5 Differences Between How Men & Women Fall In Love (And Who Falls Faster)

We are so much the same... and also so different.

cute couple man holding heart out toward woman as he's falling in love Cristina Conti / Shutterstock

If you're wondering who falls in love faster, men or women, perhaps it depends on your definition of love.

Just because the sparks fly and the butterflies flutter does not mean you have truly fallen in love — or, at least, into the kind of love that lasts a lifetime. You could be experiencing limerence or even simple lust.

It’s all about hormones and other chemical reactions in the brain and body. Everyone is at the mercy of one of Mother Nature’s most delightful and devastating little tricks, which has successfully resulted in 7.9 billion (and counting!) humans on the planet.


Who falls in love faster?

According to a study of 172 college students[fn]Harrison MA, Shortall JC. Women and Men in Love: Who Really Feels It and Says It First? The Journal of Social Psychology. 2011;151(6):727-736. doi:10.1080/00224545.2010.522626[/fn] published in the Journal of Social Psychology, men reported both falling in love and saying "I love you" earlier in a relationship than women.

Although women are assumed to be more in touch with their emotions than men, it’s actually men clocked in at taking 88 days to fall in love, whereas women took an average of 134 days to feel the same.

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Why men may fall in love faster than women

Speaking with Broadly (now part of Vice), study co-author Marissa Harrison suggests women need more time to feel trust due to the subconscious biological imperative to find the most suitable partner to father children, which is likely why sex works best for a woman once her emotional needs are being met.[fn]Why Men Fall in Love Faster Than Women. VICE - Unbequemer Journalismus und Dokus zu allem, was wichtig ist auf der Welt. Accessed December 16, 2022. https://www.vice.com/en/article/a3wekz/why-men-fall-in-love-faster-than…]

"I think women unconsciously postpone love compared to men," Harrison says. "Women have a lot more to lose reproductively by committing to the wrong man. They are born with a finite number of eggs, yet men produce millions of sperm on a daily basis."

Five key differences between how men and women fall in love

1. Men tend to go fast, while women tend to take their time.

Men reported being attracted to a woman physically first, then mentally, emotionally, and, finally, spiritually.

Women tend to be attracted mentally first, then emotionally, physically, and, at last, spiritually.


"If women commit to and get pregnant by an unworthy mate [with] no help rearing a child, that would be very costly, time- and resource-wise," Harrison explains.

In fact, if a woman is immediately physically drawn to a man, she may see it as a red flag or a cautionary warning, seeing it as a sign that she may be attracted to her fantasy of who he might be and not necessarily to who he really is.

Although there's a chance a man might be the right one for her, a woman cannot know that early on.

For the most successful relationship, both partners need to be prepared to go at different paces as they navigate the various stages of dating and relationships.


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2. Men are then more likely to pull back and want to slow things down.

There's a point when both partners need to reflect on whether this is the right relationship.

Men often pull away at this stage.

For women, this can be a time when emotions run high, especially anxiety, and some may tend to text or call their new beau too many times.

Moving on to the next stage requires both partners to give each other space and time to decide if they want to move into exclusivity.

One study out of the University of Arizona found that men are especially likely to pull away when they feel their masculinity has been threatened.[fn]Lamarche VM, Atkinson C, Croft A. A Cognitive Uncoupling: Masculinity Threats and the Rejection of Relationship Interdependence. Social Psychological and Personality Science. 2020:194855062096126. doi:10.1177/1948550620961263[/fn]


3. Men are more likely to regret inaction than action.

A study published in 2006 found that "within romantic relationships, men emphasize regrets of inaction over action... whereas women report regrets of inaction and action with equivalent frequency."[fn]Roese NJ, Pennington GL, Coleman J, Janicki M, Li NP, Kenrick DT. Sex Differences in Regret: All For Love or Some For Lust? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 2006;32(6):770-780. doi:10.1177/0146167206286709[/fn]

So perhaps men are more likely to say "I love you" first because they would rather be wrong later than to have missed their chance to say it.

RELATED: When To Say 'I Love You' For The First Time

4. Women become less selective the more they have been rejected.

A 2017 study of 66 female college students found that women who have experienced rejection become "significantly less selective" when faced with romantic choices in the future.[fn]Reeve SD, Kelly KM, Welling LL. The effect of mate value feedback on women's mating aspirations and mate preference. Personality and Individual Differences. 2017;115:77-82. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2016.06.007[/fn]


5. Rejecting someone is a riskier prospect for women than it is for men.

According to a 2017 review of four previous studies,[fn]Freedman G, Fetterolf JC, Beer JS. Engaging in social rejection may be riskier for women. The Journal of Social Psychology. 2018;159(5):575-591. doi:10.1080/00224545.2018.1532388[/fn] men punish women for rejecting them, whereas women do not punish men for doing the same.

Among their findings, the researchers state: "Women felt they were more likely to be penalized for engaging in social rejection than men, women were less willing to endorse social rejection than men, and men, but not women, viewed female rejectors in a more negative manner than male rejectors."

To be fair to both sexes, though, more research is needed to know for sure who has the last word on this one.

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Melodie Tucker is an internationally known Mars Venus Success Coach and instructor, guiding people to discover what it is they really want out of life — then helping them figure out how to get it.