Love at first sight: Is it possible? Do people really meet and in moments simply know they're meant to be? New evidence suggests: Yes, they do.
The idea is wonderfully romantic: Two strangers see each other "across a crowded room," there's an instant attraction, an electric spark, and suddenly they've found their match and never look back. In a world where dating often requires a lot of work—that comes with disappointment, rejection, and uncertainty—falling in love at first sight has strong appeal.
We look at some findings from a recent study on love at first sight.
People really do report experiencing love at first sight in the instant they encounter a person. It's a strong initial attraction that would later become a relationship. One compelling counter-argument—that people have biased memories and essentially create the illusion of having fallen for each other instantly—isn't an appropriate explanation for all cases of love at first sight.
In this study, strangers were more likely to report experiencing love at first sight with physically attractive others; in fact, one rating higher in attractiveness on the scale that the researchers used corresponded with a nine times greater likelihood that others would report that electric love-at-first-sight feeling.
The researchers aren't sure why this happens, but it begs more investigation. Might women be less inclined to this experience because they are more selective in whom they might date, as other research has shown? Men might, for example, report this experience with multiple potential partners. But whether this translates into relationships is another question.
A comparison of participant reports of love at first sight showed that it's typically a one-sided phenomenon; this suggests that shared instant love isn't very common. The researchers suspect, however, that one partner's intense initial experience could help shape the other person's recollection, shifting it toward a belief that he or she also experienced love at first sight.
The kind of qualities that are known to reflect love—intimacy, commitment, passion—are not particularly strong in those first moments when people say they've fallen in love at first sight. At least, these emotions are not experienced to the same degree as they are by people in established relationships.
The love-at-first-sight experience appears open to these emotions to a greater extent than first meetings where love at first sight is not reported.
Science favors the romantics. Love at first sight actually is experienced by people, but it's not so much "love" or "passion," Instead, it's a strong pull or attraction that makes someone particularly open to the possibilities of a relationship. Love at first sight can happen multiple times, and maybe the instances where it fizzles or simply never translates into a relationship are forgotten.
But when love at first sight does launch a sustained relationship, the story is a great one.
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