Can Love at First Sight Happen?

Are those intense early feelings true love?

couple on a first date

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Love at first sight is the phenomenon of having intense feelings for someone the second you meet them.  Rather than slowly falling in love over time, you feel like you love the person from your very first encounter. Some describe this feeling as an instant connection, a deep attraction, a sensation of “butterflies in their stomach,” or a belief that they’ve met the person that they’re destined to be with forever. 

Many people believe love at first sight is possible, but are these intense first feelings real? And what does it mean if you don’t experience this intense rush of feelings from the get-go?

Is Love at First Sight Real?

The answer to whether love at first sight is real ultimately boils down the definition of love. Generally speaking, love is defined as a deeply intimate relationship where security, trust, safety, and attachment have all been established.

When you think about “love at first sight,” these factors are simply not present the first time you meet a person. Instead, they need time to develop. So the short answer as to whether love at first sight is real is no, not really.

A study published in the Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism suggests that love at first sight is actually an intense attraction at first sight.

“What can develop is an intense attraction that involves an influx of hormones and neurochemical reactions that motivate us to seek closeness and intimacy with the object of our affection and attraction,” explains Kristen Roye, PsyD. “This response system can initially be triggered instantaneously and encourage us to explore a further relationship with this person that can certainly lead to love.”

Dr. Route explains that this immediate sense of attraction and connection to another ends up triggering a flurry of hormones, including feel-good hormones such as dopamine, norepinephrine, and cortisol. This creates a burst of positive feelings that can make someone feel as though they have “found the one.”

What Are the Signs of Love at First Sight?

When people experience what feels like love at first sight, or that initial intense attraction, they might have the following emotions, thoughts, or feelings:

  • Physical attraction, which can include sexual attraction or feelings of lust and desire. In fact, several studies conclude that how attractive you find another person is a huge factor in whether you experience love at first sight or a desire to pursue partnership.
  • Having an instant connection that the other person may or may not feel.
  • A feeling of euphoria or utter happiness, which is likely triggered by an influx of feel-good hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
  • Being emotionally or spiritually drawn to the other’s personality or characteristics
  • Thinking about the other person often. Some studies even say the thinking can be “obsessive.” 
  • Desiring to spend more time with the other person to get to know them better 
  • Feeling like you’re “meant to be together” or are soul mates 

Does Love at First Sight Last Forever?

Love at first sight doesn’t automatically last forever. True love requires hard work, commitment to each other, and excellent communication. You must establish a history of trust and loyalty and feel safe with one another emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically.

Kristin Roye, PsyD.

Those initial feelings that individuals describe during ‘love at first sight’ [often] fade with time, whereas true attachment—when engaged in a healthy relationship—will grow over the years.

— Kristin Roye, PsyD.

“The development of this type of relationship depends on so many complex factors, not limited to each partners’ openness to love and intimacy, each partner’s attachment style, communication style, and culture,” says Dr. Roye.

Of course, those initial first feelings can sometimes develop into a deep and meaningful relationship like this. If that happens for you, you’ll feel an increased mood and sense of safety and commitment within the relationship. Like any relationship, it won’t be without hills and valleys, but generally you should feel like you’re a team working together toward a happy life.

That said, it’s important to keep in mind that the “love at first sight” feelings and attraction doesn’t always develop into long-lasting love. So, even if you experienced those intense emotions and feel connected to the other person for that reason, that doesn’t mean that you should remain in the relationship if it isn’t working. 

“In all honesty, those initial feelings that individuals describe during ‘love at first sight’ [often] fade with time, whereas true attachment—when engaged in a healthy relationship—will grow over the years,” Roye says.

What If I Don't Feel Love at First Sight?

While initial attraction to another person is certainly a factor in whether you decide to pursue a relationship, long-lasting love involves so much more than that early spark. That said, if you don’t experience that initial attraction and connection, that doesn’t mean that the relationship is doomed or that genuine love won’t develop.

The reality is that true love develops over time as you get to know a person. When a relationship progresses in a healthy way, you’ll naturally become more attracted, more deeply attached, and will develop a deep sense of caring and loyalty toward the other.

When people experience that magical “love at first sight” feeling, it’s largely based on physical attraction, finding the other person special or interesting, or connecting on common ground and shared values. Add in some hormonal chemistry and your heart might just feel like it’s on fire. Experiencing these feelings is an excellent reason to pursue a relationship with someone, but remember that real, genuine love is something that develops slowly over time. 

2 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Seshadri, K. G. (2016). The neuroendocrinology of love. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 20(4), 558–563. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.183479

  2. Bolmont, M., Cacioppo, J. T., & Cacioppo, S. (2014). Love is in the gaze: An eye-tracking study of love and sexual desire. Psychological Science, 25(9), 1748–1756. doi:10.1177/0956797614539706

By Wendy Rose Gould
Wendy Rose Gould is a lifestyle reporter with over a decade of experience covering health and wellness topics.