How Long Does It Take To Fall In Love? Here’s What You Need To Know

You feel alive around the person you’ve been dating, your friends notice that you’re more positive with a sparkly look in your eye, and you can’t imagine life without that person. Ah, you’re head over heels! But, how long does it really take to fall in love, and how do you know if your emotions are the real deal? Here’s what you need to know so you can figure out your love timeline and see if your partner’s on the same page.

1. Men and women fall in love at different times.

Research has found that men and women tend to take different amounts of time before catching feels and realizing that they’re in love. A study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that men take approximately 97 days (just over three months) to share their feelings, while women take an average of 139 days (about four and a half months).

2. It depends on how much time you’ve had with someone.

It’s tricky to say that you love someone if you haven’t spent a lot of time with them. You need to know what the person’s like in different situations so you get a full picture of them before saying those three little words. While you might think they have the potential to be someone you fall in love with hard when you first meet them, you never know until you jump in and hang out.

3. It depends on how much you know about them.

male and female friends talking in cafe

Another important factor to consider when it comes to how long it takes to declare love is how much you know about the person. Research by professor Arthur Aron has found that when couples share more information about their hopes, dreams, and lives with each other, this leads to seeing each other in a more positive light that leads to a stronger connection.

4. If it’s too fast, it’s probably infatuation.

man kissing smiling girlfriend's forehead

Although love at first sight does exist for some people, if you think you’ve fallen in love with someone immediately after meeting them, you’re probably dealing with infatuation. So, what’s the difference? While falling in love gives you a sense of peace, infatuation is marked by extreme, irrational feelings. You might even say that you’re lovesick because you can’t eat or sleep.

5. It depends on how long you and your partner take to move through the love stages.

Falling in love has three stages. These are lust, attraction (which is deeper than lust because it involves your brain creating hormones that make you feel connected), and attachment, which is marked by oxytocin, or the “love hormone,” that’s linked to a stronger bond. If you consider these stages, it makes sense that love needs some time to properly grow.

6. Attractiveness can be a precursor to love.

Research by the Association for Psychological Science has found that people judge make a first impression based on someone’s face in one-tenth of a second! So, when someone walks into a restaurant for your first date, you’ll probably think they’re hot immediately. This is meaningful because physical attraction can lead to a stronger bond or attachment to someone.

7. You might fall in love faster if you’re an optimist.

Psychologist Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. (via Bustle) has stated that if someone’s an optimist, this can help you to fall in love and increase how much love you feel for your partner. It makes total sense, because seeing things around you to be grateful for will make you more appreciative of your partner’s traits.

8. Men tend to say ILY first.

It’s never good to wait for your partner to say you love them – hey, take a leap and say it if you can’t keep it in anymore! But, interestingly, a study of college students published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has found that, although many thought women would say those three little words first in a relationship, men are actually the ones who express it first.

10. There’s no rigid timeline.

Although there have been studies conducted to find out how quickly it takes people to fall in love, there are no hard and fast rules. Love is complex and it takes different people different times to reach it. So, when you’ve started dating someone you think could be a love match, keep checking your feelings and move the relationship at a pace that feels good for you.

11. You can be crazy in love decades later.

Although we’re programmed to think that love’s going to end or fade out, this isn’t the case. Sure, the honeymoon phase ends, but that doesn’t mean love ghosts you. A study, via Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, that performed MRI scans on couples who’d been married for about 21 years, found that the same areas of the brain associated with dopamine were still active all those years later. Which probably makes you want to rush out there and find love, right?

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Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.