How Long It Takes To Fall Out Of Love, According To Science

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How Long It Takes To Fall Out Of Love, According To Science
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Is the 7-year itch real?

Many people spend their entire childhoods dreaming of their wedding, spending eternity with the love of their life. Every detail is planned out — what they will wear to the ceremony, how their wedding vows will sound, what their dream home will look like, and how many kids they will have.

But white weddings, picket fences, and golden anniversaries aside, researchers have been going on for eons about how human beings aren't built for monogamy. (Yes, despite what movies and television shows have made us believe.)

All it takes is a peek at the divorce rates (averaging about 50 percent) and a double-click through a cheating hearts website to know that a blissful lifetime of matrimony may not be entirely realistic for everyone.

But when do couples lose that loving feeling? At what point in the marriage do feelings of attraction and love fade?

RELATED: 9 Subtle Signs Your Partner Is Falling Out Of Love With You

Assuming that all (or, at least, most) couples walk down the aisle blissfully in love, ready to start a live together, how many days, weeks, months, or years into the marriage do eyes and hearts start roaming?

How long it takes to fall out of love in a marriage:

While biologists might point to the five-year mark, and psychologists (or film enthusiasts) to the seven-year mark, a 2011 study out of the Grant Thornton accountancy group, which was based on a survey of 90 of the country's biggest family law firms, actually thinks the old Seven-Year-Itch may be a bit premature.

The average, they say, is 12 years into the marriage.

But this doesn't mean all partners are cheating on their spouses. In fact, only one-fourth of the divorces studied blame infidelity directly.

The most common reasons for a marriage ending in divorce? According to the study, the main causes were "falling out of love" and "growing apart" which, honestly, sounds sad, but almost amicable.

Why does it take 12 years in a marriage to fall out of love?

RELATED: 5 Signs Your Partner Is Falling Out Of Love With You (& May Ask For A Divorce)

Is it a life stage transition phenomenon? The onset of middle-age with its grappling of new responsibilities? Children and financial stressors? The natural shelf life of love? Or, is it something else entirely?

Think of all the couples you know who started out their marriage like it was a fairy tale. The wedding was beautiful, the couple showed no signs of unhappiness, and expressed their love for one another at any moment possible.

Then, after a few kids, a mortgage, and a soul-sucking job, things began going downhill. What's the reason?

Those are questions, unfortunately, researchers are not able to answer with any certainty. 

As Sally Longworth, of Grant Thornton's Forensic and Investigation Services, said, "This rather dispels the age-old myth about marriages failing after seven years. It is impossible to put any scientific reasoning on why certain marriages succeed and others fail."

Of course, we're always willing to try.

RELATED: Why Falling Out Of Love With Your Partner Is So Common (And 3 Ways You Can Fall Back In Love Again)

Melissa Noble is a freelance writer and blogger who lives in Brooklyn.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in July 2010 and was updated with the latest information.

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