How Long Did it Take You to Fall in Love?

Once, not too long ago, I met a guy. He was kind and cute and sane. We had many things in common. (He’s a writer! He loves books! He wears cardigans.) I did not want to date him…

I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to date him, but I really, really did not.

Soon after we met, he asked me out, and the optimistic side of my brain — the side that believes in hope and rainbows and fostering meaningful human connections — made me say yes. But on the day of our scheduled meeting, my rational brain chimed in. I had no interest. I wasn’t ready to date anyone; I was still grappling with a breakup and I felt like a mess.

I apologized, then cancelled. Crisis averted!

A few days later, he asked me out again. I told him not much had changed.

A few days after that, he asked if I would like to get together.

“What is wrong with this person?!” I asked anyone who would listen.

“Psycho!” chimed a chorus of friends.

Three times he tried, three times I refused.

The fourth time, he came armed with a plan. “If you don’t want to date, we don’t have to date!” he said. “I just want to talk about books! Can’t we just be friends?”

This is how I was tricked into dating.

For our first non-date, we met for drinks at a dark and divey bar. We talked for hours. It felt a lot like a date.

“We’re not dating,” he’d reassure me, as he proceeded to plan the dateliest dates I have ever been on. There were dinners, with candles, drinks and dessert. Theatrical events requiring planning and tickets. Most perplexing of all, he would insist on picking me up at my apartment before each outing — no matter the time, no matter the weather — even when it was completely out of the way.

Weeks went by, punctuated by “friendly outings,” each more purposeful than the next. At the end of each non-date, we’d exchange a chaste hug and linger for a moment before waving good-bye.

“Are you dating anyone?” people would ask, and I wouldn’t know how to respond.

Our non-courtship became undeniably like the first half of When Harry Met Sally (minus that scene at the wedding; “Is someone supposed to be a dog in this scenario? I’m the dog? I’m the dog!”).

“Why aren’t you together?” friends would ask. “Don’t you like him? Don’t you find him attractive?”

Then one day, when I was finally ready to recognize the human-sized hole in my life, there was only one person who came to mind. Luckily for me, we were already dating.

How long did it take you to first fall for someone? Has it ever been faster — or slower — than you expected?

P.S. Date conversation topics, and a tip to keep the sparks alive.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo.)