Love at First Sight and Life-Long Love: 20 Questions

First impressions and oxytocin mixed with common sense can bring life-long love.

Posted Nov 05, 2015

Robert Indiana, Yale Digital Commons
Source: Robert Indiana, Yale Digital Commons

The world of love is a mystery of attraction.  Although we sometimes think of love as a choice as much as a feeling, when we are smitten by love at first sight, we lose perspective. Sometimes love takes us by surprise through a romantic gesture, a smile, a spur of the moment encounter, or an unexpected kiss. Researchers tell us that love is like a cocaine high – it happens in a fifth of a second. But can we really depend upon that first impression -- love at first sight?

Researchers from the University of Bonn, Nadine Striepens, MD, and David Steele, Ph.D., tell us that oxytocin plays a role in initial attractions:

“In humans, interpersonal romantic attraction and the subsequent development of monogamous pair-bonds is substantially predicted by influential impressions formed during first encounters. The prosocial neuropeptide oxytocin (OXT) has been identified as a key facilitator of both interpersonal attraction and the formation of parental attachment.”

Bad-boy love and love making deception

However, Loretta Graziano Breuning, Ph.D., professor emerita at California State University says that although oxytocin plays a role in bonding, maternal instinct, enduring friendshipmarriage, and orgasms – it can be deceptive. In earlier interviews with her she pointed out that oxytocin can wreak havoc with instant attractions.  

“Trust is the authentic feeling you have in the presence of a person whom your body senses is safe. That is a good feeling that stimulates oxytocin. When trust is not authentic, your body might give you a message to be careful around that person.”

The good girl-bad boy syndrome results in many broken hearts. Women are often attracted to the bad boys because the primal instinct is very strong. They feel that bad boys protect them. As Dr. Breuning says, “A guy with confidence seems powerful. He has that self-important look that women find attractive.”

Another way that oxytocin is stimulated is through love-making, but herein lies a bit of deception. “The oxytocin released through orgasm creates a lot of trust, but only for a short period of time,” she said. “In nature most animals are bachelors, so in the act of love-making they generate an opportunity for trust.

“As with animals, humans enjoy the reward that comes from feeling good after sex. In nature — and sometimes in the world of humans — after receiving their ‘feel good dose’ the males go back to being themselves,” she said, adding, “The female view is very different with this oxytocin release.”

Here is what happens with women. After making love a woman might mistake the oxytocin release for feelings that tell her, “This is your perfect partner.” As Breuning notes, “Despite those initial feelings, it does not necessarily mean that the person is trustworthy. The perception you have at the moment is an illusion you create about the person that may or may not fit what happens next.”

Are you really looking for life-long love?  Here are some questions to consider:

1. Take a look at your inner self. Are you ready for a relationship or do you still have issues to resolve from past relationships?

2.  Are you willing to let go of the negative or hurtful feelings associated with past relationships? 

3.  Can you make a 45 day commitment to gratitude in order to think positively about life-long love?

4.  What is the personality profile of your ideal companion – do you like the quiet type or the life of the party?

5.  Are you willing to keep a love journal of what it is you seek in a life-long partner?

6.  Are you thinking companionship or marriage?

7.  If you are thinking marriage, do you want children or would you be happy in a “Dual Income No Kids” situation?

8.  Do you have a specific profession in mind for your Mr. Right? 

9.  Would you prefer a never married man to a divorced man or widower?

10.  What leisure activities would you like to share with him?

11.  Do you enjoy spontaneity and if so, would you seek that in a partner?

12.  Are you an incurable romantic and therefore looking for a man who meets your romantic expectations -- great hugs, good kisses, love texts, or flowers?

13.  What values do you wish the two of you might share?

14.  What qualities in yourself do you wish he would recognize and value?

15.  Can you make a dream come true? Have a look at "7 Days to Your Heart’s Desire." 

16.   After determining the qualities of the man you would like to be Mr.Right, put him into a dream setting. Can you imagine how the two of you might interact?

17.  Once you actually write the qualities that are important to you, review the stories of your first love, and/or other loves, spouses. Are you describing a man who is familiar to you, yet someone who might once again disappoint you? If so, it is time to change the script.

18.  We always remember a story a little differently than the way it originally happened. How can you re-write this love story in a way that is empowering?

19.  Can you maintain positive illusions? From the research of Marcel Zentner, PhD, of the University of Geneva: "Men and women who continue to maintain that their partner is attractive, funny, kind, and ideal for them in just about every way remain content with each other." 

20.  Are you willing to embrace the essence of marriage -- loyalty?

In Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth he talked about the essence of marriage, and later discussed this with journalist Bill Moyers on PBS. He called "loyalty" the essence of marriage—"not cheating, not defecting—through whatever trials or suffering, you remain true."

To this comment Bill Moyers added: "The Puritans call marriage the little church within the church. In marriage, every day you love, and every day you forgive. It is an ongoing sacrament—love and forgiveness."

If life-long love is your wish, then believe in love at first sight, but moderate your feelings with some common sense.  Be willing to take a chance on love.  Dr. Leo Buscaglia, author of Love has said: "What love we've given we will have forever. What love we fail to give is lost for all eternity."  

Copyright 2015 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved


Botwin, M.D., Buss, D.M., Shackleford, T.K. (1997) Personality and mate preferences: five factors in mate selection and marital satisfaction. Journal of Personality 65, 107-136

Langlois, J.H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A.J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., Smoot, M. (2000) Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin 126, 390-423

Ortigue, S., Bianchi-Demicheli, F., et al. (2010) Neuroimaging of Love: fMRI Meta-Analysis Evidence toward New Perspectives in Sexual Medicine, The Journal of Sexual Medicine DOI: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2010.01999.x

Scheele, D., Striepens, N., et al, (2012) Oxytocin Modulates Social Distance between Males and Females J Neurosci. 2012 Nov 14;32(46):16074-9. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2755-12.2012.

Copyright  2015 Rita Watson/ All Rights Reserved