Love at first sight – fact or contrived fiction?

posted in: On writing | 20

Not so long ago a reader told me that when the main character in my Iron Admiral books, Admiral Saahren, fell in love pretty much at first sight, the character was diminished. That reader didn’t believe in love at first sight. Another reviewer said much the same thing. But I am unrepentant because I KNOW it happens. I’ve seen it and heard about it too often to not believe.

  • Two days after my brother met his new girlfriend, he brought her home to meet mum and introduced her as the woman he was going to marry.
  • A good friend told me that her father danced with a girl he met at a function, went back to his friends and said, “I’m going to marry her.”
  • A well known broadcaster was interviewed on the radio and told how he knew when he met his future wife for the first time, that he was going to marry her.
  • I’ll even throw in Michael Cain, who saw his wife-to-be on a TV commercial

But don’t take my word for it. Let me quote from Allan and Barbara Pease, in their book Why Men Want Sex and Women Need Love. ‘Scientists now agree that love at first sight is a real phenomenon.’ (p13) Why? Well, to put it into pure animal terms, because it makes sex and procreation easier and that’s a survival behaviour. It’s also more prevalent in men than in women because men use their eyes to evaluate a potential mate, while women are more inclined to look for ongoing support and nurturing. After all, if they don’t they’ll be the ones holding the baby. Literally.

So… what do you think? Do you ‘believe’ in love at first sight? Would you care to share any examples? And what do you think when love at first sight happens in a book you’re reading?

20 Responses

  1. Gil French

    Sri Chinmoy taught that rapid spiritual progress could be made with divine love, devotion and surrender. He described divine love as self-offering and self-expansion; divine devotion as an expression of divine love as dedicated action; and divine surrender as a merging of the finite self with the infinite.

  2. mformichelli

    Okay, I’m going to out myself as the person I think Mrs. Van Der Rol is referring to in the post. I don’t believe in LOVE at first sight, but I feel I need to qualify it here in two ways (and this is how I feel about it, I’m not trying to say this is true for everyone):

    1) Someone can certainly feel like they’re in love at first sight, there’s a scientifically proven surge of chemicals in your brain that makes you feel that way, but is it really love? Love to me is something felt very deep, and it’s a kind of combination between that warm-blanket security feeling you have when you look at someone. It’s that deep knowledge that you know all of the persons flaws and all of their good qualities and you’d still do anything for them. Love for me requires that deep knowledge. It’s something solid, almost tangible, and something that is just obvious to everyone in a room even if they don’t know who you or your loved one is. I feel that’s just not possible when you first meet someone. The feeling of being excited, of that “I’ll die for this person” can be there when you first meet them, but I’ve had personal experiences and seen those of my friends that tell me that feeling is something of an illusion (unless you’re lucky enough to find the right person on that first try type thing I guess). It fades in time, and can crash and burn as you learn more about someone.

    When I first met my wife I was super-excited. I hoped that she was “the one” for me, but I wasn’t going to believe it until things developed into something more solid. We did get married (of course), and I love telling our first date story. I’d say it was extreme-like at first sight, maybe even a great hope at first sight—my heart started racing and I felt myself light up like the tree in Rockefeller Center—but I would not call that love.

    2) As it relates in the book, I just felt it didn’t match up with the rest of Saahren’s character. I’ve known a lot of military guys in my life, and none of them have ever expressed love in the terms he did in the book. It just didn’t fit for me, but again, this is my perspective on it shaped by my own experiences. If it worked for you (Mrs. Van Der Rol, anyone else who read the book), then that’s good! I felt this one aspect of the book went faster than I wanted it to. That’s life, though, right?

    By the way, The Iron Admiral was a great read, solid sci-fi, and very entertaining. Don’t take my one issue with Saahren’s character to be a reflection of the book as a whole. It was good!

    • Greta van der Rol

      Thanks for commenting, Mike. You’ve added to the discussion and yes, ‘love at first sight’ can be dead wrong. I think I can kind of put my hand up for that one. And (of course) I accept and respect your opinion. I suppose with Saahren, the other aspect (which I tried not to over emphasise but was meant to be there) was his attraction to her ABILITIES in being able to manipulate Ptorix computer systems. So it was sort of a mixed bag – love at first sight + wow, those talents would be really, really useful.

      But that’s the joy of writing, isn’t it? You can’t please all of the people all of the time.

  3. rinellegrey

    You can’t please them all, no matter which way you go!

    I’m uncertain about love at first sight. Funnily enough though, I can remember the first time I saw my now husband, in a class we shared at uni. I went over and sat next to him and started talking, even though that was SO not my personality. But things did develop slowly after that, and it took me a very long time to realise I loved him!

  4. Synthe

    Love at first sight happens. Usually for men! My husband did for me 😀 Took me 10 years to marry him though, lol. But he glued himself to my side and nothing I did dissuaded him. It’s been nearly 30 years now. Happened to my daughter, too, but she married him after three months of his super-glue attachment, lol. It’s perfectly believable to me in fiction since I know it in real life! Just because it doesn’t t happen for some people in reality doesn’t negate its actual existence. It’s one of Love’s true mysteries!

  5. nancyrae4

    I haven’t experieced love at first sight, but I have experienced LIKE at first sight. The first time I saw my now husband (on a blind date), he had his back to me and was smoothing his hair down. Something about that gesture made me feel warm inside without even seeing his face! As far as reading love at first sight, I like it. It happens in life and so it works in fiction, imo.

  6. paulht

    Love can certainly begin at first sight, but it needs to be confirmed by an on-going commitment. At least, that’s my theory. My experience is that once I thought I’d fallen in love at first sight, but since it wasn’t reciprocated I didn’t get a chance to confirm it!

  7. Patrick Mann

    As an interesting aside, my wife KNEW she was going to marry me – when she was nine years old!

  8. Patrick Mann

    I don’t object when it happens in books. It adds an instant spice to a story and the development of yet another plot string alongside the main story.
    I have always believed love at first sight to be a pheromone-driven phenomenon but hearing that Michael Caine saw the woman he was going to marry on television means I may have to rethink this hypothesis.
    I’ve never believed it was a ‘shape’ or ‘physical attraction’ thing. Either person could be as unprepossessing as an elephant’s butt and it still happens.

  9. C.E. Kilgore (@ce_kilgore)

    Great article. I liked your inclusion of the scientific study in there. I absolutely believe love at first site is possible and happens more often than not.

  10. MonaKarel

    When I first saw Tom at a dog show, I knew I would marry him one day. Didn’t say much to him about it until years later when we were doing a pre-wedding interview with the Pastor.

  11. juliabarrett

    Oh honey, when I was 14 years old I took one look at my husband and said, “I’m gonna marry that boy some day.” And I did. It was love at first sight for both of us. Happened with my parents too, and 2 of my 3 kids. One is married, one just found the one she is going to marry someday (not kidding), and one is in college, not in the market yet. It’s FACT.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.