Love

The Scientific Answer To Whether Or Not Falling In Love At First Sight Is Possible

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Is Love At First Sight Real? The Scientific Answer Explained

Many people fell in love with their partners later on in their relationship — often a year or so after first meeting. They felt a deep connection to and a lust for their partner at first but not full-blown, head-over-heels love. But just because many people haven't experienced it, doesn't make it impossible.

Many people believe love at first sight is real, while most others think it's a myth, but is it.

To settle this eternal debate, I sat down with some true experts in the subject of love, including biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher, relationship and communications expert Fiona Fine, author and dating coach Gregg Michaelsen, and matchmaker and dating coach Jasbina Ahluwalia to get to the truth about love at first sight.

Is falling in love at first sight really possible?

There's still no definitive answer to this romantic mystery, but that doesn't mean love at first sight can't happen.

Science says love at first sight is possible.

According to many psychological and anthropological studies, love at first sight is certainly a possibility.

According to Dr. Helen Fisher, "From a purely biological thinking, this is a brain circuit. This is a brain system. It's like fear system. It's like the anger system. You can get mad instantly, you can get scared instantly, and I think you can fall in love instantly. And in fact, I think that this whole brain system evolved to be almost instant."

It's one of the three brain systems, she explains, that humans have evolved for the sake of mating and reproduction.

"One is a sex drive (lust). One is intense feelings of romantic love — obsessive love, being in love, infatuation, whatever you want to call it — and the third being feelings of deep attachment," she explains.

"And so I think it's a very specific brain system that evolved millions of years ago," Dr. Fisher continues, "to enable you to focus your mating energy on one particular individual and start the mating process, and that it can be triggered instantly."

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Love at first sight can be the beginning stage that lays the groundwork for forming a deeper connection.

"Your human brain works faster on a subconscious level than it does at a conscious level," Ahluwalia explained as Dr. Fisher nodded in agreement. "A first meeting can lead to a level of connection... I think it can be the beginning of it."

The key, Fisher clarifies, is that what you really want for the sake of a lasting relationship is all three brain systems firing together.

"You want a craving for sex with this person. You want to be madly in love with this person. And you want to feel the deep sense of attachment to that person. And our brain scanning studies show that feelings of intense romantic love can be triggered almost instantly, but that deep sense of attachment has to grow."

Men may be more likely to fall in love at first sight than women.

Dr. Fisher also shared that "I do an annual study called Singles in America with Match.com and we ask, do you believe in it and has it ever happened to you. And every year about 40% of men say it had happened to them and about 30% of women say that it has happened to them.

Based on her brain scan studies, Dr. Fisher notes that "men fall in love a lot faster than women do because they're so visual," and that they also fall in love more often than women do.

Michaelsen agrees, saying "When a guy walks into a room it's all about, you know, initially we scan the room and we want to sleep with that woman... And I'm not always proud of that fact, but that's how we're geared."

"Well, it's adaptive," Fisher responds. "From a Darwinian perspective, it's adaptive to mating."

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There's a difference between being "in love" and "loving" someone.

"I believe there's a huge difference between 'in love' and 'loving'," dating coach Fiona Fine says.

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"I actually was dating a man — had been dating him for about a year — and all of the sudden, a year later, I fell in love with him. And I literally — we both felt it shift, and my chemicals and everything shifted. And he never fell in love with me. He always loved me, but he didn't fall in love with me. So... I don't think that we fall in love at first sight. I think that... a lot of other things happen."

So what was that, if it wasn't love? And which of them was in love and which one simply loved the other?

The truth is, "loving" is an action verb. You give love to them, you tell them you love them (in many different ways), and you do the work to keep loving them.

But the idea of falling in love is almost passive. As if it's happening to you, out of your control, and you cannot help it. This passivity is probably one reason people are so romantically tied to falling in love at first sight. They like the feeling of free-falling into something and losing all control.

It makes that love seem all the more exciting, all the more important. But is it really?

There Is definitely more research to be done on this love mystery, but for all of you romantics out there, keep believing!

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Melanie Gorman, MA, is a writer and business coach who holds a Masters degree in counseling psychology.

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