Is love at first sight just a wishy-washy romantic idea that those in love make up to torture their friends, or can science actually explain it?
Since the ancient Greeks, the concept of love at first sight has helped us explain that first, powerful, and unwavering sense of love we have for a complete stranger.
But is love at first sight just some romantic poetic notion, or is there some actual basis in science for its occurrence?
What I love at first sight?
You walk into a room of people, most of whom you don’t know, and quickly scan for an acquaintance.
All of a sudden, you see someone else, standing in the corner.
Your heart SKIPS a beat… (>‿♥)
It’s like the rest of the room darkens and a single spotlight lights up over their head. They’re the most attractive person you’ve ever seen and you just KNOW you have to meet them.
This feeling, this inexplicable certainty is what love at first sight is all about.
People who have experienced it explain it in different ways. Some say that they just feel better when they see someone. As if their whole life makes sense, they’re happy, and want to continue that feeling.
For some that first glance leads almost immediately to opening themselves up in the deepest, most personal conversation they’ve ever had.
Others claim to not be able to take their eyes off someone they just met – as if some kind of force is pulling them together.
Regardless of the variation, there do seem to be a few common elements involved.
Love at first sight signs
Sign 1 – You can’t take your eyes off them
This person is a complete stranger or someone you’ve only just been introduced to. Social convention says staring is rude, but you just can’t help it. You try to fight it, but your eyes are drawn back again and again. You literally CAN’T stop looking at them.
Sign 2 – No Hesitation
You’re almost knocked off your feet by how strong this sensation is, but you barely think about it. Literally, you barely think about it. You don’t try to talk yourself out of it, you don’t think about how weird it is. You just KNOW.
Sign 3 – It’s intense
While you’re busy not thinking about anything other than how perfect this person is, you probably don’t notice just how intense this emotion is. In fact, it’s SO intense that you can’t actually think about it.
You are 100% involved in being involved with this person, and the rest of the world just goes kind of dark.
Sign 4 – Uninhibited trust
As soon as you two start talking, you want to tell them everything about yourself. You want them to know you in a way that few (if any) in your life do.
Sign 5 – Incredible passion
This may or may not be the lustful kind, but most people describe an overwhelming shared passion for life in general.
Of course this could involve the fun, sweaty kind of passion, but it’s also the kind of passion that causes you to WONDER at every leaf on the tree, every drop of water in the rain, and be awed at all the of sights and sounds around you.
Does love at first sight actually exist?
Anecdotally, anyone who’s experienced the above will swear on their life that love at first sight exists.
Many stories start with “I never believed in love at first sight until…”
But to answer the question of whether it actually exists, we can look towards science for some possible explanations.
Evolutionarily speaking, it’s important to be able to instantly identify a friend or a foe.
Our brains have the ability to perform this kind of split-second test on people (or animals) we encounter to determine if they’re ‘SAFE‘ or not.
In our modern world it’s unlikely that the woman at the bar is going to growl and attack you (unless you’re into that, but still, it’ll happen later on), but the same skill gets used when judging attractiveness.
Turns out one second is all you need. Many studies have been conducted that have shown that people are experts at judging how ATTRACTIVE someone else is.
In fact, we judge it all in less than a SECOND. In that fraction of time, we will decide if someone is too short or tall, too muscular or weak, too well-dressed or shabby, too young or old.
This all happens subconsciously, so it makes sense that our reaction to our mind’s conclusion is also subconscious. That’s why, at first glance, we get a feeling. We don’t have time to process all the information, but we can understand the conclusion: This guy is HOT!
Another study showed that in the first few minutes of interacting, it’s POSSIBLE to accurately judge whether you’ll be successful as a couple. This prediction method, it turns out, is more effective than standard comparisons such as common interests, hobbies, income, and cultural or religious background.
Something IS happening in those first few moments, but we’re a long way from understanding it.
Love at first sight advice
When you’re in that perfect moment, you’re by definition not thinking so clearly. Your instincts are taking over, and you’d hope that they know what they’re doing.
Lesson #1 – Initial attraction is not an accurate predictor of a successful relationship
Unfortunately, none of us have perfect instincts. If you’re a hopeless romantic who believes in love at first sight, you probably experience this quite often.
Every guy you meet or spot from across the room becomes a potential target for cupid’s arrow, and you’re more than happy to dive right in.
For every instance where a love at first sight story ends with a long and happy marriage, others dissolve almost immediately.
Lesson #2–Maybe they’re just really good looking
We use the word ‘attractive’ to describe good looking people for a reason. They’re attractive because you’re attracted to them.
It’s normal to assume that a good looking person also has an attractive PERSONALITY, but we’ve all met good looking jerks, so you know it’s not true.
It’s easy to think that it must be love, but you have to practice a bit of self-talk to PREVENT YOURSELF from flinging yourself against every person you come across who’s good looking.
Lesson #3–Don’t believe it HAS to work
If you’ve convinced yourself that it’s love at first sight, that belief may end up overriding more practical considerations of your relationship.
Maybe he’s actually rude, disrespectful, abusive, or uncaring…
Maybe you just don’t really like him…
You have to be careful that you’re not convincing yourself it HAS to work just because of how it started. [Read – What is True Love – 5 Natural Signs of True Love]
Lesson #4 – Don’t ignore the boring kind of love
If you’re waiting around for your perfect love at first sight experience, consider all the couples who fell in love over time and have strong, long-lasting relationships.
If you go around discounting every person who doesn’t immediately spark that first-sight reaction, you could be MISSING out on your best relationships.
So is it real?
Whether you want to believe, have already experienced it, or are skeptical, the fact is that some people certainly EXPERIENCE everything we’ve talked about. These emotions are fun, exciting, and new, and should be enjoyed.
Hopefully they lead to a happy and long-term relationship. But you also have to be wary of the dangers of blindly following your instincts.
As with everything else you do in life, don’t shut off your brain – stay a bit objective, listen to your friends, and make sure you’re making the BEST DECISION for yourself.