Love at First Sight

Do you believe in love at first sight?

Wikipedia calls “love at first sight” a popular Western literary “trope,” or figurative language, perpetuated in Greek, Roman, and other Western literatures. Songs are written about love at first sight. It became part of the “courtly love” tradition that is so prevalent in Medieval & Renaissance literatures, especially the beloved Arthurian legend.

In fact, one of the most famous and tragic love stories of all time started with “love at first sight.”

Romeo & Juliet.

But remember, right before Romeo saw Juliet, he was pining over Rosaline. 

I’ve read articles that speak of love at first sight as genetic, as well as chemical. The feeling of love, which anyone who has been in a new romantic love can confirm, is highly addictive. In fact, “the same chemical process that takes place with addiction takes place when we fall in love” (source).

Speaking of chemicals, ever wonder why women love chocolate so very much? (I know I do.) It’s because it contains phenylethylamine, one of the chemicals our bodies produce when we’re in love.

Then there are estrogen and testosterone, which play a huge role in libido. Dopamine, norepinephrine, and seratonin, powerful brain chemicals that not only increase when we “fall in love” but are also the key chemicals behind many emotional and mental disorders from depression to OCD to personality disorders (source).

It’s science!

Part of this “love at first sight” debate is centered around the etymology of the word “love,” or perhaps I should say the way in which this solitary word is used in the English language.

I love chocolate.

I love my dog.

I love to write.

I love my husband.

I love my mother.

I love my daughter.

I love my friend.

Same word, very different meanings overall.

There are different kinds of love, but in English we only have one word for all of them. Thus so much of the confusion and miscommunication in relationships. In Greek, there are several words for love: agape (ἀγάπη) for “general affection or a deeper sense of true love,” also considered unconditional love; eros (ἔρως) for “passionate love, with sensual desire and longing;” philia (φιλία) for “dispassionate virtuous love…[including] loyalty to friends, family, and community;” and storge (στοργή) for natural affection like one would feel for parents or offspring (source). John Lee added three other “love styles” to this list: mania, which is obsessive, intense, long-lasting love; pragma, “love driving by the head, not the heart;” and ludus, “a love that is played as a game or sport,” like a conquest (source & Lee’s book).

Some say love at first sight is really lust at first sight because how can anyone fall in true love with a stranger? Love is based on intimate knowledge of the other person and vice versa.

Interestingly, a professor in New York studied what made people fall in love. He took a group of complete strangers, coupled them up with the opposite sex, had them tell each other intimate details of their lives for 90 minutes, and then had them stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes without speaking. “The results? Many of the subjects felt a deep attraction for their partner after the experiment, and two even ended up getting married six months later.”

Is this all it takes to fall in love?

In my forty years, I’ve experienced many kinds of love. Perhaps every kind of love, except the love one has for one’s child, as I’ve never had children of my own. But erotic love? Absolutely. Platonic love? Yep. Unconditional love, perhaps known also as true love? Fortunately, every day.

I know that the rush and excitement of a new love is intoxicating and addictive, but as I’ve said in other articles, ultimately fades. We cannot burn that brightly indefinitely without burning out. The initial erotic love, if we’re lucky, deepens into a more secure love, perhaps even unconditional love.

Although, come to think of it, I have not experienced love at first sight. When I fall in love, it takes me by surprise. The men I’ve loved never were who I thought I’d fall in love with. They were the ones I wasn’t attracted to at first glance but with whom I developed an undeniable and inexplicable connection. It’s only happened a few times, really. Rather rare and precious.

This isn’t to say I haven’t experienced attraction at first sight. Most definitely! Several times! In fact. But is it love? Usually not.


Now for you, dear readers…do you believe in love at first sight or is it just lust?

Have you ever experienced love at first sight?

Why hasn’t someone figured out how to bottle that feeling of love? Perhaps a way to dose serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Probably would be far less tears, infidelity, and wars. What would the dangers of that be? Thoughts?

~ by omgrey on March 16, 2011.

14 Responses to “Love at First Sight”

  1. I’ve never experienced love at first sight, but I definitely believe it exists. As for bottling love, I think that would be a disaster. It would be available all the time and anyone could get it and then it would become over-marketed, over-produced and then it would lose it’s meaning.
    I love the way love is now, almost inexplicable, difficult to find but more rewarding than almost life itself.

    Great post!

  2. I think you’re right. I would be a disaster, but think of the street value! Addiction would be high and no one would ever work again. It would be like that scene in Serenity on Miranda, only instead of dying from complacency, everyone would fuck each other to death.

    The way we love now, and with whom we fall in love, is most definitely inexplicable.

  3. i did not believe in love at first sight until i ran smack into it, i had been in love and married, fallen out of love, had a normal upbringing and such (no major hang ups), knew the difference between love and lust, but when it hit me it was completely over welling, you think things like “do i need to kill everyone on the street so its safe for her to walk down” freaky and very very odd, 4 years on and it just gets worse, when watching them sleep is better than any movie, if it gets you, just give up, your doomed!!

  4. How wonderful for you, Mark. Congratulations to you both!

  5. Lust at first sight, certainly, but love requires trust and friendship as well. That takes at least ten more minutes. As for bottling the feeling of new love, somebody already has. A bacon and chocolate infused bourbon….

  6. Hello:)

    I just had to say how much I really enjoy your posts on love and polyamory:) I’ve been poly for a very long time, and you address the aspects of poly wonderfully, both the amazing parts and the hard parts with grace and courage. Thank you.

    As for love at first sight…not so much. Lust at first sight, yes. Even a strong I NEED to know this person at first sight.

    Love for me involves a deep connection that has trust and honesty at the very core. That is not something one can develop in just a first meeting or first sighting.


  7. Thank you so much, Rebecca. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the posts.

    I agree with you on love at first sight, but perhaps it’s because it has never happened to me. Love for me, too, requires a deep connection with trust and honesty at the very core. Well put.

    How utterly devastating to discover said connection was a skillful facade, as in my most recent experience with love.

    Still, we move on.

  8. I am very sorry to hear that the love was not true. That is a special kind of pain to deal with afterward…I have been there as well.

    Good wishes to you as you move on:)


  9. […] Original Blog Post […]

  10. I wish I’d read this piece before writing mine 😀 Mine now looks like the random gibberings of an ape :D.

    Lust at first sight most definitely, but then shockingly love within 3 hours. That kind of threw me. However, it was not meant to be 😦

  11. Love is very personal, and deeply related to a person’s maturity, experience, education, all manner of things. If we are aware of the effects of pheremones, chocolate and expensive gifts, do they affect us all the same? Honestly, I do no believe in love at first sight, and I’ve been through too many successful and unsuccessful pursuits of it to believe it. I do believe that if we are willing to give for a person more than we believe we could, it probably means something important.

    • I love this. It’s wonderful how you talk about part of love being the willingness to give of yourself. Quite validating. Thank you.

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