Is Love At First Sight Real?

By Stephanie Kirby|Updated April 6, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Cessel Boyd-Lewis, LCMHC

Your eyes meet across the room. There is a spark and connection. It's love at first sight. You begin a magical relationship and live happily ever after. That sounds great, right? We hear stories like this in movies, TV shows, and books all the time, creating the idea that a story like this might really happen to us. If you think you've experienced this, but aren't sure if it's love or lust, you're not alone.

Love at first sight is what fairytales are made of and who wouldn't want that for their own life? But, here is the big question-is love at first sight real? Well, the answer is simple and complex all at the same time.

It Depends On Who You Ask

If you ask a group of people, there is a good chance that some will tell you that they have personally experienced love at first sight. But, on the other hand, professionals like to explain it away as just poor memory. Their theory is that once you have developed a relationship and fallen in love with someone you begin to place a favorable spin on the way that you remember the beginning.

However, scientists are starting to believe that love at first sight is real. Multiple studies have been done that are starting to show that chemical release and brain activity could make it possible for someone to fall in love immediately with another person. However, it appears that this feeling falls largely on how physically attracted you are to the other person. That's where the answer to this question gets a little more complicated.

Love At First Sight Is Not Real Love

Physical attraction and a spark might be the way that many relationships begin, but it's not the same as real love. People who feel they have fallen in-love at first sight could be experiencing a desire and pull towards the other person, but it's still much different than love. Relationships can begin on these factors, which might make you feel like you are in love, but real love requires a lot more than physical attraction. It is built on trust, understanding, and commitment. It can only be built over time and through shared experiences. But, with that in mind, here's what we know about "love at first sight."

Attraction Matters

From the information that scientists have found, looks matter when it comes to love at first sight. This is largely what the whole concept is based on because when you are just seeing a person for the first time, there is little else that you can make the decision off of or fall in love with. Essentially what you love is the looks of the other person, not necessarily the person themselves. However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so there are no one-size-fits-all looks that you need to have.

It Doesn't Usually Go Both Ways

There are plenty of people that report falling in love at first sight, but unfortunately, it isn't usually a two-way street. While you may feel it from the start, it could take the other person a lot longer to reach the same point. You've probably heard people share similar stories. One of them knew they would get married from the very first date. But, the other was more resistant to the idea. This can be hard to deal with, especially if the other person is not interested at all.

Love is an intense feeling, and if you think you are in love with someone that doesn't love you, it can be painful. You might struggle to decide if you should move on or try to wait it out. You might not know how to act around the person or how to approach them. If you can identify with these feelings, it can help to talk to someone about them. BetterHelp has online trained therapists that can lead you through the process of sorting out your feelings. This can be incredibly helpful when you are determining what your next move is.

Men Experience It More Than Women

There are more men than women that claim to have experienced falling in love instantly. However, scientists haven't pinpointed an exact reason for this. Some believe it is because women are more selective about who they date. Others believe it's because men are more visual. Studies have found that men tend to fall in love easier and faster than women do in general. Because of this, they are also more likely not to have the feelings of loved returned to them by the other person.

Some men report falling in love at first sight with many different women. This indicates love is being confused with desire. The sexual desire they feel for an attractive woman leads them to believe they are in love.

It's Based On Assumptions And Imagination

The only thing that you know about someone when you first see them is what they look like. You can assume some things about them, but you don't know if what you are assuming is accurate. Love at first sight involves a large amount of imagination. When you see someone, your brain is subconsciously working to size them up. If you like what you see, your brain is going to create other positive details about the person. If they are dressed nicely, you may assume they have a good paying job and are responsible. Or, if you see them with a pet, you assume that they are an animal lover just like you. Your brain works to connect the dots in the way you want it to go.

It Is Unreliable

Since so much of what your feelings of love at first sight are based on your imagination, the feeling is incredibly unreliable. The more you learn about the person your loving feelings might quickly fade. This is because character plays a large role in what love and relationships are based on. You might love the way the person looks, but hate their character, or lack of. This is one reason why you shouldn't place too much emphasis on the feelings of love at first site.

The Feelings May Be Real

There is a lot of debate, as you can see, about if love at first sight is real love. However, you cannot debate the feeling that someone is having. They may call it something different than you would, but the fact remains that they are experiencing it. Love at first sight is an intense feeling even if it isn't loved. It is exciting, comforting, overwhelming, and exhilarating all at the same time. When you experience it, your brain starts to run wild, and it can be hard to know what is going on, but you know you want to be with the other person.

Where Do You Go From Here?

If you think you are experiencing love at first sight your next step is to find out where the other person stands. You don't want to job in with the big L-word when you just meet someone, so it's best to strike up a conversation simply. The more you talk to them and learn about them you will be able to see if there is anything more to your feelings than sexual desire. If there is then work towards building a relationship with the other person.

If the feelings of love, at first sight, were felt by the other person as well then, your relationship will most likely progress very quickly. Both of you will have fewer reservations than you typically would. However, if the other person did not feel as strongly from the start, you need to come down to their level. If you try to push them, there is a good chance you may lose the relationship altogether. If you truly do love the person that you will be willing to wait until their feelings reach the same point as yours.

It's Up To You

So, while your eyes are meeting across a crowded room is not going to lead you to real love, it could create a spark and attraction that are the kindling to get the relationship going. Love at first sight is simply when your initial assumptions are somewhat met. You had an instant attraction to the person and assumed they were everything you wanted. This belief can be used to match what you want to what you just found. Or, you may find that the person checks all the boxes off your list.

It's up to you to determine if that is what you consider love at first sight. Some of you are going to believe that it is. Others of you are going to believe it is simply infatuation that could develop into love later. In the end, the only person that it will make a difference for is you and the person that you laid eyes on. The bottom line is, love at first sight is really in the eye of the beholder.

Remember that even if you fall in love at first sight, there is still a lot of work to be done to have a healthy relationship. Do not rely on those initial feelings to carry you through for good. Invest in the other person and your relationship.

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