Is love at first sight myth or fact?

Matching each other’s physical ideals is not really love.

Matching each other’s physical ideals is not really love.

What you need to know:

  • According to psychologist Dr. Chris Hart, love at first sight is not entirely a myth.
  • Partners who fall in love at first sight tend to jump into sexual relationships quickly once they meet.
  • Once you know that you’re mutually attracted to each other, don’t speed off into a room to whet your passions. Slot in dates and start to learn more about each other’s characters.

She could not stop thinking about him from the moment she set her eyes on him. Her heartbeat increased, butterflies overwhelmed her belly, and her eyes lit up. She felt intensely passionate towards him. The moment she had fantasised about for years was finally here. She had fallen in love at first sight!

This narration describes a love scene many women dream about. Love at first sight. The belief that there is someone out there who was made for you. In reality, the conundrum of love at first sight is hard to resolve. Many people, including those who dream about it, wonder if love at first sight, is real, mythical, or just an instant rush of wild lust.

Myth or reality

According to psychologist Dr. Chris Hart, love at first sight is not entirely a myth. However, it is a rare occurrence in romantic interactions. “Love at first sight is not something you can ignore if it happens to you. This is because your subconscious has decided that you and the person you have spotted are perfect for each other,” he says. Dr. Hart says since many people often fantasise about love at first sight, it is much more likely to occur if you are sub-consciously releasing signals that you’re available to engage romantically. His sentiments are echoed by a psychological study on love at first sight that was conducted by the University of Freiburg. It established that it only takes milliseconds after seeing someone for the first time for a person to decide whether or not they are likeable. These findings correspond with the findings of a study which was conducted by the University of Pennsylvania on how long people take to make up their mind about dating a man. The study which looked at 10,000 speed daters with an average age of 32 in the US established that it takes roughly 3 seconds for one to decide if a prospective date is attractive enough. The speed daters were well educated with a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree.

What is it?

According to Aaaro Ben-Zeev, a psychologist and the author of In the Name of Love: Romantic ideology and its Victims, love at first is not based on sexual attraction alone. “It is a form of romantic love that has a good chance of developing into profound intense love, provided the characteristics that are not seen at first sight are similar to those the lover assumes,” he says. Love at first sight is merely intense not profound. “There is always a possibility that this love will not become profound enough to sustain a long time loving relationship.” As such, the feelings you think are love at first might not be there after three to six months.

The downside

Unlike normal relationships where attraction is gradual and is largely driven by personality and characteristics, love at first sight may deny you the chance of knowing the true suitability of your partner. For instance, according to Ben-Zeev, partners who fall in love at first sight tend to jump into sexual relationships quickly once they meet, and will have less similar personalities than partners who take their time to date, learn about each other, and explore how compatible they are before engaging in sex.

Nurturing love at first sight

According to psychologist Partick Musau, one of the most effective ways of finding success from what looks like love at first sight is checking your speed of attraction and willingness to commit. “Once you know that you’re mutually attracted to each other, don’t speed off into a room to whet your passions. Slot in dates and start to learn more about each other’s characters,” he says. Dr. Hart adds that you must always get cynical about love at first sight. “Matching each other’s physical ideals is not really love, and neither are those intense feelings. You must first know all there is to know about a person,” he says.

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