Will our vegetable love grow?
June 6, 2005 5:57 PM   Subscribe

If you don't fall in love with someone quickly will you fall in love with them at all?

Situation: a relationship that's going on its third month. He's said that he loves me, but... I just don't feel it back (yet?). I like spending time with him, and I like him a lot, but I'm not in love. We're both in our late 20s, and are looking for long-term relationships, rather than something more casual. Every time I've been in love before I've experienced those feelings prior to this point in the relationship. But this guy is so sweet in so many ways that I'm wondering if it's best to stick it out and see if love will grow.

I guess I'd like to hear other people's experiences. When you found your spouse or other long-term love, did you fall in love with them right away, or did it take you a while to get from like to love? I don't believe in a flash of lightning that tells you when you've found 'the one', but should I be having this many doubts this early in the relationship? Are we doomed as a couple, or should I just wait and see if "our vegetable love will grow, vaster than empires, and more slow?"
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, I grew into (and then back out of) love. I'd just make sure you're heading in the right direction; do you like him more each day/week/month?

Also keep in mind that the best long-term relationships generally have little to do with love, and clearly your previous "insta-love" relationships weren't a good indicator of long-term success. ;)
posted by trevyn at 6:02 PM on June 6, 2005

Speaking from personal experience: Yes.

It sounds to me like you really do love this person, at least in some ways, just not very passionately. Passion's not easy to kindle from a standing start -- actually, it can be very difficult -- but it can be done if you're willing to put some effort towards it. If this is someone you can envision yourself spending years with, it seems like it might be worth the investment to pour a little more of yourself into this relationship and see if it pays off.

What's the worst that could happen?
posted by majick at 6:07 PM on June 6, 2005

I have fallen in love overnight, and on other occasions, it took over six months, once almost two years.
posted by mischief at 6:43 PM on June 6, 2005

I agree -- it is possible for it to grow. I'm actually surprised others are saying that as well, I thought everyone would say "forget it." But in my experience, it is definitely possible. My advice would be to forget about labels for a while, and just relate to this man without worrying about exactly what category it's in or what shelf it goes on or anything. Over time you'll figure out that it's either not what you need, or that it is the greatest thing that ever happened to you.
posted by edlundart at 7:01 PM on June 6, 2005

I was acquainted for years, albeit not very closely, with my girlfriend before we got together. It was about a year of being close before we fell in love, but it was very much a mutual (and gradual) thing. (In other words, we were both quite sure when it happened.) So, I don't know how much it applies to your situation, but, there it is anyway. :)
posted by Kosh at 7:09 PM on June 6, 2005

I've been married to the same woman for thirty+ years, and we still fall in and out of passion/love. Love is such a tender plant -- it really grows only when nurtured, and it sounds like you are on the way to growing it. I think it's based on commitment -- if you are committed that allows trust which enables love.
posted by anadem at 7:30 PM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

posted by fishfucker at 7:30 PM on June 6, 2005

I've experienced both. My longest relationship (8 years) was with someone with whom I knew right away would be IT and vice-versa.

But now that I'm a little older (early 30s), I prefer things to grow organically and I'm a little more cautious about my feelings so it takes a little longer for me to decide/realize I'm in love.

I follow a 90-day rule; if I know I'm NOT going to fall in love with the person, I break up with them. If I haven't ruled it out, I still think it's worth a shot.
posted by superkim at 7:32 PM on June 6, 2005

If you talk yourself into loving someone, don't be surprised when the fallout at the end of your self-delusion is nothing short of catastrophic.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:45 PM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you don't feel anything, move on. Anything else is deception of yourself and your partner.
posted by angry modem at 7:51 PM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

I didn't feel in love per se with my guy within the first three months (at least not in the same way I had felt in love with past boyfriends) but I definitely felt drawn to him. I felt pretty much the same way you do. Three and a half years later we are definitely in love, and there are talks of marriage... so in my humble opinion, yes.

I think there are two kinds of "in love": that immediate rush and infatuation you feel with most new relationships, and the more comfortable and steady love that comes over years. In my experience, the second kind of in love lasts longer and is ultimately more satisfying.

If you don't feel the urgent need to leave the relationship, I would give it more time to see how your feelings develop.
posted by geeky at 7:55 PM on June 6, 2005

Don't lie to him, though. If you are sure you only like him a lot, and don't really love him *in that way*, then tell him that when he asks. Seriously, it'll be tempting to tell him "of course i love you", but don't.
posted by muddgirl at 8:54 PM on June 6, 2005

Absolutely. It took over a year (each) for my last two relationships to turn into love.

If you like him, say so. Don't lie about it; but don't break it off, either (unless he decides that he doesn't want to 'stick it out'). IME, three months is only really enough to figure out if you like each other enough to stay together longer. ymmv and all that.
posted by jlkr at 9:04 PM on June 6, 2005

Sure, I could give you the stories about the boys I've fallen immediately in love with -- some disasters, some, well, it worked for about three years, but the marriage lasted 9.

Or I could tell you about the guy that I thought was amazing and cool, but didn't like in "that way" even when he asked me out and how now 12 years later he's the love of my life.

But instead, I'll give you the Dr. Drew POV.

On (the American, mostly west coast radio show) Loveline every single night, someone calls with either this problem or something related to the opposite problem (falling in love too rapidly).

Dr. Drew (the cute but not funny one) says that the instantaneous, over the top love that happens almost immediately is actually us seeing the opportunity to recreate the chaos from past relationships -- usually a parental issue, but the "I like him and he's nice, but..." guys are usually the ones Dr. Drew steers the callers towards because they're actually somewhat healthy relationships.

I wouldn't normally quote Loveline (since only freaks and weirdos listen to and call Loveline), but ever since I heard it, I've noticed it in myself and other people and it's a little creepy how well it applies.

If you've got abandonment, abuse or other issues related to the issue of love, I'd say stick it out. If you don't, I say damn, the guy who eventually snags you has a rare gem on his hands.
posted by Gucky at 9:34 PM on June 6, 2005 [1 favorite]

I met my significant other while on the rebound from a long relationship. I was pretty open and frank about the fact that I wasn't in a place to open up and fall in love just then, but we really were a perfect match and enjoyed each others company immensely. Years later, I am now head over heels in love and it is a stronger bond than I've ever felt before.

I think that the initial giddy passion that begins many affairs is a relatively superficial and insignificant thing. Often as not, it may peter out before morphing into a true lifetime commitment.
posted by Manjusri at 1:35 AM on June 7, 2005 [2 favorites]

I wish my ex had read this thread a week and a half ago.
posted by schyler523 at 2:00 AM on June 7, 2005

Yes. I'm getting married in a month to someone whom I fell in love with about 6 months after we started dating.

Not that this will happen everytime. But it is possible.
posted by jb at 2:17 AM on June 7, 2005

Yes; this is pretty much what "Fiddler on the Roof" was about. The song "Sunrise, Sunset" sums it up.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:45 AM on June 7, 2005

As long as your doubt isn't that you could love him-in other words, as long as you aren't trying to convince yourself that this is the right person-it's fine to let it take its course. If it doesn't happen, it doesn't; but it certainly could, as so many here have suggested.
posted by OmieWise at 5:32 AM on June 7, 2005

Love can develop slowly, but please do listen to what Kwantsar and muddgirl are saying. Be honest with him that you don't feel that way about him yet. And be honest with yourself — don't pressure yourself into cooking up some 'sincere' emotions for the poor guy. The most catastrophic breakup I've ever seen came when someone talked himself into loving his girlfriend ... and then quit putting that pressure on himself and immediately lost interest. It was a big awful hairy mess, and you shouldn't do that to yourself or your boyfriend if you can help it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 9:48 AM on June 7, 2005

I think the issue here is that the word "love" covers a lot of territory. Most fundamentally, you have to really be true to yourself about what you want, what "love" means to you. You use the phrase "fall in love". I think if you haven't started to feel something like that early on, then you will probably not "fall" in love, the way that phrase implies a kind of blissful loss of control, a chaotic passionate being-swept-away-ness. But if that's not really important to you, you could certainly "grow into love" or something like that - you could develop deeper and richer feelings of connection. Will that satisfy you?

Unfortunately, I don't think these things really change over time. Basically, if you don't mind being alone too much, I would not stick with something past about 7 months if you are still feeling doubts, because it just gets harder and harder to break up after that, and if doubts are real at that stage, i think they just stick around, and frustrate you. Of course, you have to take the risk that that might be 'as good as it gets', and you could end up alone. If that is unbearable to you, then you might weigh things differently.
posted by mdn at 12:15 PM on June 7, 2005

My husband and I went to high school together and knew each other through ROTC during that time. He went to a military college and joined the Army after high school and I went to college in OK and started my career. After he got out of the Army and moved to TX, we met again through classmates.com (or one of those type sites) and were long distance friends for a few months before we met up face to face. All my previous relationships were quick to get to the "I love you" phase and most ended disastrously. This relationship was slow to start and I'm glad because it gave us time to really get to know each other. Our fourth anniversary will be next week and hopefully they'll be many more to come!
posted by moosedogtoo at 3:26 PM on June 7, 2005

Well, my husband and I had an *instant* moment...does that count? When we met, it really was like we'd known each other all our lives, it was instant comfort and companionship (and a healthy serving of lust). We've been together for a decade and still going strong, so I'd have to give a big raspberry to Dr. Drew. ;)

As to love growing, one of my aunts had an arranged marriage. You would think of all possible situations, this would be one where love wouldn't grow. (At least to *my* very western sensibilities.) They celebrated their 50th anniversary not all that long ago and they're like kids with the in-love thing. So, I would have to say that love can be learned.

In either case, love requires work. Lots of work. Good relationships depend on friendship, honesty, and a willingness to let your partner "win" some of the time. I would think that a friendship/relationship such as you describe would be worth the effort to see what develops. Even in our insta-fix culture...not all good things happen in a flash.
posted by dejah420 at 7:00 PM on June 7, 2005

Fall in love later over time, sure. But if you aren't having good sex now, it probably won't change.
posted by scarabic at 10:17 PM on June 8, 2005

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