It's one of the trickiest subjects to talk about: Love. And most people are just as confused and stuck wondering "How long does it take to fall in love?"
This is a big question, and I'm going to give you a pretty definite answer to that question before we're done here.
How do you know...?
But to even begin talking about the average time it takes, we have to define that point in time where you feel the physical attraction - in love with each other.
"What Is Love?"
I'll spare you the millions of definitions I've heard about love over my decades studying this magical force of the universe. Instead, I'll jump to what I consider a healthy definition of love in words. And then we'll contrast that with the not-so-healthy ideas about love.
Carlos' Definition of Romantic Love:
"LOVE - the romantic kind - is an intense feeling of shared attraction and connection."
You'll notice that I did not say this love even had to be between TWO people. Although we often think of love just as a couple, we can sometimes feel that sense of connection and bond with someone all alone.
But for it to be a complete version of love, it does require the object of your desire to share in some of the love with each other. To "complete the circuit." Otherwise, it's incomplete.
Ask yourself a few questions first before you decide:
Do you have deeper feelings for him than you expected?
Do you have more emotional attachment for him?
Are you reading into his words to find affection?
Are you looking in his eyes to find the passion that you hope is there?
Before you jump into defining your relationship, you also have to ask:
What is NOT Love?
This question is at least as important as asking what love IS. Mostly because humans are really easily fooled when it comes to their emotions. (Yeah, that includes me & everyone else!)
WHAT LOVE ISN'T: It's not lust...
Sorry, romantic movie lovers! Falling into bed with someone does NOT mean you're totally head-over-heels in love.
It is, however, the way we sometimes justify moving too fast.
Take it slow.
Let's say Boy has a crush on Girl. They have strong chemistry, and they fall into bed on their first date.
What's most likely going to happen is this:
Both of them are likely to have a great time. I mean, c'mon! 'Sexy time' is fun when you're hot for each other...
The woman is more likely to need an excuse for what happened. After all, she just slept with a guy on the first date!
Judgment happens: "Oh my gosh!" she thinks. "I'm a slut!"
Rationalization happens: In order to NOT feel a little slutty for jumping right into bed, it might be easier to justify it with ... LOVE! You must have done that because you were in love! So it's okay - You're not a "slut" anymore...
Now, I'm sure some of those words are going to "trigger" more than my fair share of other "woke folk" out there. But in all fairness to myself, this isn't something I just made up. A woman's sexual "chastity" has always been viewed as more 'sacred' than a man's.
Even though neither is more important than the other, it's far more likely that a woman would be called the "S" word if another woman wanted to belittle her in some way.
So don't fall for the old trick we play on ourselves when we pretend we must actually feel more than we do for someone just because we got physically intimate too fast.
Don't make one mistake into an even bigger one!
WHAT LOVE ISN'T: It's not jealous and possessive...
Just because you have strong feelings for someone, and you find yourself worrying about them with other people, this does not mean you love them. In fact, it might mean there's something going on with YOU that needs attention.
Jealousy is not love. That is closer to distrust, anger, and insecurity.
While you may find yourself struggling with jealous feelings from time to time with someone, this doesn't mean it's Love.
WHAT LOVE ISN'T: It's not guaranteed "forever..."
One of the ways we create unhappiness in our relationships is by defining love as needing to be "eternal" in some way. By applying these words to love, it makes it feel very "magical" - but it's completely unrealistic.
Ask anyone who has experienced the unforeseen loss of her husband to a terminal illness or accident, and you'll know that there is nothing guaranteed in this life.
We want that guarantee to squash the uncomfortable and uncertain feelings inside ourselves.
Love simply cannot be given a label of "eternal" or words like that. It's an experience we can have "in the NOW" - and is not meant to be clutched or held feverishly like possessing each other.
WHAT LOVE ISN'T: It's not dishonest, mean, abusive, etc...
We have to be careful to keep our idea of love free from justification of the bad things that can happen in a relationship.
If your partner is verbally abusive, there may have been love at some point. But you can't say you have a love relationship when that kind of behavior is present. We must stand up for our own sense of "fair play" in our relationships.
Never define destructive patterns of bad communication and bad behavior with each other as being "Love."
When you experience a "broken" relationship that has these qualities, that's not love. You're tolerating a kind of corruption of Love. You may have affection in your heart for each other, but it will never blossom fully into love when there is this kind of mistreatment.
Now, I could go on and on about "what love isn't" and it would do nothing to satisfy your real questions of love. It might help you figure out if you're caught up in something unhealthy with the man in your life right now, but it wouldn't tell you much about what you WANT to know -
Am I In Love? you wonder.
Is This LOVE? you ask yourself.
Well, let's answer that by talking about:
How Long Does It Take To Fall For Someone?
I think the one way that everyone starts to check in with each other as to whether they are in love or not is by checking the clock.
How long is too long?
You know, just the same way we do when we exercise. We look at the clock after being on the treadmill for 30 minutes, and we decide - "Yup! That was some exercise! I exercised today."
Mission Accomplished: We get to check that box off our daily list.
We like it even more when we hear a health expert or doctor in the news tell us that "You only need 20 minutes of exercise to get the benefits!" Great! we think. I can now adjust my definition of "exercise" to be a bit easier.
And with Love, we often catch ourselves using the clock to tell us if it's really "love" yet. Like we need permission or justification from the clock.
"We've been dating for 3 months! He's stayed over my house 4 times, and we've even spent a whole 24 hours together! It MUST be love."
So how long does it actually take to fall in love?
The reality is that there is no hard-and-fast time limit for love. There is no rule that says "after 3 months of dating, you should be in love!"
And of course, if you saw him 7 times a week instead of 1 time per week, does that mean you'll fall in love 7 times faster? (Sometimes it means we'll also fall OUT of love just as fast as we discover they are not who we thought they were.)
Let me ask you another question:
Is it love when we SAY we're in love?
I wish it were as simple as this. If it were, then we could base our answer on studies of people according to WHEN they said "I love you" to another person.
Here are some interesting statistics about love:
Relationship Experts say: It takes about .2 seconds to FEEL bio-chemical attraction for someone.
That's right - in about 1/5 of a second, your brain can get a shot of all those love hormones and you can instantly feel that powerful draw to someone. Even before you know what their personality is like.
Men fall in love faster than women...
Or, they say they do!
On average, men tell their partner they love them after 88 days.
Women take an average time of about 134 days ! (That's 50% longer than how long men take!)
You could argue that men are also more likely to say they are in love sooner to get into bed faster with a woman. But if that were true, he'd use that opportunity on one of the first few dates. We'd see love timelines around 7 days instead of 88.
So what does this mean?
Does it really take 88 or 134 days to fall in love?
Well, consider THIS factoid:
Men consider revealing their feelings of love about SIX WEEKS before women do.
That means that 88 days is now closer to 46 days, if you do the math.
Let's walk through the timeline of love to answer this question a little better:
STAGE 1 OF LOVE: Dopamine release...
You know those intense feelings of tingly electric excitement that fill you up and give you a mad rush when you're out on a date with your new guy?
Yeah, that's all completely imagined. It's actually not even an emotion.
It's a hormone called... Dopamine!
Dopamine is the reward chemical of the brain. You get a shot released into your mushy little gray matter every time you do something successfully.
Falling in love is the ultimate rush because this chemical gets released into your brain.
Dopamine is also a big player in the ADDICTION area of our lives. Such as gambling and other "risk" oriented behaviors where a reward can give us a huge jolt of "YEAH BABY!"
And guess what? Dopamine has the potency of CRACK COCAINE on your nervous system. I'm not even slightly exaggerating.
Chances are, you can remember a time when lust (not love!) hit you this hard. If you felt in love after 5 minutes of meeting someone, this was the culprit. (And NO, I don't believe it was love. You were just really vibing with that dude. Even if you woke up with him naked in your 1000 count Egyptian cotton sheets...)
Dopamine is a hormone based on the expectation of a reward that meets your needs. Simply put, it's a big splash of WOW you get as a reward, and it's made in your brain to keep up that feeling of "can't get enough of this guy!"
At least until the next stage:
STAGE 2 OF LOVE: Oxytocin release...
Next up at bat we've got the heavy hitter: OXYTOCIN!
This love drug is the one that promotes connection and attachment. It's released by mothers when they breast feed their children.
And it's released by the GALLON after a woman has sex with a guy. Which is another of the reasons you have to be careful about sleeping with a guy too soon. This love hormone can fool you into thinking you're in love even when you're not.
Oxytocin can be a real trickster when it comes to love, so don't get fooled.
STAGE 3 OF LOVE: Serotonin bombs, baby...
And next we have the "opiate" of the love hormone cocktail: SEROTONIN.
This particular love drug is the one that leads to long-term bonding with someone.
Serotonin impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to your motor skills. Serotonin is considered a natural mood stabilizer and reduces depression while also regulating your anxieties. It’s also the chemical that helps with sleeping, eating, and digesting.
If you don't get enough Serotonin, you'll feel anxious and unstable, which is why this critical hormone drops from your system after a breakup. It's also why you might have felt a panic when your relationship ended, and you wound up wanting them back - even if you know they weren't good for you!
So you might be able to see after this 1, 2, 3 punch of brain chemicals how powerful the biochemical effect of love is.
Love is not just an emotion - it's an altered state of being!
And with those hormones pushing you down the water slide of addiction for someone, you're going to fall fast and hard.
But - Can I Fall In Love Too Quickly...?
I don't believe you can actually fall in "love," exactly. At least not in the first couple weeks. You might mislabel your incredibly horny feeling as "love" but that doesn't make it so.
I would call it "infatuation" and it's not a healthy kind of relationship quite yet.
Love him. Love him not...
You can, however, take some reckless behaviors early on. And that doesn't mean you fell in love too quickly; it just means you might make some bad decisions if you're not aware of what's happening.
If you can control your crazy emotional roller coaster ride just a bit and have some self-control, you should be able to keep things together.
The real risk is that you can fall in love too EASILY.
Consider the new problems that today's technology age has created...
A huge problem, especially in this age of social media, is the tendency to compare your partner and your relationship to other people's relationships.
After the rush of excitement has worn off and the dopamine is all flushed out, your brain focuses on your unmet needs. This guy may have 100 great qualities, but your brain will focus on the 10 they don’t have.
That's a much bigger risk if you ask me. It's this idea that everyone else is having this incredible life, and ours is just ... meh.
And nothing could be further from the truth.
Everyone else is having just as many problems, disappointments, and issues as you are. (Sometimes more! ) They're just putting up a nice appearance on their Facebook page.
The big risk is when we start swiping people into and out of our lives too quickly without really giving it a chance. Always thinking that there's someone even better out there for us.
OK Carlos! Let's settle this: How long does it take for him to fall in love?
I feel that if you were to really stay OPEN to your feelings, and if you don't have any really big emotional blocks in your life, you could probably fall in love in about 10 dates. Each of those dates would need to be about 3 to 4 hours long.
Enjoy the experience...
So it would take about a full work week (40 hours) to fall in love with someone.
Could it happen faster? Sure.
Could it take LONGER? Absolutely.
This doesn't mean you've got a solid enough foundation to make a big commitment
This doesn't mean you're ready to move in together
This doesn't mean you don't have a lot of work yet to go for your communication
This doesn't mean you really even KNOW the other person all that well
In fact, after 40 hours - your relationship is just getting started when you first feel the signs of falling in love. Real depth in your relationship is still going to be created over the coming months and years.
In fact, I believe that you can't really make a marriage commitment until you've been with a person through some hardships and difficulties with them to know how you'll handle it together.
So love is just the beginning!
In fact, I really didn't want to give you a period of time at all because some people might have a "love calendar" put up on their wall that they mark the days off until they can be "in love" and call it a romantic relationship.
Instead, you should understand how men fall in love - and why men fall in love with the women they do!
Some women think men only love "bitches..." (wrong)
Some women think men fall in love with the first woman that sleeps with them... (wrong)
Some women think men only fall in love with "hot" women... (wrong)
And most women really don't understand why men fall in love with women at all.
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