Is there love at first sight?

There are those who believe that a few seconds are enough to feel that someone is the right person for us. Does love at first sight really exist? Find out what the science says!

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz.

Last update: June 17, 2022

The debate about love at first sight is still open and seems to have no end. There are those who affirm with complete certainty that they have experienced it and others who refuse to accept that a feeling as complex and deep as this can arise in an instant.

The truth is that it is not easy to unravel the question of which of these opinions is true. But science can shed some light on this.

It is estimated that Nearly 60% of people report experiencing love at first sight. sometime in your life. This feeling is not defined as a simple physical attraction, but as a certainty that this is the right person for you, with whom you want to have a relationship and forge a solid bond, without taking more than a few seconds to reach this clarity.

Is it really possible for this to happen?

Love at first sight can be a mental confab

There are many couples who, after dating for a while, say that their initial connection was instant and they knew from the first minute that they were destined to be together. But it is possible that this was not exactly so.

It may happen that this supposed feeling is nothing more than a confabulation of memory, that distorts the past in light of current events.

It is even possible that one member of the couple did experience that initial spark and the other person, unconsciously, ends up modifying their memories and believing that they also had that experience. Remember that love at first sight is not always mutual.

It is possible that after being in a relationship for a while, memories of what happened at the beginning of the relationship become distorted.

The role of the halo effect

At other times, this feeling is nothing more than the result of the well-known halo effect. This is a phenomenon by which people attribute positive characteristics to those who we find attractivewithout really having indications that they are that way.

When we meet someone we like or are very attracted to, we inadvertently infer that they are also a nice, intelligent or trustworthy person. Thus, we fall in love with that projection, with that idea that we have formed and that does not have to correspond to reality.

In fact, this could be verified in a study carried out in 2017 in the Netherlands. Here, researchers asked 400 people to report the presence or absence of love at first sight after first meeting potential romantic partners. The results indicated that those rated as most attractive were 9 times more likely that others would feel love at first sight for them.

Someone who fits the mold

However, not all the characteristics that we attribute to the other as soon as we meet him are due to the halo effect. There is evidence that we tend to perceive people who are physically similar to us as more attractiveand we also judged them to be more reliable.

In some way, we assume that his personality will also be similar to ours. Or they may even remind us of trusted faces from childhood, like our parents.

On the other hand, nonverbal language conveys important and valuable information about others, about their attitudes and qualities. In this way, despite not having talked or interacted much with someone, we can perceive in broad strokes what they are like and, if it fits into the mental mold of what we want and seek, we can feel instant “love.”

Body language can be decisive in an initial experience to consider that we are in love at first sight.

components of love

To determine if there is love at first sight, we must keep in mind the definition of this feeling. Robert Sternberg established that love is the combination of three basic elements:

  1. Passion: designates the desire, impulse or need to be with the other person. It includes arousal and sexual desire.
  2. Privacy: It is the feeling of closeness, the emotional connection and the trust that exists between two people.
  3. Commitment: it alludes to the intention and decision to remain in that long-term relationship, despite the crises experienced and those to come.

When we meet another person, these components are not present, or at least not to the same extent as they are in those who are already in a relationship. However, that initial spark makes us much more willing to develop and accommodate these 3 elements than we would be in any other encounter where we do not feel this instant “love”.

Can love at first sight lead to happy relationships?

Frequently, we believe that love at first sight is a mistake or a huge risk. In the end, if you don’t take the time to get to know someone, it’s likely that that person isn’t in tune with you and sooner rather than later problems and dissatisfaction arise.

However, it seems that this is not the case. Some research has found that, although those who feel love at first sight tend to be more dissimilar in different aspects, their relationships are not of lesser quality than those of those who know each other better before pairing up.

In fact, that positive impact of the first impression can make up for the lack of knowledge and make both of you very willing to build a long-term bond.

In short, we cannot say that love at first sight exists, since it is built over time. Nevertheless, if there is a strong connection or initial attraction that leads us to want to build something true with the other and makes it easier for us to achieve it.

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