Falling in Love
August 1, 2004 7:55 PM   Subscribe

How long does it take to fall in love?
posted by taumeson to Human Relations (41 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
It takes forever.
posted by swift at 8:01 PM on August 1, 2004


Sometimes an instant, sometimes years. But the initian spark is almost always immediately felt, but maybe not recognzed as love. Maybe it's lust or curiosity or even irritation, but the sense that you've met someone significant will always be there, even at that first moment.
posted by jonmc at 8:03 PM on August 1, 2004


It depends on the people involved and the situation at that time. Sometimes it happens before you even realise it, and other times you see yourself falling in love in slow motion.
posted by riffola at 8:05 PM on August 1, 2004


How long does it take to fall in love?
posted by taumeson at 7:55 PM PST

It takes forever.
posted by swift at 8:01 PM PST on August 1


Love is space and time measured by the heart.
posted by the fire you left me at 8:05 PM on August 1, 2004


About 4 hours after meeting my (now) husband, I knew that it was different. I didn't know what it was, it was just different. Maybe that's the spark jonmc was talking about.
posted by ferociouskitty at 8:21 PM on August 1, 2004


Not all that long. One of my pet theories is that you can fall in love with anyone, if you spend enough time with them. Or maybe you're spending lots of time with them because you're already in love, but just don't realise it.

Caution: do not mistake emotional co-dependency for love.
posted by reklaw at 8:30 PM on August 1, 2004


What is the sound of one hand clapping?
posted by kindall at 8:33 PM on August 1, 2004 [1 favorite]


The same length of time it takes to fall out of love.
posted by rushmc at 8:38 PM on August 1, 2004


Sometimes it's faster than you realize, and then it's gone before you act on it.
posted by crazy finger at 8:43 PM on August 1, 2004


The same length of time it takes to fall out of love.

oh man...THAT's not true... :)

i mean, i've been married once. i'm proud to say we were in love, in an emotionally-unstable- because-of-the-passion kind of way.

but my current relationship is with somebody whom i was friends with first, and it has different emotions going with it. and because of my past experiences, it's like, i don't really know quite what i'm feeling or when i should tell her i think i love her.

the best part is that we kind of know we already love each other, so neither of us has said it.

and obviously this is all brand new, and we're both scared of going too fast :) so i wanted to know what people thought on the subject.
posted by taumeson at 8:47 PM on August 1, 2004


Sometimes an instant, sometimes years. But the initian spark is almost always immediately felt, but maybe not recognzed as love. Maybe it's lust or curiosity or even irritation, but the sense that you've met someone significant will always be there, even at that first moment.

Not quite true, jonmc. The first time I met the last serious girlfriend I had, we both said a few words to each other.... and both thought "Hmm. Nothin' there."

Within a few weeks, we were both really interested, within months she'd become one of the most important people in my life, and I darn near married her and I am still -- 6 years after we met, 3 1/2 years since we parted and she went to Europe, 1 year since I drove out to Iowa and last saw her -- I am still not over her.

But most of the time, it happens for me like you said. :)
posted by weston at 9:49 PM on August 1, 2004


there are 3 elements:

1) individual personalities of the actors involved
2) type of love you're talking about
3) quality of the pairing, aka: the match, chemistry...

Between all of these and their combinative multiplicative effects, it could come on instantly and fade rapidly a month later, or take years to get off the ground and get better forever.

Seriously, go to the literature section of your library, not AskMe.
posted by scarabic at 9:53 PM on August 1, 2004


Faster than it takes to realize you're being silly, unfortunately.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:01 PM on August 1, 2004


What is the sound of one hand clapping?

It sounds kind of like "fwap fwap fwap fwap"
posted by SpecialK at 10:59 PM on August 1, 2004


I honestly can't say if I fell in love with my husband the first time I saw him; he was so handsome that my knees went weak and my heart turned over, so that's really the only thing I could register at that moment and for some time afterward. I had never, ever experienced a physical reaction like that to just meeting someone (or anything else, really). But for me, it was a reason to be skeptical of any attraction to him; I thought it was surely a superficial thing, so I actually actively resisted the pull for quite a while. Later, as I discovered that he was one of the most interesting, nicest, smartest and most fun people I had ever met, I fell further and deeper. Then one day I saw him perform an unusual act of kindness so naturally and gracefully that my heart completely melted, and I was in love forever.

So, for me, it took both one instant, and a couple of years.
posted by taz at 11:13 PM on August 1, 2004 [2 favorites]


I had never, ever experienced a physical reaction like that

low blood pressure?
no, seriously, I agree with jonmc. whatever happens, the first meeting won't be something you can easily forget about.
generally speaking of course, which is what we're inevitably doing here anyway.
posted by matteo at 12:34 AM on August 2, 2004


You begin to fall in as soon as you lose your center of balance, so the answer is "nearly instantaneous." However, the question remains as to how long it will take to hit bottom, and whether you will reach terminal velocity before impact.
posted by DaShiv at 12:57 AM on August 2, 2004


3 months.
posted by PenDevil at 12:59 AM on August 2, 2004


As she tuned to go back behind the reception desk at our office, from the time she pivoted just so on her left ankle rounding the corner to the time she looked back at me over her shoulder, I think it was about three-tenths of a second.
posted by planetkyoto at 1:06 AM on August 2, 2004


Love is a many splendid thing, and I have fought with the idea of it for a good 18 years now. I met her when I was a child and didn't realize I might be in love with her until I was a teenager, but the attraction was always there and will always be there, but unfortunetly, love is not always returned. I still use her as my basis for comparison to all other girls I meet.
posted by Derek at 2:17 AM on August 2, 2004


What size love?
posted by dong_resin at 3:44 AM on August 2, 2004


MAGNUM.
posted by fishfucker at 4:38 AM on August 2, 2004


Eight inches.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:36 AM on August 2, 2004


Falling in love happens in a heartbeat.

If and when the time comes, falling back out of love can take a lifetime. Unfortunately, falling in love just happens, undoing the damage takes a huge amount of work.
posted by dg at 6:39 AM on August 2, 2004


taumeson, are you really asking "how do you know when you're in love" rather than "how long does it take"? (I'm looking at your "I don't what I'm feeling or when I should tell her I love her" comment.)

Instead of needlessly forcing a definition at this point while it's still so new, culminating (maybe) in a mutual exchange of "I love you"s that may or may not mean the same thing to both of you, consider saying what you do know instead, such as how she makes you feel, what you enjoy about being with her, etc. No need to rush yourself in defining things instead of letting them come to you naturally, and in the meantime share the good feelings you *are* sure of. Wait to be sure before you say it in so many words -- and you'll know when you're sure.

(though somehow I feel it's bad karma to post this, as though I'm suggesting I've got this stuff figured out and will thus by smited for pretending wisdom I don't have.)

Seriously, go to the literature section of your library, not AskMe.
I realize you've invested in posting lots of answers to AskMe (as well as lots of questions). But until you get system administrator privileges here, please don't "helpfully" tell posters to take their questions elsewhere.

posted by onlyconnect at 6:54 AM on August 2, 2004 [1 favorite]


for me, it took both one instant, and a couple of years.

This statement is definitely true for me and I'd like to second onlyconnect's suggestion of just telling her how you do feel. Me and my SO are pretty spare with the "I love you"s but spend a lot of time telling each other how nice it is to be together/wake up together/eat soup together/get rained on together, whatever. I feel like this sort of being demonstrative, for me anyhow, accomplishes the same thing without seeming cliched or tired. We both seemed to naturally wait over a year into our relationship before we went the ILY route and I don't think it was a problem.
posted by jessamyn at 7:27 AM on August 2, 2004


i think there's evidence that there are two different chemical processes in the brain (talking very generally) (and this is vague bullshit from what i remember after reading the tangled wing) - one controls the obsessive/sexual response, which tends to be of shorter duration and traditionally (in western societies) precedes a much longer duration pair-bonding response. obviously - as is noted in that (excellent) book, the real trick is how to maintain/reinitiate the sexual response in the longer term...

so there's a chemical/physiological basis for the "one instant and a couple of years" response (well, there has to be, of course, but it's nice to know we have some kind of an understanding of it).
posted by andrew cooke at 8:32 AM on August 2, 2004 [1 favorite]


"Love is two minutes fifty-two seconds of squishing noises. It shows your mind isn't working right."
- Johnny Rotten

posted by chicobangs at 9:05 AM on August 2, 2004


According to Dutton and Aron (1974), approximately 450 feet.
posted by ChasFile at 9:17 AM on August 2, 2004


How long does it take? It takes as long as it takes.

I realize that's probably not the answer you were looking for, but as I'm sure you know, the answer can be anywhere from seconds to years.

I think the greater issue is not the appropriate length of time before you say ILY, but how to start the delicate dialog with the object of your desire. Personally, I'm a big fan of 'less words, more action'. Only you can decide what's appropriate for you, but you might want to think about how you could express yourself to her physically. Kiss her. Or take her hands and gaze into her eyes and silently let her know what's going on for you. Find some way of being emotionally honest with her, preferably without words. Words hardly ever express exactly how you feel, and they keep you both in your heads anyway. Find a way to connect with your hearts.

I was friends first with my SO and I realized I'd fallen in love with her when my heart lit up whenever she was around. I didn't know how to communicate it to her, so I just put my arms around her from behind and held her. She got the message loud and clear. The feeling between us at that moment is one of our fondest memories. We're getting married in 5 days.
posted by widdershins at 9:24 AM on August 2, 2004 [1 favorite]


One of my pet theories is that you can fall in love with anyone, if you spend enough time with them.

I don't exactly disagree with this, but I think it's a generalized notion that doesn't apply to all people. It definitely doesn't apply to me.

I have known and dated various women, and some of them I got to know quite well -- some I became really close with. But I've only fallen in love once (to my woman who is now my wife).

I hear people saying things all the time like, "there are man fish in the ocean," or "all I'm looking for is a nice boy/girl to love," so I think some people (most people) cab fall in love relatively easily. And I doubt it's shallow love (if that even makes sense). It's probably deep love.

It may have to do with how extroverted you are. Extroverts tend to get along with most people. To some extent they think of people as being interchanable. I don't mean that in a bad way. I mean that they see people as all sharing basic human needs and desires. They see themselves as being connected to all people.

I'm an introvert. For me to even be friends with someone, there needs to be a LOT in common, plus some mysterious chemestry. For me to be IN LOVE with someone, there has to be a major cosmic shift.

The plus side of this is that I've in love (and married to) my best friend in all the world. We spend almost all our time together. We share all of our thoughts and activities.

The down side is that I'll be DEVISTATED if it ever comes to an end. I don't feel like I'll grieve for awhile and then find someone new. It took me almost 30 years to fall in love the first time. It would probably take at least that long for it to happen again.

By the way, all definitions of love are arbitrary and personal, but I distinguish love from "romantic obscession." Though I say now that I've only been in love once, I would have claimed when I was younger that I had been in love several times.

But I no longer think of those infatuations as love. They were too selfish. They were all about MY desire to be with the other person. They werem't at all about my desire to KNOW the other person, the SHARE with the other person, to LIVE with the other person, and to CARE for the other person, and to SACRIFICE for the other person.
posted by grumblebee at 11:05 AM on August 2, 2004 [3 favorites]


We don't fall in love: it rises through us
the way that certain music does -
posted by seanyboy at 12:18 PM on August 2, 2004


If you can't say "I love you" - then do you really have love? True love is humility which is unconditional.
Think you two being friends “first” may be causing both your thoughts here…being cautious in your relationship. Who better is having “love for” than a true friend.
posted by thomcatspike at 12:47 PM on August 2, 2004


Wanted to add, agree with onlyconnect - are you really asking "how do you know when you're in love"
posted by thomcatspike at 12:49 PM on August 2, 2004


there are man fish in the ocean

Waves finny hand!

The down side is that I'll be DEVISTATED if it ever comes to an end.

I figure I'll be dead within a year, if not a week.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:51 PM on August 2, 2004


Find some way of being emotionally honest with her, preferably without words.

Congratulations on your success, widdershins! I guess I need to disagree on one point, though -- I think it can be very risky for women to interpret a guy's physical overtures to signify deep feelings beyond the physical. For every story like yours, I suspect there are another ten women out there who thought they were achieving some sort of Vulcan mind meld with their guy only to realize later that to him it was just sex/a kiss/getting some play.

I'm glad it worked for you, though -- sounds like a moment to remember.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:27 PM on August 2, 2004


onlyconnect - you know, I did think of that when I posted my answer above. But then I thought that people are just as likely (more, IMO) to use words to manipulate the situation - in other words, lie about what they're feeling and/or what their intentions are in order to get some play.

I really feel that being emotionally honest is the only way to really, really connect with someone. Words are useful tools, of course, I didn't mean to imply otherwise. But IMHO, they are better after the initial physical connection. For the most part, our bodies are much more accurate and honest than our words. (Obviously physical does not equal sexual here.)

Also, to address taumeson's questions, if you're not sure if what you're feeling is love, then is it fair/honest/accurate/OK to say it? If what you're really feeling is hopeful desire/interest/lust/fear and all those things that accompany the beginning of falling in love, then that is what should be expressed.

Either way, good luck taumeson.
posted by widdershins at 9:20 AM on August 3, 2004


But widdershins, for every guy like you who wants a real connection, there is another guy who will look deeply and meaningfully into your eyes only because he really, really, really wants to get laid. And that's his right! It's just hard to tell you guys apart, early on!

Personally, I'm more likely to let myself trust the guy who talks to me. I'm not just relying on myself and what I think the guy's eyes (or arms or whatever) are saying. I'm also judging his actual words and determining whether I believe them or not. And he's putting himself out there and saying them. Lots of guys will kiss you or look at you meaningfully because they know it could mean anything. Not every guy will lie. And some who will will do it badly.

Just MHO and my own preference, and I'm sure others see it totally differently.
posted by onlyconnect at 12:45 PM on August 3, 2004


And you know, only guys are ever mercenary about their feelings just to get laid.
posted by chicobangs at 5:30 PM on August 3, 2004


Never said that, and it's sure not what I meant. Peace.
posted by onlyconnect at 6:35 AM on August 4, 2004


onlyconnect, I'm female too. I've had men and women express interest in me with or without words, and I personally think expressing yourself physically is more honest. I also think too many people think themselves into a hole about this stuff - just take the plunge and do something about it. I think words are best when they support and supplement the actions, not the other way around.

Feel free to email me if you want to discuss further... ; )
posted by widdershins at 9:26 AM on August 4, 2004


« Older Help with projector/setting up a movie club   |   Firefox / Javascript question... how do I get the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.