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In a recent story in the In a “Sunday Styles” section of the New York Times, a young New York man describes spotting a young woman across the room at a business event in Israel, “I . . . just kind of froze for a moment. . . I immediately told myself if this girl could be the one, then I’m satisfied, I’m set for life.”
They had one date before he flew home. Six months later they had a second date in Venice, and less than a year later she emigrated from Israel and moved into his Manhattan apartment.
Love at first sight. Sigh! How romantic! Swoon! But is it real?
An article in Psychology Today cites a 2017 study in the Netherlands in which researchers surveyed 400 men and women after being exposed to potential romantic partners.
Among their findings:
- While subjects do experience love at first sight, it was more likely with beautiful people.
- Men report love at first sight more than women.
- The phenomenon isn’t usually mutual.
- And, sadly, love at first sight isn’t real.
Researchers concluded that while the attraction is genuine, it lacks the intimacy, commitment and passion that are associated with long term relationships and genuine love.
So why do men and women often claim they instantly knew they’d, “found the right one.”
Arthur Aron, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at State University of New York, offers a number of suggestions beyond simple attraction in Women’s Health.
- Loneliness or the fear of loneliness.You recently had a bad breakup. All your friends are getting married. You’re a stranger in a strange town. Any or all of these factors can heighten the impact of a new romantic interest.
- Fear of aging. When the old biological clock seems to be ticking towards midnight, some singles dive into a relationship when they might otherwise have executed more caution.
- Frustration with dating. Dating apps (with their swiping, winking, ghosting, et al) are pretty exhausting, which can compel you to fixate on the first one that catches your eye.
- Reciprocation of Feelings. “The most common falling-in-love scenario [happens when] you meet someone who’s reasonably attractive, and somehow you find out that they have some interest in you,” says Aron. “Often, at that moment, people feel that they fell in love.”
In my experience, real love (the kind that lasts for 50 years or more) doesn’t happen in an instant. You don’t spot someone “across a crowded floor” and suddenly have the fortitude to hold his hand when he’s getting stitches or clean up after she pukes. He or she may be cute, but nobody’s that cute.
Real love takes decades of dirty diapers, illnesses, compromise, disappointment, loss and crises along with friendship, sharing, celebrations, small victories, and working side-by-side to build a life together.
It’s not “love at first sight” but “love at long last” that’s the big prize.
When did you first know you were in love? Please comment here.