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Why Love at First Sight Is Possible for Some People

Why Love at First Sight Is Possible for Some People

We are all familiar with love at first sight, or at least the idea of it. Any Chick Flick, any animated Fantasy movie…they all include this idea that a couple of strangers can see each other and be 100% smitten. It has even left the screen — I have friends who swear they are with the person they are dating/married to because of that very phenomenon.

But is it true? Can two people who have never before even said hello to one another lock eyes and have a vision of their entire future together? Can you know you are going to grow old with someone before even learning their name? According to scientists, the answer could be yes.

What is love at first sight, really?

Most people understand love at first sight as instantaneously falling in love with a stranger upon seeing them for the first time. Scientists tend to have a harder time defining it.[1]

Love at first sight is not easy to explain. Some people even deny that it is possible claiming it is merely sexual attraction. Indeed, how can we fall profoundly in love after one quick glance? How can such a glance make us believe that we want to spend the rest of our life in the arms of a stranger we have just seen for the first time?

While there are plenty of arguments against, and for, love at first sight, research indicates that romantic love is often based upon idealization and positive illusions, and this is also true concerning love that lasts many years.

Part of the science behind this school of thought is based in stereotypes. While one of the main arguments is that we cannot simply look at a person and know their characteristics, that assumption is incorrect. In fact, we as humans do this all the time!

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This is known as the “attractiveness halo,” and it refers to our brains associating beauty with goodness. This is also why attractive people are more likely to be the object of love at first sight. Of course, this does mean we are using stereotype, imagination and assumption to allow ourselves to “love,” but it can still be sincere and is almost always intense.

If you followed the TV show Sex in the City, you may remember Carrie asking Big if he believed in love at first sight. He answered with a very honest, “I believe in lust at first sight.”[2] Though it may not have been the answer Carrie wanted, it helps to understand the attractiveness halo.

We wouldn’t typically look at someone we deem to be unattractive and envision us sipping sweet tea in the green grass of our lawn surrounded by a white picket fence. We would much rather catch a glimpse of the attractive stranger we see in line at the coffee shop and picture the kind of ring they might buy to propose.

Who cares if it’s real. It’s sweet! Right?

Not necessarily. There are two kinds of people, the ones who swoon and say things like “Awwwww, that’s so sweet!” when someone mentions the idea of love at first sight, and the ones who say things like, “Oh, please” and want to gag.

But assuming you’re the type of person who does believe in it… maybe even the kind of person who wishes for it, it’s important to know what you might be getting into.

In the section above, we talked about the “attractiveness halo.” While this typically refers to anyone you deem “hot,” it can also be someone who makes you feel all lovey-dovey for different reasons. If you’ve ever experienced, or even thought you experienced, love at first sight, consider for a moment what made the stranger stand out to you.

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Did he or she resemble someone you had a romantic relationship with before? Did they cause you to feel nostalgic about an old friend you cared deeply for? If so, that “love” may have been nothing more than a subconscious connection. That’s right, your brain may have decided, without even consulting you, that this person reminded you of someone in your life that you care/cared about and remembered the positive impact that person had on your life.

Why does your brain trick you?

Just because your brain is forming these connections without you realizing, doesn’t mean the brain is the enemy. More than likely, that brain of yours just can’t help it!

Impression Formation is the psychological term for the way the subconscious mind interprets facial features like this. We tend to relate facial features with characteristics. People can fall in love at first sight if the new person they see looks like someone they once loved before or someone who had a positive impact on your life.[3]

Knowing this, it seems more understandable as to why some of us are certain we have experienced love at first sight, even if beforehand, we thought it was impossible.

However, this doesn’t make the potential resulting breakup any easier. In fact, when a relationship created by love at first sight fails, it leaves us feeling like we lost something destiny had intended.

When you think you have found your soulmate, especially in such a fairytale-esque way, losing that happily-ever-after can be tragic. That’s why it’s helpful to know how to spot the real thing.

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How to know if it’s love at first sight?

If you still have hope love at first sight will happen for you, even after learning about the subconscious ways your brain may be tricking you into thinking you’ve found your person, the following list may be helpful in identifying true love easily.[4]

  1. You get butterflies in your stomach, just seeing them.
  2. The only thing you want is their attention.
  3. Everything you knew about your ‘type’ is gone. It doesn’t matter if this person matches up with what you were previously attracted to.
  4. You. Cannot. Stop. Thinking. About. Them.
  5. Romantic notions trump logic. Who cares about risk and reality!
  6. The idea of being with them seems like a grand adventure.
  7. You’re certain this is going to be the best relationship ever.
  8. You can picture your lives together.
  9. The attraction is real.
  10. You want to know everything about them.

To love, or not to love?

To recap, let’s break down the things we’ve learned so it’s easier to go forward looking for that soulmate of yours.

Love at first sight is real, but it’s not all butterflies and perfection.

If you think you are experiencing love at first sight, don’t immediately try to talk yourself out of it. You don’t have to be jaded, you just need to be smart; consider if that person reminds you of an ex, or even a friend. If you don’t think you’re subconsciously misplacing some feelings, then go for it!

Don’t be afraid to break up.

Even if you once thought you had discovered your destiny, don’t be afraid to be true to yourself if you feel the relationship is over. It doesn’t mean you didn’t truly love that person, it just means it wasn’t the happily-ever-after you once thought.

Don’t mistake needing someone for loving someone.

Often times, people may think they’ve experienced love at first sight, simply because they needed companionship or nurturing. There is nothing wrong with this, and the person you have fallen for may be your partner for a long time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s meant to be.

There are tell-tale signs of love at first sight.

If you think you may be experiencing love at first sight, don’t hesitate to consult the list above. Just be sure it’s after you’ve ruled out that they just seem familiar to you somehow.

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Don’t be afraid to be heart broken.

Don’t worry about what the future holds. If you really and truly envision yourself with someone, go for it! If it’s meant to be, it will only get better as the years roll on. If it isn’t meant to be, then live and learn. Life is too short to have regrets, especially when true love could be involved.

Last but not least, follow your gut.

Even if your heart is saying “YES!! This is my prince/princess Charming!” it’s okay to hesitate if the rest of your body is telling you to keep your guard up.

Love is out there, and it’s attainable. But don’t try to make something work just because eye contact made you all tingly inside.

Have you ever been in love after seeing someone for the first time? Make sure to tell us your stories and share this article to see how many of your friends have felt the same way!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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