A few days I wrote about chemistry. A lively discussion ensued. What is chemistry? Is it a purely worldly idea? Is it needed in courtship? Does it come after you tie the knot? There were a variety of opinions on the subject. So now in the next installment of what I will call my “summer romance” series, I will address a related topic: love at first sight.
To start things off, let me say I was attracted to my husband Kevin immediately. His kind face. His gregarious personality. Even the sound of his voice. Plus, we discovered quickly that we shared a lot of things in common. That said, I think most of us would agree that “love at first sight” is a myth. I mean, we all know happily married couples who were either apathetic toward one another at first or, in rare cases, even loathed each other.
At the same time, its generally true that persistent myths tend to have some basis in reality. I recently read an article about love at first sight. Dr. Helen Fisher, author of Why Him? Why Her says this about attraction:
It takes less than one second to decide whether you find someone physically attractive, which means, your brain immediately eliminates anyone who’s too short or too tall for you, too old or too young, or too scruffy or too well-scrubbed for your taste.
Still, one’s perception of physical attractiveness (or lack of it) can grow or diminish as he discovers what another person is like. Immediate physical attraction is only part of the equation. Another factor mentioned in this article is the sound of the voice. People have varying tastes on what makes a voice attractive, but beyond tone of voice, the vocabulary and content of speech play a significant role in initial attraction.
What else happens in the first three minutes of meeting someone? You judge their words. Studies show that we tend to like people who use the same kinds of words we do, whether they’re short words or long words, descriptive words, or scientific words, formal words or slang. Dr. Fisher says you’re more likely to fall in love at first sight if your first conversation turns to something you think is important — like music, kids, or work — and you’re both totally in agreement.
This was true for me and Kevin. When I met him at Starbucks and he noticed my Wordless book bracelet, our conversation immediately turned to childrens ministry, something we are both very passionate about. This gave us an instant connection.
This article notes that only 11 percent of couples report having a long-term relationship begin at “Hello.” Even in my case, Kevin didn’t pursue me until eight months after our first meeting.
However, if you like someone even slightly, the more similar you are — as far as your values, education, background and morals — the more the attraction will grow over time.
So my experience with Kevin may not have been love at first sight, but it was definitely like at first sight — that grew into more over time. And I believe God set us up for that.