Love at First Sight Doesn’t Actually Happen, According to Science

Fagjun | Published 2017-12-28 23:50

Sorry, hopeless romantics: falling in love at first sight has turned out to be nothing more than a common trope.


Do you believe in love at first sight?

Do you believe in love at first sight?

 

Romantics will likely despair, while realists will probably shrug and say that they’ve known all along. Imagine this scene: two strangers walk into the same room, preoccupied with their own thoughts. Something distracts them, and draws their eyes to each other from across the room. Their gazes meet, and sparks fly. This is love at first sight—apparently. However, it seems that love at first sight may be nothing more than movie magic, since such a thing doesn’t really happen in real life.

 

It’s certainly simpler and easier if it does, however. You meet someone and you just know they’re “the one”, and the feeling is mutual. It’s easy, clean, and simple—and also something that’s just physical, according to a new study. Those sparks are less love and more lust, which, if you think about it, isn’t actually all that surprising.



Testing Love at First Sight


Would you fall in love with someone through their photo?

Would you fall in love with someone through their photo?

 

Back in 2013, Reuters conducted a survey of 1,000 people, 53% of whom said that they believed in love at first sight. However, researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands have found that this “love” people experience at first sight is actually more akin to intense physical attraction than to love. Even worse, the researchers found that these feelings are often unreciprocated.

 

The researchers asked 396 Dutch and German students to complete questionnaires concerning their present romantic status, as well as rate their feelings of attraction toward strangers whose pictures were presented to them online. The participants also had to state whether or not they believed in love at first sight, and whether or not they believed that they were meant to be with one of the strangers they looked at. About 60% of the participants were women, and most were heterosexual.

 

Two other tests involved the participants meeting strangers in person for 20 or 90 minutes before answering the questionnaires.

 

These tests had interesting results. 32 people, most of them men, reported that they fell in love at first sight 49 times—49 because some reported falling in love at first sight more than once. The tests wherein participants met face to face, meanwhile, exhibited that none of the “love” reported there was mutual.



False Memories and Unrequited “Love”


Are you a hopeless romantic?

Are you a hopeless romantic?

 

It’s also possible that people who claim to have fallen in love at first sight are having false memories. Researchers noticed that the participants who claimed to have fallen in love with their partners at first sight spoke of their partners with passion. Therefore, it’s possible that they’re projecting their current and intense feelings of love onto their memory of the first time they met their partners.

 

This may mean that love at first sight is indeed the stuff of fairy tales, in that they’re either false or exaggerated. Of course, the participants were in contrived and inorganic situations different from the ways they’d usually look for a romantic partner. Thus, if you’re a romantic at heart, maybe you can still be struck with love at first sight. It’s just best if you don’t really count on it.

Hey! Where are you going?? Subscribe!

Get weekly science updates in your inbox!