Can You Make Someone Fall In Love With You? What Psychology Tells Us
If you have your sights on someone special, you might be wondering if there are proven ways to get them to love you back. While the answer may not be as black and white as you're hoping, here's what relationship experts want you to know about how to make someone fall in love.
What makes people fall in love with each other.
Love is defined as "an intense feeling of deep affection," according to the Oxford English Dictionary. According to clinical psychologist Kristina Hallett, Ph.D., research into the nature of human intimacy suggests there are actually two types of "love": One is passionate love, or what we think of as romantic love, and includes attraction and sexual desire (i.e., lust). The other is known as attachment, which occurs between bonded pairs like a mother and child but also develops in long-term relationships.
True, wholehearted love, as some people call it, is a beautiful fusion of that passionate love and attachment that evolves over time.
According to clinical psychologist Bobbi Wegner, Psy.D., when those three main components are present—attraction, lust, and attachment—people are more likely to fall in love.
"Attraction is what it sounds like: a curiosity, interest, or a liking for someone," she explains. "Lust is a strong sexual desire for someone, and attachment is an emotional bond between two people." As two people become emotionally closer, they seek that intimacy and feel more secure when with the other person, she adds.
And what exactly drives those three components, you ask? While there isn't any real way to force things like attraction and attachment, one 2010 study1 published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships identified 12 "precursors" to falling in love:
- Reciprocal liking
- Social influence
- Filling needs
- Specific cues
As licensed therapist Ken Page, LCSW, tells mbg, what makes people fall in love is "a mixture of true vulnerability, desire, sexuality, and romance that creates a blend—kind of like the Holy Grail—of safety, excitement, availability, and shared love. That's really what we're looking for."
What love isn't.
We would be remiss not to mention what love is not before diving into how to make someone fall in love with you. The very nature of this question raises another one: Why are you trying to make someone fall in love with you?
As Page tells mbg, it's incredibly easy to get caught up in winning someone's approval while simultaneously abandoning your own needs or even sense of self. "The degree to which you hyper-focus on whether someone likes you is the degree to which you will self-abandon," he says, adding that it's far more important to get clear on how this person actually makes you feel.
"Even though you might be saying, 'Oh, they check all the boxes and I'm super interested,' maybe you realize you feel cold inside when you're around them, like you have to grab them because they're not really available," he explains.
Page adds that this line of thinking can majorly trigger abandonment wounds, and we're likely to get swept up in an "attraction of deprivation," in which someone's unavailability becomes addictive fuel for our own abandonment issues. "It's an incredibly addictive and compulsive kind of attraction that all of us are programmed to be sensitive and vulnerable to," he says.
This compulsion goes hand in hand with limerence, or a romantic infatuation marked by feelings of obsession and fantastical longing. As licensed marriage and family therapist Holly Richmond, Ph.D., LMFT, previously explained to mbg, limerence is the combination of hormones, endorphins, and emotional prioritization that occur in the initial stages of a relationship, but it doesn't necessarily equate to or lead to wholehearted, long-term love. That's not to say it won't eventually evolve, but if you're putting this person on a pedestal and trying to force love out of them, you are likely not seeing them clearly in the first place. Which—you guessed it—is not real love.
And lastly, although lust (or sexual desire) is a component of love, things can get tricky if lust levels are high. Love and lust are easy to confuse because they actually activate similar neural pathways2 in the brain that are involved in things like goal-directed behavior, happiness, reward, and addiction. So, it's important to determine whether you're actually dealing with actual love—or just lust by itself. (We've got a full guide on how to tell the difference between love and lust that should help you with that.)
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How to make someone fall in love with you, naturally.
With all that said, if your interest in someone is genuine, and you want to encourage feelings of intimacy and closeness between you, here's how experts say to do it:
Gradually deepen intimacy.
To love someone is to feel a deep sense of intimacy and closeness with them, and so one surefire way to encourage love between yourself and another person is to gradually deepen your intimacy through shared vulnerability and time shared together.
There's a reason the famous 36 questions to fall in love, developed by psychologists Arthur Aron, Ph.D., and Elaine Aron, Ph.D., have seen such success. As Page explains, "Interactions that involve a gradual deepening of vulnerability in sharing, combined with letting the person know you like them," are effective ways of creating a loving relationship.
Use body language.
Part of love is a mutual attraction or desire for each other, and one way you can encourage that attraction and desire is through body language. Things like eye contact and sensitive touch can not only cultivate feelings of closeness, Page notes, but also amp up desire.
For example: While the viral psychology love eye trick isn't necessarily a hack to make someone fall in love with you, there is a good chance it will let them know you're interested, which is important for creating a sense of openness and receptivity. "It creates that physical awakening of potential desire and sensuality, and also connection, but without threat," Page explains.
Get out of your comfort zones together.
While there's nothing wrong with having comfortable dates at home with takeout and a movie, Page tells mbg that experiencing adventure together is a great way to deepen your connection with someone. "Doing things that are kind of on the edge," he says, is not only exciting but will help you two bond. This also shows the other person that you're interesting and alluring, which, according to Wegner, is an important thing to continue cultivating.
Remain your own person.
Speaking of keeping things interesting, Wegner highlights the importance of remaining your own (interesting) person, even when you're in love. This is particularly important in the long term or if you're trying to get someone to fall back in love with you again.
"Oftentimes in relationships, especially in long-standing relationships, people lose the attraction to one another. It is not because they are no longer physically attractive; it is because the novelty is lost," she explains. "That is why it is super important for long-term partners to remain committed to their own interests, not only for their individual self-growth but to maintain a sense of unknown or curiosity with their partners."
Understand their needs.
We all want to feel seen and understood by our partners, so another big way to encourage someone to fall for you is by, of course, seeing and understanding them. Whether it's what they enjoy in the bedroom, or how their attachment style manifests in their relationships, knowing this person as much as you can will help you show up for them in a way that honors their needs. In short, "get curious about when/how your love interest feels best in the relationship and help create space for that," Wegner says.
Offer small acts of kindness.
Who doesn't appreciate small acts of kindness once in a while? According to Page, one simple thing you can do to remind someone you love and care about them is to do little things periodically that reflect this love and care. It could be bringing them a coffee while they're at work, topping off the gas in their car, or doing a chore they detest. Whatever it is, Page says, "these little acts of kindness are huge" and are going to remind them why they chose to be with you.
Real love takes time, so you'll want to be patient as the two of you fall in love. To that end, Page highlights the beauty of old-fashioned courting and taking things slow. While that advice has traditionally referred solely to sex, what we're actually talking about here is just the principle of not rushing and letting things naturally unfold.
Allowing longing between you to develop from a simmer to a boil is powerful for motivating long-term commitment, Page explains, whether it's sex, how much time you spend together, or how quickly you become emotionally intimate. The point is: there's really no need to rush if the love has a genuine chance of developing.
Don't try to force it.
Similar to being patient and not trying to rush the process, both Wegner and Page emphasize that love is a force in itself that does not (or at least, should not) require any force on your part.
"At the end of the day, there are so many unknown, visceral, and opaque aspects of falling in love with someone that cannot be faked. If you find yourself 'trying' to get someone to fall in love with you, ask yourself why," Wegner says, adding, "If love is not genuine, it will not last."
If this person seems like they are not falling in love with you, Page says, think back to that aforementioned idea of attraction of deprivation. "Our desire for somebody often increases when they're almost available and almost interested and almost in love, but they never fully get there," he explains—and this is not a recipe for real love.
To that end, Wegner offers a poignant question to ponder: "What do think this person will offer you, and how can you satisfy this need yourself?"
How do you make a guy fall in love with you?
There is no magic equation for making a guy fall in love with you, but research suggests the 12 precursors of falling in love are: reciprocal liking, appearance, personality, similarity, familiarity, social influence, filling needs, arousal, readiness, specific cues, isolation, and mysteriousness. Additional research suggests relationship readiness is an important factor in someone's willingness to commit.
Can you make someone fall in love without them knowing?
There are plenty of ways to encourage someone to fall in love with you naturally. However, if you are motivated to get someone to fall in love with you in sneaky and manipulative ways, not only are you not taking the time to figure out if you actually love who this person is, but you're not giving them the chance to fall for who you really are, either.
Do the 36 questions actually make you fall in love?
The 36 questions were designed to cultivate closeness between people, not necessarily make them fall in love or guarantee a long term relationship. To that end, yes, the questions are effective in bolstering intimacy and connection between two people.
If you've been working overtime trying to get someone to fall in love with you, the first place to start is likely assessing how you actually feel about this person. If you can determine it's not just infatuation and you see a real future with this person, and this person has mutual interest, love will naturally unfold over time as you two foster of sense of intimacy, safety, and closeness.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.