Do people fall for each other at the same time?

Whether you're currently in a long-term relationship or haven't been involved with anyone for several years, how long was it before you felt you were falling for him or her?

I find the dynamics of relationships and attraction to be fascinating.

Usually, it starts with one person (which tends to be the male) feeling attraction toward and courting the other.

But let's face it: Sometimes it takes a while for a man to grow on a woman, if it ever happens. Just because he says nice things to her and gives her flowers doesn't guarantee her feelings for him will be anything more than platonic.

In other cases, the woman goes along with it, but it's hard to distinguish whether she has feelings for the guy or is just doing it for the attention.

Human beings don't like to be lonely, and some of us would much rather settle for someone we know isn't right for us than face uncertain dating prospects in the future. In addition, women are conscious of their "biological clock" ticking. If they wait around for the perfect guy, he may never come.

I always wonder how my now-wife felt about me when we first got together. We actually met in middle school but didn't reconnect until she found me on MySpace nine years later.

We spent a week or two conversing online and by phone before seeing each other again in person. And now that I look back on it, I moved quickly! I caught her by surprise by plopping a kiss on her during our second meeting.

I remember how she seemed a bit befuddled the next day. Did the kiss mean we were friends? Friends with benefits? Boyfriend and girlfriend? I was unsure of this myself, but what I did know was that it felt right. Whether she'd spent enough time with me at that point to know for sure whether she shared the same feelings was the big question.

She later told me that she'd been seeing a guy a few months prior to our reacquainting. She said it never became anything serious, but it makes me wonder whether the fallout from that ill-fated fling made her more disposed toward hooking up with just about anyone half-decent who came her way.

The fact that we had met in middle school scored me some sentimental points, to be sure. But I'll never know at what juncture she really started to fall for me. (If I ask her, she'll likely say it was the day I kissed her, but I don't know if I buy it.)

People can't simply will themselves to feel a certain way at the snap of a finger. For many of us, those romantic feelings don't kick for weeks, if not months.

What I'm trying to say is that when we first start dating someone, it's easy to feel attracted to and excited by that person. But building feelings doesn't happen overnight. It's possible that I myself didn't feel romantically drawn to my wife until we had been dating for a while, even though I'd like to think that I started falling for her after two meetings. What might have prompted me to kiss her, then, was the attraction I felt toward her.

I suppose an exception to this is when, after being friends for many years, two people start developing feelings for each other. But even then there's a level of uncertainty as to who fell for the other first.

People don't fall for one another in lockstep. One person may start noticing feelings before the other. Once the person admits to those feelings, the other has to assess whether or not she feels the same way.

If the answer is no, the two may remain friends for the time being, with the latter developing romantic feelings later on. The worst-case scenario would be that the individual who professed his feelings feels thwarted and decides to call the friendship quits.

The dynamics of relationships are similar to those we see play out in the world of marketing. One person is trying to sell something (in this case, himself) in hopes of landing a deal (hooking up with someone else).

Some guys have to go through many sales pitches with a bevy of prospects before sealing a deal they're happy with.

How long did it take for you to fall for your partner? How long do you think it took for him or her to develop feelings for you?

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