IS THERE LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?

love, passion“The first sigh of love is the last of wisdom.” Antoine Bret

Ain’t that the truth. Love at first sight is particularly dangerous because we are blindsided; there is something mysterious about it, rare and inexplicable.

As Marlowe said: ‘Whoe’er loved, but at first sight?’

I am sure there are some who will argue with that, who have found love that grows over time. And some are probably right. Still others don’t believe in love at first sight. I sure didn’t, until it happened to me.

The great poet Quentin Tarantino said it better than anyone in True Romance, speaking through Clarence Worley: “You just said you love me, now if I say I love you and just throw caution to the wind and let the chips fall where they may and you’re lying to me, I’m gonna fuckin’ die.”

Yep.

Tarantino, love

Photograph: Georges Biard

But if we stumble on this amazing connection with someone – why doesn’t it end always happily?

Plato proposed the idea that human beings originally had four arms, four legs, and a single head made of two faces, but Zeus feared their power and split them all in half, condemning them to spend their lives searching for the other half to complete them.

Like Jerry Maguire.

But perhaps to make a perfect whole, you need two perfect halves.

love, Banksy

Banksy graffiti
photograph: Richard Cocks

It has been suggested that what often happens in a soul-deep union is that two people must then stay true to their souls for it to work. This struggle is something that inspires a lot of fiction and cinema.

For instance, I’m not a great fan of the book but I thought ‘Bridges of Madison County’ touched on something here:

And in that moment, everything I knew to be true about myself up until then was gone. I was acting like another woman, yet I was more myself than ever before.

But Francesca can’t be true to herself, and keep her family.

The trouble with love at first sight is that it is like a drug. It’s a great feeling, yes; like a drug it helps us release our inhibitions. We become for a moment who we would like to be – if we would dare to.

kiss, love,

source: KoS

For instance I get tired of hearing people call Brokeback Mountain a movie about gay cowboys. Jack or Ennis could as well have been heterosexual corporate accountant but it just wouldn’t have been as dramatic, or as scenic.

Being gay was just the particular secret they carried, the private selves they weren’t allowed to be.

‘Tell you what, we coulda had a good life together! … Had us a place of our own. But you didn’t want it, Ennis! I’m not you… I can’t make it on a coupla high-altitude fucks once or twice a year! … I wish I knew how to quit you.’

Not that all love has to be as dramatic. But love at first sight catches us off guard and we don’t have time to be sensible. As a woman once said to me: This is so out of character for me.

love, passion

photograph: Tudor

Or was it in character, and that was too naked?

We all say we want to find ourselves but our real selves may be inconvenient, and our friends and our family may never approve. So finally we sober up and let love at first sight go in favour of something more … measured.

Anastasia is about a woman who may or may not be a royal princess. But it is also about love at first sight, and why great passion may sometimes come to nothing, because she has to choose between love and the chance to be a real princess. She doesn’t want to be ordinary, even if it means being happy. She will not let her heart rule her.

But sometimes love at first sight works. I have very good friends who lived happily ever. Theirs was love at first sight. There was nothing standing in their way of happily ever after – except themselves.

So first they had to struggle with what Anastasia and Michael struggle with love, passionin Anastasia, the same conflicts faced by Ennis del Mar and Jerry Maguire and Clarence Worley.

The thing about love at first sight though; I’ve never known anyone experience it and not be radically changed by it.

So what do you think? Is there such a thing as love at first sight? Or is it just for books and movies?

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Anastasia, Colin Falconer

Anastasia

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About colinfalconer

author of bestselling historical novels like Anastasia, When We Were Gods, Aztec and Harem. My books have been published in the UK, US and ANZ and translated into seventeen languages.
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10 Responses to IS THERE LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT?

  1. marrymeknot says:

    Well, there is some scientific data to back it. The brain can release the love-related chemicals: adrenaline, dopamine and serotonin within one-fifth of a second of first sight. However, you also have a point there it doesn’t always seem to end well.

    • The thing that intrigues me with love at first sight is how does the brain know? Because it’s never wrong about these things – even if the relationship doesn’t last, in my experience life is never the same again.

  2. Julia Robb says:

    Can you tell us more about your love at first sight experience? You can change names, if it’s difficult. I don’t know what I believe about this, but Robert Jordan, the psychologist, believes being in-love is a projection of a self believing the lover will supply a lack, and only mature love is real.

    • Well I agree with him, Julia. (My only trouble with psychs is they always talk in the third person and seem so dry. They never seem to have had much first hand experiernce.) Love at first sight may not lead to something lasting but it always leads to something profound. I like what Keanu Reeves said: ‘I believe in love at first sight. You want that connection and then you want some problems.’ It’s how a couple deals with the problems after that first flush that leads to love – and I think that’s what Jordan is saying. But what intrigues me is how the brain can pick out a person in the middle of a crowded room and know that if you walk yup to them it’s going to lead to something passionate and life changing. And it’s not just sexual. I had the same feeling when I met this guy back in my twenties – and we’ve been shirt off the back buddies ever since. I was his best man and he was mine – and it was the same feeling. It’s kinda mysterious.

  3. To me, love is when you know the person with all his faults, weaknesses and idiosyncracies, and still want to be with him. So in that light, love at fist sight is an oxymoron. But lust? Attraction? Absolutely! And those things certainly can lead to love over time. Btw, I LOVED The Naked Husband – absolutely amazing book!

    • Jennette, I absolutely agree that’s what love is, and that’s why love at first sight does seem like an oxymoron. Naked Husband was love at first sight – more than lust and less than love. I’m glad you enjoyed it … I still think it’s a bit special that one.

  4. marrymeknot says:

    I think when you walk into a room and have a connection with a complete stranger that you pick out of the crowd, like how you did Colin with your friend, it’s because you guys knew each other in another life. There’s no other way to explain that connection or that feeling of comfort you have with a stranger. Perhaps love and first sight falls into this category too. But, I’m kind of an “old soul, new soul” reincarnation freak.

    • So am I. But I always leave my mind open to other explanations, but that’s my philosophy also. I think the clincher for me is when you get that feeling when the relationship is not sexual. Something else going on. As I said in the main copy, it’s always profound.

  5. Love at first sight might not lead to anything at all. Curious looks from across a room. Chance encounters. A hellish purgatory where you wonder “what was that?”

    • Hmm, I’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing, Dianna. As I responded to one of the comments I had the very same eerie feeling when I met my good mate when we were young blokes, and there sure was nothing sexual in that. I relate to the hellish purgatory where you wonder – what was that? Great description! I know what you mean. But that can happen the normal way as well.

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