Can you tell how long it takes to fall in love? While this may seem like a question with a very subjective answer, the truth is that science has tried to answer this question. In this article we will talk about it.
To do this, we will explain to you what happens in the brain when we fall in love, and why it is also so related to the stage of “falling in love”, which gives way to the stage of couple love.
In addition, we will also talk about the three conditions necessary to fall in love, according to two researchers in the field, and answer the question “who is most likely to fall in love”.
to fall in love
When we talk about love, we are actually referring to several types of love; however, one of the most prevalent forms in our society when we speak of abstract love (and which we all think of) is passionate love or falling in love.
The famous butterflies in the stomach, the loss of appetite, the feeling of euphoria or excitement when thinking of someone … Has this happened to you? These are just some of the symptoms of falling in love, a process by which we idealize a person and feel an uncontrollable urge to be with them.
But have you ever wondered how long it takes to fall in love? This is a difficult question to answer; moreover, the possible answer to this question is not universal either, because there are studies which prove one thing and others, another. however, experts agree that falling in love has an expiration date.
How long does it take to fall in love?
If we ask people on the street, they will surely give us various answers; many people think it lasts between 2 and 3 years. Others just let it last as long as you discover the other and learn from him / her.
But what does scientific research say about how long love lasts? To answer it, we turned to various experts and studies that deal with the problem in question. Raúl Martínez Mir, Doctor of Basic, Clinical and Psychobiological Psychology from the Department of Psychology and Communication Sciences at the University of Sonora (Unison), states that falling in love (as a passionate state) lasts between six and eight months.
After this time, the so-called love appears, which is the next stage, where the love of the couple itself appears. Mir alludes to a neuroscientific explanation and states that these months are the time that the biochemistry of love lasts in our brains.
Other authors, researchers in this field, like the anthropologist and biologist Helena Fisher (researcher of love par excellence, in the field of neuroscience), trying to answer how long to fall in love, estimate that the duration of falling in love is from between two and three years, with a maximum of four.
This would also be the time when our body (and our brain) can “endure” or resist the chemical pump that is produced in our brain by many hormones, and which we will see below.
The biochemistry of love
To respond to the duration of love, we have to turn to the biochemistry of the brain. So what happens to our brain, on a biochemical level, when we fall in love? Many things!
But let’s mention the highlights. Initially, our brain secretes serotonin, The so-called “happiness hormone”; gradually, he adapts to this feeling of euphoria (similar to that experienced by drug addicts at their dose of medication), and serotonin levels decrease.
With this, the initial love breaks down until it disappears (the brain gets used to this sensation, which is no longer so exciting), then appears the love of an already evoked partner (who no longer carries butterflies. in the stomach).
The discoveries mentioned are not the only ones to explain the biochemistry of love, however. Other research shows that at the start of a relationship, and during the fall in love, sensations of great intensity appearNot only because of the high levels of serotonin, but also the high levels of dopamine, testosterone and norepinephrine in the brain.
All this brain chemistry it would make us also feel euphoric, hyperactive and unwilling to eat. These studies also mention that serotonin levels are lower than normal (contrary to what has been explained), which would explain why we become obsessed with the other person (i.e. the object of our love).
We have seen how biochemistry influences the question of how long love lasts. What happens to the brain in the “lack of love” phase, or when the love affair is consolidating?
When you are already settled in the love phase of couples, according to Mir, a doctor in basic psychology, it is then that high levels of oxytocin are secreted, the hormone that allows the relationship to be consolidated and maintain itself over time.
Mir further indicates that, it has been shown that in this process a hormone called oxytocin begins to appear in the brain, Which has to do with a more stable relationship.
Thus, biologically, our body (and our brain) could not withstand such an arousal situation for long, so there would be a reduction in the chemical overload explained in the brain.
Love: 3 necessary conditions
We’ve seen how long love lasts, but what does it take for it to happen? According to researchers Hatfield and Walster (1981), passionate love or falling in love is easily activated if three conditions are met.
1. Exposure to romantic images and models
These images and models lead the person to hope that one day he will find the right person and fall in love with her. We are talking about the family and cultural beliefs, Which are expressed in everyday comments, in stories, in stories, songs, films, etc.
2. Contact the “appropriate” person
And you ask yourself, who is the “right” person? Based on what can be considered “appropriate”?
All of this has a strong cultural determination (cultural and social factors influence it greatly); however, there are authors who believe that all of this is determined by unconscious evolutionary factors (likeness, physical, health and youthfulness, sexually available, with status and resources …).
Alluding to more biological problems, many experts believe that the so-called genetic determination also influences, Which is based on the idea that one “seeks” (consciously or unconsciously) a suitable person to reproduce.
However, this idea would be insufficient to explain falling in love, because it leaves many questions unanswered: what about same-sex couples? What about heterosexuals who don’t want children ?, Etc.
3. Strong emotional activation
This emotional activation occurs if both of the above conditions are met and is usually caused by a feeling of fear, frustration (Romeo and Juliet effect) or sexual arousal.
Who do we fall in love with?
Beyond what it “takes” to fall in love and how long love lasts, we find it interesting to dig a little deeper into the question, and we will therefore allude to it. the discoveries of psychologist Robert J. Sternberg to talk about “who are we most likely to fall in love with?”
In the 90s, this psychologist developed a new perspective on love, based on the principles of narrative therapy. This theory is exposed in his book “Love is like a story. A new theory of relations” (1998).
Here, Sternberg proposes the idea that human beings tend to fall in love with people whose stories or conceptions of love are similar to ours, but in whom he there are also differences that can help them play complementary roles.
Sternberg too emphasizes the importance of discovering ideal couple stories (Which often fail to verbalize), when analyzing possible love conflicts that may arise.
And what about sex …?
Did we talk about how long to fall in love, however, and sexual desire?
According to the results of research conducted by sex therapist Dietrich Klusmann and his team, women lose sexual desire after four years of relationshipThis is not the case with men who, according to the study, do not lose it directly (it remains intact).
The explanation given by Klusmann to these facts has an evolutionary tinge; according to him, women seek to seal the bond with their partner, while the goal of men is to retain their partner.
- Fisher, Helen (1993). Anatomy of Love: A Natural History of Mating, Marriage, and Why We Get Lost. Ploma.
- Hatfield, E. (1987). Love. To RJ Corsini (ed.). Psychological Journal, 93: 258-268.
- Martin, L. (2009). Erotomania, love and falling in love. Contradictions. Tower. Assoc. Esp. Neuropsiq., 29 (103): 157-169.
- Ortega and Gasset, J. (2006). Studies on love. Madrid. Alliance.
- Sternberg, RJ (1999). Love is like a story. Planet Group (GBS), Paidós. New York.