Destiny’s problem child
I saw this gorgeous girl at the coffeehouse at the mall two months ago. It was totally love at first sight. I keep hanging out there hoping to see her again. Am I nuts, or does love at first sight really exist? – Smitten
Love at first sight sounds so romantic. There are those couples who claim they had it – causing mass nausea at dinner parties when they look into each other’s eyes and announce, “From the moment we saw each other, we just knew.” Uh, or did they? A Swiss psychology grad student, Florian Zsok, ran some experiments to see what love at first sight is actually made of.
Zsok and his colleagues were looking for the three elements that psychologist Robert Sternberg theorizes interact to produce love: intimacy, commitment and passion (made up of physical arousal, desire, excitement and longing). They surveyed participants online and in a lab setting – asking them how they felt about people in photographs – and in three dating events, getting their reactions to people they’d just met. Of the 396 participants, love at first sight “was indicated 49 times by 32 different individuals.” (That rare and wonderful lightning struck twice or maybe three times for some.) And here’s a shocker: “None of the instances of (love at first sight) was reciprocal.”
Not surprisingly, none of the participants who said they’d felt love at first sight had the elements of intimacy or commitment as part of their experience. The one element they did have? Passion – in the form of “physical attraction.” Basically, the researchers empirically confirmed what some of us intuitively understand: “Love at first sight” is just a classier way of expressing the sentiment yelled from passing cars: “Hey, miniskirt! You’re late for your visit to My Penis Avenue!”
As for couples who insist they had love at first sight, the researchers believe they could be retrospectively repainting their first meeting to make their relationship feel more special. The reality: “We just knew” is “we just got lucky” (stated in a way that makes frustrated single people long to commit hara-kiri with the nearest shrimp fork).
Reminding yourself that you just have the plain old hots for this girl is probably the best way for you to do what needs to be done – shift to some other activity (Masturbate! Play video games!) when the impulse strikes to stake out coffeeland. Getting stuck on a total stranger this way probably makes it impossible to behave normally in their presence – or want to look closely enough to see who they really are. As alluring a concept as love at first sight is, in practice it tends to work out best with inanimate objects – a painting or an antique chair (something that doesn’t make big wet smacking sounds when it chews or take so long to text you back that you buy it a burial plot).
© 2017, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem?
Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail AdviceAmy@aol.com (advicegoddess.com). Weekly radio show: blogtalkradio.com/amyalkon