Love at First Sight Probably Isn’t a Real Thing — Here’s Why

It could be lust at first sight, though.

            By Lindsay Dodgson 
  • Love at first sight might not be a real thing, according to new research.
  • It could simply be instant physical attraction, or a result of attaching present feelings to past memories.
  • No study covers all situations though, so don’t give up hope just yet.

Everyone is in the mood for love after finding out about Price Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement. In their first interview after making the announcement, Harry delighted us by saying he knew Markle was “the one” the very first time they met.

However, the cynics among us don’t believe in love at first sight — and according to science, we might be right.

A new study, published in the journal Personal Relationships, is one of the first papers to try and get to the bottom of whether people really can be smitten right from the first moment they see each other.

Researchers from the University of Groningen studied 396 Dutch and German students, asking them to fill out a questionnaire about their current romantic relationship status, as well as looking at pictures of several potential partners they’d never met.

They were asked to rate their feelings of attraction to the strangers, as well as any feelings of love, intimacy, passion, and commitment. They also had to state whether or not they agreed with the statement: “I am experiencing love at first sight.”

More participants came into a psych lab and were asked similar questions about pictures of potential lovers.

Others took part in two studies involving speed dating exercises. Potential couples met for either 90 or 20 minutes, then were asked about how attracted they were to their dates, and whether they thought it was love at first sight.

Overall, the study concluded that love at first sight probably isn’t real — sorry.

It turns out it’s probably nothing to do with true love at all, but “lust at first sight,” or an instant sexual connection or attraction to another person. While we may convince ourselves love at first sight happened with our significant other, it’s more likely just us projecting our current feelings to past memories.

Across the whole study, 32 participants described 49 times they thought they experienced love at first sight, either towards real people in the dating scenario or a photo. However, none of the declarations of love at first sight were reciprocated.

“Our findings suggest that love at first sight reported at actual first sight resembles neither passionate love nor love more generally,” the researchers concluded in the study.

Still, the next time someone is gushing about their love at first sight and it’s making you feel bad about your own romantic situation, remind youself it could just be a fragment of their imagination.

For the romantics out there, don’t worry — all of these scenarios in the study were artificially set up, and the people reporting instant love did genuinely believe in it, so that’s something.

Don’t lose hope of a prince falling in love with you the first time he sees you just yet.

Originally published at

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