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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 December 3, 2019

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

10 Life Lessons You’d Better Learn Early on in Life

There are so many lessons I wish I had learned while I was young enough to appreciate and apply them. The thing with wisdom, and often with life lessons in general, is that they’re learned in retrospect, long after we needed them. The good news is that other people can benefit from our experiences and the lessons we’ve learned.

Here’re 10 important life lessons you should learn early on:

1. Money Will Never Solve Your Real Problems

Money is a tool; a commodity that buys you necessities and some nice “wants,” but it is not the panacea to your problems.

There are a great many people who are living on very little, yet have wonderfully full and happy lives… and there are sadly a great many people are living on quite a lot, yet have terribly miserable lives.

Money can buy a nice home, a great car, fabulous shoes, even a bit of security and some creature comforts, but it cannot fix a broken relationship, or cure loneliness, and the “happiness” it brings is only fleeting and not the kind that really and truly matters. Happiness is not for sale. If you’re expecting the “stuff” you can buy to “make it better,” you will never be happy.

2. Pace Yourself

Often when we’re young, just beginning our adult journey we feel as though we have to do everything at once. We need to decide everything, plan out our lives, experience everything, get to the top, find true love, figure out our life’s purpose, and do it all at the same time.

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Slow down—don’t rush into things. Let your life unfold. Wait a bit to see where it takes you, and take time to weigh your options. Enjoy every bite of food, take time to look around you, let the other person finish their side of the conversation. Allow yourself time to think, to mull a bit.

Taking action is critical. Working towards your goals and making plans for the future is commendable and often very useful, but rushing full-speed ahead towards anything is a one-way ticket to burnout and a good way to miss your life as it passes you by.

3. You Can’t Please Everyone

“I don’t know the secret to success, but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone” – Bill Cosby.

You don’t need everyone to agree with you or even like you. It’s human nature to want to belong, to be liked, respected and valued, but not at the expense of your integrity and happiness. Other people cannot give you the validation you seek. That has to come from inside.

Speak up, stick to your guns, assert yourself when you need to, demand respect, stay true to your values.

4. Your Health Is Your Most Valuable Asset

Health is an invaluable treasure—always appreciate, nurture, and protect it. Good health is often wasted on the young before they have a chance to appreciate it for what it’s worth.

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We tend to take our good health for granted, because it’s just there. We don’t have to worry about it, so we don’t really pay attention to it… until we have to.

Heart disease, bone density, stroke, many cancers—the list of many largely preventable diseases is long, so take care of your health now, or you’ll regret it later on.

5. You Don’t Always Get What You Want

“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

No matter how carefully you plan and how hard you work, sometimes things just don’t work out the way you want them to… and that’s okay.

We have all of these expectations; predetermined visions of what our “ideal” life will look like, but all too often, that’s not the reality of the life we end up with. Sometimes our dreams fail and sometimes we just change our minds mid-course. Sometimes we have to flop to find the right course and sometimes we just have to try a few things before we find the right direction.

6. It’s Not All About You

You are not the epicenter of the universe. It’s very difficult to view the world from a perspective outside of your own, since we are always so focused on what’s happening in our own lives. What do I have to do today? What will this mean for me, for my career, for my life? What do I want?

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It’s normal to be intensely aware of everything that’s going on in your own life, but you need to pay as much attention to what’s happening around you, and how things affect other people in the world as you do to your own life. It helps to keep things in perspective.

7. There’s No Shame in Not Knowing

No one has it all figured out. Nobody has all the answers. There’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” Pretending to be perfect doesn’t make you perfect. It just makes you neurotic to keep up the pretense of manufactured perfection.

We have this idea that there is some kind of stigma or shame in admitting our limitations or uncertainly, but we can’t possibly know everything. We all make mistakes and mess up occasionally. We learn as we go, that’s life.

Besides—nobody likes a know-it-all. A little vulnerability makes you human and oh so much more relatable.

8. Love Is More Than a Feeling; It’s a Choice

That burst of initial exhilaration, pulse quickening love and passion does not last long. But that doesn’t mean long-lasting love is not possible.

Love is not just a feeling; it’s a choice that you make every day. We have to choose to let annoyances pass, to forgive, to be kind, to respect, to support, to be faithful.

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Relationships take work. Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it’s incredibly hard. It is up to us to choose how we want to act, think and speak in a relationship.

9. Perspective Is a Beautiful Thing

Typically, when we’re worried or upset, it’s because we’ve lost perspective. Everything that is happening in our lives seems so big, so important, so do or die, but in the grand picture, this single hiccup often means next to nothing.

The fight we’re having, the job we didn’t get, the real or imagined slight, the unexpected need to shift course, the thing we wanted, but didn’t get. Most of it won’t matter 20, 30, 40 years from now. It’s hard to see long term when all you know is short term, but unless it’s life-threatening, let it go, and move on.

10. Don’t Take Anything for Granted

We often don’t appreciate what we have until it’s gone: that includes your health, your family and friends, your job, the money you have or think you will have tomorrow.

When you’re young, it seems that your parents will always be there, but they won’t. You think you have plenty of time to get back in touch with your old friends or spend time with new ones, but you don’t. You have the money to spend, or you think you’ll have it next month, but you might not.

Nothing in your life is not guaranteed to be there tomorrow, including those you love.

This is a hard life lesson to learn, but it may be the most important of all: Life can change in an instant. Make sure you appreciate what you have, while you still have it.

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Featured photo credit: Ben Eaton via unsplash.com

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