“I could not tell you if I loved you the first moment I saw you, or if it was the second or third or fourth. But I remember the first moment I looked at you walking toward me and realized that somehow the rest of the world seemed to vanish when I was with you.”
Very many of us believe that love at first sight exists. For some of us, we try to create that magical moment ourselves. You might have seen a young man wooing his crush by beginning with “the moment I set my eyes on you…”. Other times, we might just believe that the first experience with someone could be a sign of love.
Romance movies have made love look so easy and magical. While I cannot dispute that love is such an easy and magical thing, I would want to question if love at first sight, is a real thing for real-life relationships and marriage.
What Is Love At First Sight?
When the phrase “love at first sight” is used, it usually refers to two people who get intensely attracted to each other on seeing themselves for the first time and being willing to be with each other thereafter. It illustrates a magical connection that cannot be explained by any other term than “love at first sight” itself.
According to an article published by James A. Grant-Jacob, love at first is a complex phenomenon that involves the reciprocated attraction between two individuals occurring the first time they set eyes on each other.James A Grant-Jacob (2016). Love at First Sight. Frontiers of Psychology Journal. DOI: DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01113 This means that two people who do just met themselves simply feel a bond to be with each other, even when they do not know much about each other.
How Does Love At First Sight Come About?
Research has shown that intuitive skills and other evolved traits have allowed individuals to quickly evaluate a suitable sexual partner in about 100 milliseconds (that’s about one-tenth of a second).Willis J, Todorov A. First impressions: making up your mind after a 100-ms exposure to a face. Psychol Sci. 2006 Jul;17(7):592-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01750.x. PMID: 16866745. But we also know that people do not just fall in love for no reason. They do so when they physically, emotionally and psychologically find the other person attractive or compatible.
Research has also demonstrated that people can easily deduce attributes of interest in opposite mates with some degree of accuracy on seeing them for the first time. Argyle (1988) and Perret (2007) have described that an individual’s personality and trustworthiness can be perceived from facial features such as their eyes. Zebrowitz et al. (2002) & Kanazawa (2007)Willis J, Todorov A. First impressions: making up your mind after a 100-ms exposure to a face. Psychol Sci. 2006 Jul;17(7):592-8. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01750.x. PMID: 16866745., and Rule et al. (2009)Intelligence and Physical Attractiveness – ScienceDirect included intelligence and sexual orientation, respectively, as other attributes that can be deduced at first sight.
These findings mean that love at first sight is the product of a very quick process that involves analysis of the other person’s attributes as they match with yours, while also quickly determining if the person could reciprocate the feelings as well. And when one partner indicates interest in loving the other, and the other reciprocates the feelings, a magical big-bang occurs which results in the feeling of intense love at first sight.
However, can we describe this experience as love, especially when love has other weaker variants like lust, likeness and mere attraction?
Love At First Sight And Compatibility
As earlier described, our ability to instantly tell a lot about other people’s personalities, behaviours and feelings towards us can allow us to experience love for someone we see for the first time. It makes us form a tentative image of compatibility with the individual, informing us that our new partner is a close match for a relationship, marriage or anything in-between.
While bodily features and beauty preferences can also influence how you feel towards someone at first sight, studies have shown that people get sexually attracted to other people with similar physical looks and appearance to theirs.White, D., Sutherland, C.A.M. & Burton, A.L. Choosing face: The curse of self in profile image selection. Cogn. Research 2,23 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s41235-017-0058-3 When this physical compatibility has been established, people usually test it by fixing a sort of ‘copulatory gaze’ into the eyes of the other individual as if to send some hidden message about their attraction towards them. This is what the movies display as love at first sight.
Finally, the receiver of such signals of attraction might immediately become attracted even when they might not have felt so in the first place. This transference of attraction is what was described by Meyers (2012) when he stated that people fall in love faster when the love comes easily with less energy requirement from them. However, long-term compatibility is not often guaranteed from these experiences.
Is Love At First Sight Real?
This question, “is love at first sight real” was welcomed by a mixed reaction when asked on a Reddit forum. one group asserted that there is nothing like love at first sight, describing it as mere lust that would fade off over time. Another group described that “love” should only be reserved for a stronger feeling that develops over time and can stand the test of time. But then, a woman on the platform shared her own experience of how she met her husband and the love of her life following a love-at-first-sight experience.
In the sense of the phrase, love at first sight, describes a story of true love, otherwise, it would have been called attraction, or mere infatuation. Coining out a new phrase for it may be a way of explaining some people’s love stories of how they found love at first sight, but as you will see next, there is nothing like love at first sight. Commitment is what qualifies true love and not some mystical feelings at first sight.
Love At First Sight and True Love Compared
The idea of true love is a bigger subject for another day, but comparing love at first first sight to true love brings up the same argument that many have argued for a while that true love does not exist. These claims about true love are anchored on the belief that love can be destroyed at any time under some unfavourable conditions. These might include betrayal, lack of affection, or loss of commitment.
Love, either at first sight or not, is a feelings of affection for someone based on perceived similarities, beauty or compatibility. True love, on the other hand, is best defined as a deliberate commitment to love someone through thick or thin, after having determined that they would give you the true peace and safety of mind and body.
Can Love At First Sight End in Marriage?
As already described, love at first sight is a form of love, only occurring on first day. Any form of attraction between two people can end in a relationship, could be friendship, marriage, or partnership, but this depends on what both parties do or do not do. The trajectory of every relationship does not depend on the feelings or compatibility on the first day alone, but rather on the decisions made by the people involved as they go on together. This is where commitment comes into place.
Short answer is, yes, love at first sight can end in marriage and even last forever, depending on how committed the partners are to their relationship with each other.
Love at first sight is the first impression of instant connection between two new individuals when they intuitively determine that both are compatible with each other, with an accompanying feeling of love and care. It has been theoretically explained as a sense of attraction to someone who has some physical, intellectual or emotional compatibility with you.
The summary of all questions surrounding the concept of love at first sight is that, “love is beyond the feelings”. True love is the commitment to love someone as long as you both live, and this is independent of some fairy tale stories of love at first sight in the movies or story books.
While some relationships might begin at first sight, it is not compulsory that yours must begin so. You can truly love someone that you see for the first time and end up with them. Likewise, you can oneday love someone you have known for a while and still end up stronger with them.
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