Like so many others, I still remember exactly when I first felt the jolt of an overwhelming attraction of the craziest kind. To say I got weak in the knees would be an understatement — more accurately, I got lightheaded from forgetting to breathe, and ended up falling and nearly dislocating my knee. Falling in love at first sight is an experience that has been considered the holy grail of encounters for just about every hopeless romantic out there. It's true! Studies show that those of us who watch romantic comedies are more likely to believe in the concept of "love at first sight" and ultimately subscribe to more romantic beliefs overall.
But considering everyone's definition of what it means to really love and be loved by someone is likely a bit different, how can we explain feeling such a powerful explosion of emotions for someone we don't really know?
According to Sasha Aurand, dating and psychology writer and editor-in-chief of Psych N Sex, a pretty big part of the feelings we experience during what one might consider to be a "love at first sight" encounter can be explained by science.
Here's how to tell if you're experiencing love at first sight.
1. You're Giving Them The Eyes
Aurand says at this point in our evolution, our intuitive skills allow us to tell in about 100 milliseconds whether or not someone is a suitable sexual partner. Once the initial electricity of sexual attraction is felt — which is more often than not a superficial "beauty"-based assessment — one (or both) of you might start exchanging prolonged come hither glances (aka the copulatory gaze).
Aurand says this intense — and TBH, super arousing — stare-down accomplishes several things:
We look into other's eyes to determine things like perceived level of trustworthiness and to gauge their emotions, perceived intelligence, and even try to figure out their sexual orientation. All of which can quickly help us to decide if we are compatible with this person. All of this happens before speaking a word to the other person, resulting in the compatibility that makes us believe we are “in love at first sight."
2. You Feel A Euphoric Sense Of Relaxation And Warmth
"What we commonly think of as 'love at first sight' is an experience of feeling very connected to someone, as if you already knew them or you are meant to know them. Either or both parties might feel a relaxation in their body, like they feel safe in that person's presence," explains Irene Fehr, intimacy and sexuality coach.
This immediate feeling of relaxation and feelings of familiarness are likely due to the fact that we are often attracted to those we perceive to be similar to us, which instills an almost instantaneous feeling of trust for that person. But Fehr says it is important to note that these feelings of immediate trust in love don't necessarily translate to trust in love in a relationship, because those are things that can only be fostered over time with constant action on the part of both parties.
3. You Feel Like You Can Be Your Most Authentic Self
Another amazingly invigorating feeling associated with meeting someone who you connect with instantly is the freedom that comes with being able to be yourself. But as Aurand explains, it's important to note that studies show that feelings of immediate attraction and ease can also be attributed to perceived similarities in personality, social class, economic status, and culture.
"We infer all of these things without actually knowing if any of it is true. We think they’re attractive and similar, so we’re more attracted because they’re attractive and similar — all without actually speaking to the person," says Aurand.
Both Fehr and Aurand recommend holding off on making big assumptions of things like character and the deeper sides of someone you've felt an initial spark with. "The healthiest way to respond is to take it slow and get to know the other person," suggests Fehr.
4. You Feel The Flutter Of Excitement, Or Butterflies
You know, that feeling in your gut that makes you feel like you could take flight from the high or vomit from the anxiety-induced nausea. You can't help but feel giddy every time they come a bit too close and you almost touch. Butterflies are a trademark sign that you are seriously feeling some thangs.
Strangely enough, butterflies in your stomach are actually a fight or flight response that is triggered by adrenaline. This adrenaline is released anytime you are feeling particularly anxious or filled with positive anticipation (i.e., when the person of your dreams waltzes right up to the counter and asks for a grande frapp, no whip).
5. You Feel In Sync
"They might have synchrony between them, like knowing and feeling what the other person is thinking, wanting, feeling — which is something that usually happens as people get to know each other," says Fehr.
Feeling like you are completely in tune with someone you just met is not only intriguing, it's also pretty sexy. If after striking up a conversation you find yourself effortlessly completing each other's sentences, then there could be some serious love juices brewing.
But remember, before you get carried away with your idea of someone — which is based on assumptions and assessments compiled by a combination of intuition and visual clues — give things some time to set in.
Within getting to know each other, it is important to have open and vulnerable conversations about what each partner wants in life and in the relationship. For some people, falling in love is a powerful and important experience that might not be a stepping stone to having a relationship. Asking deeper, curious questions upfront will help partners understand each other and get aligned on what they want — or prevent deeper heartache later on by not going down a dead-end path.
Ultimately, feeling an instantaneous and profound connection to another person can be a beautiful and life-changing experience. Although the excitement of coming together with someone who you click with can be overwhelming — it's always a good idea to not skip over laying a solid foundation for the love to grow instead of fizzle.
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