Is Love At First Sight Real?
We all know the feeling – the butterflies in the stomach, head feeling giddy and legs feeling weak, when we are unable to look away or even let out a breath. Our heart starts beating faster and we have a smile pasted on our face. Most of us have felt this way, even if it was just by looking at our favourite on- screen actor, or know someone who can swear they were in love the moment they laid eyes on each other. We often hear about the instances that people meet and just know that they are “meant to be”. But how does it really work?
Research has found that while there may not be a deeper connection that you can call ‘love’ at first sight, some kind of attraction definitely does exist. Unless our brain processes feelings of interest in who they are looking at – and they do this in a matter of milliseconds – the possibility of taking it further may not exist. In a scenario where the idea of dating and serious relationships go hand in hand with effort and commitment and are often associated with heartbreak, disappointment and rejection, believing in the idea of an instant connection has intrigued many. However, while we are told many stories about knowing that a person is “the one” in a quick second, neuroscience suggests that love at first sight has a lot to do with our brain functioning. When you fall in love, as many as 12 areas of your brain trigger the release of chemicals which make you experience the excitement and connection to someone. It is a mental state which sets off a kind of high, like in a drug- induced euphoria, due to heightened levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, which can even leave you craving for your beloved. Impression formation techniques also play a crucial role in explaining the phenomenon of love at first sight. Factors such as physical attraction and first impressions go a long way. A study showed that an increase in physical attractiveness by one unit can lead to an increase in the chance of falling in love at first sight by 9 times. This occurs especially when you are meeting someone new or for the first time, which can also hold some significance in the role of profile pictures on dating applications. The halo effect is also a common occurrence, which is a cognitive bias in which we tend to positively evaluate a person based on a single trait of their physical attractiveness. Therefore, we may find them nicer, funnier, or more trustworthy and believe that they are a “good person”, which is essentially an error in our reasoning. This may also make us more inclined into believing that we are attracted to or in love with someone we see for the first time. In most cases, the statement “first impressions are last impressions” also holds true. Research shows that we form an impression within seven seconds of meeting someone, and they are mostly right. The way we feel about a person from the moment we see them or speak to them is usually the way we perceive them in the future, therefore if someone is perceived as desirable, it may act as a catalyst for deeper attraction and vice versa. While first impressions are important and invigorating, a much more profound connection is required to develop between two people to make any relationship last. You may feel a passion or liking towards someone immediately, but to build that into a healthy partnership involving both emotional and spiritual growth, a surface level interaction will not suffice. It is also important to remember that love at first sight may not be reciprocated, and a shared instant connection is not always the case. A study in Israel found that only 10 percent of long- term relationships started with this immediate desirability.
In conclusion, while there are heightened emotions and neurological reactions which may feel like “love” at first sight, it is not love but merely a strong attraction. Love is associated with commitment and intimacy, and these are not strongly expressed when someone feels that instant connection for another. They do, however, express more openness towards these emotions and are more open to the prospects of a potential relationship than those who do not feel the attraction. Experts believe that falling in love is a slower and more gradual process that involves more interactions than just a single glance. Relationships take time to evolve and develop. Nevertheless, you don’t need to overlook or brush off your instant connection to anyone, but rather explore it and see where it takes you. Just remember to drop your expectations, and don’t be disheartened if it does not take the path you were looking for; because sometimes love needs a second and third sight too.