It seems like such a wonderfully romantic notion. And it absolutely can be. An accidental encounter. Seeing someone from across the room and immediately feeling the electric connection. Just reading this sounds like a scene out of the latest romcom or Netflix release.
You may have even daydreamed the possibility of it happening to you!
But is love at first sight legitimately real?
Science says it absolutely can be real
There is a chemical reaction that happens inside your brain that gives you those warm, fuzzy feelings. Dopamine and serotonin are neurotransmitters, which serve as chemical messengers and play a function in depression and how we process our emotions. But they can also be a part of that initial falling in love, along with another neurotransmitter called oxytocin – often referred to as “the love hormone.” Combine these three and you may find yourself falling in love.
But when you feel like you’re falling in love these chemicals are turned on and a brain scan would look like you were as high as a kite. But yes, that initial attraction is a matter of chemistry.
Scientists discovered that people can decide almost immediately if they find someone attractive according to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. And of course, what is love at first sight without a healthy dose of immediate attraction? The study stated that within seconds your brain knows if you are interested in a person.
Instant attraction is a great way to start a relationship and could be the motivator to get to know each other better.
Surprise! Love at first sight is more likely to happen to men!
Dutch researchers interviewed and surveyed 400 men and women after initial introductions in order to study love at first sight. They discovered that men reported love at first sight more frequently than women.
This is an interesting notion because typically we assign (with gender bias) women as more romantically inclined. Other studies have indicated that women tend to be more selective than men when it comes to dating and finding a mate. However, it’s important to note that men felt this way with multiple partners, so it’s unsure if this would translate well into relationship territory.
Is it all in your head?
Maybe “yes.” Maybe “no.” Or, more likely, maybe a bit of both. Why is that?
Many of us tend to embellish our stories from time to time to make them more entertaining and dramatic. And who really knows? Most likely there wasn’t a video camera perfectly positioned to capture the moment (only in the movies) when a person experienced love at first sight.
How one tells that story about that moment inherently comes with memory bias. So, what is memory bias? Basically, memory bias is a change in our ability to recall memories with more ease or difficulty than what might have actually happened.
In short, we remember and recall want we want to believe. This does not necessarily mean that we did not, in fact, fall in love at first sight. We very well may have.
Our memory bias simply confirms what we want the story to be if the story we are telling is different from how the story really was.
In fact, a study at the University of Groningen revealed that love at first sight may actually be a “positive illusion.” Positive illusions are a form of self-deception or self-enhancement that feels good. For example, you and your partner may think you fell in love immediately because of the relationship that you’ve built over time.
Memory enhancement isn’t a bad thing, it’s just not factual.
However, the study also concluded that talking about your how you met and how you felt at the time can actually make you feel more connected and in love. So, I’d say that that’s a bonus!
Is it a visual thing only or after the first real meeting?
Yes, we established above that attraction may happen immediately, but there is also a “halo effect” after the first meeting when you get a chance to interact with the person you are attracted to.
A halo effect is a tendency for an impression created in one area to influence an opinion in another area. It’s a cognitive bias such that our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about them.
What comes after falling in love?
More important than falling in love, is being in love over a long period of time. It might be that it was an initial illusion that became real, or it may have been that falling in love was the real thing from the very beginning. Either way, the experience is truly wonderful.
Of more significance than whether or not you fell in love at first sight, it’s important to understand that love – real love – the type of love that endures, is much more important than your first meeting, and whether or not you fell in love at first sight.
The best part of all, is that love happens. If it’s immediate or it grows over time, to love and to be loved is one of the greatest joys we can experience as humans. I’ve helped hundreds of individuals and couples improve their love lives. If you would like to explore how I can be of assistance to you, please reach out to me for a free 15-minute phone consultation.