Does Love At First Sight Exist? It's Probably Lust, Study Finds
Can you actually fall in love at first sight? I've alway been skeptical of this romantic comedy-esque approach to meeting someone and it turns out, science can now back me up. A new study published in the Journal of the International Association for Relationship Research shows that love at first sight might not even have much to do with love at all.
The study looked at around 400 participants who reported around 500 encounters — and, out of all of those, only 32 participants said they had experienced love at first sight. That's less than 10 percent, and those 32 people reported 49 cases falling of love at first sight, meaning some of them felt it more than once. So it looks like not that many people have experienced it, but there are some people who are really committed to the idea.
The really interesting part came when the authors looked into what love at first sight actually was. It turns out those feelings weren't actually linked to things we might associate with love — like commitment or intimacy. Nope, those who reported love at first sight did have one real link — they were super attracted to each other. So this "love" looks a whole lot more like lust. The study authors also suggested that some couples might retrospectively apply this idea of "love at first sight" (LAFS) to their relationship as a way of making the relationship seem stronger or more intense.
"Experiences of LAFS were marked neither by high passion, nor by intimacy, nor by commitment. Physical attraction was highly predictive of reporting LAFS," the study explained. "We therefore suggest that LAFS is not a distinct form of love, but rather a strong initial attraction that some label as LAFS, either in the moment of first sight or retrospectively."
I have to say, the findings were not so surprising to me. I don't know anyone who fell in love at first sight and then continued to be "in love" with that person for any length of time. But a lot of us have felt that rush of meeting someone and feeling connected instantaneously — it's a real, physical thing. "You'll feel excited and your body shows it because your brain is releasing endorphins (dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin)," Susan Golicic, PhD, Certified Relationship Coach and Co-founder of Uninhibited Wellness, tells Bustle. "This is your body telling you there is attraction and a connection. This is that 'you just know' feeling."
But what you "know" is that you're having a visceral response to this person and actually loving them will likely come way, way later. "There is no way to know if this is the case at first sight," Golicic says. "Much more needs to be learned about the other person to truly love them. But that can happen quickly depending on how much time is spent together and how open and honest the two are with each other."
Despite how unrealistic love at first sight seems, a lot of people are still believers in the concept. Here's what you should know.
1. Over 1/3 Of Us Think We've Fallen In Love At First Sight
Although this study found that many people didn't believe in love at first sight, a survey points in a different direction. According to data from Match's 2017 Singles in America study, 34 percent of us believe that we've fallen in love at first sight. I don't know any of these people, but it seems like they're definitely out there.
2. And Over Half Of Us Believe In It
Thought that number was high? Well, we are ever-hopeful — over a third of respondents may have said it has happened to them, but over half of respondents said they believed in it. I guess they're just waiting for that special, lightening-bolt moment.
3. Men Are More Into Love At First Sight Than Women
You know the stereotype that women are the hopeless romantics ones? Only 29 percent of women said they'd fallen at first sight versus 41 percent of men who said they had. When it comes to believing in it, 59 percent of men said they thought it was real, compared to only 49 percent of women. Interestingly, LGBTQ folks were more likely to say it had happened to them than straight people.
Love at first sight sounds a lot more like just connecting with someone and feeling a wave of lust coming over you, but that doesn't stop people from believing it's legit love. If you're ever bummed that you haven't felt that "A-ha!" moment at first sight, don't worry because science thinks you need to get to know them anyway.