Sorry, but “Love at First Sight” Isn’t Love at All — It’s Actually Lust

“Love at first sight” is a concept that’s pretty romantic and pretty clichéd. But does it really exist? Science says otherwise.

Love at first sight, man and woman on park benchphoto credit: shutterstock

Is love at first sight really dead?

Love at first sight is a great romantic buzz phrase. People may ask you if you believe in it and romcom scriptwriters will throw it around with the same enthusiasm as a bride heaving a bouquet. But for the skeptic, it seems like a bit of a dubious concept. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a strong, loving relationship needs work, the skeptic will muse. And guess what? science is on the side of the skeptic.

According to a new study published in the Journal of the International Association for Relationship Research, “love at first sight,” or “LAFS” is almost always “a strong initial attraction,” i.e., lust. The study involved monitoring a series of 500 dating encounters from 200 participants and polling them about their different feelings of attraction to their respective romantic partner for each encounter. The participants were Dutch and German students in their mid-20s.

The research was divided into three stages: an online survey, a laboratory study and three dating encounters that lasted no longer than 90 minutes each. After the dating encounters, the participants were asked if they felt something like LAFS during the date and to what degree they found their counterpart physically attractive. The “love components” that were measured were “intimacy,” “commitment” and “passion.”

Of all the encounters, LAFS was reported 49 total times by just 32 participants. And the vast majority of the time LAFS was reported, key love components, specifically commitment and intimacy, were missing from the romantic pairing. However, in almost every case of LAFS, the participant’s feelings of physical attraction to their counterpart was noticeably spiked.

The study was 60 per cent women, but the majority of the reported instances of LAFS were by men. When LAFS was reported, it was almost always not reciprocated. Cue the ugly sobbing and “love is dead” recitations.

Only kidding! As mentioned before, love takes work and is very much alive. Looking for love yourself? This is why you shouldn’t rely on physical attraction when dating.

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Originally Published on Reader's Digest