“A compelling idea, but is there scientific evidence to support it?
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 — work that comes with disappointment, rejection, and uncertainty — falling in love at first sight has strong appeal.
People say it happens all the time. If you start with personal testaments, love at first sight seems like the real deal. Prince Harry reportedly experienced it, saying he knew Meghan Markle was the one for him the “very first time we met” (BBC interview). .. You probably have friends who swear this happened to them, or maybe you yourself just “knew” in that very first moment you laid eyes on your current partner.
But did it really happen?
Rarely have scientists empirically studied love at first sight, but new research out of the Netherlands offers evidence in support of the phenomenon (Zsok, Haucke, De Wit, & Barelds, 2017). The researchers asked nearly 400 men and women to complete surveys about potential romantic partners immediately after first encountering those individuals…..
With a real-time measure of love at first sight, what exactly did Zsoks and colleagues learn?
1. Love at first sight isn’t just biased memory.
People really do report experiencing love at first sight in the instant they encounter a person. It’s a strong initial attraction that could later become a relationship. One compelling counter argument — that people have biased memories and essentially create the illusion of having fall for each other instantly — isn’t an appropriate explanation for all cases of love at first sight.
2. You’re more likely to feel love at first sight with beautiful people.….
3. Men report love at first sight more than women.
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.
4. Love at first sight isn’t usually mutual.
… it’s typically a one-sided phenomenon; 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.
5. Love at first sight isn’t really “love.”
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…. Yet 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.
In sum, the science favours 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 simple never translates into a relationship are forgotten. But when love at first sight does launch a sustained relationship, the story is a great one.”