How Long Does It Take To Feel Like You've Fallen In Love?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Jerry Crimmins, PsyD, LP
Updated March 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

You may have experienced a physical attraction or moment of longing for someone, and the following question occurred to you: How long does it take someone to fall in love? It’s an age-old question with no definitive answer. You may not expect falling for someone be  instantaneous and assume that pursuing a deep emotional connection generally takes time. However, most people may be surprised to know that falling in love can take only seconds.

Movies and romantic novels commonly depict characters having an instant attraction to each other and falling in love with one another at first sight. Of course, these depictions are not always fully indicative of what each person’s experience with falling in love will be. This is why understanding love and how long it takes to fall in love is so important. Contrary to popular belief, how much time it takes to forge an emotional connection and fall in love typically depends upon each person.

Is it love or just infatuation?

Some people are able to fall in love relatively quickly, while other people need enough time for intimacy and emotional attachment to build. Love can happen in various ways, and there are many factors that can contribute to how, when, and why someone falls in love.

What does the timeline for falling in love look like? How long does it take?

Rapidly falling in love may be more likely if the partners are equally open with their minds and hearts. It may take more time for a person to fall if they are not feeling as confident or serious about the relationship as the other. In some of those cases, the relationships may not even last.

However, it may be best not to base your relationship on first impressions, as many people may discover that it takes a few weeks or even months to get to know someone well enough to become romantically interested and fall in love. During this time, you are not only taking in appearances, but learning more about each other and potentially finding common ground.

During this time, your relationship may become more stable, which can allow you to feel comfortable with your partner and enable you to fall in love. This might not seem as romantic as love at first sight, but it’s often the most logical and effective approach to establishing a lasting relationship.

However, it may not be beneficial to compare your journey of falling in love to someone else’s. Trust yourself and allow your emotions to work at a pace that feels right and comfortable for you and your relationship.

How does one fall in love?

The best way to fall in love with someone is usually to build a connection with them, whether through dating apps, mutual friends, or even through a random meeting. This relationship may start off as friendly or casual before you decide to go on a first date. Sometimes neither of you will be aware of the other's feelings or intentions. However, the more you learn about your love interest, the more comfortable you may become with them.

Through time you can familiarize yourself with each other's faces, which can help you develop a trusting feeling when you lay eyes on each other and help you both to feel closer. So, a "love at first sight" moment can occur somewhere in the beginning of the relationship, which can be just as powerful as the actual first sight.

Typically, when people begin to fall in love, they may have various experiences that represent this change. Some examples include wanting to be in the other person’s presence, learning more about them, spending time with them, and including them more deeply or in other aspects of your life, etc.

There is no formula or definitive amount of time for falling in love with someone. However, there are certain important details and facts you should know about what it takes to fall in love.

Getty/AnnaStills

Authentic connections generally cannot be faked, and inauthentic connections typically will not last. If you are having difficulties falling in love with a certain person, then there is a possibility that this person may not be right for you, and vice versa. It can be painful to fall in love with the wrong person and you may benefit from setting boundaries so you don't end up sacrificing your happiness for immature love. Not all relationships are meant to last forever; as a matter of fact, some relationships prepare us for better ones later down the road.

How long does falling in love last?

To create a deeper connection and lasting love, beyond love at first sight, you may need to see it through at each of the phases of love. The phenomenon known as limerence could be the closest thing to describing love at first sight. This is the stage when you feel that initial excitement, including desire, lust, and sexual attraction, about your new acquaintance. Sometimes this may be referred to as puppy love.

It typically doesn't take long to experience heart palpitations, trembling, or flushing after experiencing this type of reaction. These bodily sensations are also part of limerence, in addition to consistently thinking about your lover and having difficulty concentrating on anything other than the special someone.

Limerence occurs when your partner is the only thing—or one of the only things—that you can concentrate on. You may feel alive when you are around them, or you may want to be around them all the time and feel like you are falling in love quickly. This excessive thinking about your new love may lead to disruptions in daily functioning. It is a time of intense pleasure but also more complicated emotions because, along with these loving feelings, a strong fear of rejection can also exist.

Biologically, there are many influences that may create this feeling of limerence. Three neurochemicals mostly responsible for this love phase are the hormones oxytocin, phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural amphetamine, and norepinephrine. Together these chemicals help us experience love. They may produce intense euphoric feelings of love and attachment.

What role does hormones play when falling in love?

The first phase of falling in love can include brain changes that are similar to those induced by addictive drugs. In this stage, you may find yourself falling in love with the fantasy of the person rather than the reality. Warning signs in the relationship may be masked by overly positive evaluations caused by the feel-good hormones. 

Unfortunately, the same hormones can cause us to have poor judgment, where we can miss important red flags as the romantic relationship advances toward the next phases. While you may be tempted to confess love during this stage, it may be best to wait until the dust settles in your love, scientifically speaking.

The hormone levels experienced in the first phase usually gradually decline and return to normal after a while. In the next few phases, couples approach conflict and may settle into a routine. The couple may use this time to grow into a healthy relationship with genuine reciprocity.

Do you consistently find yourself in a pattern of limerence? If so, you may also have a pattern of being with loved ones who do not reciprocate the feelings that you have towards them.

This uncertain relationship dynamic of an inattentive partner may keep you in the first phase. The feeling of euphoria may be nice, but you might reach a point when you realize that you are not progressing in your love life as you would like.

Not everyone will fall in love at first sight, and that’s perfectly okay. Some of the deepest and most passionate relationships have come after couples truly got to know one another over extended periods of time. Many people who fell in love with their significant other didn’t force it either. Don’t be afraid to find long-term love at a pace and speed that works well for you.

Is it love or just infatuation?

The signs of a progressing relationship

The sense of passion, heat, and intensity felt in the beginning stages may become more about communication, support, and friendship as the relationship progresses. Reciprocity and commitment often emerge, where monogamous partners, for example, are actively involved and choose to be devoted to one another. 

Most conflict in a relationship occurs during the later phases, as the couple learns about communication and resolving issues with one another.

Conflicts that will challenge the couple can include differing interests or goals, physical intimacy, sexual dysfunction or incompatibility, antipathy for each other's family or friends, fear of loss of freedom and identity, boredom, or lack of novelty. Couples may forget or wonder why they fell in love in the first place.

In the third and fourth phases, commitments and loyalty are often stable. The power dynamic in a relationship may become equally distributed. The couple begins to develop trust in one another. This is what's known as a secure attachment, which is often important for relationship longevity.

An insecure style of attachment – such as anxious or avoidant -- may mean that you feel less confident in your relationship and that your partner could be unresponsive to your needs or play with your emotions.

In the third phase, an understanding is often made regarding communication and having your partner's best interest in mind and heart. Within this phase, love is often solidified; however, it will require the couple to continue nourishing the relationship. If the power dynamic continues to feel unfair to at least one person, the couple may continue to experience difficulties.

Both partners will need to be able to tune into one another and take a caring and proactive approach to the relationship. Most long-term relationships will have their ups and downs, but you can sustain those initial feelings of love at first sight throughout your relationship. These thoughts may be able to help motivate you when you're having doubts about the relationship. 

The key to lengthening romantic love is to keep having adventures together that will lengthen and enliven the romance. You may experience a burst of those old feelings of limerence time and time again.

Saying “I love you” to your partner

Love is more than just a word and even after you’ve established how long it takes to fall in love, it’s natural to have questions about when you should tell your significant other that you’ve fallen in love with them. Common concerns usually deal with apprehensions about waiting too long to say those three magic words, or about saying “I love you” too early in the relationship, before even knowing about a partner’s childhood or favorite food.

Although it is widely believed that women fall in love faster than men, this isn’t true. In a research study by relationship experts of couples in heterosexual relationships, men tend to say I love you more quickly than women. Thus, men can fall in love faster than women, and every person tends to move at their own pace in a new relationship. Ultimately, the average time to say I love you doesn’t matter. Only you can determine the right time to tell your partner that you love them.

For some, this may take six weeks, for others it may take six months, it just depends. Some helpful pointers include making sure you feel good about it, being open to how your significant other responds, and knowing that part of being in a relationship means taking risks.

Can a therapist help me know if it’s love?

In a relationship, some of the strongest indicators of real love include respect, compassion, empathy, and wanting what is best for the other person. Sometimes, people fall in love way before they verbally declare their love to their significant other—and that, too, is okay.

If you're experiencing difficulties in a new relationship or having a hard time understanding your feelings, that's perfectly normal. However, for some people, it may be beneficial to seek outside support to overcome any challenges and better grasp the range of emotions you may be feeling. 

BetterHelp is an online therapy platform that can match you with a professional therapist, clinical psychologist, or sex therapist who you can talk to about your relationship. They can provide tools and guidance to help you work through any relationship issues you may be experiencing so you can have a happier, more fulfilling partnership. Holding in feelings of love can feel nerve-wracking – talking to a therapist may feel more comforting than talking to an in-person therapist, who may have a connection to the person you love.

At the same time, online therapy is available at your convenience – you can schedule a session before a date or after a break-up to have a targeted personal interview or conversation, whereas in-person counselors cannot always accommodate such requests.

Experiencing unrequited love or harboring unexpressed love can concoct feelings of anxiety and/or depression. Online cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been proven effective in treating people who are living with generalized anxiety disorder and depression.

With online therapy, people experiencing these symptoms may feel less pressure to commit to recurring sessions with a therapist, compared to a traditional in-person setting. Maybe someone just needs a handful of sessions to manage a break-up or prepare to profess their love to a potential partner. Platforms like BetterHelp offer that kind of flexibility in mental health care.

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Takeaway

Everyone falls in love at their own pace. For some, this takes minutes, and for many others, it can happen over the course of a long and healthy relationship. How long it takes to fall in love can vary depending on the person and the circumstances. Romantic love can develop over the course of months and continue to evolve over years between partners. Declaring your love can feel like the scariest thing in your life. Recovering from a difficult break-up can be equally daunting. An online therapist can serve as a caring and professional springboard to process feelings of love, anxiety, rejection, sadness, and obsession.

If you have questions about love, relationships, sex, or the amount of time it takes a person to fall in love, you may benefit from connecting with a licensed therapist. Whether you’re in love or you think you’re falling in love, it may help to talk to a clinical psychologist or therapist. If you feel hesitant to sign up for traditional in-office therapy at this time, you might consider online therapy. With BetterHelp, you can be matched with a therapist who has training in social psychology and human relationships, and you can typically get started within 72 hours. Take the first step toward getting answers to your questions about love and reach out to BetterHelp today.
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