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How Long Does It Take To Fall In Love? (Here's The Truth)

by Sonya Schwartz

Are you wondering what’s taking your man so long to say ‘I love you’?

Does it take men longer than women to fall in love? 

Is there a deadline which means they probably won’t ever say those magic words? 

We explore these questions and more in the article below. 

But if you are desperately waiting for your man to say he loves you, it’s important to read these next few sentences very carefully.

I wasted too many of my best years in relationships with guys who didn’t truly care about me.

No matter how long I waited, these guys would never make grand gestures to show they loved me or wanted to commit for the long-term.

Deep down, I’d dread them getting bored and leaving, and most of them did. 

However, I was eventually able to turn this around - and it was all thanks to learning about a powerful aspect of male psychology.

It’s called the ‘Hero’s Instinct’.

This is a primal instinct found in most guys, and it can massively impact how they feel about the women in their life. 

Once I learned to activate this way of thinking inside my boyfriend, he began to treat me with more love and affection (you can learn how to do this by reading my personal story).   

It’s actually a really simple concept to understand, yet few women seem to know about it.

If you’re waiting on a man to tell you he loves you, it’s in your best interests to discover how I learned to use the Hero’s Instinct.  

Our guide will help you learn whether you’re right to be expecting the ‘L Bomb’ from your man. 

If you haven’t fallen in love by six months should you quit and move on or does it actually take longer?  There are those of course who maintain that love can be, at first sight, is this really possible?  I want to explore whether there is actually an answer to this age-old conundrum and compile a useful guide for your future relationships.

What actually is love?

Love is a blend of physical attraction, emotional connection and constant attachment.  Love cannot be defined in just a few words, more like a few paragraphs.  Love has long been the speculation and muse of poets, songwriters and lyricists. all putting their own particular spin on this element of the human condition.

As we all know, there are different types of love other than romantic love.  There is familial love between parent and child or siblings.  But for our purposes, this is just about romantic love and the ancient Greeks had seven different words which reflect the different stages of falling in love and being in love.

  • Storage – indicating a natural and gentle affection
  • Philia – caring and devoted friendship
  • Eros – erotic and sexual
  • Agape – pure and divine love, unconditional
  • Ludus – flirtatious
  • Pragma – grounded, committed love, married love
  • Philautia – self-love

If love were represented by color, there would be present all the tones of the rainbow with shades in between.  That is why love is so hard to define but it is part of the human condition to want a definition, to coral it, catch it so we can understand it and apply it to our own situation.

How to recognize love?

We can certainly all recognise love in other people, particularly those we know well.  There are so many telltale signs...distraction, preoccupation, always talking about that person, distractedness, discussing issues which matter to them or are connected to them in some way, the list goes on.

But can we recognise love in ourselves or the early germination of what might flower into a grande passion?  Much as we would spot the signs in close friends or family, these will also be evidence in our own behaviour.  I don’t know about you but I fail to concentrate on anything, forgetting simple basic things and I can’t remember anything anyone has said to me from one minute to the next!

Sometimes, these early warning signs are not so visible to us as they are to other people.  Love is hard to pin down, hard to quantify.  We might realise we are falling in love but how do we know when we have arrived at true love central station.  And will this love endure?

Love is complex and textured, it has phases and shades which alter throughout its life.  As human beings, we strive to evaluate each part of the journey of love so our rational brain can confirm our emotional experience.

What are the signs?

The early signs of love differ from what comes later.  Initially, the human brain goes into overdrive and seemingly, all normal service is suspended.  The key signal is you cannot stop thinking about that person and, if you see them a lot, say, someone you work with, you just can’t stop looking at them.

Ironically, stress can play a big part in falling in love.  The brain is under pressure and may release cortisol which is the stress hormone.  This is what can account for that feeling of a fluttering heart; this is actually physical and tangible anxiety.  You may feel sick or just nauseous, you may even sweat or perspire.

Feelings of physical attraction will squash just about anything else which might usually trouble you, fear, pain, disgust.  The object of your affections will appear unique in their qualities and everyone else will just be greyed out in the background.  There is a sense of elevation to god-like status, quirks which might be viewed as otherwise irritating become individualistic and to be treasured.  Negativity is outlawed, they can do no wrong in your eyes.

This does sound a little worrying, is it possible to truly suspend reality and fall in love with someone totally foul and unsuitable based on this analysis?  Yes, indeed.

Is love just chemical?

Helen Fisher, an American anthropologist, coined the phrase to describe love as, “someone camping out in your head.”  Fisher had long been studying romantic love in over 150 different societies.  In an experiment conducted in 2011, Fisher and her scientific colleagues conducted an MRI scan of 37 people who were truly, madly, deeply in love. 

The scan revealed an increase in dopamine, the feel-good hormone demonstrating tangible evidence of romantic love akin to the highs experienced following alcohol or cocaine use. They discovered activity in areas of the brain such as the caudate nucleus in the cerebrum of the brain which is linked to the reward mechanism.  Crucially this part of the brain also integrates sensory experience into defined social behavioural patterns. 

The research also highlighted the VTA – the Ventral Tegmental Area – an ancient place described anatomically as ‘reptilian’ so primitive and which is connected to the human traits of craving and wanting.  The study also discovered based on brain scanning, that is was possible to still be head over heels in love with someone after years of marriage providing hope to us all.  The candidates for this part of the research averaged a marriage span of around twenty years.

What place do online dating sites have in finding love?

Dating sites are stuffed full of examples of couples who have found true love via their services...well they would be wouldn’t they.  If love is, well...so chemical, how can a dating site possibly hope to replicate the chemistry of physical attraction?  Truth is, they can’t.

For sure, it does help if you have things in common but ordering your perfect man through height, weight, eye colour and occupation is not dissimilar to any other form of online shopping – remote, characterless and clinical.  Your brain will simply not respond in the same way to his profile photo as it would do to him in the flesh.

Based on volume, however, some couples will still get that click but online dating completely circumvents the weird chemistry of physical attraction.  Whatever happened to the concept of opposites attract and the randomness of chance encounters?  Perhaps that is why speed dating has made a real comeback, totally sold on the success of real encounters.  Avoid those long boring dates with online matches who turn you off as soon as they walk into the restaurant but you are stuck with them for the evening!

Successive studies have found that couples who make lasting eye contact gauge a stronger romantic connection than those who don’t which kicks online dating into the long grass as far as I’m concerned.  This works apparently for strangers as well as for acquaintances.

How do we know we are in love?

In the early days, it is mainly because of other people in their objectivity, spot what is right under our nose and flag it for us.  Early, subtle signs can be missed for a number of reasons but these can be really evident to onlookers, family, friends and work colleagues.  But without the benefit of an MRI scan to confirm our brain patterns, is it possible to nail down the fact that we are in love?

Chemical responses in the brain produce physical signs and traits which translate into our behaviour.  Do you find you just don’t stop talking about him?  Do you ever say anything negative or derogatory, shouting down anyone who dares to criticise him?  Do trivial details remind you of him, cars similar to his, a piece of clothing or a particular trait of his body language?  You are in love for sure.

This heightened focus has a scientific basis, elevated amounts of dopamine as discussed but also central norepinephrine which is linked to heightened awareness and retentive memory.  Physical symptoms may include a sudden burst of energy, sleeplessness, appetite changes varying from a feeling of sickness to huge cravings for food. 

This euphoria, there is no other word for it, can take a huge hit if there is a blip in those early days when you will plunge from the heights of ecstasy into the depths of despair at the first lovers’ tiff or row.

Is being in love different from falling in love?

Indeed it is and just as well as no-one would want to manage those early heady days, lovely though they are, on a long-term basis.  This would be totally exhausting – this early high is not destined to last.

Love is well recognised for several phases.  As the author, Louis de Bernieres, famously wrote in ‘Captain Correlli’s Mandolin’, “Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away.”

Falling in love is intense, scary, all-embracing almost intoxicating.  Being in love is the next phase after the passion and ardour have cooled.  There is an element of selfishness, obsession even narcissism about falling in love which gives way to a status of greater self-control.  Taken to extremes, this can develop into stalker syndrome.

The passion and furore of new love and falling in love can be used as a driver for leaving an old relationship, a justification for finding fault with that person and walking away.  Being in love however is a calmer, more settled state. 

True love is said to be gained after experience, the ups and downs of life, good times and bad.  It has a toughness and an endurance totally different from the intoxication of early love.  Crucially, being in love is deemed to have an element of choice about it – you choose to maintain that love and relationship.  Falling in love is altogether more random.

Does saying I love you mean you are in love or he is in love with you?

Those three key little words that every woman wants to hear.  Did you know that statistically, men are likely to say them earlier on in the relationship that women?  That rather debunks the theory that men are ‘commitmentphobes’.

Everyone and I mean everyone has a different opinion about when you should say, ‘I love you’, in terms of the duration of the relationship and also the occasion.  Is there such a thing as an average length of time?  Apparently so, men take approximately 88 days to confess their love.

Timing is crucial, harking back to the old adage of, ‘it is not what you say its how you say it’.  And perhaps the most crucial thing for the speaker is feeling comfortable with how that news may be received by the other person.  Hearing those words might invite reciprocation which isn’t necessarily always forthcoming.

Rebekah Montgomery, a therapist in Washington in the States, reports that you should wait at least three months even if you are sure of your feelings because the progression of love takes at least that time.  But doesn’t it just come down to temperament?  An Englishman will never tell his wife he loves her in case it isn’t true whereas an Italian man will tell her repeatedly just in case it is.

Love at first sight, does it even exist?

Scientists describe this as the law of attraction which is crafted as love in the eye of the beholder.  ‘I loved her as soon as I saw her’, is a phrase often heard and references a genuine attraction which hindsight and the reasoning part of the brain look back on and dress with the mantle of love at first sight.

Harper’s Bazaar conducted a poll via the dating site Elite Singles in 2017 which stated that 61% of women and 72% of men amongst those surveyed thought that love, at first sight, was a genuine phenomenon.  But loving someone is a long haul, through ups and downs, trials and tribulations, it requires stamina, commitment and endurance to keep it alive.

There is genuine science behind this concept.  Neuropsychotherapist, Dr Trisha Stratford reported in The Huffington Post, there is a genuine chemical reaction going on in the brain releasing dopamine and serotonin.  If the attachment is reciprocated, then bingo, you have lift off.

But some pundits will tell you that rose-tinted glasses and hindsight can often put an inaccurate and warm, fuzzy glow over what you have experienced.  Memory is the greatest illusion of all sometimes.  You might remember that initial attraction as love at first sight when it may have been nothing greater than a chemical connection and mutual desire.

If love isn’t instant, is there an average timespan?

This is the million-dollar question for everyone.  You want to know whether what you are feeling is good enough, strong enough to make this relationship worth pursuing.  Shouldn’t I be in love by now is the question you ask yourself, if not, why bother carrying on?

Some geek somewhere has deemed that men take on average three months to fall in love so around 88 days whereas women will head well over 100 days, closer to 150, before they reach that state.  But, of course, women want to hear those words much earlier on even if they do wait longer to reciprocate.

It is important to distinguish between falling in love and actually professing it.  Early love may be hidden for fear of frightening the other person off, it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  A more cautious personality will be steadier and careful whereas a man with a Latin temperament will be far more demonstrative and effusive.

The timing of the arrival of love is therefore unique to each couple and their specific characters, personalities and circumstances.

Is love at first sight more successful than a slow burn type of affair?

I guess the first question is what do you mean by successful.  Is success a ring on the finger, three children and a 25th wedding anniversary party?  For most people, success is about the happy ever after.  Can relationships which evolve more slowly be as durable if not more so than the quick-fire love at first sight types?

Love is varied and there is no hard and fast rule to answer this question.  Some people start out as friends and love blossoms over a period of time.  For others, it is a chance encounter which sets them off on a journey which lasts for the rest of their lives.  It would be really hard to say that one is better or more superior than the other.

Slow burn love ticks the box big time for dating sites which rely on a more clinical approach to putting people together based on computer algorithms.  I guess what this proves is that the ultimate success of the relationship is down to how hard people work at it irrespective of how it began.  Some relationships can even germinate based on dislike proving that persistency on the part of the suitor also has its rewards.

Is there just one person for us on the planet or could we potentially fall in love with lots of people?

If you have been in love more than once then you will already know the answer to this question.  But it is a foxy one as if you can possibly love lots of different people, it is kinda worrisome to think that there is a pool of several possible lovers out of there for you.  How do you choose the right one?

Perhaps the question really is, not how long does it take to fall in love but how do you know that this one is for keeps.  Most women want to know how quickly they will fall for someone but this is only because they want to find ‘the one’.  The real burning question that underlies this quest is, therefore, how do I know he is a keeper?

This is a tough one.  Some would say it is just instinct but if you are a worrier, surely there are some questions you could pose yourself which might let you benchmark whether this one really is for keeps.

How can I test whether he is a keeper?

Pose yourself this little test and see if he scores an A grade:-

  • Is there anything about him that worries you or causes you anxiety?
  • Do you trust him implicitly?
  • Does he listen to you properly regardless of the nature of the problem?
  • Does he fit into all areas of your life, your work, the social scene, your family?
  • Do you share the same values, the same moral code?
  • Is he your biggest fan, other than your mum of course?
  • Does he love you regardless of your faults and imperfections?
  • Do you love him irrespective of his?
  • Do you like your own space and independence but are still happy to make room for him?
  • Are you the only one in your friendship group that never moans about her man?

In this top ten quiz, anything over 75% is a good score.

How do long-distance relationships fit into the love scale?

You might think that you need to add a few digits on the calendar if you and your love are separated by distance.  But, absence certainly can make the heart grow fonder.  Real love can ignite just as quickly between two people who are in far-flung locations as those who are physically closer together.

These days, people don't’ need to rely on an occasional phone call or letter, social media, Skype and Facetime can keep us in touch round the clock with that all-important eye contact so distance doesn’t have to change things.

The thing to be aware of with long-distance affairs is that the lack of proximity can itself cause a distortion.  Talking over Messanger or your laptop is not the same as face to face touching contact, a problem for many relationships which are not even long distance.  The yearn and angst of distance can create a burning desire that is perhaps disproportionate to the recipient.  It can elevate them to a godlike status they may not be awarded if they were just a few steps away in the office.

How do social media and the internet affect relationships?

There is no substitute in my opinion for real-time dating and physical contact.  I have already considered dating sites and speed dating but maintaining a relationship which is more online than offline can bring its own problems.

Constant electronic engagement can give you the impression that a relationship is more advanced than it really is or more important to you than it should be.  Progress your relationship face to face rather than via a mouse or screen. 

There are some helpful rules to follow as these days, most relationships are conducted in part online irrespective of how you met and your respective locations.

  • Don’t type anything that you wouldn’t say in person
  • Understand that the written word whether it is text, email or messenger, can convey a different weight or meaning than those words if otherwise said face to face
  • Always say something tender, important or controversial face to face
  • Don’t row remotely
  • Make sure your online communications are not more time consuming and prevalent than the actual time you spend together

I guess a reasonable average would be to conclude that if you are going to fall in love then it should have happened within six months.  That timespan covers the spectrum of instant attraction encounters right through to the slower burn type of relationships and all the variations inbetween.  It also allows enough time for early passion to come under control and common sense to wander into the room. 

If you are after ‘happily ever after’ then it might be time to skedaddle if you are not feeling it by six months.  But if you like the guy and are happy with no big plans then why worry.  If you think differently or would like to contribute your own thoughts then feel free share your own personal experiences here.

FAQs

What Are The Signs Of Being In Love?

If you cannot stop looking at him, you feel like you are on cloud nine, you can’t stop thinking about him, his happiness has become important to you then you are likely in love. If you have recently met a guy but now you can’t get him out of your head and you are always thinking about him all day every day then you are probably in love with him. 

Can You Fall In Love In A Week?

There is no set time as to how long it takes to fall in love, so you can fall in love in as little as the week if you meet the right person. No one can choose who or how they fall in love so it is often very different for every person every time they fall in love. However, if you have just met him and you cannot get the thought of him out of your head you probably do love him. 

How Long Does It Take Guys To Fall In Love?

There is no definitive time that it takes for guys to fall in love and there is no way of telling how long it could take each guy to fall in love. It depends on every situation and every person as to how long it will take someone to fall in love. In some cases it may take a guy a week to fall in love with you but in other cases it could take months before he feels this way about you. 

Can You Fall In Love In 4 Minutes?

If you have just met someone and you believe in love at first sight then you probably can fall in love in 4 minutes. There is no scientific way to tell how long it takes for a person to fall in love but if you instantly just click with someone then there is no reason why you cannot fall in love with that person instantly. 

How Will You Know If A Guy Loves You?

If a guy loves you he will make it clear how he feels about you and he won’t play any mind games with you. If he loves you he cares about you and he will treat you properly. If he does nice things for you, he is always checking up on you and he has told his friends and family about you then he likely loves you. 

Sonya Schwartz
A hopeless romantic that struggled for many years to find her Mr "Right" and made all the mistakes you could think of while dating. Known for always choosing the wrong guys or messing up relationships, Sonya was finally able to change her approach and mindset when it came to dating which helped her eventually find the man of her dreams and become happily married. You can read more about me here...

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