Is Falling Fast the Only Route to Lasting Love?

If you don't immediately click with someone, is your relationship doomed to failure?

Couple Gazing at Eachother
(Image credit: Paul Kline/iStock)

I spent Labor Day at the wedding of a very dear friend of mine (who also happens to be a dude I used to date!). It was a gorgeous weekend, full of interesting and engaging people in a beautiful setting — out in the Berkshires, an area of rolling hills and leafy trees, dotted with small farms and populated by small towns separated by big stretches of countryside. Most of the time, the sky was a blue that seemed even brighter for the bright, white clouds that punctuated it. Just as good, the conversation was great, the food was delicious, and the atmosphere was convivial.

The wedding made me think of a million possible blog posts (approximately) — like how to enjoy yourself at a wedding full of married and engaged peeps even if you're single.

But I'm most eager to discuss the idea that when you meet THE ONE, you know almost immediately.

(I've written recently about how I think it's impossible to recognize THE ONE, even if he's right in front of you, if you're not truly ready for a relationship — which is rather different.)

The topic came up when I was chatting with a wonderful couple I met at the wedding. They'd recently gotten engaged, and because I'm terribly nosy, I peppered them with all sorts of questions about how they'd fallen in love. They said that they knew almost immediately that they had a connection that was unlike anything either of them had experienced before. And even though the man was in a long-distance relationship at the time — and though he was very faithful to that relationship — the more he got to know his fiancée over the course of a class they were taking together, the more he realized the bond he felt with her gave him more joy than he'd felt with any other person before. They are a totally awesome couple, and it's clear they have a great time together.

One of the toasts during the wedding reception touched on a similar idea: how quickly the newlyweds we were celebrating fell in love with each other. Indeed, my buddy seemed to know almost immediately after meeting his wife that he'd found the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

This made me think: Perhaps when the right person comes along, each of us will just know more or less immediately — we won't have to endlessly question whether the relationship is right for us. And if we do wonder (or we don't know pretty quickly), does that mean it's wrong?

What do all of you think? What's your experience been? Have any of you had a relationship that didn't seem like it would last at first — but after enough shared experiences and enough getting to know each other, you found you'd built an unexpectedly strong foundation?

I think it's also worth pointing out a study mentioned in the popular new book, Click: The Magic of Instant Connections. As the authors note, a 2007 report set out to examine the effects of "clicking" — or quickly feeling deep intimacy — on long-term relationships. The researchers talked to 1,000 randomly selected couples and invited them to privately answer probing questions about their relationships. The married people fell into three basic categories: (1) those who'd been longtime friends before they'd started dating and went from having a platonic relationship to a romantic one; (2) those who'd enjoyed a traditional courtship that involved going on numerous dates and only gradually becoming more serious; and (3) those who clicked — or fell head-over-heels fast.

The researchers set out with the hypothesis that those who'd taken the time to get to know each other before getting more serious would have stronger, healthier relationships than those who had simply clicked.

What they found, however, was that after an average of twenty-five years of marriage, there was virtually no difference among the three different groups in terms of commitment to each other, and closeness.

What's more, those in the third group were more likely to say they felt there was something "magical" about their partners, to say they still had romantic thoughts about their partners, and to say that they thought about their spouses frequently during the day. In other words, the people in group No. 3 were more likely to still feel passion for their spouses (even though those in the first two groups had more things in common).

The study seems to indicate that if you can fall in love fast, it's preferable to a long courtship or friendship before a marriage — but that any of the three approaches can work (as long as you're serious about making and keeping your commitment to another person).

What do you all think?