Is “falling in love at first sight” real? And can it be lasting?
My answer is yes to both. True stories and research by experts such as Dr. Helen Fisher support my answer. But—oops!—there is one snafu: You can also fall in love—and remain with—a partner who is not healthy for you.
Usually, as Dr. Fisher and others have noted, falling in love at first sight is a mix of physical attraction, sexual desire, emotional attachment and mutual liking. These factors arouse the brain’s dopamine and reward system that increases a person’s longing and attachment for their partner.
The thousands of women research participants in my five-year study told me love at first sight stories that match the findings of others. I was especially interested in whether these relationships lasted and were healthy.
My results led to this recipe for falling in love. I hope it works for you, too!
Recipe for Falling in Love—Wisely—at First Sight:
Mix in equal amounts:
1. You Have Dated Many Different People—Even If, at First, You Were Not Attracted to Them!
We learn about ourselves through our interactions with others—most especially potential romantic partners. Dating frequently–and against your usual “type” –teaches you about your needs, issues and incorrect assumptions about you and others.
2. You Understand Your Breakups
Many people have asked me: “How long should I wait after a breakup before I start dating again?” Well, there is no magic number. Certainly, the number is more than one day—and perhaps shorter than two years. But, more important than time, is what you have learned about you. Understanding you requires both a tremendous amount of emotional bravery and an ability to withstand the emotional pain of self-discovery.
Do your love homework! It is great medicine to protect against romantic missteps.
3. You Keep Your Heart and Mind Open to Love
Guarding against love can result from being so romantically hurt that you “swear off love.” This mindset and avoidance, however, leave you vulnerable to making another unwise choice when things go wrong in your life. For example, when my research participants lost their home or job, got down-sized or diagnosed with an illness, they reached out romantically to the next “okay-enough” man.
Taking yourself out of the dating world also makes you rusty at reading people and your feeling reactions to them.
4. You Have Honed Your People-Reading Skills—and You Trust Your Assessment of Other Potential Partners
There are many books about people-reading. Your job is to read them. Learn to detect and interpret small changes in facial movements such as smirks, tight lips of criticism, eye-blinking or wandering eyes. Observe nervous leg-shaking and fidgeting.
5. You Know the Influence of Your Parents and Caregivers—and, if Necessary, You Are Able to Alter It
Regardless whether you liked or loved your parents or caregivers they still had an influence over you. Begin by focusing on what they said and taught you about love, men, women, fairness, trust, anger and care. Think about your emotional role in your family. For example, if you were the one who had to take charge or teach and care for your siblings, then it is possible that you feel so comfortable with this behavior that you recreate it in your relationships.
This inner strength and ability are not unhealthy. Problems, however, can arise when you choose partners who give up too much responsibility. Over time, you could feel disappointed and frustrated in their inability to be a team player.
Your emotional role in your family becomes your Emotional Default Drive. The good news is that you can defy your family loyalty and change your attraction to people whose own default drive fits in too well with yours.
6. You Like and Celebrate YOU!
The best way to enter into your romantic relationships is to bring a self that you accept, love and celebrate! Lead with your strengths and not your weaknesses. Desperation and loneliness do not make a solid foundation for falling in love.
7. You Are Optimistic About Finding Love—and You Put Yourself in Situations to Find It!
Having a great mindset is not enough for finding love. You have to take action. And don’t fool yourself by believing that “there aren’t any good ones out there.” Almost every day there is an opportunity to meet people. Make a pact with you to speak with or introduce yourself to at least two people a week who interest you.
Go up to them, ask for their advice in a store or just start a conversation.
People who fall in love wisely at first sight are prepared people. You can be one of them!