Love at first sight is like two gazes brought to a standstill. It is about two eyes that crash into each other’s view. Two souls flowing into one another from the first moment when time stops. It is also the mystery of a meeting where chemistry orchestrates attraction, but where connection is often created. It is a meeting in which you hear bells ringing again, where the heart is allowed to restart anew.
The idea is captivating, but the reality can sometimes be very different. Love at first sight sells. We like that image that is so common in movies, literature, and advertising. It also conditions us.
Even further, books such as Love at first Sight: The Stories and Science Behind Instant Attraction, by Dr. Earl Naumann of the University of Arizona, remind us that we believe in this phenomenon. We believe that one look is enough for love to ignite, arise, and conquer us and leave us breathless.
This neurochemical spark, charged with uncertainty, desire, mystery, and fantasy, has some science behind it. Even though not everything emotional can be observed under a microscope we do know one thing. Love at first sight does exist. However, there is a series of other things we need to keep in mind that come with it.
Don’t call it love, call it attraction
There is such a thing as sudden love. It doesn’t know the boundaries of time and can appear in an instant and during the most unexpected of times. Love at first sight has always happened and will continue to. Likewise, we also have slowly-developing love, which simmers slowly. Before you know it, something that started as a sincere friendship turns into true passion.
Love does not work on norms, criteria, or orders. It comes when it comes and we know it. Even so, when we’re trying to keep that love alive, we sometimes do need some order, some compromise, or some emotional democracy where we can agree intelligently. There’s a reason for this. Love at first sight is set in motion by attraction, not by reason.
It’s about desire and fantasy. This is magnetism. It’s the halo effect and that chemical wandering produced by serotonin and dopamine. It is the entrance door that facilitates a relationship, that makes it more likely that there will be the first date. It is a love that comes without warning, but will later require more attention if you want to make it a mature relationship. You will have to get through the mysteries with realities and set aside fantasies in order to think about these realities.
Love at first sight: what science tells us
The University of Holland conducted a study in 2017 over this very topic. In the study “What kind of love is love at first sight? An empirical investigation”, about 600 people who had claimed, by their own definition, to have experienced “love at first sight”, were studied over a period of time.
From this sample, 92% of the people began a relationship after the encounter, straight from that moment of gazing into each other’s eyes. The majority of them firmly believed they had found someone truly special. The researchers then interviewed each couple in order to look at certain psychological dimensions of the pair more deeply.
Love at first sight is related to physical appearance (and something else)
In love at first sight, physical attraction is a factor, there is no doubt. But it’s not always necessary for external beauty to be present and capture our attention in an instant. The scientists explain that there is something more, something transmitted by gazes that give others feelings of trust, sympathy, and which connect with other gazes confidently and without fear.
See also: Sympathy
The halo effect
Just as we have stated, when two people feel attraction when looking into each others’ eyes, it’s more than likely that there will be a first date. Even so, what happens on many occasions is that through the magnetism of gazes, we will begin to start idealizing the other person in ways that aren’t always realistic.
That attraction comes from the projection of positive qualities onto the other person. We see them as more intelligent, more noble, original, trustworthy, and honest. We create a halo effect that, combined with passion, will make the feelings last longer. This will continue until, sooner or later, certain evidence arises, which may or may not be tolerable.
See also: Passion
Love at first sight favors romantics
In the previously cited article from the University of Holland, it was shown that a significant part of the studied sample maintains the relationship successfully after some time. That is, that love that came about at first sight many times can be lasting, can become mature, and can turn into a satisfactory relationship.
Even so, in a large portion of the cases, the relationship ends when passion becomes weak or when fantasy meets reality and the couple is not capable of converting that situation into a connection based on intimacy, trust, affection, and care for one another.
Likewise, another thing that the study demonstrated was that a large portion of the couples that had created their relationship from that important meeting of gazes were fierce defenders of romantic love. For them, things such as destiny or soul mates were realities that came to explain their success in the relationship.
In conclusion, science cannot deny that in some cases, love at first sight exists and turns out to be a big success. Regardless, in a large portion of these cases, behind that meeting of eyes that find each other and connect with each other, there is nothing more than attraction.
Attraction is always that channel of inexplicable power that acts as a first step, like the first one in a ladder toward a link that, day by day, has to mature and go through its own challenges to prosper and turn into a happy and successful relationship.