Is it possible to really fall in love after knowing someone for only 5 days?
August 18, 2008 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to really fall in love after knowing someone for only 5 days? Cute, slightly sappy, and true story to follow.

I'll start with the basics - me: 26, male, American teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, been in Korea for 5 months. She (I'll call her J): 22, female, American teaching English in Seoul (perhaps 10-15 minutes away by bus), been in Korea for under a month.

So a little over a week ago, I put a craigslist ad on the Seoul site seeking a NON-Korean lady. Nothing personal, nothing racist, but just not my cup of tea. J responded with a wonderful, long e-mail about herself and her life. After the obligatory e-mails to ensure the other wasn't a serial killer or a creep, we met, walked around, sat by the local river (the Han, for those of you familiar with Seoul), and before long I held her close. She's naturally shy / reserved, but over dates #2 and #3, she began to open up. I saw a side of her - a weird, slightly dorky side that I have so much in common with - that almost instantly took her from a 'possibility' to 'OMG I'm falling in love'. Date #4 (making dinner and hanging out at my apartment) confirmed things. I feel it important to note that I can read her like a book - and after sharing quite a bit, I feel more comfortable with her than anyone else I've ever dated (which is about two handfuls with a couple of fingers left over, for the record).

From the first meet / date #1 to today, it has been exactly 5 days - and I'm falling in love. We haven't gotten to the 'I love you' stage, but the 'I really really like you's' have been said. We're both on the shy side of the spectrum, so opening up has taken some effort for both of us. We've both been in relationships, had our heart broken (in amazingly similar ways), and moved on. We have all the usual stuff in common (age, relationship past, interests, life stories, personalities)...

The big question: is it too soon? We've got time, and we're not going anywhere. I'll be seeing her around and spending time with her - hopefully for a long time to come. We're also in no hurry... but damn it feels good to be around someone that understands me in a deep way. Here in Seoul, the foreigners are scattered far and wide - we're 50,000 out of 10,000,000 - and it's so nice to be with someone that gets me.
posted by chrisinseoul to Human Relations (39 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is it too soon for what?

I don't really understand the question, but I'm happy to congratulate you on falling in love!
posted by availablelight at 7:55 AM on August 18, 2008

Don't rush things and pace yourself. You're infatuated, understandably, since it sounds like you've been culturally isolated. She may be the one, but take the necessary weeks and months to let that fact develop. If you get too serious too fast you also run the risk of unnerving her (particularly if she is shy and reserved). Also be careful - just because you think you can "read her like a book" doesn't mean it's true: Let her tell you how she feels. That's an important form of respect. Enjoy this early time of getting to know her. It's a wonderful part of any relationship and rushing to the "we're in love forever and know each other perfectly thing" you might miss out on the joy of this stage.
posted by aught at 7:59 AM on August 18, 2008 [5 favorites]

Im not sure what you asking either. I knew I was going to marry my wife after 2 min, but it took her almost 5 years to even notice me.

ahhhh...Seoul, I love that city. I love the J.W. Marriott and the miles of underground shopping to be had....Its like Asia's Chicago. I can see easily how that can be a very romanic city if you let it be.
posted by TeachTheDead at 8:02 AM on August 18, 2008

How can we possibly know?

Yes, there is love at (almost) first sight, and there is love that takes years to develop.

But it doesn't really matter which yours is, as long as you are having fun.

Unless what you are wondering is, "can saying 'I love you' too soon be a problem?" and the answer to that is equally vague: it's a problem if its a problem for you, and not a problem if it isn't a problem for you.

Anyway, enjoy the swooping feelings of early infatuation — but don't let your desire for excessive clarity get in the way of a more natural progression of things. Not everything needs to be explicitly defined at every minute.
posted by Forktine at 8:02 AM on August 18, 2008

I'm going to be the wet blanket.

Love? Welcome to infatuation. Or something. So you're both in a (very) foreign country and happened to find each other, so similarities are even more pronounced.

Of course, I'm not too liberal in applying "love" to everything from one-night-stand movies to pop songs because it's not "true love" unless you feel the same way forty years from now even after both of you know everything annoying about each other and are wrinkly and pudgy and possibly a lot less physically attractive. And celebrating those freaky little quirks.

Maybe my standards are completely different. I don't believe in "love at first sight" because that's just superficial attraction, but I'm sure some people who have married within a month end up having perfectly happy long-term relationships until death. It's possible, just not probable.

Er, but congratulations!
posted by Ky at 8:05 AM on August 18, 2008 [8 favorites]

I think you should talk about this stuff with her.
posted by box at 8:07 AM on August 18, 2008

So a little over a week ago, I put a craigslist ad ...

When you're starving, even a cracker can like a gourmet meal. Enjoy the cracker and quit wondering whether it's good for you or not.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:14 AM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

OK, so to clarify a couple things:

In 10 years of dating life, I have yet to be 'infatuated' with someone. This may well be the first time, but for the sake of argument it's never happened before.

I suppose I should have asked: is it too soon to fall in love after knowing someone for 5 days (albeit having been on 4 dates, shared hours and hours of conversation, etc.). +1 to aught for suggesting the 'cultural isolation' angle - although to be more accurate, I've had plenty of contact with my own American culture so as to not feel isolated by it. The internet is a wonderful way to stay connected with friends, make new ones, keep in touch with family, etc.

Ky, thank you for being the 'wet blanket' - the similarities are admittedly more pronounced with compared with the local competition, but we're also talking about simply eerie stuff (disastrous first relationships, dorky habits, interests, etc.). As of knowing true love, perhaps in forty years I'll google my name and discover this MeFi post and laugh one way or the other. My main concern is messing up the best thing that's happened to me during my stay in Korea (I love it here, by the way - the sights, the shopping, the energy, etc.).

Agree on pacing myself/ourselves - we've plenty of time to get to know each other, and I'm sure keeping in touch with our individual friends is a required part of the plan. In any case, it's nice... and definitely good timing.
posted by chrisinseoul at 8:18 AM on August 18, 2008

Love! Whee!

Wait to have sex before you declare it to the world. Then wait more time to get married. Especially wait to get pregnant.
posted by sondrialiac at 8:25 AM on August 18, 2008

I knew within a week of meeting my wife that I would spend the rest of my life with her.
posted by pepcorn at 8:30 AM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

“The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing.” - Blaise Pascal. So yes, you can indeed fall hard and fall fast. As Ky says, this kind of love is basically infatuation. It can indeed be glorious, and can lead to deeper things (sometimes). It is easy to fall in love, but a bit harder to stay in love, and to build a life from that love, so you also need to do the sometimes hard work after the initial "fall" of getting to know each other and seeing if you are compatible in the long term. (Your first fight, for instance, and it will happen, can be educational).

So, take your time, get to know each other but don't focus too much on each other, but also do enjoy the ride and don't second guess yourselves too much.
posted by gudrun at 8:37 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

If we tell you it's too soon to be in love, will that change your feelings? In other words, who cares whether a bunch of strangers label it "infatuation" or "love"? As you said, you're not in any hurry, so it's not like any big decisions needs to be made right now.

I'm pretty sure that you're just so elated you wanted to share, and convinced yourself that you had a question to ask.
posted by amro at 8:40 AM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

There is no pressure in taking the time to discover whether this is "love" or not, so fully embrace the blessing of "We've got time, and we're not going anywhere" to explore, so long as you keep in mind that what you're feeling at the moment is in all probability just infatuation. Get under that adrenalin-like buzz and then you may discover a lot more. If you pace yourself, there's also less chance of "ruining" something good like this precisely for the opportunity of actual relationship-building, and no one builds a typhoon-proof bridge overnight.

As for "disastrous first relationships, dorky habits, interests"... I'm certain the first is very common (yes, including "method" of disaster), the second is a good way to start appreciating differences, and the third can be overly generic ("I like classical music too!"). Living together, as it turns out, is a great way to flush out more personal nuances. I'm not necessarily saying you should do that, but boy, I've seen "good" relationships putter out that way.

"Dating" is being with each other at your best. Have you been each other at your worst? I'm inclined to think both are required to meet that nebulous thing we, in all cultures, consider "love," and that takes some time.
posted by Ky at 8:42 AM on August 18, 2008

*been with. Argh.
posted by Ky at 8:46 AM on August 18, 2008

it may well be love and you both may feel the same. but you're in a strange country with no support system and now you've each found someone to talk to and laugh with and be american with. don't rush it and don't push it. "love" is a scary word and it may scare her off. keep hanging out and enjoying each other's company. share your deep dark secrets and your embarassing stories. let her see you as yourself (in the stained t-shirt, pre shower on a sunday morning, or whatever) and let her show you the same, if she wants to. you can worry about a lifetime together later.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:48 AM on August 18, 2008

Is it possible? Sure - my wife and I met on day 0, moved in together on day 2, were pretty sure we'd get married by day 7... and got married on day 885.
posted by dmd at 8:57 AM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think that we may have differing definitions of infatuation going on here. I would say that "falling in love" is always infatuation. Long-term love is a product of your shared experience -- it is something that is built and nurtured, not something that happens to you. Infatuation is what inspires you to start building up that shared experience.
posted by winston at 9:02 AM on August 18, 2008

just start dancing. you cant tell ahead of time if youre going to trip. enjoy the music.

welcome back to being in love, it missed you too
posted by phritosan at 9:10 AM on August 18, 2008 [6 favorites]

Answers that appear to be at cross purposes here are actually saying the evolutionarily correct thing in combination.

That infatuated feeling (1) is what gets you to the "spend the rest of my life with her" part (2). (That's a really, really long part, by the way. Don't count your chickens before they hatch, or before you hatch little future people, which is the point of this whole charade from old Ma Nature's point of view.)

For every anecdote where there was an inevitable relationship between 1 and 2, there are many more examples where it didn't work out as expected, even for most individuals. So correlation and causation and all that. Conversely, if you wait to feel certain, you'll grow a very long beard and wind up changing your own diapers when you're 90.

But dude, ten years of dating and it's the first time you're knocked sideways? Enjoy the holy hell out of it and don't worry about what you can't know anything about. If you wind up married for 40 years you can say "I knew I'd spend the rest of my life with her on the 2d date." If not, you get a little heartbreak to carry around to prove you're human. Totally worth the risk, especially because it's not like you really have any choice.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:13 AM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

Is it too soon?

You're not in charge of that decision.

You're in charge of how you react to having these feelings.

How to react to those feelings? First, relax. The fact that you feel a powerful attraction to someone who has indicated that they seem to have similar feelings is generally considered a good thing.

If you start having very powerful feelings of attraction, trust that you will know when the right time to reveal those feelings is.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:32 AM on August 18, 2008

Is it possible to really fall in love after knowing someone for only 5 days?

It is possible to fall into something after only 5 days. Whether that is love or not is debatable.

In 10 years of dating life, I have yet to be 'infatuated' with someone.

You've been doing it wrong.

Look, I fall in love every day. With girls in class, on the bus, the subway, the street. Every day I see women and think, "Oh wow. She's perfect. Nice height, nice size. Wow. What's she reading? Breakfast of Champions? Perfect. Baby I'm taking you home to mama!" And then my stop comes up and, and I'm off the bus or train, and I'm on my way.

And the infatuation is over. I can't even remember what she looked like.

That is what infatuation is - a temporary thing, easily entered into, and easily left.


You could go the rest of your life and never feel this way about anybody ever again.

Or you could meet another person tomorrow, or next week, or later this year, and be head over heels just like you are now.

Guess which of the two is more likely?

Slow down. Catch your breath. Get to know this person before you start tossing around the L-word. To rush in to something so quickly ultimatly cheapens the meaning of love.
posted by wfrgms at 9:52 AM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

You're asking a relationship filter, so I'll answer it as such: pure opinion.

Yes. It is too soon. You're in lust. In fact, you're in lust for usually about two to three years after meeting someone, as it's partially a 'phermone/chemical thing.'

And I think you cheapen the word love by using it for someone you met after five days. It's a powerful emotion, but it's not love. Not yet. Talk to me in ten years.
posted by filmgeek at 9:54 AM on August 18, 2008

I think that if it feels as good as you say, run with it. If you're worried about rushing ahead, then hold back on saying the L word until you absolutely can't hold it in anymore.

of course, in my situation, this resulted in me accidentally saying those words via text message and not realizing I said them until I thought about it and figured out that it was such a big deal because it wasn't - we both just (not to be cheesy here) "felt the love" before we said it. And that made it all the more awesomer.
posted by damnjezebel at 10:09 AM on August 18, 2008

It really doesn't matter what you're in. Cherish it, for as long as it lasts, because few things, if any, feel as good as the falling does.
posted by scabrous at 10:17 AM on August 18, 2008

Is it too soon? No. It's not too soon to feel a powerful connection with this person that you think will last. It's not too soon to say that you deeply care for them and want to spend time with them. It's not too soon to be falling in love with them if the above is your definition of that.

I knew very quickly after meeting my wife that I felt the above for her, and she felt the same way. We just kind of went from there, and we were a couple very soon afterwards. Now we've been married for years and are still going strong.

But don't rush things; you don't need to, and part of the fun is discovering more about the similarities and differences that make a relationship. I wouldn't call it love until you have discovered something about the person that is a problem for you (but you still want to be with them) and until you've had your first big argument (and you both get over it and decide you still want to be with them). That's when things start to get serious.
posted by baggers at 10:23 AM on August 18, 2008 [3 favorites]

Can it happen? Absolutely it can happen. My grandmother-in-law met her husband exactly 3 times before they were married. My uncle proposed to his wife after a week. Both marriages worked out beautifully.

Is it happening to you? Only time will tell.
posted by platinum at 10:47 AM on August 18, 2008

It's infatuation, and it certainly could grow into love, but true love takes time to develop. Many years ago, I was in line at my credit union, and a young girl at the counter next to me was semi-crying and chatting with several of the tellers (who apparently knew her well). I couldn't help but overhear her story: she'd just returned from her honeymoon, and her brand new husband was currently next door at William Beaumont Hospital. Wherever they'd been honeymooning, he dove into either the ocean or the shallow end of a pool, I'm not sure, but anyway he'd broken his neck and was eventually airlifted back home to Beaumont. Ever since that day I used her story as sort of my yardstick for true love - would it matter to me if only days after being married my husband was rendered a quadriplegic? Would I mind changing his diapers and feeding him and not going out and doing "couple" things? I eventually found a man about whom I could honestly answer "yes" to these questions, but I didn't make that decision after only five days.
posted by Oriole Adams at 11:02 AM on August 18, 2008 [4 favorites]

There will be as many definitions of love as there are people who give them to you. There is no true one. Your girl's definition might not be the same as yours. It's certainly possible to care very deeply about someone after a relatively brief period.

As Ky said, enjoy the blessing of time. You don't necessarily have to jump on this right away. There's absolutely nothing wrong with spending time with her and enjoying it without trying to define things. You've got no break point forcing your hand. Sometimes you have to make that leap before you're entirely sure of yourself, but this doesn't really seem like one of those times.

So, I'm with the "sleep on it" camp. You've got world enough, and time. On the other hand, don't think you have to wait some specified period of time before telling her how you feel. If you don't think she'll react poorly to it, and you don't care if she says it back, and you can't keep it bottled up inside anymore, fuck it, man. You only live twice. Just be aware of the risk of unnerving her.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:06 PM on August 18, 2008

Buddy, it turns out that what's possible with love is really all over the map.
posted by nanojath at 12:39 PM on August 18, 2008

It's never too soon, not if the feeling is mutual.

Good luck!
posted by Vindaloo at 1:17 PM on August 18, 2008

The night I met my fiance (5 years ago) I was absolutely exstaticly happy and I'd spoken to him for less than half an hour. My friend met him at dinner shortly after that and was convinced I was going to marry him.

I've had at least two friends who came home from their first date with their future husband and just knew that they had met the guy they were going to marry.

So can you fall in love in less than five days? I don't think so -- There's not enough depth to the relationship yet. But can you have a very good inkling that you will fall in love with this person? Absolutely.
posted by bananafish at 1:46 PM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

My dear friends Jack and Babe have been married more than 60 years. They knew each other for 2 days before they got married. So, yes.
posted by nax at 1:54 PM on August 18, 2008

My fiance and I met through work. He was usually not my type at all- tall, geeky, and shy. Still, every time he walked past my desk looking like a sun-burnt lobster for all his blushing, I couldn't help but be intrigued.

Fast forward to our first "date". He had just come back from visiting family and was headed to LAX to pick up his luggage. I asked if he wanted company. He gave me a funny look and said okay. The whole time at the airport, I remember thinking to myself that this all didn't seem out of the ordinary. It was as if we'd been doing this together for years.

Push the button a little more and we come to the first official date. It was New Years Eve at the House of Blues, with David Lee Roth presiding. Long story short, we kissed at midnight and sparks flew. I went home to sleep off the hangover afterwards and came back later to spend the rest of the day with him. It was there, while watching two of three Lord of the Rings movies, that I felt at home with this man.

Granted, this took a couple months. Still, I always knew that he was going to be a permanent fixture in my life and it was just fine by me. We got together that New Years Day and are going strong four and 3/4 years later. In fact, we're getting married this Saturday. :-)

Moral of the story is just enjoy the time you have together. You can't fight the way you feel, but you shouldn't rush to put a label on it either. Just let the course run where it may. When and if the time is right, you'll know what it really is. Good luck!
posted by arishaun at 2:07 PM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Absolutely not; infatuated yes, love no. That doesn't mean that love can't grow out of infatuation. That's usually what happens.

It's important to keep in mind that for every "they got married after two days and have been married 60 years" story there are a hundred "they got married after two days and it was an utter disaster and they got divorced 6 months later" stories. And confirmation bias plays a huge part of the "I knew we would be married after 5 minutes!" stuff.

So there is no reason you couldn't eventually fall in love with this woman but right now you're mostly riding a chemical high.
posted by Justinian at 3:08 PM on August 18, 2008

I agree that love is something more important, something that develops when you know everything about someone else (all the stupid obnoxious little uglinesses of their personality) and like them anyway. If you have to ask if it's love, it's not. Assuming your family is not dysfunctional: do you need to ask yourself if you love your parents/siblings? No. You just know.

That doesn't mean what you have right now isn't special and couldn't become love. Congratulations on your happiness!
posted by Solon and Thanks at 3:16 PM on August 18, 2008

"It's a fool that looks for logic in the chambers of the human heart."
-O Brother Where Art Thou
posted by konolia at 4:40 PM on August 18, 2008 [2 favorites]

I met my wife in Paris when we were both students. Not quite love at first sight, she can remember the moment I walked in the door, I remember meeting her the night after.

But it took about 2 months for us to move from friends to dating and 5 years of long distance for us to get married. If you want to know if you're going to last the distance, try the long distance dating scene, that'll sort the wheat from the chaff etc. etc. 15 years later, we're still together and nauseatingly happy

Yes, it can work. Yes, it can fail. It's early days yet, and only the two of you and time will tell. But there's nothing like falling in love in a foreign city, as you already know.

Best of all, I get to use...."we'll always have Paris"!

You seem to have your head screwed on about this, so good luck and enjoy the experience!
posted by arcticseal at 4:53 PM on August 18, 2008

Do not tell her that you are in love with her. Five days is way too soon. You will come off as desperate or even worse, a guy who professes love in order to get sex.

In your self-description of yourself as shy, it makes me wonder if feel the need to compensate; in other words, do you think that because you are so shy, you should tell her right away? Do you feel you might be the shy guy who let the girl get away because he waited too long to tell her he loved her? Do you feel there is a limited window of opportunity and that you better act fast? If that's true, be very careful.

Telling someone you love them is an act of commitment. It is also a request for commitment. It changes the relationship from casual to serious. I advise you to distinguish between accepting that you've fallen in love and telling her that you've fallen in love. You can be in love yet choose not to tell her. The downside of going too fast is worse than going too slow. You will not lose her if you wait. She will not hold it against you.

She may not want to move the relationship into a more serious level quickly. Sometimes a new relationship works because there aren't expectations and responsibilities. I say if the relationship is working as it is, don't change it yet. Savor this time and enjoy it. Give her time to get to know you. Most important: let her set the pace. When she needs to hear you say "I love you," she'll probably let you know, not directly, but in subtle ways, perhaps in comments in conversation or in her willingness to share her emotions.

What you can and should do right away is to act like you are in love: initiate frequent communications, learn her tastes and preferences and take the trouble to make or arrange things she will like.

Think of announcing your love as a request: you're basically asking her to see you exclusively. Take the time before you do that to prove to her what a wonderful lover you will be. Don't rely on just emotions and feelings. Demonstrate through behavior what a thoughtful and considerate guy you are. Give her plenty of reasons to want to be with you before you ask her to make that choice.
posted by conrad53 at 5:53 PM on August 18, 2008

I fell in love with my husband very quickly. In fact, the night I met him I came home and told my friends and family I had met my husband. We've been together 12 years and married 10 years in October.

So, yes, I believe you can fall in love right away.
posted by SuzySmith at 6:56 PM on August 18, 2008

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