and had Thai food for the first time on one of those dates, and now you can’t wait to see what other new things this relationship might open you up to.
Are you sitting there at your desk wondering how you could brighten your partner’s day? These are things that might feasibly occur after just a few dates… does that make it love?
If you’re enjoying this article, you might also like these falling in love quotes that prove just how incredible it is to find your special someone.
What the science says about the time it actually takes
Dan Jones of the University of Nevada, Reno, coined the term “emophilia.” This describes the ease with which people fall in love. He claims it is a personality trait, and that is different for everyone, just like other personality traits.
In a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, they noted that people with a higher degree of emophilia have more relationships or marriages (and divorces) than those who report falling in love slower.
You might assume then that this proves it should take longer to fall in love. However, you can’t really discern what other factors affected the success (or failure) of those relationships.
“People accuse me of falling in love easily. It just means that I’m able to see the beauty in most of the people who cross paths with me and I appreciate it for what it is and also for what it isn’t. Love is imperfect. Falling for someone’s flaws is just as necessary as falling for their strengths. And people like myself, who fall into love easily, are sometimes the loneliest souls around at the end of the day.” ― Ashly Lorenzana
Another study by YouGov and eHarmony (reported in New Scientist) found that the average time for men to fall in love is 88 days, while those same feelings of true love take women 134 days.
88 days is just shy of three months, and even at 134 days, it still seems like the average time is well under six months. If you have been with someone for a year or more, and aren’t sure if it’s love, then it may be time to ask yourself some tough questions… and be honest about the answers.
What to do if you aren’t sure it is love, and it’s been a while
I am a hopeless romantic, and I believe in love at first sight. However, I also understand the beauty of taking things slowly and building a solid foundation. Rome was not built in a day and neither are healthy relationships.
Love is something that changes over time, and the longer you have been with somebody. If this relationship has been going on a while, and you aren’t sure it’s love, here are a few important things to ask yourself:
- Is this person someone you can count on?
- Would you miss your partner if you moved on, or would you just miss being in a relationship?
- Am I afraid to share my actual opinions with my significant other?
- Do they help me when I am upset?
These questions go beyond the clammy hands and weak knees of cliche love and get into the nitty-gritty of everyday life. Love should grow and hopefully deepen with spending more time together and sharing experiences, but if you have doubts based on the answers to those questions, then it might be time to realize this relationship might not be the one.
The bottom line is love looks and feels differently for everyone
My husband and I got married when I was 19, after dating for just about a year. People thought we were crazy. They said we got married too young, too fast, and did not know what we were in for. They were right; we didn’t!
Life threw some stuff at us like it will for everyone, but this year we will celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. I love him so much more now than I did on our wedding day. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t love then… it was just different.
And that is really the problem with giving a definitive answer on “how long does it take to fall in love.” You will fall in love in whatever time frame feels right for you. Sometimes it is reciprocated and other times it isn’t (there we go complicating things yet again).
It is as subjective as who you find attractive, what personality traits annoy you, and what doesn’t. It is remembering to love someone when they take the last towel out of the bathroom or drip water from the sink all over your new flooring.
After all these years, I have learned that love is not about arbitrary timelines, it is about feelings and choices, both of which are solely up to you! So dive in head first, or take your time. Just stay true to yourself, be safe, and be happy. Don’t let anyone tell you it is too soon or long enough to know. You will just know when you know.
“Maybe it’s just hiding somewhere. Or gone on a trip to come home. But falling in love is always a pretty crazy thing. It might appear out of the blue and just grab you. Who knows — maybe even tomorrow.” ― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
Let us know how long it took you to know that it was love in the comment section below!