I don’t know about you, but when I was little, I would sit in my Cinderella costume and glue my face to the tv as the Disney castle logo played. I clapped and cheered as Ariel, Cinderella, Jasmine, Snow White, and Aurora met all their perfect princes at a glance. I thought that glance was the best part of the movie, when the prince and princess met each other’s gaze and they fell in love and the audience just knew. Love at first sight. How romantic~~~
But…is it realistic?
Some people say that they ‘knew’ when they met their future spouse. For example, Prince Harry or Portia de Rossi. Ask any middle aged, happily married couple if they had love at first sight and I bet you $5 that they will sigh dreamily and say yes. But how does that work? How did they know? Why haven’t I found my soulmate like all these people did with a glance? Where is my coffee shop love interest? Or my bump on the street? Or glance through a crowded room?
Therefore, since I haven’t experienced it, people are obviously lying.
But, according to Dr. DiDonato, they might not be. In her article, she says that a study in the Netherlands was conducted on the topic. In the study, 400 men and woman completed three different tests (one online, another in a lab, and another face to face) to rate if they felt love at first sight for the picture (or person if it was face to face) and then rate how attractive the person was. The study concluded with tons of interesting data: it was most likely love at first site if there was a higher attractive rating, men were more likely to experience it, and it isn’t normally mutual at first. This data is supported by another article which continues to say that love at first sight might be a subconscious pull where we rate people to our ideal partner. But it continues with saying that after the initial glance, people then go up and talk to the person. So, this article says it’s less of ‘love at first sight’ but ‘attraction at first glance’ (which might be how Tinder works now that I think about it).
Personally, I believe that ‘attraction at first glance’ might be the better word choice for the phenomena than ‘love at first sight’. Yet, I also believe that other people think love at first sight exists. But why do they believe it even when data shows that it is the subconscious brain and facial features? Well, I think it might have to do with priming. We are told through movies, tv, books, friends, and family (to name a few ????) that love at first sight can be expected and is natural. Therefore, we are primed to believe our subconscious’ manipulations as a gut feeling of just knowing. And, our schema of a perfect partner can alter the way that we see this person. Or it could be our schema of the area where you first see them, you don’t think of love at first sight at a tattoo parlor (you can blame romcoms and movies for making coffee shops and crowded rooms the schemas).
But memory might also be a reason for why people believe love at first sight exists. That might be because the most typical people to be questioned if they experienced love at first sight are the people in stable and long-lasting relationships. The fact that those people are in a long-lasting relationship requires them to search through their long term memory to find out when they first met their partner. Long term memory is not stored in a perfect way, the information is broken into chunks and mixed in and out of order. The memories are malleable and it’s easy to have misinformation (meaning that the facts can be changed while you still think that they are true). This is to make a better story or to conform to other’s opinions; for example, if a partner felt so strongly to you in the beginning you might think your memory showed the same emotion back quicker than it really did.
Love at first sight is said to happen when someone looks at another and a love alarm goes off in our head (like in Inside Out with the boy Riley was talking to at the end). From data, technically it exists because of the subconscious mind, but there is still a lot of information that can be looked in on to get a better understanding, for science, of course….…oh, who am I kidding? We need to understand it for more realistic Disney movies so we can get more top 10 moments.