Cheer up hopeless romantics – science appears to be on your side.
According to new research, it is actually possible to fall in love with another person at first sight.
The annual Singles in America survey, which is sponsored by the dating site Match.com, found that in 2014, 59 percent of men and 49 percent of women said they believe in love at first sight, and 41 percent of men and 29 percent of women say they have experienced it. The survey included more than 5,000 singles ages 21 to 70-plus.
These numbers are not surprising. As a recent article in The Wall Street Journal notes: “Scientists say we are genetically wired for the possibility of love at first sight, but why it happens to some people and not others is largely a matter of timing and self-*assurance.”
Numerous psychological studies have also found men fall in love faster than women, says Helen Fisher, a human behavior researcher and a professor at the US’ Rutgers University with a focus on romantic *interpersonal attraction. Fisher is Match.com’s chief scientific adviser and spearheaded the study.
“Men are so visual. They see a woman who appeals to them physically, and it will *trigger the romantic love system faster,” she says. “Women are more careful romantically.”
Three connected systems
Experts say romantic love is one of three systems – along with the sex drive and feelings of deep attachment – that humans developed for mating. Romantic love’s intense desire for connection with the other person typically lasts 18 months to three years.
According to Fisher, the sex drive in both men and women is fueled by *testosterone. In contrast, romantic love is emotional obsession. The two are meant to go together, but it is possible to have one without the other.
Fisher says that like the sex drive, romantic love can be triggered immediately, which may explain the quick and *unintentional experience of falling in love.
Arthur Aron, research professor at Stony Brook University in New York and a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley, who studies love, noted to The Wall Street Journal that there are three factors present when you fall in love: You have to like the other person’s physical appearance; you have to find his or her personality desirable, and you have to feel the other person likes you.
These feelings can be triggered by a number of *stimuli. But as Aron noted: “You may be more likely to fall in love quickly if you are ready.” So don’t just *fantasize about falling in love at first sight. Go out, be yourself and love (first sight or not) will find you.