The laws of attraction can be confusing, to say the least. In the past, I've thought that I'd been totally crushing on someone, only to find out that I didn't actually want to date them. Instead, I wanted to become them. I've tried to date people who later turned out to be an evil version of myself. I've also dated people whom I thought I wouldn't ever be attracted to in a million years. Timing, as well as that little evasive quality called "chemistry," both influence how long it takes to know you're attracted to someone.
The other confusing thing to remember about attraction: It can sometimes lead you astray. Sometimes, people are attracted to their inner demons in the form of bad partners who hurt or betray them. Sometimes, people are more attracted to the idea of someone than the person they actually are in the flesh. And sometimes, the reasons you aren't attracted to someone can be just as confusing. For example, you might not be attracted to someone simply because they challenge a deeply engrained belief you hold about yourself.
With all of these crossed signals, Elite Daily asked an expert for a little bit of clarity regarding how long it takes to know when you really are attracted to someone — or not.
"If you don’t know in the first three days, it is unlikely that there is chemistry," says licensed therapist Nicole Richardson.
Of course, when you're just getting to know someone, it's normal for you to feel a little unsure about how you feel about someone. Not to mention, it's possible for attraction to develop after a longer period of time. So if you're really not attracted to someone now, yet you think there's a slim chance that your attraction could grow, is it wise to move ahead with a physical relationship when you just aren't sure?
To answer that question, you really need to take into account your individual desires and your understanding of the other person's. Jumping into an intimate relationship with someone to find out whether there is chemistry and attraction between you might work if both of you are able to approach sex and dating super casually and have an honest conversation before the encounter. But the reality is that sex can cause a lot of complicated feelings to arise. It's easy for someone to feel used and betrayed if you take certain actions in the name of experimentation.
"There is nothing wrong with hope, but when we use it to keep us coming back to a situation that isn’t right, we can waste time and confuse the other person," says Richardson.
If the attraction really is going to grow over time, then let it happen naturally. Don't force yourself into a physical or emotional relationship just because. Let the chemistry do the work on its own. After all, you really don't need to do that much in order to fall in love with someone, and real attraction can't be forced. You know how you can sometimes become attracted to friends after years of knowing them? You know how you think you can understand and appreciate someone on a certain level, and then, new dimensions of chemistry open up? You know how you can fall in love with someone completely by accident?
It's those happy accidents that you need to pursue in your dating life in order for everything to come together. Applying too much pressure or trying to force feelings will otherwise cause everything to combust. Real attraction needs some breathing room and space to grow over time. If someone was meant to be in your life, then they'll be in it — whether as a friend, a temporary lover, or something more. It's usually when we are trying to force something that we are deceiving ourselves, which only leads to deceiving the other person, too.
After all, if you don't know where your own head is at, why would you expect the other person to know any better? Give yourself room to explore all forms of attraction. Then, you'll know what you really like, and you'll be able to tell more quickly what's genuine attraction and what's just your curiosity talking.