Love At First Sight: Does It Exist?
A study of dating behavior at the University of Pennsylvania reveals that people don’t need a lot of time with or information about a person to tell if they’re romantically interested. Sounds like love at first sight, right? Single people’s behavior suggests that individuals know “it” (a person who appeals to them or even love at first sight) when they see it—almost instantly.
Love at First Sight data from 10,000+ daters.
They found that men and women assessed potential compatibility within moments of meeting, using primarily visual cues such as age, height, and attractiveness. Factors that you might think would be really important to people — like religion, education, and income — did not play much of a role. In other words, love at first sight may exist.
Another interesting study showed that opposites do not attract. In fact people want partners who look like themselves or have similar characteristics. If you feel like you’re attractive, or athletic or sexy—you tend to pick someone who matches you.
In any case, when we do feel instantly that someone is a good fit we usually call this chemistry, infatuation or love at first sight. There is a physical, visceral response when we meet someone and we are smitten. But this is not all good news.
Love at First Sight or The Flame-Out Deadly Dating Pattern?
Now what’s the problem with love at first sight? Being infatuated with someone and then acting on it too quickly as in having sex too early in the relationship can lead to what I call a Flame-Out Deadly Dating Pattern. In my bestselling dating book Love in 90 Days, I describe this pattern as what happens when the relationship is red hot, emotionally and sexually. You end up hanging out all hours talking with the person—- having a great time in bed and suddenly poof they disappear on you. There’s just too much intimacy too fast with someone you don’t really know. The result: so much fear and anxiety that the relationship is bound to collapse.
This can be OK if you are just looking for a one night stand. But if it lasts longer, your attachment to the lover will deepen. There are physical changes that occur after having sex. Your brain releases Oxytocin, the bonding hormone. Not only that when you spend too much time with a lover your body actually releases opioids. These are the same painkillers found in opium and heroin. And that means when and if your partner disappears on you, it can be very painful. Not only emotionally but physically too. You may feel chest pain or shortness of breath, like you’re having a heart attack. Or fatigued and unable to concentrate.
So the best dating advice I can give you is if you feel chemistry with someone, especially if you feel love at first sight, take it slow, so that you avoid a Flame Out. Don’t spend too much time with them right off the bat or have sex with them too soon. Get to know them first.
The Flame-Out Fix When It’s not Love at First Sight
It is critically important for you if you want to find the one, to do a Dating Program of Three. Even though you meet this guy who is totally on your wavelength, who gets you like never before, who brings you yellow peach roses and writes poems about you, who assures you he’s never felt like this before in his whole life. Even though you are absolutely sure that this is a totally different soul-mate experience and can’t stop looking at the roses or reliving every move he made in bed that ecstatic night! Remember, this is your addictive brain chemistry in action. See two other guys. Be smart.
Make yourself busy so that you are less available for those lost-in-Nirvana five-hour dates. When it starts getting out of hand, limit the amount of time you spend together. Three hours is plenty. Remember, leave him hungry and wanting more. Control your fantasy life. Stop thinking about him so much. Put your attention on other things and other guys. Take on that exciting assignment at work. Go shopping—and not just for what to wear on a date with him. Avoid going to your place or his—because you know what will happen there!
Write up a list of his negative traits to keep your mind more realistic. And ground your mind with meditation, tai chi, chi gong, or other mind/body practices that will diminish the speedy rush into the tunnel of love.
Discuss your Flame-Out tendencies and this hot relationship with your master Love Mentor. Ask her or him for help in slowing down and creating a more mature coming together. Get your master Love Mentor’s okay before you jump in and have sex. Remember that I’ve recommended at least eight weeks of consistently improving contact between you before you open the oxytocin floodgates.
How Dawn ended her Love at First Sight Flame-Out
Here’s how Dawn courageously ended a highly charged love at first sight relationship that set the stage for meeting the man who became her husband:
I have stuck with my commitment of not initiating contact with Billy. This has proved to be very difficult today. Especially tonight… Lots of stuff started coming up. I got a text and at first I thought, “Oh great.” I’m doing my work and Billy contacts me.” Then it turns out it is a dear friend of mine—gay.
By the time I got home and I just cried and cried. I started thinking, “Well, he texted me last, so technically, it’s my turn… blah blah blah.” Yes, it is the land of making up stories to justify my behavior and feeling guilty that I haven’t created a lasting romantic relationship. Yet, there is a win in all of this. I didn’t overeat; I took off my make up and flossed—yes, flossed. So even though I feel TERRIBLE and I WANT BILLY TO CONTACT ME TONIGHT, I am not hurting myself or making myself feel worse by not taking care of myself. And that is a MILESTONE.
Then I remembered your coaching: There’s nothing wrong with me. I start thinking: WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?
Yet, you’ve taught me that I am creating it all. Why am I continuing to attract unavailable men and when will I stop?
Thank God for your support. This is something that I must change in my life because it is really not working for me to be single when what I want is a loving partnership. So, with this email, I recommit to NOT INITIATING CONTACT WITH BILLY TONIGHT. One day at a time.
Later that night, Dawn e-mailed me again
I registered with E Harmony with the intent of creating something new. I haven’t heard from Billy. It’s about 11:00. I am going to take a bath and most likely turn off my phone at 11:30. I am so tired of waiting for him to text night after night. It has been a creation of longing and yearning. I feel very happy to have had the courage to take a stand for myself tonight. And I am not a chicken. I know good things are coming into my life.
Dawn is happily married today. If you’re like Dawn, and you’re prone to falling in love at first sight and then being burned repeatedly, please ask for a free dating strategy session with one of my dating coaches. They’ve helped others just like you overcome this deadly dating pattern.
And if you wonder if there is a Mr. Right For You, check out this video.
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Dr. Diana Kirschner
Diana Kirschner, Ph.D. is a relationship advice expert, frequent guest psychologist on The Today Show and the creator of a globally available dating coach and Love Mentor® program. Dr. Diana is also the best-selling author of the acclaimed best-selling relationship and dating book, “Love in 90 Days”. Love in 90 Days was the basis of her PBS Special on love. Connect with Dr. Diana through her Dating Tips & Relationship Advice Newsletter.
“Diana Kirschner’s work is life-changing, love-affirming and wonderfully effective.”
~Dr. Christiane Northrup, Internationally bestselling author of Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom.