At First Sight: How Long Does It Take to Fall In Love?
By: Michael Arangua
Updated August 21, 2020
Medically Reviewed By: Debra Halseth, LCSW
You may have experienced a moment of longing for someone and the following question occurred to you: how long does it take to fall in love? Surely, falling for someone cannot be so instantaneous. Most are surprised that it, in fact, can take as simple as a second to fall in love.
Movies and romantic novels commonly depict characters falling in love with one another. 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, the time it takes to fall in love depends upon each person. This is something that is not always communicated in fictional stories about love and romance.
Actually, according to Devon Loomis in her article "How Long Does It Take to Fall in Love?", the time in which one falls in love depends on how open one's mind is to developing and committing to a long-lasting relationship.
It’s important to understand that this time period can differ from person to person. Some people are able to fall in love relatively quickly; others fell in love after more extended periods of time. Know that love happens in various ways and there are so many factors that can contribute to how, when, and whether or not someone falls in love.
How Long Does It Take to Fall in Love?
Love, at first sight, is possible, if both partners were as open with their minds, hearts, and sexual urges as the other. It would take more time for a person to fall for someone if they are not feeling as confident or serious about the relationship than the other. In some of those cases, the relationships may not even last.
It is best not to base your relationship on first impressions, however, because most people have discovered that it takes a few weeks to fall in love. During this time, you are not only taking in appearances, but you are also learning more about each other and finding common ground.
Your relationship is becoming more stable, which allows you to feel more comfortable with your partner and enables you to fall in love. This may not seem as romantic as love at first sight, but it is the most logical and effective in establishing a lasting relationship.
Don’t fall into the trap of comparing your journey of falling in love with 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 to Fall in Love
The best way to fall in love with someone is to build a relationship with them. This relationship can start off as friendly or casual, sometimes neither of you will be aware of the other's feelings or intentions. However, the more that you learn about the other, the more comfortable you are with them.
Through time you can familiarize yourself with each other's faces, which can develop a trusting and joyous feeling when you lay eyes on each other, thus a "love at first sight" moment somewhere in the beginning of the relationship, which can be just as powerful as the "first sight".
Typically, when people begin to fall in love, they may have various experiences that represent this change. Some examples include, but are certainly not limited to, the following: craving the other person’s presence, wanting to learn more about them, wanting to spend more time with them, wanting them to know more about you, etc.
There is no one blueprint or formula to fall in love with someone. However, there are certainly important details and facts you should know about what it takes to fall in love.
Falling in Love with the Right Person
As you learn about the journey of love and falling in love, it’s important to know that falling in love with the right person is important. In order for two people to have a healthy and happy relationship with one another, there has to be a certain, real connection.
True and authentic connections cannot be faked and inauthentic connections will not last. If you are having trouble falling in love with a certain person, then there is a possibility that this person may not be right for you and/or vise versa. Not all relationships are meant to last forever; as a matter of fact, some relationships happen to prepare us for better ones later down the link.
When falling in love, falling in love with the right person makes all the difference in the world. This is a seldom-talked-about, yet crucial detail for each individual to keep in mind as they experience romantic relationships.
With that in mind, if you are having difficulties with falling in love and this extends beyond one person, then this could be indicative of another matter.
Having Difficulties Falling in Love?
If you find that you are struggling to build a meaningful relationship or you feel that you are incapable of falling in love, then it may be wise to speak with a professional at BetterHelp.
Working with a mental health professional comes with many benefits, especially if you’re questioning whether you have what it takes to fall in love. It may take longer to fall in love for some people; however, if this is something that you’re consistently struggling with (or even feel unworthy of), working with a professional can be lifechanging.
Mental health care is linked to all kinds of positive outcomes. Learning how to fall in love is just the tip of the iceberg. By working with a counselor or therapist, you can learn more about yourself, process your emotions and past experiences in a healthier way, and achieve life goals.
Making Love at First Sight Last
To take this initial love at first sight to a deeper level you must see it through at each of the three phases. That feeling that occurs during love, at first sight, is called limerence also known as the first stage of love or "being in love".
This is when you feel that initial excitement including sexual excitement about the object of your desire. It doesn't take long to experience heart palpitations, trembling or flushing after experiencing love at first sight. These bodily sensations are also limerence, including the obsessive thinking about your lover, and difficulty concentrating. Limerence is when all you can think about is him or her and that feeling that you need them to be around all the time. This obsessive thinking about your new love can become disruptive to daily functioning. It is a time of intense pleasure but also suffering because along with these loving feelings a strong fear of rejection can also arise.
If you aren’t someone who experiences love at first sight with someone, don’t worry or beat yourself up over it. Not everyone will fall in love at first sight and that’s OK. Some of the deepest and most passionate relationships have come after couples got to truly know one another over various periods of time. Many people who fell in love with their significant other didn’t force it either; don’t be afraid to fall in love at a pace and speed that works well for you.
The Biological Factor
Biologically there are many influences that create this feeling of limerence. Three chemicals mostly responsible for this phase of love is phenylethylamine (PEA) which is a natural amphetamine, testosterone, and the hormone oxytocin. Together these chemicals and hormones help us experience love. They produce intense euphoric feelings of obsession and attachment.
Phase 1 of falling in love is similar to the brain changes that an addict experiences that influences them to desire and use drugs. You may find yourself falling in love with the fantasy of the person rather than the reality. Warning signs in the relationship are masked with overly positive self-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 towards Phase 2.
The hormone levels experienced in Phase 1 gradually decline and return to normal in Phase 2. In Phase 2 couples approach conflict and their true attachment style emerge. The couple needs to 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. Hope and uncertainty fuel an unending limerence. This uncertain relationship dynamic of an inattentive partner forever keeps you in Phase 1. Euphoria and the sensation of walking on air are also prolonged. It may feel nice but you may also find yourself not progressing in your love life as you would like.
Signs of a Progressing Relationship
How will you know if your relationship is progressing? You will know when you are moving past limerence when you're no longer struggling with unwanted thoughts about your partner.
The passion, heat, and intensity felt in the beginning stages are becoming more about communication, support, and friendship found in warm and loving relationships. Reciprocity is not forced and a commitment emerges where both partners are actively involved and choose to be devoted to one another. Most conflict in a relationship occurs during Phase 2 as the couple learn about communication and resolving issues with one another. Conflicts that may challenge the couple are irritation, different interests, and goals, sexual dysfunction or incompatibility, antipathy for each other's family or friends, fear of loss of freedom and identity, boredom, or lack of novelty.
In Phase 3 commitments and loyalty are secured. The power dynamic in a relationship is equally distributed. The couple trusts one another and knows that the other person has their back. This is what's known as a secure attachment which is important for relationship longevity. An insecure style of attachment means that you may never feel safe or secure in your relationship and that your partner may be unresponsive to your needs.
An understanding is made in Phase 3 regarding communication and having your partner's best interest in mind and heart. It is within this phase that love is achieved that can last a lifetime, however, will require the couple to continue to nourish the relationship. If the power dynamic continues to feel unfair to at least one person the couple will continue to experience struggles seen during Phase 2.
Both partners must be able to attune into one another and take a caring and proactive approach to the relationship. Every long-term relationship will have its ups and downs. You can feel those initial feelings of love at first sight throughout your relationship.
During challenging times, draw upon those memories shared in the beginning and happy times. Use these thoughts to help motivate you when you're having doubts or you're wondering if you should stay together. The key to lengthening romantic love is to keep having adventures together that will lengthen and liven the romance and you may experience a burst of those old feelings of limerence time and time again.
Saying “I Love You” to Your Partner
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 fell 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 on in the relationship.
Ultimately, only you can determine when the right time arrives to tell your partner that you love them. 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.
In a relationship, some of the strongest indicators of real love are as follows: 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 OK.
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