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Do You Believe In Love At First Sight?

The consensus is NO!  Followed closely by some kind of comment about lust.  Only, it’s more like Lust.  No, I can’t make it look dirty enough.  I don’t know if there’s a font capable of translating into visual image the way the word lust was uttered by some of the people answering this question.  Picture Jessica Rabbit.  Now picture her saying the word lust.  That’s as close as I can get.

Honestly, I’m on the fence with this one.  I absolutely do believe that there are people who meet for the first time and are instantly drawn to one another – beyond physical attraction and lust – a true connection.  It’s a feeling that this person was waiting for you, that it was inevitable that you would someday meet.  And I believe it feels like love.  It can be like an electric current going through you, but it can also be a quiet kind of thing, less electricity and more recognition.

On the other hand, I also know that the aforementioned electric feeling is simply the result of chemicals being dumped into your body.  And I understand that an initial attraction, when based on physical appearance or lust, is not enough to sustain a lasting relationship.  So, if such a relationship lasts, is it fair to say that they fell in love at first sight?  Or is it more accurate to say they fell in attraction at first sight and it happened to work out?

My friend’s parents met and married within weeks of meeting.  They simply knew.  And then they simply worked at it.  They will tell you that it was love at first sight.

Here is what some other people said:

Nadia:  At my age, no!  Especially with guys – they’re not thinking with their heads.  They’re lusting after you…not love.  Maybe as you get older…

Gloria:  Second sight.  First sight is admiration.

Lynn:  No.  Not at all.

Julie:  Yes.  Absolutely.

Rebecca:  I think within the first 30 seconds, you know whether or not it will work with someone.  So…not necessarily falling in love instantly, but knowing who you can’t love instantly.  And I also believe that some people have a very strong chemical reaction to others, where it might not be love, but it’s…
Logan: It’s an intense feeling.
Rebecca: It’s such an intense feeling that, if you do the right things at the beginning of the relationship, it would be love and it would last forever and ever.  Whereas…you could just as easily jack that up as anything.  It comes down to – what you do with it makes the difference between whether it will last or not.  It is still what you build or what you don’t build that determines what lasts.

Abena:  No, it’s attraction at first sight.  I think you need to know someone before you love them.

Sharon:  I believe in lust at first sight – that’s for darned sure.

Fez:  Yeah, I do.

Peyton:  No.

Daniel:  Depends on what you’re lookin’ at!

John: I guess it would depend on what you’re defining the love as.
Terri: I think the situations can happen where it all comes together…and it really is love at first sight.  But I don’t believe that people always know that it is.  I’m suspicious of, “their eyes met and they just knew.”  Now if they meet, and they keep meeting, and they develop a relationship…maybe they go back and look at it later, and they figure out that this all was meant to be.
John: There can be an initial attraction…
Michelle:  Like an attraction at first sight?
Terri:  You see something in the other person that you want to be around.
John:  …when you’re talking about a romantic love.  Does a Mother fall in love with her child the first time she sees the child after it’s been born?  Yeah, but at the same time, that Mother has probably already developed the love for the child…
Terri:  …nine months…
John:  …before that child’s actually born.  But when you’re talking about a romantic relationship, I think you can have an attraction at first sight and certainly you have lust at first sight.  I think to really develop the true bond of love… I think that takes more time to develop.  Now you can have that attraction at first that makes you think, “Hey, this girl’s really cool, she’s cute, she seems to be fun to hang around, so I want to spend more time around her.”  And you do have that initial attraction, whatever it is, whether it’s pheromones or whether it’s just your personalities or what, that it seems there’s a potential match here.
Terri:  That’s why so many relationships wind up ending badly, is because people act on that initial attraction, and then they don’t understand that…  My favorite word is, “The sparkle wore off.”  Okay, real life is not “sparkle”.  Real life is work – it takes a lot of work to be boring.  Drama is easy.  Drama’s easy because then you never have to make decisions about anything, you can just throw up your hands and say, “Oh, my life is so bad!”  I know a couple like that, who every time anything goes wrong, they just throw up their hands about how bad it is, instead of trying to fix it.  But if you’d fix it – it you’d do something – it wouldn’t be as bad.  So, I think that’s what happens with the love thing, is they think they’re in love when they’re really in lust and then when the lust wears off, it’s “I’m done”.

Group Discussion

Tom: I believe in lust at first sight.
—Jim: I believe you’ve got to look twice.
Martha:  I believe in magic.
Michelle: Do you believe in love at first sight?
Martha: I think that there could be such a thing…I mean, I have not experienced it in my lifetime, but…
Tom: It’s lust at first sight, you have a physical attraction…
Jim: That’s right.
Tom: You’re drawn to somebody, but…
Jim: It’s instinctual…
Tom: It is.
Tina: But a lot of times they can blow it just by talking!
Jim: I know!
Tom: That’s right!
Michelle: So that’s not love…
Tom: …and then she opened her mouth!

Items of interest:

Love In An Instant – our Query was inspired by this post from Kendall Goodwin, who was herself inspired by a photograph.  Check them out.


12 Comments Post a comment
  1. Albo #

    i believe in love at first sight!! after all there has to be something that peaks your interest enough to engauge that person. however for most people “LOVE” is not enough!!

    June 12, 2011
    • Hi Albert! Thanks for responding.

      You bring up a very intriguing point: Is love enough? All kinds of things are swirling around my head right now, but I think that question deserves it’s own spotlight!

      I’m thinking that “love at first sight” is another one of those hackneyed phrases that, for the most part, is really (as so many others have said here) “lust at first sight”. But I do believe that there are cases when people have an immediate, powerful, real connection. And I mean connection in the truest sense of the word – they feel the click, the turn of key in lock, matching cogs. They have that sense of “this is who I was waiting for, and I didn’t even know I was waiting for anyone“. I don’t know how to better describe it. I’ve never experienced this myself, but I do believe it’s possible.

      Anything is possible.

      June 12, 2011
      • Albo #

        of course it is possible!! it has to be!! you take our parents for examble. 40 plus years through thick & thin they’re still going strong!! surely in all that time they’ve had their disagreements,But Love was enough to keep them together!! i believe love “true love” is the giving of yourself 100%.. it’s not 50/50 (i’ll love you as long as you love me) Pride keeps most of us from giving all of ourselfs!

        June 12, 2011
        • I’ll have to ask my Mom & Dad! I can think of a lot of reasons people stay together during hard times, and love is the greatest among them. But I think it takes more. But what do I know? I’ve certainly not been particularly successful at it. Look for this question in an upcoming Query. This is going to be fun!

          June 12, 2011
  2. Vicki #

    Michelle, I have to go with you on this one. I had to ponder for a while before answering this one. I don’t believe in love at first sight but I most definitively believe that one is drawn to another for an unknown reason. Wait, I guess depending on how you are defining LOVE, is it a romantic love or just an unconditional love. I have met people that I was drawn to, men and women, and they became real good friends. Maybe its not LOVE at first sight but it’s just letting your inner spirit speak to you and you actually listen. Destiny?

    June 20, 2011
    • That’s the thing – I have also met people that I instantly connected to, men and women, like you said. I don’t know why, but I just really really liked the person. It’s a strange feeling, honestly. This is someone you don’t know from Adam and you’re feeling like this could be your long lost best friend. That is not lust or anything sexual at all, it’s just a strong connection. I don’t think it’s a simple matter of rapport. I’ve had great rapport with all kinds of different people (hey, you know about this from working in retail); I could talk for hours with some of my customers and co-workers. It’s more than rapport. I guess it’s chemical.

      June 20, 2011
  3. This question came up recently in Costa Rica (of all places) with a group of Harvard MBA students (of all people). About half of the men and all of the women said they believed in love at first sight.

    The first time I had this discussion was in a freshman English class in high school. Almost everyone believed in love at first sight, but again, the women–I mean, girls–believed in it far more fervently, and they explicitly layered on all kinds of romantic and emotional meaning that the men–I mean, boys–did not.

    When I’ve discussed this question with people my age and especially older, they tend far more often to say, “No, love at first sight is a chemically/biologically induced illusion. It’s a trick your body plays on you to get you to propagate the species.”

    So, none of this constitutes any kind of rigorous, scientific study, but let me draw my anecdotal conclusions anyway:

    1) Age has a lot to do with how people answer this question. Younger people believe in it more than older people.
    2) Gender has something to do with how people answer this question. In every discussion I’ve ever had about love at first sight, the men have always believed in it less, or defined it differently, than the women. I’m sometimes confused when some women believe in the nobility of men’s thoughts and intentions more than experience and most of human history suggests they should. I’m about to make a controversial statement: I believe that, overall, women believe more in human decency than men do.
    3) IQ has very little to do with how people answer this question… or at the very least, being an MBA student who is about to make $500,000 a year doesn’t disincline you to believe in love at first sight.
    4) This one is speculation (haha, all of these conclusions are, I know): I believe that people may answer this question differently depending on whom they’re talking with. In a high school class, every boy in there wants to impress the girls. Every boy in there believes that the girls believe, or want to believe, in love at first sight. The boys also believe that the girls would love for the boys to say that they they believe in it, too. The Harvard students were probably spending their last vacation together before they finished their MBA program. Every guy in that group was attracted to one of the girls in particular. I believe that at least a few of them wanted to impress her and the other girls. In the context of the conversation, “Yes,” was the right answer.

    In the discussion with my Harvard companions (whom I had only met days earlier), I said: “I believe in retroactive love at first sight.” In other words, I believe all of those chemicals and the wiring of the brain and our drive to make more of ourselves tell us that we’re in love when we see someone whose appearance, movement, expression, or whatever sets off that explosion in the mind and body. But only when actual experience with that person confirms that initial explosive reaction can we call the experience “love at first sight.” So anyone who has had that initial feeling of love confirmed with experience is more likely to believe in true love at first sight (meaning it was a full sort of love that would last and that transcended mere lust and chemicals and biological drive–the kind of love we feel for a soul mate). Anyone who has had that initial feeling invalidated by experience is more likely to believe their first-sight-induced feeling of love (which was probably identical to the feeling of someone for whom things worked out better) was misleading.

    So if by “love at first sight” we mean some combination of attraction and a genuine belief (influenced by those pesky emotions and chemicals over which we have so little control) that you’ve found your soul mate, the person who can complete you, then absolutely–that feeling is real. Most of us have felt it. But if we mean that we can feel it and actually KNOW it to be true and mutual and predictive of sustained love in all of its fullness, before we’ve even spoken to the person we think we love, then I just can’t buy it. Not that I can know for sure.

    A lot of other questions are related to this one, but we don’t often ask them. What about hatred at first sight? Most of us feel this one quite often, but it’s quite often wrong, quite often based on reflex reactions and emotions that hijack rational thought. Sorry to get negative there, but I think it’s helpful to consider the other extreme of a question to test it out.

    Wow, that ran on… I’m sorry!!! I do believe in LOVE, if that helps!

    June 26, 2011
    • Just for starters, I was surprised by the Harvard responses. I thought their approach would have been more analytical – just another example of pre-conceived notions, don’t judge the book, etc. But you may be right about some of the reasons (the impression they were trying to make). I don’t believe that was the case with anyone that I asked in person, though some were in groups and the answers naturally fed off of each other. But I think what they said, they meant. I also got the impression that nearly each one was speaking from their own experiences, which is what we do, so…no surprises there. But it was interesting to notice who was adamant, or bitter, who answered with humor, who with simple conviction of belief.

      I totally get and love your theory of retroactive love at first sight. The longevity and deepness of the eventual feelings validate the initial response. Or not.

      I think you hit it on the head – what is it that we’re really talking about. That’s why I leave the questions open to interpretation, if I can. I agree with you – “if we mean that we can feel it and actually KNOW it to be true…before we’ve even spoken to the person we think we love, then I just can’t buy it.” And I agree with you – “if by “love at first sight” we mean some combination of attraction and a genuine belief…that you’ve found your soul mate, the person who can complete you, then absolutely–that feeling is real. ” 🙂 It’s the knowing versus believing, maybe? And perhaps the approach to the emotion: feeling you’ve found a soulmate vs physical attraction equals love.

      I stick with my original answer, which is that there are people I meet that I feel an instant connection with, very deeply. Not a physical attraction, but a true affinity and likeness with this person. I believe it’s at least partially (if not fully) chemical, but it’s a fact, nonetheless. I meet men who I am physically attracted to, as well, but I’ve never confused that with love at first sight. On the third hand, I have been “in love” with boys and men for reasons that were not easily explained, who I didn’t know very well, even who I didn’t like that much (crazy!). There’s too much involved in emotion to really analyze and explain it all. Not here, anyway.

      I did consider hate at first sight, and I almost did a follow up question kind of thing. I decided not to, partially because it’s too easy for me to get carried away, and this is enough to deal with at the moment :). One question led me to another, and another…as you well understand. Not negative, just the next natural question.

      Also, not too long – have you seen some of my comments? You have, I know. I comment too long on my own blog! People write a few lines and away I go into thought or memory, or whatever. Pretty silly to feel guilty writing too much in your own space. Insecurities! I’m supposed to be breaking free of those pesky insecurities. As for you, write as much as you want!

      June 26, 2011
  4. Jacque M #

    The reason that your dad and I have lasted (or should I say loved?) so long is that we had to prove the relatives wrong. They were actively making bets on how long the marriage would last and we could not let any of them win the pot. Your dad has another reason, but you’ve heard it.

    Jokes aside, I think we had the good fortune to always be able to get to a place in any argument where we could express our feelings without feeling like either of us were under attack or we were able to put the anger aside and talk about the real problem. Sometime it took awhile, but neither of us was rushing off to a divorce lawyer during this time. On the other hand there is always your dad’s theory.

    Do I believe in love at first sight? No, I believe there are strong connections or ‘pulls’ between some people, but these don’t always mean this is going to be a ‘true love’ or a happily ever after relationship. I believe some people are just super compatible, but I don’t believe in love at first sight anymore than I believe those long time married people who say “We never had an argument”. I call BS on that. It is a physical impossibility. Besides it would be boring. Could be one or the other is swallowing a lot of anger or simply doesn’t care about anything.

    I am also surprise at the Harvard MBAs, I thought MBAs (from any school) did not have emotions.

    I guess that I could believe in love at first sight in retrospect, after all, hindsight is 20/20. ( I couldn’t resist)

    July 2, 2011
  5. Haha, I have to comment on the Harvard MBAs. They were good people (not that anyone was suggesting otherwise), BUT… some of them were frankly very naive and childish about some things. Life seemed like a game to a lot of them, and many of them really thought they could not only master it but BEAT it, whatever that means (making lots of money, “running the world,” to use the words of one of them).

    They talked constantly (REALLY, constantly) about power and money and status and power vs. fame vs. influence and partnering (whether it’s OK to marry in your status group–that was something the men fretted over. Most of them concluded that they would have to marry beneath them, for practical reasons and because they wanted to be dominant in the relationship.) AND love. Their notion of love sounded like what I hear all the time from high school students.

    Now it’s time to share that the Harvard kids were in their mid-twenties, had already worked at firms like Goldman Sachs, had already made lots of money, would pay off $200,000 loans within three years, etc. Their priorities were the exact opposite of mine in almost every sense, yet they WERE kind to me (though did not esteem teaching). It’s like they were just built differently, and I couldn’t entirely hold it against them. Everything and everyone in their environment–Harvard, the companies for which they had worked, their friends, their friends’ friends–told them they were great and that they would rule the world and find fortune and power, etc. I realized that people in those circles, surrounded by others just like them with exactly the same drives, develop cult-like mentalities. They knew one tiny little slice of the world, and the rest barely existed to them. It was so bizarre. I recoiled at some of their attitudes, yet it was hard to see how they could believe differently given their circumstances.

    July 4, 2011
    • Those poor MBA’s have taken a little beating here! But it’s so interesting – people are interesting! Those kids are not the only ones with the “tiny slice of the world” viewpoint, either. We are all a result of our surroundings and what we have been exposed to, in one way or another. But some people do still lead really limited lives. It can go to the other far extreme, as well – no money, no education, etc. And you’re right, you can’t hold it against them, it’s what they’ve been raised and conditioned to.

      The marrying beneath them part is particularly interesting to me. I guess the reason is because I feel just the opposite. I don’t mean money or job title, or anything like that, but in terms of respect, I guess. Or equality – in what we’re made of, emotional strength, abilities, intelligence, etc. Not that you have to be entirely the same, but that one person shouldn’t have to carry everything in the relationship, emotionally, physically, nurturing, everything. One person shouldn’t be dominant.

      I was married to someone who I didn’t necessarily respect. Of course, I didn’t realize it until much later – I didn’t feel that way when we got married (I should have waited longer before marriage!). But as the relationship progressed, the things he did really destroyed my respect. Added to that, or as a result of that, my belief in his general abilities was continually undermined. It really made me understand that I needed a mate who was able to stand on his own two feet, who I could believe in.

      Anyway, I just can’t imagine wanting to marry “beneath you”. It sounds a bit like they’re still just kids. Except that many of them (most?) will probably not change their viewpoints in any major way as they age – it sounds like they’re surrounded by more of the same.

      July 4, 2011
  6. Boots,

    A peek at your old stuff is interesting. We are madly in love with every person we lay eyes on…first sight or not. Of course we can’t remember why we are so in love and feelings from amusement to hate or indifference all sprinkled with attraction zest/repellant bubble up between everyone to perpetuate this illusion of separateness. Whenever the moon shimmies just so or Pheromones swirl playfully you have recognition at first sight…which can last a lifetime because the clarity that flashes through your bones tracks cleanly through the entire fossil record and when you get it, the universe throws you both a wink like you’re in on the best inside joke ever.


    April 30, 2016

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