relationships: Hi, Here's How Long It Really Takes to Fall in Love

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Experts and research indicate it can take several months to actually fall in love. Here's what else you need to know about how long it takes to fall in love. © Khadija Horton/Getty Images Experts and research indicate it can take several months to actually fall in love. Here's what else you need to know about how long it takes to fall in love.

POV: You just got home from an incredible Hinge date. You’re straight up weak in the knees and smiling non-stop as you close your front door—it basically feels like one of those just-met-the-love-of-my-life moments in a rom-com. You already feel the urge to say the big “L” word, even though you just met this person, like, tonight. You’re wondering: How long does it take to actually fall in love, anyway? Is it possible you’re falling too fast?

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No matter your romantic sitch, it’s totally normal to think about how long it takes to fall in love. The important thing, though? You should know that falling in love is different for *everyone*, explains clinical psychologist and sex therapist Janet Brito, PhD, founder of the Hawaii Center for Sexual and Relationship Health.

“It all just depends on the individuals, the circumstances, and the environment that they're in,” Brito says. So just because one person falls in love quickly doesn’t mean it’ll be the same for others, ya know? That said, this doesn’t make approaching the question of falling in love (or lust) any darn easier. Like, is it sexual tension or a crush? What are the actual signs you’re falling in love?

These are the hard-hitting Q’s, and Cosmo is here to help. The following is everything you need to know about how long it takes to fall in love, according to relationship experts and research.

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First, how do you define “falling in love” anyway?

Before you dive into the logistics, you should probably make sure you’re clear on what it means to “fall in love” in the first place. Among other things, “falling in love is a process of understanding and coming to love a whole human’s values, philosophies, history, challenges, and eccentricities,” explains Jenni Skyler, PhD, director of The Intimacy Institute. In short, falling in love can feel intense and overwhelming, but it’s also the process of feeling a closeness and acceptance of a person’s ~entire being~.

Per experts and research, this is (basically) how long it takes to fall in love.

People have been studying and contemplating the world of love since time immemorial. Among other things, some of the (warning: very gender binary-heavy!) research out there indicates that men think about confessing their love when they’re about 97 days into a relationship, while women can take about 149 days, says one 2011 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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In heterosexual relationships, while they may not verbalize it, research shows that men tend to fall in love faster than women, according to a 2010 study published in the Evolutionary Psychology journal. In relationships between two women-identifying folks, declarations of love were exchanged between partners by around roughly six months into the relationship, says a 2008 study published in the Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services.

That said, note this: There are other studies out there that also contradict these notions, so overall research is pretty inconclusive and, yup, dated. Experts continue to assert that how long it takes to fall in love is different for everyone, explains Brito.

Reasons you might fall in love quickly (oops).

How quickly you fall in love can also depend on additional factors, Skyler says. Some of those reasons include but are not limited to…

  • Your attachment style. For starters, “people with anxious attachment styles fall in love really easily,” Skyler says. Those with an anxious attachment style might feel like they “need” their partner in order to feel secure, Skyler explains, which is why they might be more open to falling in love and forming a relationship than most. Those with an avoidant attachment style tend to, well, avoid those touchy feel-y, emotions, Skyler says. “They have a block, a wall up. They can still fall in love, just not immediately or as quickly,” she explains.
  • Have you had sex? Yep, falling in love can also depend on whether or not you’ve already had sex with this person. (Or people!) Even though you might be cool with casual sex, bringing intercourse into the mix can make you catch feelings for someone that much faster, since it adds another layer of intimacy into the equation that can bring you closer to the big “L,” Skyler says. But again, remember, everyone’s different.
  • They remind you of your parents. “Usually we fall in love quickly when someone reminds us subconsciously of our parents,” Skyler says. Why? This person can seem familiar and safe, making you feel closer to them than you might actually be and, in turn, making you fall in love faster. (Kinda odd, but makes sense.)

Okay, but what about love at first sight?

Yes, it’s certainly possible to fall in love at first sight, though it’s uncommon. “Usually what people consider to be ‘love at first sight’ is actually sexual attraction,” Skyler says. From that attraction, sometimes the stars align and the person you’re attracted to ends up being your marital partner, Skyler notes—which largely contributes to the love at first sight phenomenon.

That said, some research indicates that the body’s cerebral networks associated with love can activate within one fifth of a second of meeting a person, according to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. And yep, other research from the Journal of Neuroscience indicates that people decide within seconds whether or not they’re interested in someone. Does this equate to *true love* at first sight? Not exactly, but it shows that it is possible to have a strong draw to someone upon first encounter.

All in all, everyone is different when it comes to how long it takes to fall in love—so try not to stress out about timing and just focus on the relationship itself instead, Brito says. K?

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