How long does it take to fall in love? A year? A month? Or can you fall in love at first sight? There is more than one right answer, actually.
You must have known that when you came looking for an answer to “how long does it take to fall in love?” that you wouldn’t find a simple response. I can tell you the averages based on research, but I cannot tell you that it’ll take precisely three weeks for YOU to fall in love. Seeing how many couples from Bachelor in Paradise have broken up should tell you that’s not true.
But, the timing of falling in love depends on so many things. Love is not a simple thing. And romantic love is even more complicated.
Sure, a parent can fall in love with their child upon seeing them or feeling them in the womb, but romantic love isn’t the same.
Romantic love takes some element of knowledge and time spent together. That is why I cannot give you a timeline for falling in love. Each and every individual person and relationship varies.
How long does it take to fall in love on average?
According to researchers, approximately one to three months is the time most people say ‘I love you’. But, that is so generalized it is ridiculous. What people were surveyed? Was it millennials or boomers? Were these same-sex couples? Were these people who met online or in person?
There are so many things that go into falling in love, is there really an average? Think about it. When a class takes the same test, there is an average score. That average makes sense because everyone learned the same material and took the same test.
But, love is so much more complicated. Everyone learned different things, has different pasts, and has different hopes for the future.
So, the amount of time it takes to fall in love on average is sort of meaningless.
If everyone met in person after talking to someone online for one week and saw each other twice a week for three months while going on similar dates, that average may be a bit more understandable. But some people are friends for years before starting a romantic relationship. Others see each other every day for a month after meeting and some see each other once a month or even less. [Read: How to read the signs you’re falling in love and enjoy the process]
And sometimes you can feel in love when you’re not. Meeting someone and connecting with them instantly can mimic the feelings of love. Sex can release endorphins that mimic those feelings too.
An article from Cosmopolitan listed quotes from 13 people about when they knew they were in love. Just the first three on the list varied from one month, three months to one year. Others said after a week, and one even said on the first date.
Each answer from these couples in their 20s, 30s, and 40s varied so much.
This is why the timing of love is so complicated. Some people aren’t sure of what they’re feeling when they’re in love. Others know it but deny it to protect themselves. There is just too much complication and confusion when it comes to love to give an average answer. [Read: How to manifest love: The steps to draw in your best love life]
How do people fall in love?
Falling in love doesn’t have a magic formula. If you do this, this, and that, you will fall in love… Nope.
I know I’m bringing this up again, but think about The Bachelor. These people know each other for approximately six weeks before an engagement. On average, they say “I love you” four to five weeks in and at least four people make it to that point.
How likely is it that all of these people actually fall in love with this person by that point? Well, they put their lives on hold, haven’t spoken to family and friends, and can’t even watch TV or read a magazine, so their life is essentially occupied by this person, even when they don’t see them. [Read: Have you ever wondered what falling in love feels like for real?]
So, you can see how circumstance and state of mind come into play?
People fall in love all sorts of ways. Sometimes they bond over common interests like sports or music, and other times they have intense chemistry. Some even fall in love when they have nothing in common.
Romance like flowers, candles, and chocolate can amp up the feelings of love for some people, while others go on adventures or stay on the couch when they fall in love.
I fell in love with my boyfriend in probably a pretty common way. We met online and went out on dates, watched movies together, and met each others’ families. I knew I was in love about three to four months in but didn’t say anything for six. [Read: When should you say “I love you” for the first time and do it right?]
There wasn’t one particular moment that changed things or made me know, it just happened over time. Others say when I was with my partner and they did this, I just knew in the moment.
So, again, even the ‘how’ when it comes to love depends on you.
How to know if you’re falling in love
Unless you can measure your levels of oxytocin, it can be hard to know for sure whether you’re in love. You may say, I’ve been with this person so many months now and I’m happy, so I must be in love.
Or you might convince yourself you’re in love because you want to be in love. You’d be surprised how often this happens. As I mentioned, I’m sure not all The Bachelor contestants are in love when they say they are. [Read: How men fall in love and the 7 stages they go through]
There are a lot of signs that you are in love. Things like wanting to share good and bad news with them instantly or wanting to say “I love you” could be a signal that you are, in fact, in love. Sometimes friends even notice a change in your behavior when you’re in love.
Some people also won’t admit they’re in love until their partner does. This can make things hard because not everyone falls in love at the same pace, even in one relationship.
For instance, I knew I loved my boyfriend around Christmas time. I think it was partly because of how intense I was with gifts. If I didn’t love him I would’ve held back. I wouldn’t have wanted to financially invest in someone I wasn’t all in with *I know, romantic*.
But it took that time of year for it to really click for me. A friend of mine told me that when her fiancé said he loved her she hadn’t even thought about it. She never even thought about saying “I love you,” but repeated it promptly back to him because in that moment she knew. [Read: How to respond to “I love you” when you still don’t feel the same way]
Knowing you’re falling in love is just as different for everyone as the timing of it.
When can you say you’re truly in love?
This is another big question with a complicated answer. You can say you’re in love when you feel it. Most people would say when you know, you know. There are no rules about it. There isn’t a timeline or a relationship milestone you have to hit in order to say ‘I love you’ and mean it.
Sure, you may regret it one day or look back and realize you weren’t in love when you thought you were, but that doesn’t change how you felt in the moment. [Read: New love – Should you be the first to say “I love you” or wait to hear it?]
I was in love with my high school boyfriend. It was a completely different kind of love than what I feel for my current boyfriend, but it was love nonetheless. I also dated someone in my early twenties for six months and was convinced I loved him. Looking back I certainly wasn’t. I said it because I thought that was what I felt at the time.
So, as long as you think that is what you feel, you can say it. Love is complicated and messy. There is no perfect formula for love, knowing when you’re in love, or when the right time to say it is. It all comes down to you and your relationship.
I can advise you, though, not to rush love. Enjoy the process of falling in love and growing those feelings. You don’t need to beat the other person to say it or feel it fast because your afraid you’ll lose it. Love is something to be enjoyed in the moment. It is something that feels good and scary all at once. [Read: 18 tips to fall in love slowly like you’re in a fairytale]
Love can feel like you’re doing it wrong, but whatever feels right to you is right. There is not any all encompassing advice I can offer for you to make love easier. Because love and falling in love is so individual, you can’t look for a quick fix or broad answer. You need to look at your own situation. You need to fall into your own feelings and identify them.
Probably, this isn’t the answer you were hoping for, but if you made it this far in the article, I hope you understand it a little better. There is no one answer to falling in love. There is not a perfect timeline for love. There is nothing perfect about love, and that is sort of what makes it so perfect.
So, stop worrying about the timing and being so sure and maybe getting it wrong, and just enjoy the ride of a lifetime. Falling in love isn’t science; although it can be argued it is. Falling in love is magic and should be treated as such.