Does it really exist?
We’ve seen it in the movies many times. A man walks into a room, catches sight of a beautiful woman he’s never met before, and instantly falls in love with her. It’s romantic, but is it really possible?
Lust vs. Love
The answer is we don’t know because there is virtually no research on the phenomenon we all love at first sight. Most psychologists and relationship experts say no, crediting such experiences to lust, infatuation, and the rush of feel-good hormones like dopamine that flood the brain when we see an extremely sexually attractive person. They insist that real love, the kind that lasts, takes time to build and question how two people who know absolutely nothing about each other could establish such an instant and deep bond with no prior history together.
They also say that couples who have been together for many years and claim to have fallen in love at fight sight are either romanticizing or misremembering their early time together. It’s easier now when things are going well in a relationship to look back and repaint the past with a different brush.
What People Say
A survey of 1,500 people found that 958 believed in love at first sight, with half of those saying they’d experienced it. They often described it as a bodily surge of excitement and electricity, but that would easily be explained as the effects of a hormone rush from physical attraction, not necessarily true love.
Results also showed that if the attraction could maintain a relationship that lasted at least a few months, the odds were good that the couple would stay together for the long-term. About 75% or 325 of the people who said they fell in love at first sight developed a long-term relationship with the other person. About 16% or 70 people said their relationship ended in separation. Of the women, just over 60% went on to marry their love at first sight partner, while 7% of those marriages ended in divorce.
Love at first sight also seems to be a phenomenon that affects mostly young people, as more than 60% of respondents said their big moment happened between ages 16 and 25. Some might argue that’s precisely why love at first sight is more an effect of hormones and the high sex drive of youth rather than of the heart.
Love at First Like
The love at first sight phenomenon seems to affect men a bit more because their brains are highly wired to react to visual stimuli more so than women. Even if love at first sight isn’t real, many people do report experiencing an intense knowing or certainty that a particular person they recently met would be their future spouse, usually after just a few weeks or months, at least enough time to get acquainted with their character. You might call it love at first like.
They don’t describe the experience in terms of love or lust, but as a rational knowing that a certain person is meant to be their future husband or wife. It’s an energetic connection at a particular moment in their short association that tells them they’re compatible on a deeper, perhaps more spiritual level that transcends simple likes and dislikes.
Here are some examples from people who share when and how they knew they’d met their future spouse, not at first sight, but after knowing them a very short time.
Puppy Love or Real Love
“People think I’m stupid but it was 3 months in. I was 16; he was 17. He told me he loved me and I knew I was going to be with him forever. My mom told me it was puppy love. He went to college the next year 200 miles away and everyone taunted me saying he was going to be cheating on me with college girls We stayed long distance for a year until I graduated high school. I packed up everything I had and $2000 cash I’d saved and moved 200 miles away from home to be with him. My parents still said ‘You’ll be back in a month.’ We got married when he graduated. I was 21, he was 22. Everyone who ever told me, ‘It will never last’ got a wedding invitation. We just celebrated our third wedding anniversary and eight years of companionship.”
I Just Knew
“I also knew after 3 months which is when he proposed. We were sophomores in college at the time. We were married two weeks after graduation. At which point we moved to Virginia and my husband started grad school and worked at the local animal shelter. We will have been married 23 years this May.”
“The first night we met, I was unemployed and she was far too attractive for me. When I reluctantly told her about my employment situation, she calmly responded, ‘Well, it looks like I’m buying your drinks for the night then!’. I knew she was something special. A year later I asked her to marry me. We’ve been together ten years and have two kids. She stays at home and now I buy her drinks.”
A Sense of Humor
“I went out to the movies with a big group. It was a stupid movie, but there was only one other person who laughed when I laughed. I figured out who she was. We went out. We continued to laugh at all the wrong spots in life. We have been married almost 25 years. We’re still laughing when no one else does.”
A Certain Feeling
“I called a mutual friend on my way to meet him for our first date. (We met online, but had talked on the phone and seen pictures of each other.) I told my friend, ‘I have this very strange feeling right now. I’m going to marry this guy.’ We’ve been together now over 11.5 years and married for 7.5. That was a really, really weird, scary feeling. My intuition was right.”
There You Are
“I worked with his cousin and we had both gone to the movies with a big group of people and that’s how I met him originally in 2007. We finally had our date in July of 2008 and I just knew. Something in me recognized something in him and said, ‘Oh. There you are.’ It wasn’t love at first, just recognition that he was it. My favorite thing to do is laugh and he made me smile. We’ve been married for over 6 years now and he still makes me laugh every day.”
She Gets Me
“It was on my 18th birthday. I worked hard at a very physically demanding job 8am to 4pm every day. I’d come back home and shower, then take a nap every day. My mom had other plans. She had dozens of my friends and family surprise me with a birthday party. Anyone who knew me knew I wouldn’t want this. Yet out of all my friends and close family, my now wife was the only one who told me in advance what was coming. I bought the ring that summer.”
Going the Distance
“My Dad had just died, and I went to his funeral a state over around five hours away. So I’m sitting there alone in my hotel room and my girlfriend calls me to see how I’m doing and I say I’m fine when I’m really torn up inside. I was unable to sleep and at around 4am I get a knock on the hotel door. I looked through the window and instantly started crying. My girlfriend had driven five hours in the middle of the night because she knew I was having a hard time.”
“After our first date, I remember thinking’ ‘I want to spend as much time with this woman as I can.’ We were married four months later. We’re still married ten years later.”
A Helping Hand
“We were on our way to a dinner thing. I had to stop and get air for the tires, and it started to rain — hard. She spent three hours in the bathroom getting ready, and she got out of the car and put a hoodie on, and held the flashlight for me.”
A Good Idea
“I never dated my husband. We were good friends in college, …but were never a couple. After college I broke up with a guy I had been dating, so took a trip to visit my friend. Before I left he said, ‘We should get married’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, that isn’t a bad idea.’ Twelve years later and no regrets.”
North Brisbane Psychologists. (2016, June 14). Can you fall in love at first sight? Retrieved from https://northbrisbanepsychologists.com.au/can-you-fall-in-love-at-first-sight/
Redding, E. (2016, January 19). 36 married women share the exact moment they knew their man was ‘The one’. Retrieved from https://thoughtcatalog.com/eric-redding/2016/01/married-woman-share-the-exact-moment-they-knew-their-man-was-the-one/
Hillin, T. (2014, September 3). 23 husbands describe the moment they knew they found ‘The one’. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/inspiring-marriage-stories_n_5754710
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