Falling in Love: It Happens Faster Than You Think

A Syracuse University study revealed that love-at-first-sight causes the same euphoric feelings as cocaine. Yes, you heard correctly: cocaine. And they say it only takes a fifth of a second to "fall in love". A fifth of a second. Not the three-to-six months of dating that you might expect.

MRIs showed that 12 areas the brain work together during the falling in love process, releasing euphoria-inducing chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, adrenaline and vasopressin.

Dopamine is responsible for reward-driven learning and a variety of highly addictive drugs, including stimulants such as cocaine and methamphetamine, act directly on the dopamine system. Oxytocin plays a role in orgasm, social recognition, pair bonding, anxiety, and maternal behavior.

The researcher who conducted the study, Stephanie Ortigue, says that her results confirm that love has a "scientific basis."

Personally, I don't believe the sensation that is being described is actually "love," but since it's the feeling that most people want to associate being "in love," it's still a useful study.

Read the full article here. Your thoughts, as always, are appreciated. How many times have you felt the rush of love at first sight? And how many of you are still dating your love-at-first-sight guy?

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Comments:

  1. 1
    Daisy

    Hmm I dont believe in love at first sights. I believe that love is something that grows over time, and that it has to be based on something fundamental that two people have built together (e.g. compatibility, respect, commitment, friendship, etc). If it’s a 1/5th of a second thing then I think it’s simply a rush or some sort of fascinating feeling/attraction. And yes I’ve encountered numerous situations of those 1/5th second rushes, and they definitely didnt feel like love.

    1. 1.1
      Bobby

      i hope your right Daisy

  2. 2
    Laurie

    The man I’ve been dating for four-plus months was one I was intensely attracted to at our first face-to-face meeting. I wasn’t expecting this level of attraction because his match.com photo was ordinary-looking and his profile was very short, though he sounded good on the phone.
    Wow! He was much more attractive and interesting in person than I expected. I spent the next two months or so in a head-whirl of infatuation that has gradually settled back down to earth. He’s a wonderful man who has some mental health issues – anxiety, off-and-on depression, and unhappiness in his job, and he tends to self-medicate with beer when he’s feeling stressed. Otherwise he’s fun, insightful, a good listener, and his flaws are tolerable. I’m trying to be supportive during his hard times, but if he hasn’t taken some “action steps” to address his issues within the next two months or so, I may have to reassess our long-term potential.
    At any rate, my experience with love/infatuation-at-first-sight is that it lasts only until the person’s all too human flaws inevitably come out on display. This almost always happens by the three- or four-month mark. I’ve learned to enjoy the infatuation stage without taking it too seriously.

    1. 2.1
      Amanda

      Hi Laurie…I fell for a guy who struggled with similar issues. I believe that I was in love with him…I really do. I made the mistake of taking his issues on myself and promising to always be there for him…it was too early and I overestimated how much I could handle. So our relationship didn’t last…toward the end I felt like he was always settling in life… He wasn’t a fighter and I had to fight the urge to grab him by the shoulders and shake him. I felt guilty for ending the relationship but it had to end and after I got over the pain of losing someone I loved I found a man who is a much better match for me.  I hope everything works out for you.

    2. 2.2
      L

      Dear Laurie, The guy you’re dating sounds like several guys I’ve dated in my past. I only want the best for you, although I don’t know you. What I do know is that if a man is not happy in his job, he will most likely not be very happy in other aspects of his life. If he is unwilling to be proactive about changing his situation, he will make not only himself  miserable, but will always make you miserable too.

  3. 3
    starthrower

    Love in the true sense of the word is not “at first sight”; it’s lust at first site.  Love is more of a decision, rather than an emotion.  For me, I have learned to distinguish it based on whether its in my head or in my heart.  If it’s in my head, I’m hung up on the idea rather than the actual person.

  4. 4
    PGL

    I believe in lust at first sight, but not love.

  5. 5
    NN

    I do believe that one can recognise the potential love partner at first sight… but it doesn’t mean that he/she is single or even interested in you.. or that his/her ethics are similar enough for the relationship to work.
    That is why one has to be careful..

    But still – for over all happiness of life is that one has real romantic love for the relationship to work – not just (platonic) friendship:
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090317153039.htm

    I want people to read that too..

    I quote:

    “The researchers looked at 17 short-term relationship studies, which included 18- to 23-year-old college students who were single, dating or married, with the average relationship lasting less than four years. They also looked at 10 long-term relationship studies comprising middle-aged couples who were typically married 10 years or more. Two of the studies included both long- and short-term relationships in which it was possible to distinguish the two samples.
    The review found that those who reported greater romantic love were more satisfied in both the short- and long-term relationships. Companion-like love was only moderately associated with satisfaction in both short- and long-term relationships. And those who reported greater passionate love in their relationships were more satisfied in the short term compared to the long term.”

    Why settle for a”friendship” when it actually will diminish the over all quality of life of both partners?
    You just don’t think of leaving.. in short you are stuck, and you waste your life being half alive.

    Nope, I am rather single than settle.

  6. 6
    Blondie

    The love at first sight thing has happened to me on 3 occasions during my adult life. It does happen so quickly and is the most wonderful feeling and it’s no wonder we would do anything to have that wonderful feeling and state of mind last forever. It never does of course …

    And where are these lovely men now?

    I wish I knew!

    1. 6.1
      Alan

      Totally agree on your point. I too have been deeply in love before a week was through. May not have been instant but it was fast.

  7. 7
    Susan

    Pretty superficial. I agree with PGL #4 – split second determination is purely lust. Or just initial attraction at best. Not the best indicator for a lasting relationship (you gave a talk about this a while back, Evan!) Love is an emotion but also a choice that might not happen right away. Do we base love on purely looks or also the persons other characteristics? Otherwise how would the blind or visually impaired  ever experience this love at first sight thing ( and I am sure they have – they just use other senses!!!) That shoots the whole theory down.

  8. 8
    Casey

    Like NN, I believe in the “potential for Love at first sight” but what this article refers to as “Love” is an insult to the true meaning!!

  9. 9
    helene

    Apparently Alfred Hitchcock once said that “Love affairs start with a glance – and that is the only way they start….”

  10. 10
    Daphne

    @Blondie-
    How long did the relationships last ? How did they end ?
     

  11. 11
    henriette

    Whenever I feel that instant “pull” towards someone, I beome especially wary because I believe that true love starts slow and builds over time.  When a connection is strong and instant, I figure it only can go downhill from there.

    1. 11.1
      Bubabaaba

      Very good point ~~~ and TRUTH!

       

  12. 12
    JB

    @Laurie #2 ….. I can relate so much to your story although it’s much fresher and earlier for me.

    I met this woman from Match Tuesday night who I’d had a few emails with and 1 nice phone conversation. She walked in the restaurant and I was immediately blown away. You know what they say “expect the worse and hope for the best” well this woman walked in and was 10X better looking than her a slightly better than average 2 photo’s. Neither of which show anything below the b**b’s which led me to erroneously believe someone a bit heavier might stroll in. Her photo’s did have what I love btw, a warm cute smile and I loved her phone personality. Not only was she not heavy, she was perfect with a beautiful happy smile and greeting. Now, being that I’ve been on this blog since it’s inception as well as internet dating for 15 yrs I know that there’s no such thing as “LOVE at first site” etc… but for the life of me I can’t remember ever having the warm feeling come over me like it did the other night initially. We sat and chatted effortlessly for 3 hours over sandwiches and drinks and all I can say is, most of you on here have probably never done cocaine (at least not like I did in the 80’s) but I can definitely relate to the parallel in this study. I’m smart enough to know it’s not love and I hesitate to describe what it should be called because it’s more than just physical lust when you’re emotionally connecting with someone  on so many levels your so physically attracted to that quickly without even touching them. It was surreal. It’s the scenario that I, like most online daters dream of. For her it might of just been her “third online date” and that’s all. For me it was magic. So yes like the article says all of those feelings can happen in the brain but it’s not love anymore than the euphoria you feel after a big line of cocaine is happiness. FYI, she texted me later that night and said she’d had a great time. We’ve chatted since and we’re going out next Saturday. Like Evan teaches, I know what to do. She’ll know my interest level and the cards will fall where they may while she’s getting 30 more responses a day online. Now what do you do when your first date is 4 days before Valentines day?

    1. 12.1
      Ben

      JB,
      Same exact scenario happened to me except it was a Saturday afternoon.  For me it didn’t have anything to do with sex.  It didn’t even cross my mind.  She just felt like a glove.  It was the closest I’ve been with a woman to call it love at first sight.
      Good luck to you.
      Ben

      1. 12.1.1
        Carrie

        I’m going through the exact same thing, what to do is still give it time to make sure this persons actions follow by their words. That is my plan, I think we get so used to dealing with the people that have so many issues that we can’t believe we have actually found someone who is normal. Lol

    2. 12.2
      Karmic Equation

      Ask her if she has plans for Valentine’s Day, Dopey 🙂

    3. 12.3
      Bubabaaba

      You share an entertaining story….

  13. 13
    Daisy

    Ha, this just happened to me!  Instant wow! Then within the next 2 weeks I got to know him.  Goodbye!

  14. 14
    sarahrahrah!

    Great article and the findings don’t surprise me at all.  It backs up some of the research that we’ve seen about speed dating.  That a person is just as likely to find a compatible person in that context as they are spending a lot of time on numerous dates. 
     
    If you are arguing if what is described in the article constitutes love or not, I think you’re missing the point.  The word “love” in the English language has several meanings.  I think that is why the author of the article used the phrase “falling in love.”  “Falling in love” usually means the overwhelming, hormonally-induced feelings associated with romance.  Nobody claimed in the article that the feeling was a good basis for a long-term relationship, etc. 
     
    I’ve been on both sides of things (had relationships with a strong chemical component and others that did not).  My guess is that those of us who have physiologies that are more “hard wired” for love-at-first-sight (and also addiction, I’m guessing), put more emphasis on the feelings generated from the love-at-first-sight reactions, but may also be better able to bond to a relationship because we remain “addicted” to our partners through the magic of chemistry.  I cannot prove this, but I think all of this research is fascinating and I hope it helps people make healthier choices and live and thrive after difficult breakups.
     

    1. 14.1
      KSR

      Well said

  15. 15
    Christie Hartman

    I’ve worked in the field of addiction for years, and I can say that dopamine is powerful shit. The reward centers of the brain are glutted with dopamine receptors, and these brain areas are the basis of both addictions and “love.” In this case, “love” is more like attraction or infatuation… not the kind of love one feels after being with someone for a long time.
     
    A reward-driven experience, much like JB experienced, can be very powerful. People differ in how prone they are to seek or be affected by rewarding experiences, like sarahrahrah (14) suggests. With addictions, some of us are prone to them, others are not; likewise, in relationships, some people seek the thrill of the high of intense chemistry, others prefer something less intense.
     
    To answer Evan’s question, I’ve felt that intense rush at times in my life. I look at it as something to enjoy, but not take too seriously. It’s attraction, not love, and only time will tell if the person is right for you.

  16. 16
    Ruby

    What about couples who are friends first? What about all the times when the other person doesn’t share your feelings? I also think that women are more slightly more likely to give attraction a chance to grow; I’ve known women who grew to love their partners over time, but few men have told me that. They seem to either feel physical attraction, or they don’t.

    The one time I did speed dating, I was only attracted to one guy, and in that situation, I at least had 3 entire minutes! But it was only later that I found out that he had some deal breaker issues, and that would have been impossible to learn in a fifth of a second.

    It bothers me that this study refers to that initial physical attraction as “falling in love.” I think there is a difference between falling in love and actually being in love. The first is about physical attraction and desire, and yes, that can happen quickly and be very powerful, but it takes months or years to really fall in love.

  17. 17
    Donna

    To JB above, #14….take her ONE PERFECT RED ROSE, for your 2nd date which is 4 days before Valentine’s Day.

  18. 18
    Goldie

    Never had it happen… even with high-school crushes, I had to get to know the person first… never at first sight. WTH is wrong with me 🙂
     
    @ JB, wow this sounds like a good first date. My first online dates, I used to come prepared for the worst, and, at least half of the time, the guys lived up to my expectations! LOL

  19. 19
    JB

    @Donna #17 – That’s a good suggestion. I was also looking for a kind of funny humorous nothing romantic or sexual Valentines day card that was cute etc…. that would make her laugh? I don’t want to over do it or look like I put that much thought into it even though I have….lol

    @Goldie #18 – I tried not to show my excitement and exhuberance but I’m sure I babbled way too much. Even with all my experience and knowledge sometimes I can’t help just “being me”. And yes like you a lot of the time women don’t live up to my expectations and I know sometimes I don’t to theirs as well. That’s the part of online dating we’ve all come to accept.

    The reason I persevere is for the one’s like this. The “feeling” they talk about in the article. The dopamine receptors that Christie talks about are identical when you’re hitting it off with someone,doing cocaine, or if you’re a gambler, winning a big Super Bowl bet. Like Evan teaches and I’ve always known. No matter what happens you don’t have anything and you don’t quit until you have the “let’s take our profiles down discussion”. I know this woman is brand new to online dating and is probably like a kid in a candy store with her 30-40 responses a day. So I just have to take it 1 step at a time. Who knows…..I may go on 1 more date with this woman and never hear from her again because she likes someone new who emailed her and she met this week more. Then “the high” is replaced with “the low” and we all know how that feels 🙁

    I have other “options” they’re just not like her. And online no man has the options equal to what women have. NO MAN.

  20. 20
    Kristen

    I hear everyone when they say to run the other way or at least be skeptical if you feel like you’re with “the one.” But, after a lot of personal growth aided by my 12-step group and therapy, I am seriously wondering if my intuition is much more on the mark now. I went on a date last year and felt like I was with “the one”. I just felt a chemistry with the guy and we’ve been dating ever since– 1yr, 4 mo. so far. From the beginning he did great following up to make plans, being reliable, calling, being honest. So, I have had that feeling a few times, but this is the only time it’s ever amounted to anything. I think that even if it hadn’t I would have exited sooner instead of living in fantasy land. It is a weird feeling, I was with a really wonderful guy for 6 years but I couldn’t get married to him because I felt like I wasn’t being heard and he sometimes didn’t have the best social judgment. It was really sad to let him go, but I didn’t “feel it.” I have lost some wonderful experiences with his family and friends in South America and I am still grieving the loss of the wonderful experiences I had with him. But, I “feel it” with my new guy, we’re having great sex, he continues to be very considerate to me, and we’re having fun going camping and hiking together. So, I’d be interested in hearing about successful “just know it” experiences.

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