How Long Does It Take To Fall In Love? Here's What It Depends On
You may have had friends who say that they fell in love a couple of weeks after meeting someone, but other people can be together for months and months and still not be sure. So how long does it take to fall in love with someone? If you're questioning why you don't feel "in love" as quickly as you think you should, then it's time to give yourself a break. Because with love, it's often better to think about the long term.
It's not that you can't have strong feelings for someone very quickly — but, often those strong feels will actually be lust or infatuation, which can feel a lot like love in the beginning. So, when it comes to how long it takes to fall in love, you need to give yourself some time to make sure that's really what you're feeling.
"In my estimation it takes longer than a lot of people think that it does!" relationship therapist Aimee Hartstein, LCSW tells Bustle. "There’s no one answer or time frame but I generally find that when people say they are in love after four weeks or even after eight weeks they are talking about lust! We can have lust and passion at first sight, but it takes longer than that to really get to know someone and figure out who they are and how the two of you connect. Love is definitely something longer term."
So how long it takes to fall in love can really depend — and, if you're taking a little longer, it might just mean that you're holding out for the real thing. "And of course you should take it at your own pace," Hartsein says. "Even if the person you are dating proclaims their love early on, that’s no reason for you to start questioning yourself and your feelings. Everyone is different."
And, interestingly, it seems like certain factors mean we fall in love more quickly (or think we've fallen in love more quickly). Here are some things that can affect how quickly we fall in love — because it can vary so much from person to person.
Positive Thinkers Can Fall In Love Faster
It makes sense when you think about it — more positive people find it easier to talk themselves into a more positive mindset generally and that includes their feelings toward someone else.
“Positive thinking can increase how much love you have for your partner for several reasons,” Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., a Los Angeles-based psychologist tells Bustle. “First of all, if you are already thinking positively in general, you are much more likely to notice and appreciate those qualities in your partner that you love rather than take these characteristics for granted or overlook them. Also, if you typically tend to engage in positive thinking, you are likely to be a more open-hearted person in general, as well as towards your partner than someone who tends to be more of a negative or even neutral kind of thinker.”
If you tend to look on the positive side of everything, that's going to translate to how you look at relationships. So us cynics out there might take a little longer to fall in love — but that's OK, too. Everybody is different and your outlook on life can certainly play a big role.
Men Might Fall In Love Faster Than Women
It may go against every gender stereotype ever — but that's exactly why gender stereotypes are total BS. According to a study in The Journal of Social Psychology, men fall in love faster than women. The study also found that they expressed it faster — but some experts think this might be more to do with men being more secure in their convictions rather than actually falling in love faster.
"Generally, men are seen as less emotional and may not question their emotions as much as women do," Rachel Needle, Psy.D., licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist in West Palm Beach, Florida, tells Bustle. "On the other hand, women are often more likely to analyze their feelings and hesitate before saying 'I love you.' Thus, a man might not actually be in love, but will say it when the feelings are strong and believes that he is. Despite what much of the media and society claims, many men do desire meaningful connections and relationships. They might sometimes fall harder faster, but there is no telling how long that feeling will last."
So it's time we move past those harmful gender stereotypes — because men can love fast and say it even faster. Plus, these gender stereotypes tend to hurt everyone, no matter how your identify, so we should clearly leave them behind for good.
Can You Train Yourself To Fall In Love?
How long does it take to fall in love? It might take less longer if you put the effort in. If you really, really want to fall in love, there is some proof that you can basically train yourself to do it — like Arthur Aron’s 36 Questions experiment. In the experiment, two people asked each other increasingly personal questions over a 45 minute period — and finished with staring into each other's eyes. Did it work? Well, six months after the experiment, one of the pairs got married, so it seemed like something definitely happened. The key is sharing personal information in an environment where you feel trust and support.
“Reciprocal escalating self-disclosure is kind of a long, fancy term that social scientists use. Once we’ve each reveals some vulnerabilities to one another, if it all went well, you feel comfortable and you can reveal even more vulnerability.” Dr. Margaret Clark, Yale University Professor, tells Bustle. "Feeling understood, feeling validated is something that people like." And they like it so much, it might even lead to love.
So there are a lot of different factors that influence how quickly someone falls in love. And that should tell you something very important: it all comes down to you. Falling in love, rather than falling in lust, is a process. If it comes naturally for you, that's great. If it takes you a little more time, that's totally OK — it'll be worth it.
Harrison, Marissa A. and Shortall, Jennifer C. (2010) Women and Men in Love: Who Really Feels It and Says It First? The Journal of Social Psychology. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00224545.2010.522626?src=recsys
Aron, Arthur. (1997) The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0146167297234003
Aimee Hartstein, Relationship Therapist and LCSW
Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D., Psychologist
Rachel Needle, Psy.D., Psychologist and Sex Therapist
Dr. Margaret Clark, Yale University Professor
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