The Science Of Love At First Sight

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There is no one on the planet whose work fascinates me more than Dr. Helen Fisher. Dr. Fisher is a biological anthropologist, a research professor, and a member of the Center for Human Evolution Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers University. She is also the Chief Scientific Advisor of Chemistry.com and the author of five books on sex, love, marriage, gender, and personality.

The latest of Dr. Fisher's riveting research revolves around a subject every romantic holds dear: love at first sight.

Does it exist?

And if so, does it last?

Love at first sight, Dr. Fisher explains, isn't only a human phenomenon. The animal kingdom also experiences its own brand of instant attraction. Scientists have recorded instances of love at first sight in hundreds of species, including elephants, orangutans, baboons, beavers, dogs, chimps, and more. Even Charles Darwin witnessed it, between a pair of ducks: "it was evidently a case of love at first sight, for she swam about the newcomer caressingly... with overtures of affection."

Humans inherited the ability to fall in love at first sight from our animal ancestors. Like other mammals, the female descendants in our primordial past had a monthly period of heat. They had to procreate within that limited amount of time, making it essential that they were able to meet and attract a mate quickly.

First meetings are still important, though we no longer have only a brief window in which to reproduce. We form a strong impression of someone within the first three minutes of meeting them, using only the limited amount of information we are able to gather during that time. For the lucky ones, that impression is one of attraction.

Believe it or not, men tend to fall in love faster than women. Because their brain circuitry for romantic love is more quickly triggered by visual cues, they are more likely to feel instant attraction than their female counterparts.

That may sound like a case of lust rather than love, but lust and love involve very different brain networks. "You can have physical intimacy with someone you are not 'in love' with," Dr. Fisher writes in the Chemistry.com blog, "and you can be passionately in love with someone you have never kissed. But these brain circuits can trigger one another, leaving you wondering for a moment if your attraction is purely physical."

Love at first sight shouldn't be dismissed as shallow or fleeting. Instant passion can last and become genuine, deep attachment. The question you must ask, Dr. Fisher writes, is "What percentage of the day and night do you think about him or her?" Romantic love is an obsession, so if you can't get your beloved off your mind, you can be sure it's the real thing.

To find our more about the dating site in which uses Dr. Fisher's research to help match their members, you can read our Chemistry.com review