Is love at first sight really a thing?
In the video above, SVP of YourTango Experts Melanie Gorman, relationship and communications expert Fiona Fine, author and relationship coach Gregg Michaelsen, matchmaker and dating coach Jasbina Ahluwalia and biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D. say that there’s still no definitive answer to this romantic mystery.
Because many people haven’t experienced it.
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.
The Difference Between ‘In Love’ And ‘Loving’
“I believe their’s a huge difference between ‘in love’ and ‘loving’,” explains Fiona Fine in the video above.
“… I actually was dating a man — I 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.”
Science Says It’s Possible
But according to many psychological and anthropological studies, love at first sight might actually be a possibility. According to Dr. Helen Fisher, “From a purely biological thing, 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 — “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” — that have evolved to give a helping hand to mating and reproduction.
“And so I think the 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 it can be triggered instantly.”
So is it love or lust? There definitely needs to be more research done on this love mystery. But for all of you romantics out there, keep believing!
Want to hear more expert insight on the love at first sight debate? Watch the video above to hear more helpful expert advice!
(00:19): Do we believe in love at first sight? Is it possible that it really happens?
(00:23): I have to say no. I believe in lust at first sight. I believe that there’s a huge difference between “in love” and “loving.” I go back to my clients and my own experience. I was dating a man. I had been dating him for about a year. All of a sudden, a year later, I fell in love with him. We both felt it shift. My chemicals and everything shifted. He never fell in love with me. He always loved me, but he didn’t fall in love with me. No, I don’t think that we fall in love at first sight. I think a lot of other things happen.
(1:03): I do an annual study called Singles in America with Match.com. We ask, “Do you believe in it? Has it ever happened to you?” Every year, about 40% of men say it happened to them. About 30% of women say that it has happened to them. From a purely biological standpoint, this is a brain system.
It’s like the fear system. It’s like the anger system. You can get mad instantly. You can get scared instantly. I think you can fall in love instantly. In fact, I think this whole brain system evolved to be instant. For millions of years, we were traveling in these little hunting and gathering groups. If you met a cute boy at the other side of the water hole, you needed some sort of chemical experience to go after him. You didn’t have that much time. Throughout the animal community, you’ll see animals become instantly attracted to another creature.
(1:54): But “attraction” and “in love” I don’t think are the same thing.
(1:59): I think we’ve evolved three distinctly different brain systems for mating and reproduction. One is sex drive. One is intense feelings of romantic love, obsessive love, being in love and infatuation. The third is feelings of deep attachment. I think there is a very specific brain system that evolved millions of years ago to enable you to focus your mating energy on one particular individual and start the mating process, and it can be triggered instantly. It never happened to me but I do think it’s physiologically possible.
(2:26): I consider that physical attraction as opposed to being in love.
(2:29): Your human brain works faster at a subconscious level than it does at a conscious level. I believe that a first meeting can lead to a level of connection. Then there is the debate of, “What do we mean by love?”
(2:42): Right, but is that love?
(2:46): I think it can be the beginning of it. I think it can be the beginning of connection. You have things working at the subconscious level much more rapidly than at the conscious level.
(3:01): I think you really want all three. You want a craving for sex with this person. You want to be madly in love with this person. You want to feel a deep sense of attachment to that person. 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.
(3:20): Is there a difference between how men and women look at that?
(3:21): Yes, men fall in love a lot faster than women do because they’re so visual. They fall in love more often than women do.
(3:30): I have to chime in here on the guy’s side. When a guy walks into a room, initially, we scan the room. We want to sleep with that woman. I’m not always proud of that fact, but that’s how we’re geared. Then we go down our checklist of criteria. That happens three weeks or months later.
(3:54): It’s adaptive from a Darwinian perspective.
(3:59): Is she a high-value woman? Does she provide mystery and challenge to me? Does she have hobbies and passions?
(4:03): Is she hilarious? Is she funny? Does she spend enough time with me?
(4:06): It takes us time before we go down that checklist. Our DNA is resisting our singlehood for so long.
(4:13): It takes women more time. We are the choosy sex.
(4:16): We don’t focus on that primal need as much. We have the same reptilian brain. We have the same spurt, but we quickly move our way past that. Whereas, you guys would have a primal response. We’re going to move from the primal, which might be that big. We’re going to move quickly to the rational. Then we meet halfway through in the emotional.
(4:51): This panel is saying love at first sight may or may not exist. Sex on a first date may or may not be a good idea. It’s up to you.