How long does it take to fall in love, what is love and how do I know I am in love are three questions I am continually asked as a Relationship Coach.
“The Eskimos had 52 names for snow because it was so important to them. There ought to be as many for love!”
You love your family, your friends, maybe even your job. You may love yourself and then you have romantic love. There are so many types of love and feelings associated with love, yet we have one word for it.
No wonder it feels confusing to work out if you are in love or not!
Is There a Set Time it Takes to Fall in Love?
The simple answer is no! People are different and don’t fall in love at exactly the same amount of time, in exactly the same way.
Interestingly though, men know and fall in love quicker than women!
Men will often know they want to be serious after 2 to 3 dates, whereas women can take up to 16 dates to come to the same conclusion.
Love isn’t simple, who knows why you end up loving one person and not another! Although after a decade of working with singles I do have a pretty good idea!
What everyone does know is that that first spark of attraction can leave you feeling breathless and dizzy with excitement.
If you have been in love more than once in your lifetime it can feel different at different times in your life with different people.
No wonder it’s so hard to describe what love feels like.
Researchers have studied how long it takes to fall in love and it’s no surprise to find out that they can’t pinpoint the amount of time it takes to fall in love.
Why? Because it’s impossible to measure and there’s no test you can take that will work out if you are in love (yet)! In fact, you might not even be certain of your own feelings, so how can researchers be, when they can’t get the data they need to receach to a conclusion.
Even so, researchers used what they could. They measured the amount of time it takes people to feel like they want to tell someone they love them. They felt this would be a good guide to find out the answer and it makes sense.
A study published in 2011 looked at:
- Who professed their love first
- How long it took to consider saying they were in love
The answer was men took just over 97 days, to consider saying how they felt. Women took more time, nearly 139 days.
Studies by dating apps/sites had similar results.
The conclusion is that it usually takes a couple of months to fall in love no matter what gender you are.
Falling in Love at First Sight
Disney movies, rom-coms and novels all give us our ideas about falling in love. Unfortunately, these ideas are often unrealistic and a myth. In most of those movies, love happens by chance and leads to love at first sight. The movies make it seem magical. The reality found by science is that it is attraction at first sight, not love.
It is those rush of chemicals that the brain produces when you are powerfully attracted to someone.
That attraction, at first sight, can be primal and isn’t based on anything tangible. At this point, you don’t know anything about whether the other person is ready for a relationship, if their personality works with yours and if they want the same things in life that you do. All you have to go on is superficial traits and the vibe they give you.
The research found where people fell in ‘love at first sight it came from that first spark of attraction they felt. They found that people looked back on that first meeting with rose coloured glasses and put a romantic twist on it – calling it ‘love at first sight’ when in reality it was attraction.
Other research found that only 11% experience that feeling instantly and for the other 89% it is a slow burn!
The reality is that love goes way beyond a feeling in a long-term relationship.
What Does it Feel Like to Fall in Love?
What does it feel like and how do you know you are in love? Research has found that the feeling of falling in love comes with the feelings on the list below. You may experience all of these feelings or just some of them.
- It’s new and exciting. It is like a ray of sunshine in your everyday life – rainbows and butterflies on a dull day. It comes with that wonderful feeling of newness where your life is suddenly different, it feels better somehow because everything seems fresher and brighter.
- Comes with a burst of energy and excitement. Finally, someone who excites you!
- You can’t focus on anything else. All you want to do is think about the other person. They fill your daydreams, your night dreams and the moments in between. Oh, and you can’t help but plan your future together.
- The urge to spend every moment together. You don’t want to be apart and you don’t even care what you do as long as you are together.
- Interested in everything about them. In the beginning, you want to know everything about them, their favourite, food, hobbies, likes/dislikes, dreams, literally everything. You could listen to them all day long.
- Feeling attached. You feel a strong connection that goes beyond physical desire.
- Feeling secure. You feel safe, you feel like you can tell them anything and open up about your deepest, darkest secrets because you trust them that much.
The Stages of Love
Romantic love comes in three stages that researchers have identified. At each stage, the brain releases different types of chemicals to bond (glue) you together.
This is that initial attraction you feel and it comes from desire. The unromantic truth is it comes from the evolutionally pull to have babies and keep the human race going! It has a lot to do with sexual desire for someone whose immune system is the most opposite to yours. Your immune system doesn’t consider compatibility!
You have all sorts of chemicals being released to boost your sex drive, think estrogen and testosterone that compel you and make you want to be physical and intimate with each other.
Attraction goes a little deeper than those feelings of lust! As you start to like each other more your brain produces higher levels of different hormones – dopamine (which helps you feel pleasure) and norepinephrine (increases heart rate and blood pumping from the heart and helps break down fat and increase blood sugar levels to provide more energy to the body).
No wonder this stage feels wonderful because you have more energy and you feel good. This is all because pleasure gives you the feeling of happy satisfaction and enjoyment.
During the attraction phase, the chemicals that are released give you a blissful state that can also affect your sleep and appetite!
During the third stage, that wonderful honeymoon state of attraction will even out. But don’t worry, it’s a good thing as this is the time that the attraction changes to a long-term type of attachment that makes you want to commit to each other. You want to move beyond lust and attraction to something real that lasts the test of time. It is a nurturing stage where you grow feelings of love for the person who seems right for you.
At this point oxytocin (the love drug) and vasopressin (which helps support vigilance and behaviours needed for guarding a partner) take the lead role in the hormones your body releases. During the attachment phase, you can feel the need to ferociously protect your partner and it can also cause jealousy.
It is one of the reasons that people change the more they care about you – blame it on those hormones!
Love feels different for everyone and doesn’t happen in the same way.
Real committed love goes beyond the feelings and is not something that you have, rather something that you do.
Just like in any other relationship (family, friends, children) there will be moments that you don’t feel love but just because you don’t feel doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
There will be times where you will need to choose to be loving even when you don’t feel it. That is one of the reasons that basing your choice on lust/attraction alone is not enough. You want to be compatible and share the same values to create a wonderful life together.
Here is one of the best definitions you will find about love.
Beautiful, right. If you are still struggling to work out what you are feeling. worried that you may screw up something good or it just scares you, why not look at Relationship Coaching?