Love is one of the most fundamental elements people seek in their lives. Whether it’s friendship, familial or romantic, we deviate towards others that make us feel accepted and understood. Singles in America spend approximately $82 billion dollars a year on dating. There have been many books written on finding love (575 to be exact if you search on chapters) and yet we remain puzzled when we’re on the search for it. How do people fall in love? Is there a certain time when people are more open to falling in love?
Researcher Andrew Galperin from University of California was also curious about how often and when people fall in love. Specifically, there were two aspects he was interested in: Are men really more susceptible to falling in love than woman like past research suggested and what made people fall in love.
Galperin used an online survey with over 375 participants to test his findings. Because the study was attempting to tap into early stages of falling in love, Galperin developed a definition of passionate love which most people experience as:
“A very powerful experience that might include excitement and anxiety, tender feelings and physical attraction toward a particular person, constant thoughts of the person and an intense desire to be around the person.”
The study revealed these findings:
-Men were more likely to fall in love when they perceived their partner’s interest as high.
-For men: The perception that a woman is sexually attracted to him will induce reciprocal liking. For women, the mere perception of attraction is not enough to “fall in love”.
-Men who highly value physical attractiveness were more likely to report “falling in love” when their partner is physically attractive.
-Men reported experiencing higher numbers of love at first sight than women.
-Women who highly value physical attractiveness in their partner also tend to have high standards on other attributes such as investment and good parenting; thus women were less likely to fall in love solely on physical attractiveness.
-Women who have a high sex drive tend to fall in love more often.
The study shatters some common beliefs and reinforces some well-developed dating mores. While we often believe that women are more emotional and driven to find a long-term mate than men, women are more likely to fall in love faster but it appears to not be the case. The study also tells us one important element that we know: attraction is an important factor to stay interested long enough to get to know a person for compassionate love—a characteristic of long term relationships—to develop. It may be true that men fall faster into passionate love using their eyes but for both sexes a deeper connection and the development of compassionate love require other attributes.
Amy Yew is a registered clinical counselor and relationship therapist. Tell us what you think and submit any questions you have to email@example.com. You can also tweet your thoughts on Twitter @AmyYew.