Is Love At First Sight Actually Possible?

We hear a lot about love at first sight, but is it real? According to movies and art, it isn't just real but happens all the time. Just take "Romeo and Juliet." Romeo may have been torn up over Rosaline, but all it took was one look at Juliet to fall in love at first sight. But leave it to Shakespeare to write such storylines into his plays.


According to a 2017 survey by Elite Singles, the majority of Americans, at 66%, believe in love at first sight. The same survey found that 61% of women believe in it and — wait for it — 72% of men believe in it. That's almost three-quarters of the male population!

"Love at first sight is relatively easy to explain. Romantic love runs along curtain electrical and chemical pathways through the brain which can be triggered instantly," biological anthropologist who works with Match Helen Fisher, Ph.D., tells Refinery29. "Men fall in love faster, statistically speaking, and have experienced love at first sight more often, probably because they are more visual. It's a basic drive, like thirst and hunger."


So, while it may be easy to explain what it is — from a neurological standpoint, is it real? Can it actually happen?

Love at first sight is possible — sort of

There are three stages to falling in love: lust, attraction, and attachment. From a biological sense (and in matters of procreation to keep the species going), each stage has its purpose. Lust is that stage that's near-maddening. Your sex drive is extremely high, and you can't keep your hands off each other. The levels of hormones like testosterone and estrogen are through the roof, so much so that what's straight-up animalistic desire can be confused with other feelings — like love and love at first sight, to be exact.


After lust comes attraction and attachment, respectively. The desire for each other is still there but less heightened because you've evolved into another stage that's more focused on actually falling in love and building something that you intend to last. The confusion, the sexual need caused by the lust stage has settled because the lust stage isn't meant to last.

"Love at first sight is usually fleeting," biologist and relationships expert Dawn Maslar tells Glamour. "When you fall in love, we see a deactivation of the brain, especially the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the part that judges the other person. This deactivation can last up to two years. Then one day you wake up and see the person you're with for the first time, and you may find parts you don't like ... However, if you continue to date and get to know the person, the feelings are replaced with better feelings, ones that don't make you anxious."


As Maslar explains, real love isn't something that smacks you in the face when you're walking down that street, because there's no shortcut to reaching real love. "Real love takes some time to cultivate," says Maslar.

The possibility of love at first sight

There will always be romantics, and honestly, the world needs romantics. The world needs that 66% of people who believe in love at first sight because, without such sentimentality, we wouldn't have the art we have today. Poets, musicians, painters, writers, and that random person sitting on a bench under a cloudy sky need to believe in love at first sight because there's so much hope in such belief. As biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., has said time and time again in interviews, during TED Talks, and every time the topic of love comes up, "[Love is] life's greatest prize."


So, is love at first sight possible? A better question might be: does it matter? We can delve into the biological and neurological factors that make love even possible in the first place. Some can scoff at the idea of such an intricate hormonal event in the human body that can make us think we've fallen in love at first sight, but where will it get us? Love at first sight does exist for those who choose to believe in it. It's not more complicated than that.