Is Love At First Sight A Real Thing?

Updated April 8, 2024by Regain Editorial Team
Does love at first sight really exist?

It may sound like a romantic concept, but you may have wondered to yourself, is love at first sight real? You may be surprised to learn (or perhaps not really) that evidence suggests that yes, love at first sight is, in fact, a real thing. (You know it's a real thing when they make reality shows about it, like TLC's Love at First Kiss.)

Biased memory

Some have said that love at first sight (or, if you're a Scorpions fan, "love at first sting") is nothing more than a memory bias. This means that you may believe you fell in love at first sight, but this is just because you are in love with the person now, and those emotions are coloring your memory of when you first met that person.

However, there are so many reported instances of falling in love with a person the moment you meet them that while some people may be suffering from a memory bias, many of those who have reported falling in love at first sight may have genuinely done so. For these people, such experiences feel like, as the band, Alabama once put it, "love in the first degree."

First love

There is so much riding on the first person you fall in love with, and the first person who breaks your heart, which is usually the same. The reason why our first love sticks with us for life is that it usually happens during that all-too-critical period: adolescence. This is when we are constantly struggling with our hormones and ourselves. We constantly feel like we're not good enough, so when someone comes along and takes an interest in us, and we realize we are good enough, we latch onto that person and never want to let go. ("First comes love, then comes marriage…")

Some people are lucky enough to experience first love again, meaning they find and fall in love with the same person they first fell in love with all those years ago. You may think, "that will never happen between me and my first love," and you are probably correct. Such instances are incredibly rare because we change so much as we grow that we are typically many different people in our 30s, say than we were in our 20s. The things we used to enjoy are no longer the same, and the people we once clicked with have changed too, so the odds of finding things in common grows smaller as we get older.


This is why many couples break up after being together for a longer period, especially while they're young. It's normal and healthy to change and evolve as you get older, and in many cases, the things that couples used to enjoy together are no longer the same. This is what it means to "grow apart." It is sad when relationships end, but it may just be for the better if a long-term couple decides that they just don't have much in common anymore, and they would be better suited to find partners who are more in sync with them at that point in their lives.


Here's something a little depressing: you're more likely to fall in love at first sight with one of the "Beautiful People" (with a hat tip to the late Prince). In fact, during one study, researchers found that respondents were nine times more likely to fall in love at first sight if they were attracted to the person, rather than if they took the time to get to know them first. (This type of attraction is referred to as "sapiosexuality," or being attracted to a person's mind, and then the rest may or may not follow.)

This isn't to say that if you aren't being asked to join any modeling agencies anytime soon that someone won't fall head over heels in love with you at first sight. This just means that if a person is attracted to you, then s/he is more likely to fall in love at first sight with you. It's superficial, yes, but it speaks to the primal need to procreate, rather than the more romantic need to establish a relationship with someone first before heading to the bedroom with them.

On that note, you may be less surprised to learn that men report falling in love at first sight at a higher rate than women do. It isn't clear whether such attractions always bloom into relationships, or if it's just two ships passing in the night. But it definitely speaks to the primal urges of a man (to spread his seed), rather than a woman's inclination to form a deeper connection with a person before experiencing feelings of love.

Arguing for the tenets of love

Okay, so those who don't believe in love, at first sight, have a good reason. They say that the elements that make up a long-lasting, substantial love can't possibly be experienced upon first meeting, someone. For example, how can you say you deeply trust someone you just met? How can you effectively judge whether that person is in favor of commitment, is responsible with their finances, or would make a good parent?

Does love at first sight really exist?

All of these important ideals factor into whether someone would pursue a relationship with a person, or whether his or her feelings could be chalked up to nothing more than a fad for that person. Those who are in favor of these ideals believe that there is no way a person could "fall in love" at first sight. Infatuation or lust, yes, but not love.

Love at first meetup

There is an argument to be made for "love at first meeting," as opposed to love at first sight. What this means is that the couple is given a chance to engage in the tenets of love described above, rather than deciding they've fallen in love with each other after merely passing one another on the street.

For instance, do they make each other laugh? Do they find each other intelligent? Do sparks fly when one of them gently rests a hand on a shoulder in a friendly gesture? These are the things that some say are more important to decide whether love, at first sight, is a legitimate concept because it goes beyond "sight" and into the more realistic realm of "getting to know you." (Cue Sound of Music.)

Here's where things get a little less superficial and a little more real. Love at first meeting is connected to what is called a person's "personality halo." A personality halo is the "aura" you give off concerning your personality traits. While some may project a confident and gracious air, others may come off as standoffish or "bitchy." This subtle "halo" that you project tells others what they can expect when it comes to getting to know more about your personality, and this may draw them in, as opposed to - or in addition to - their being attracted to your physical features.

The future of "love at first sight"

Just because a couple may fall in love at first sight, does this mean they have a solid chance at staying together for the long haul? The answer here is, of course! Research shows that if you have a positive opinion of a person from the moment you meet them, these relationships tend to do better than those who start off hating each other, which then blossoms into love. As the feelings grow stronger and physical touch more intense, the love hormone, oxytocin, also increases, and so does each other's affection. The latter may make for a cute story, but it doesn't always have staying power.

However, that positive first impression can have negative consequences, too. This is where that superficiality comes back. For instance, if a man is so taken with a woman's grace and beauty that he finds he falls for her almost instantly, he may soon realize that she is not quite what she appeared to be once he gets to know her better. This is, in a way, his being punished for attempting to start a relationship with the woman without giving himself the chance to get to know her first.

Similarly, being strongly attracted to a person you barely know is a ripe old recipe for lust that is mistaken for love. Once the passion dies down and the honeymoon period is over, you may realize that you have zero in common with this person, save for your initial attraction to them.


If you find that you're more interested in this person's physical features and you have no intention to take things more seriously with them, then you are in lust, not love. It is important to understand the difference because some couples stay together and simply don't understand why their partner wants nothing more serious than a casual dating experience.

Do you believe you may have fallen in love at first sight, and now you would like some relationship advice? Consider reaching out to one of our licensed counselors, who are available anytime to assist you with your questions and concerns.

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