Can Love Grow? Or Does True Love Begin With an Instant Spark?

09/03/2014 11:04 am ET Updated Nov 03, 2014

I'm a few months into a relationship that began in a most unusual way -- at least for me.

We met online (that's not the unusual part) during my recent three-month stint in New York City. (I'm planning to move from Sydney to New York in early 2015, and this trip was a reconnaissance mission -- or 'reccie', as us Aussies say.) Although better late than never, the timing was a little unfortunate, as it was three weeks before I was due to leave. Weary from the notoriously arduous NYC dating scene and running out of time to meet and get to know someone new, I responded to a Jersey boy who emailed me. He looked cute, seemed nice and appreciated the Goonies quote ("Goonies never say die!") in my profile. "First, you gotta do the Truffle Shuffle," he opened with. This was a good start to things.

Within a few days, we were face-to-face, having a drink at a speakeasy-style bar near Washington Square Park. Thankfully, he lived up to his profile -- he looked cute, seemed nice and we talked and laughed easily. Our first date led to a second date led to a third date led to no longer keeping count. He kept asking me out -- and I kept saying yes. While we were enjoying each other's company, we had a talk about not feeling as though this was necessarily going to go anywhere. But we liked each other enough to hang out until I left, and keep in touch thereafter. By the time I left, though, we'd become closer than I think either of us expected. Not "crazy in love" Beyoncé-style close. But close.

I had another 10 days in the country (San Francisco for four days and Portland for six days, where I was attending a conference), and we were in constant contact. I wasn't used to being in such regular contact with someone, but it was really nice. Now a month into our relationship, and starting to talk about him coming out to Sydney for a visit, the subject of exclusivity came up naturally. During a phone conversation in the quietest spot of a noisy Portland bar I could find, the words "I'm feeling a little faithful" effortlessly escaped my lips. He said he was glad I said that, as he was feeling the same way. Plus, there was no point in us planning a trip two months ahead if we were going to date other people in that time.

So, now we're in the midst of two months of communication and anticipation, which will be totally worth it for the 10 days or so we'll spend together -- him seeing Australia for the first time, me sharing my homeland with him and us hanging out and getting to know each other better. After that, we'll reassess what's happening with our relationette.

How mature of us, right? Perhaps. But, frankly, it scares me a little. I'm not usually the maturity kind of girl. I'm the wild abandon kind of girl. I tend to hit it off with someone big-time fairly early on -- or not at all. When I fall (rarely, but when I do), I fall fast, I fall hard, and I will do absolutely anything for even a whisper of time with that person -- such is the absolute certainty of my feelings. I've never fallen in love slowly. I've tried, but it's never worked out. As a result, I tend to stay tuned for the unmistakable sting of cupid's arrow in my butt as a sign someone might be 'The One.' The only catch is I'm still single, so perhaps I've been going about it all wrong.

With a touch of envy, I recently watched a romance between two young, ridiculously good-looking people play out online. A sweet and handsome contestant on one of the American seasons of The Bachelorette was contacted by a sweet and drop-dead gorgeous Australian girl from Perth as his season aired in Australia (about six months after it aired in the U.S.). Long story short, she felt a connection with him, she reached out to him online (via Twitter, I think) after she saw he was rejected by The Bachelorette, he probably thought he was being catfished because she's so mind-blowingly stunning, they jumped on Skype and started falling for each other, he hopped on a flight to Perth to see her, they fell in love, he hopped on a flight back to the U.S. so he could get a proper visa, he got a proper visa, he hopped on another flight to Perth where they were reunited. Three months later, he's still there. End of story, right? Well, I checked in with them recently and, to my surprise, there seemed to be trouble in paradise. Already. And in light of my new "slow but steady" approach to love, I felt a little smug. I've experienced the handsome Bachelorette contestant/drop-dead gorgeous Perth girl relationship before (minus the TV-worthy good looks), and it's intoxicating. There's no better feeling. But, sadly, it's often unsustainable.

So, what gives? When it comes to relationships, can love grow? Or does true love begin with a relatively instant spark? Is an instant spark a sign it's meant to be? Or merely a sign of strong chemistry and, perhaps, little more? If there's one thing I've learned on my quest for lasting love, which has now spanned decades, it's that successful relationships require a hell of a lot more than feelings. Feelings are important (of course you've gotta be reasonably hot for each other!), but they're only one cog in the wheel. Qualities such as kindness, stability, wisdom, good communication skills and willingness to actively show up in the relationship are equally as vital.

Since my blossoming romance has already well and truly exceeded expectations, I'm now open to the possibility that slow but steady progress could be my ticket to love and happiness. My Jersey boy and I are currently on the same page -- sitting comfortably in the "getting to know each other exclusively" stage, with zero expectations of what's to come. So far, each day has brought a greater level of trust, respect and care for one another, so we're living in the present and enjoying it for what it is. Where to from here? Your guess is as good as mine. Sky's the limit.

What do you think? Can love grow? Or does true love begin with an instant spark?