Do men and women fall in love differently?


Screen shot 2010-05-13 at 11.37.10 PMI was at a book signing earlier this evening for Andrea Syrtash, who is a dating coach and author.  After reading from her new book, she mentioned something interesting that got me thinking.  According to her experience, men and women fall in love differently—they have completely different processes.  Not like Men are From Mars different, but still.

She said if you were to ask a guy if he could fall in love with a girl, he knows pretty much from the start of the relationship whether or not he could.  No amount of dating will change his mind to make him more attracted to her.  The girl however, could start falling for him after developing a friendship or casually dating a long time…a year or so later, she could wake up and think “I might be falling for this guy”, even though she didn’t really have feelings for him before.

I was discussing this with my boyfriend, who said that he doesn’t think it’s necessarily a gender issue, but rather whether or not the person really knows what she wants.  More specifically, if she knows herself well enough to recognize what she wants, and who would make a good partner.  It takes some people longer than others.

Now, first I should clarify.  There is a difference between feeling a lot of chemistry and quickly falling into a physical relationship compared to falling in love.  Sure, we develop crushes and we lust.  But falling in love in a real way, with the intention of pursuing a long-term relationship, is different.

I do think it’s a different process for women.  For me personally, it takes a while to build trust.  I have to have a friendship first, which means it takes me longer to figure things out.  But does this mean that I don’t know myself very well?

I also think that a lot of women are invested in how others perceive us.  We want people to approve of our significant others…many of us want the charismatic, successful, handsome guy that everyone likes…so we get stuck on the idea of the perfect guy.  But then, we date someone who doesn’t resemble this perfect guy, so we spend time trying to sort through our feelings and making pro-con lists as to whether or not we should continue dating, or wait until our perfect guy shows up as we pictured.  We try to control the process of falling in love, instead of just letting things happen.

I don’t know if men and women are hard-wired to process love differently.  But I do know that if I let go of trying to control things and enjoy the process as it unfolds, I am able to see things more clearly.

Do you think there’s a difference between how men and women fall in love?

About Kelly Seal

Kelly is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles, CA. She blogs about dating, relationships, and sometimes peanut butter. You can follow her on Google+, Twitter @kellyseal or through her website


  1. says

    I always hear about women being able to fall in love with a man after years of friendship. I am not, nor have I ever, like that. I know right away how I feel and it tends to last. Ambivalence, discomfort, attraction, love-hate fury, raw animal desire, motherly nurturing, distrust, whatever. In 26 years I’ve never suddenly woken up an realized I could romantically love someone after knowing them for an extended period.

    Does it really happen? Or is it just settling?

  2. says

    I was just thinking how much personalities also come into this and then I saw Miss Alpha’s comment – lol!

    Over the years I have seen friends in love, married, out of love, divorced, in love married again….

    What I am finding through observation is that more and more men (in my world) seem to be sitting back and waiting – they know they love their woman, sometimes they have even bought the engagement ring – so what are they waiting for?

    Could it be to make sure of their feelings? However anyone who has ever walked down the isle knows it is with overwhelming emotions and usually a mix of emotions.

    Be bold and do it!! Life is a risk. Anything worth having is worth risking for.

    So men ask that girl out. Propose to your wonderful girlfriend.

    Go for that job you have had your eye on. Book that skydiving lesson.

    Live is for living! Falling in love is living!

  3. says

    I tend to agree with the idea of it not being a gender issue as much as how well you know yourself. Of course we get to know ourselves better as we get older, but then the older we are, the more set in our ways that we are. I started dating my husband when I was 22, so I didn’t know myself well, but I also didn’t have many expectations of what I needed from a relationship. When we married 4 years later, I had a good idea of what I needed from a lifetime partner, but I think I could have told you right after meeting him that he was the type of guy that I could fall in love with.

  4. browolf says

    funny, I’ve always had women fall in love with me really quick, whereas I tend to take longer about it. I can only presume from what you say that I come across as very genuine and transparently trustworthy.

  5. Andrea says

    Thanks for the great discussion! I’m glad my comment sparked thought (just now saw this thread on my ‘google alert : ) In any case, scientists who have studied the brain in love have noted that while men & women have similar brain activity when experiencing romantic love, there is increased activity in a region of the brain associated with visual stimuli in men. In women, there is more activity in regions of the brain associated with memory recall. So – if a woman shares great experiences with a male friend and learns to build trust/fun/friendship over time, this can shift to seeing him in a new light. This is not to say a man will *never come around if he’s not attracted to a woman at first-glance; but he is less likely (than a woman who is not initially attracted to a man) to come around based on the research I’ve done and the studies I’ve found. I do agree that daters should know what they want first and foremost! I dedicated a lot of time to that idea in my book….effective relationships always start with the individual.


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