Posted by: Dr. Helen Fisher
Topic: Do you believe in love at first sight? Have you experienced it – and was it “the real thing” or lust?
Love at first sight comes out of nature. Sex is time-consuming, dangerous and metabolically expensive. So there isn’t a mammal on this planet that becomes “attracted” to anyone who comes along. If a suitor is too old, too young, too scruffy or otherwise unacceptable, they ignore the offer or dash away. Animals don’t have time to “date.” So when the breeding season or their period of fertility begins, they either reject a suitor almost immediately or they express genuine attraction, the forerunner of love at first sight, and begin breeding fast.
I think we inherited this brain response for attraction at first sight. Poetry from many cultures mentions it. And in one study, some 10% of the population had experienced this sudden and compelling rush of attraction. But I suspect men have this experience more regularly than women, because men are more visual, and because men have less to lose if they fall in love instantly: they won’t bear the child. But both sexes are built to fall in love rapidly—and begin the mating process.
Is it lust or love? That depends. These are different feelings and different brain systems, but the sex drive and romantic love can overlap and trigger one another. However, romantic love is far more powerful than the sex drive. If you have truly fallen madly in love at first sight, you want much more than sex from this mysterious “other.” You want ALL of him or her.