The Real Science Behind Falling In Love At First Sight

With so many matchmaking shows to indulge in on Netflix, from Indian Matchmaking to Dating Around, we wondered if there's anything to the cliché of finding love at first sight. Is it really possible? In one study, researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands analyzed surveys completed by nearly 400 women and men about potential dating partners they recently met. While participants tended to report experiencing love at first sight, researchers discovered that this had more to do with physical attraction rather than actual feelings of love. Interestingly, there were no reports of love at first sight being reciprocated (via Discover). Sorry, hopeless romantics!

So what's really happening when we feel instant attraction? According to anthropologist Helen Fisher, Ph.D., author of Why We Love: The Nature and Chemistry of Romantic Love, high levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine and a related hormone called norepinephrine are released when we feel attracted to someone, causing us to feel euphoric and giddy. This coincides with a reduction in serotonin, a hormone related to appetite and mood that may play a role in the strong infatuation associated with the beginning stages of love. And if the attraction leads to the bedroom, those feelings are further bolstered by the release of the bonding hormone oxytocin, also known as the "cuddle hormone" (via Harvard University).

Try this to fall deeper in love

But what if you're someone who's experiencing a one-way spark? Is it possible to get your partner to fall for you? Or better yet, reignite your passion if you've been together for a while? A 1997 study that resurfaced after it was mentioned in a viral New York Times piece by Mandy Len Catron says yes (via Reader's Digest). Replicating the findings, as Catron did, involves asking a series of 36 questions that get increasingly personal, from whether you would want to be famous to what you would change about how you were raised. After the Q&A, staring into each other's eyes for four minutes is supposed to seal the deal. 

"I know the eyes are the windows to the soul," Catron observes, "but the real crux of the moment was not just that I was really seeing someone, but that I was seeing someone really seeing me." Now that's what we would call a keeper!