Dating & Relationships

Can You Really Fall In Love At First Sight?

January 17, 2018 by Justin Lehmiller

A lot of people claim to have had experiences with the phenomenon of “love at first sight.” But is it really possible to fall in love with someone instantaneously? Believe it or not, social scientists really haven’t bothered to test this idea until now. A new set of studies published in the journal Personal Relationships suggests that people who report having fallen in love at first sight probably weren’t actually in love. Truth be told, they were probably in lust instead.

This research is the subject of a recent column I wrote over at TONIC and it involved three studies, two of which took place online and one that took place during a speed dating event. In the online portion, participants were shown photos of strangers and rated how much love they felt for each person and how attracted they were to them. In the speed-dating portion, participants rated their love and attraction for each and every “date” they interacted with.

What the researchers found was that relatively few people—less than 1 in 10—reported a love-at-first-sight experience during any part of the study. And among those who did, ratings of physical attraction were really high, but ratings of love itself were not. It’s important to note that the researchers measured love in multiple ways, too.

In short, it seems that “love at first sight” is a term that people often use to describe strong feelings of initial attraction—however, what they’ve experiencing doesn’t seem to be the same thing as true love.

To learn more about the methods and findings of these studies, check out the full article over at TONIC.

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Image Source: 123RF/Antonio Guillem

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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