How long does it take to fall in love? Research shows it takes almost no time. Here’s how love affects our brains and bodies, plus tips on making love last in a long-term relationship.
If you asked me “How long does it take to fall in love?” an hour ago, I would’ve said “Years. You don’t really fall in love with someone until you’ve been in a relationship for years.” However, this research says I’m wrong. Here’s what falling in love feels like, and a few hints for making love last long-term – even if you’re in love with an emotionally unavailable man.
But first, I have to share this study from Albion College. It shows that the more television you watch, the less happy you’ll be in your long-term relationship or marriage. The research also reveals that the more an individual believed in the television romance, the higher people believed their relationship costs were. Relationship “costs” include a person’s loss of personal freedom, loss of time, or their partner’s unattractive qualities.
The more TV you watch, the more you’re harming your relationship.
The author of this research, Dr Jeremy Osborn, says, “In this study I found that people who believe the unrealistic portrayals on TV are actually less committed to their spouses and think their alternatives to their spouse are relatively attractive. My hope would be that people would read this article and take a look at their own relationships and the relationships of those around them. How realistic are your expectations for your partner and where did those expectations come from?”
If you want to fall in love and make it last, stop watching TV!
What Does Falling in Love Feel Like?
Stephanie Ortigue is an assistant professor of psychology at Syracuse University. She conducted a study that reveals what falling in love feels like and how long it takes to fall in love. Falling in love elicits the same euphoric feeling as using drugs, and it affects intellectual areas of the brain.
Results from Ortigue’s team revealed when a person falls in love,12 areas of the brain work together. They release euphoria-inducing chemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopression. This “chemistry of love” also affects brain functions, such as mental representation, metaphors and body image.
For more tips on falling in love, read 6 Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love With You.
Does the Heart or the Brain Fall in Love?
“That’s a tricky question,” says Ortigue. “I would say the brain [falls in love], but the heart is also related because the complex concept of love is formed by both bottom-up and top-down processes from the brain to the heart, and vice versa. For instance, activation in some parts of the brain can generate stimulations to the heart, and butterflies in the stomach. Some symptoms we sometimes feel as a manifestation of the heart may be coming from the brain.”
Whether people fall in love depends on several different types of chemistry. For instance, a person’s smell, love pheromones, and brain hormones all contribute to whether we fall in love with someone.
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If you’ve been in love before and aren’t sure you’re ready to fall in love again, read 5 Things to Do Before You Fall in Love Again.
How Long Does It Take to Fall in Love?
These researchers found that falling in love only takes about a fifth of a second. Not years, like I thought!
Feelings of romantic love, which happen so fast, are driven by testosterone and estrogen. Mating is the evolutionary purpose of these immediate feelings of love, which revolve around strong physical attraction. This chemistry sets the stage for emotional attachment. In this stage of love, endorphins and other pleasurable hormones make people think their lovers are perfect.
Do you think you’re in love? Read 5 Signs of True Love – How to Know When It’s the Real Thing.
How to Make Love Last in a Relationship
Romantic love can last a lifetime – it doesn’t have to fizzle into a companionship/friendship-type love.
“Many believe that romantic love is the same as passionate love,” said lead researcher Bianca P. Acevedo, PhD, then at Stony Brook University (currently at University of California, Santa Barbara). “It isn’t. Romantic love has the intensity, engagement and sexual chemistry that passionate love has, minus the obsessive component. Passionate or obsessive love includes feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. This kind of love helps drive the shorter relationships but not the longer ones.”
Feeling that a partner is “there for you” makes for a good relationship, Acevedo said, and facilitates feelings of romantic love. This research shows that couples in love who are more satisfied with their relationship are happier and have higher self-esteem.
On the other hand, “feelings of insecurity are generally associated with lower satisfaction, and in some cases may spark conflict in the relationship. This can manifest into obsessive love,” she said. “Couples should strive for love with all the trimmings. And couples who’ve been together a long time and wish to get back their romantic edge should know it is an attainable goal that, like most good things in life, requires energy and devotion.”
Falling in love is easy, but staying in love takes time, effort, and acceptance.
I welcome your thoughts on how to make love last in a long-term relationship, but I can’t offer advice. You may find that writing is helpful, though! It takes courage and self-awareness to write about your relationship…
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If you need relationship help, get Mort Fertel's 7 Steps to Fixing Your Marriage - and FREE advice, no strings attached.