How long it takes for you to love someone depends on your definition of love. Science says falling in love may take some time and that what you initially feel isn’t necessarily what you believe.
Falling in love may be a unique experience for each person. What you feel, whenever you feel it, is real and valid. It may not conform to what science and relationship experts believe is lasting romantic love, though.
You can feel you love someone in a matter of hours or days. Or, it may take you a few months or longer to believe you’ve reached that point.
“There is no absolute rule,” says Dr. Lauren Kerwin, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles. “[Falling in love] can happen instantaneously or take weeks, months, or years! It happens differently for everybody and takes different forms.”
According to Katie Ziskind, a holistic licensed marriage and family therapist in Niantic, Connecticut, it can take between 2 weeks and 4 months to love someone.
This may have been your experience… or not. Everyone’s different. For example, those who believe in love at first sight may tell you that it can take just an instant to feel the sparkle. Although, they may also note that this feeling is rarely reciprocated and that immediate love often goes unrequited.
Why? Because according to relationship experts, true love is often based on the knowledge of who the other person is in more than one situation.
“To fall in love with a person, you probably need to know if you enjoy being together, have similar values and interests, and are attracted to one another,” says Dr. Paulette Sherman, a licensed psychologist with a concentration in family therapy and a specialty in romantic relationships. “To deeply love someone, you need to accept their good and challenging sides and be able to work through challenges together.”
And that takes time. How long? Well, it depends on how much opportunity you have to get to know them, and if you like what you learn about them.
“Falling in love depends on how much time you’re spending with that person,” explains Ziskind. “The more time you spend with someone, the faster you will fall in love with them if [both of you] are feeling attracted to each other and positive about the budding relationship.”
Loving someone for who they really are implies you’ve seen them at their best and worst.
“Being in love with someone is different than truly loving all parts of someone,” adds Ziskind. “When you start to see the worst parts of someone, this can push people apart. When you love all parts of someone, this is a sense of true love, which takes time to build and many seasons to maintain and evolve.”
Sherman agrees. “Love is a word thrown around a lot, but it isn’t just a heart flutter or a happy feeling. Love is a state of being and a verb. It means you accept and respect someone at a deep level, and you support one another.”
Yes, it may be. Or it could be infatuation.
“Falling in love too quickly could mean you’re becoming infatuated with the person and putting them up on a pedestal,” says Ziskind.
Infatuation is often based on an idealized version of the other person, not who they really are. You may also be in love with love, which can feel quite exciting and pleasant.
If you’re in a romantic relationship with the other person, you may have more elements to fall in love with them than if you knew them from a distance.
“When we feel love, we feel love. That said, if you fall in love after meeting someone once or twice, from an external perspective, most people would say that you are experiencing infatuation,” says Kerwin.
A chemical reaction in your body may make you feel closer to them, but it isn’t necessarily due to loving feelings.
“For the first few months and up to 18 months, there’s this concept called ‘new relationship energy.’” explains Ziskind.
New relationship energy refers to a feeling that comes from your brain producing more oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, says Ziskind. These are “feel good” hormones your body produces. They can decrease pain, enhance pleasure, and make you feel oh-so-good.
“Once that dopamine rush wears off, and the new relationship energy is gone, couples may fall into a sense of boredom,” explains Ziskind. “Once that honeymoon phase is over, for couples to stay together, love has to evolve.”
How quickly you fall in love may also depend on your age.
“Generally, infatuation is the DNA of teen romantic love,” explains Kerwin. “Infatuation typically sparks quickly and burns out just as quickly.”
Adult love may also start with infatuation, but if the romantic feelings last, it’s a sign it turned into genuine care, fondness, and mutual respect, says Kerwin.
“Although the intense sensation of love can be a wonderful rush, if we’re falling in love with a new person every other week, we have to examine the depth of our love and why we cannot sustain relationships beyond that initial consuming spark,” advises Kerwin.
Does infatuation lead to real love?
It can happen, but not always.
“[Infatuation] may develop into a lasting love, but it’s not what we think about when we [talk about] love,” says Kerwin. “That comes after an investment of time and care that grows into a loving relationship with good odds of survival.”
Being infatuated with someone without the possibility of closely interacting with them and building a bond isn’t likely to turn into love.
It depends on the circumstances and the chance they’ve had to know the real you.
Someone may fall in love with you in a few weeks after interacting positively with you in different situations. But loving you too much, too soon, may also be a sign that they may experience emotional challenges.
Kerwin explains that, from the perspective of clinical psychology, falling in love too quickly may be a sign of:
It doesn’t mean this is always the case. Only an experienced mental health professional who knows the details of your story may be able to accurately pinpoint possible reasons.
Narcissistic love bombing may also be a possibility if a person professes forever love to you when they hardly even know you. This is a manipulation game often used by some people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).
Love bombing often leads to ghosting once the person gets your attention.
“When someone loves you too much too soon, it’s often more about them than you,” says Sherman. “They may be projecting their desires upon you and idealizing you. They have not taken the time to learn about who you are, which is a red flag.”
More than how long it takes to love someone, it may be about how much you need to know to fall in love.
“One must vet their partner and that takes time and experience,” says Audrey Hope, a relationship expert and certified addiction and trauma counselor. “You never want to go into anything blindly. It’s healthy to ask questions and to know what you are getting into.”
Besides learning more about the other person’s values, beliefs, experiences, and behaviors in different situations, you may also want to explore your own beliefs about relationships and love.
“Self-love and self-reflection are the key,” says Hope. “Manifesting true love is a science. If you do the work, you will have it. This means exploring your own issues and not waiting for someone to save you.”
No formula calculates exactly how long it takes for someone to fall in love.
Relationship experts agree that falling in love is about knowing who the other person is, more than how soon that happens. This involves learning about their beliefs, challenges, experiences, and behaviors across situations.
If you have access to that information soon and like what you learn, it’s possible to fall in love quickly.
But loving others too much too soon may also indicate that your emotional health may need attention.
If you feel someone is loving you too soon, or if you need love to happen quickly, you may benefit from exploring possible causes with a mental health professional.