Love (or Something) at First Sight

A momentary attraction. A thunderbolt. Can that feeling last for years?

Posted Jun 12, 2018

How many times have you read or heard tales of people who said “I knew at first sight that this was The One?”  In many cases they were correct, too, because this is a quote from a couple at their wedding or even a couple married 50 years. I see it often and am always struck by such a statement. Revisionist history perhaps.

I came across another of these in the N.Y. Times Magazine this week.  A woman in her sixties is talking about the first time she saw the man she eventually married.  They were youngsters not yet in their teens.  “Now really,” I said to myself, “how could she possibly know such a thing?”

Several explanations suggested themselves: the guy seemed familiar because he somehow reminded her of her brothers or father, she was attracted to him sensually (smell, sound of voice, etc.), no matter how young, she was sexually attracted without perhaps even knowing what that was. And the least likely, she recognized him as her soulmate (from a previous life? a voice in her ear? by Fate’s decree?)

I am very well aware of attraction triggers.  Some women really like tall men, the taller the better, and that’s why you so see many tiny females of 5’ or so with basketball players walking proudly together although she is conversing with his arm pit!  Many men are attracted to a woman’s figure – small this and large that, or whatever – and we know this is not going to last a lifetime.  Soon enough the one with the lovely figure will lose it in childbirth or simply age and the small woman may tire of the inconvenience of being 2 feet shorter than her mate.

The other possibility is that, while the initial attraction will fade, they will grow to love one another and even like each other, accept each other for the real person inside.  We all hope for that in a long-term relationship. I think, however, that it’s impossible to love one another at first sight.  You have to know how the other sounds and smells, how s/he reacts to stress, even how they get along with their family, before you can make any decisions about love or marriage.

I often caution people who meet Online and “fall in love” through their correspondence that they cannot know this yet.  One really needs to “get the feel”, literally, of another person before deciding on anything long term. This is so here in the United States where most people expect love to precede marriage and not hopefully  grow to love one another over the years as in arranged matches. Much depends on a person’s expectations and culture.

So, is there love at first sight?  I seriously doubt it.  Can one “know” that this is The One? Possibly, if one’s choice of mate is by attraction, conscious or subliminal. A person can certainly recognize a “soulmate” after only a few days in each other’s company seeing many similarities in values and life views AND in seeing how your bodies might or do fit together, how the other smells and sounds. Will you than be happy life partners?  If you’re accepting, accommodating ….and if you’re lucky.