How Long It Takes To Fall In Love: What Research Says

One 2017 survey found 72% of men and 61% of women believe in love at first sight, and a 2004 study found about a third of Americans say they’ve personally experienced it.

There’s some science that backs up the concept: Some research suggests people decide within seconds whether they’re romantically interested in someone, and neurologically speaking, it takes only one-fifth of a second for the neurochemical reaction associated with feelings of love to fire off.

But other research discounts the theory. A 2017 study in the Personal Relationships journal orchestrated a bunch of first encounters between single strangers, and the researchers found feelings of instant attraction can indeed happen in a first encounter. Some people described these feelings as “love at first sight“—however, these people didn’t report feelings of intimacy, passion, and commitment as part of their experience. The main predictor of a “love at first sight” experience was finding the other person physically attractive.

In other words, romantic love usually cannot happen at first sight, psychologist and sex therapist Lauren Fogel Mersy, PsyD, explains to mbg. “There can be a strong attraction at first sight, but romantic love for someone requires knowing who they are, the fullness of their character.”

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