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Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:42 AM

Love at first sight?

Or something, anyway, at first sight.

I've been ruminating about a phenomenon that is rare in my life, but has always puzzled me since it first happened when I was 30. Classic tale: a woman walks into the room, and the instant I saw her, I felt like I had been just smacked in the gut with a two-by-four. Literally, I had to force myself not to bend over from the shock, and also not to reach out for her with both hands. Never saw her before, and there was nothing at all to differentiate her from a hundred other women. I wondered if this was what people were talking about when they talked about Love At First Sight. I can assure you, my IQ dropped by about 50 points, also.

This has happened to me a total of four times (I'm 56), and I wonder about it a lot. Obviously, this has nothing to do with love, since I knew nothing of the person. So why such an insanely powerful reaction, even when there were others who were easily more "attractive" in the common view than the ladies in question? What causes this attraction? I've heard "pheromones," but pheromones across a room? That's some powerful stuff! Two of the women were similar in characteristics, the other two differed from each. And none of them, oddly, matched my normal aesthetic, except that the first two were tall and slim with dark hair and I gravitate towards the short and small with dark hair. I'd give at least a nickel to figure out what goes on here.

I've also wondered if this powerful attraction is a) necessarily mutual, b) may be felt by only one of the two people, or c) either one. Circumstances in each case were such that I never even got to exchange two words with any of the women in question, which makes me grit my teeth from time to time (but just wait until next time it happens!). I'd be interested in views on this burning issue.

-- Mal

44 replies, 4924 views

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Arrow 44 replies Author Time Post
Reply Love at first sight? (Original post)
malthaussen Aug 2012 OP
elleng Aug 2012 #1
malthaussen Aug 2012 #2
abq e streeter Aug 2012 #3
malthaussen Aug 2012 #4
abq e streeter Aug 2012 #9
WilmywoodNCparalegal Aug 2012 #37
Booster Aug 2012 #5
malthaussen Aug 2012 #6
Summer Hathaway Aug 2012 #7
malthaussen Aug 2012 #10
Summer Hathaway Aug 2012 #44
Voice for Peace Aug 2012 #8
flamingdem Aug 2012 #11
RFKHumphreyObama Aug 2012 #12
malthaussen Aug 2012 #14
tridim Aug 2012 #27
Ron Obvious Aug 2012 #13
malthaussen Aug 2012 #15
Ron Obvious Aug 2012 #18
malthaussen Aug 2012 #19
indie9197 Aug 2012 #16
malthaussen Aug 2012 #17
Fumesucker Aug 2012 #43
Arctic Dave Aug 2012 #20
malthaussen Aug 2012 #21
ohheckyeah Aug 2012 #22
riderinthestorm Aug 2012 #28
Arctic Dave Aug 2012 #32
malthaussen Aug 2012 #40
Arctic Dave Aug 2012 #42
pansypoo53219 Aug 2012 #23
Son of Gob Aug 2012 #24
darkangel218 Aug 2012 #26
GaYellowDawg Aug 2012 #25
Tracer Aug 2012 #29
HopeHoops Aug 2012 #30
MadrasT Aug 2012 #31
hifiguy Aug 2012 #33
liberalhistorian Aug 2012 #34
malthaussen Aug 2012 #35
Shankapotomus Aug 2012 #36
malthaussen Aug 2012 #38
Shankapotomus Aug 2012 #39
malthaussen Aug 2012 #41

Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:49 AM

1. Chemistry

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704681904576313243579677316.html

Sorry to be so blunt, and unromantic. Both of my daughters and their guys seem to have succumbed to it. Hope future grandkids prove its efficacy!

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Response to elleng (Reply #1)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:54 AM

2. Setting aside my reaction to that *ahem* article...

I already mentioned pheromones, but wondered how they could be detected from across the room.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:55 AM

3. Interesting, and synchronous, that you posted this tonight.

I had been having a conversation with 2 friends just a few hours ago on this subject, prompted by my talking about looking up an "old flame" in Texas some time this fall, after more than 20 years. I never forgot her even though it was a brief whirlwind fling. But it was mutual; an college roommate of a woman friend coming to visit her, and I went along for the ride to the airport. We were inseparable from almost the moment she stepped off the plane, and my friends and I were talking today about how rare and inexplicable that is, and was. So... sorry, no insights, but I'm living proof that it's real. And I never forgot about her. She got married not long after (and eventually divorced) to a sort of minor celebrity (sort of "cult-figure" level singer-songwriter) ,and that made it even weirder because I'd see lyrics that made me wonder if he'd found out. (I'm so vain, I wondered if that song was about me,lol)But it was very very real, and very very mutual. I don't think either of us really understood how and why it happened. Pheremones, time of cycle etc? I just don't know and probably never will.

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Response to abq e streeter (Reply #3)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 01:59 AM

4. Go for it, dude.

Pardon the unsolicited advice, but life's too short. As I mention in the Lounge.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #4)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:07 AM

9. Thanks...I hope I don't chicken out (my usual MO) once I get there (going to visit other friends)

But yeah, what do I have to lose ? (OK, except my sanity, and that ship has already sailed anyway).

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Response to abq e streeter (Reply #9)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:27 PM

37. Go for it!

I did and never regretted it. Now married to him and living happily ever after.

YOLO (sorry )

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:00 AM

5. I think it's lust and has nothing to do with love or even like.

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Response to Booster (Reply #5)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:04 AM

6. Then why so rare?

I'm easy with the concept "Lust at first sight," used to think much the same. But I find that explanation unsatisfactory. Put two nearly-identical women side-by-side, and one might provoke the strong attraction and the other not. Hundreds of women of similar characteristics might exist besides the One, and none of them raise an eyelash.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:04 AM

7. It is the inexplicable

so why try to explain it?

It happens, that certain something - and often it's mutual, as though the gods want to confound us, two at a time.

The next time such a feeling overtakes you, follow where it leads.

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Response to Summer Hathaway (Reply #7)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:09 AM

10. Ah, 'tis my nature to try to explain the inexplicable, Summer.

I'm really good at windmills, too.

Now, if only the next time it happens, I can raise my IQ back up to where I can at least vocalize "Me Tarzan, You Jane."

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #10)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:05 PM

44. Haha!

Had quite a few instant attraction moments back in the day - and always acted on them. A simple, "Hi, I'm Summer - and who are you?" usually started the conversation going.

I met several men that way who eventually became lovers - and a couple who became lifelong friends.

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:05 AM

8. I think it was GB Shaw who saw this phenomenon as the work of

the life force itself, bringing together people who are a good
match genetically but may have nothing in common otherwise.
I always thought that was a good theory, especially when I
look at my daughters vs looking at my ex's.

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Response to Voice for Peace (Reply #8)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:13 AM

11. Some call it gene pull

but then I must have a very wide mixture of genes

I'll have to get my DNA done

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:33 AM

12. I can exactly relate and would like to know as well

Even at the age of 31, I've had a few of these experiences in my life. The most intense was about two years ago. I'm not sure I can even find the right words to describe my emotions in words

I was in a hospital-type facility recovering from an ailment a few years ago when this patient was wheeled into the bed next to me. His wife came in shortly later and, even before I had seen her, even from just hearing her voice from behind the curtain, there was this instantaneous and and quite powerful sense of attraction. I can't explain it but I believe it was somewhat similar to what you were describing here and there was absolutely no discernible reason or understanding behind me. I then met her in person and the feeling kept growing and growing and getting more overwhelming and overpowering to the extent that sometimes I felt quite uncomfortable being in the same room with her because that feeling was just so intense. And it seemed to go beyond way beyond lust or even a crush, it seemed to be something much deeper and much more soulful and intense, as if she was a soulmate of mine. As if we were spiritually connected or meant to be together or something. As I said, it's hard to describe in words. And it's ironic, even as I felt uncomfortable being around her, the more I seemed to be drawn to her

Usually when I come into contact with a married woman, for obvious reasons, I immediately try and suppress it and talk myself out of it. But with this one I couldn't. No matter how well I thought I'd contained it, it would keep exploding. This feeling was so powerful and intense it kept me awake for most of at least one night and for weeks and perhaps months after I'd met her, she was consistently in my thoughts day in and day out and on quite a powerful level. I hated myself for feeling the way I did obviously because there's nothing I hate more than feeling a strong sense of attraction to a married woman. And I never acted nor would I ever act on those feelings because of her marital status and circumstances (and her husband was a really wonderful guy). But they were definitely there and I doubt as if I'd felt anything as powerful in my life. It was just like a force or entity that was impossible to suppress

I spent a long time trying to comprehened and decipher what I was feeling. Why did I feel this deep attraction, this deep spiritual connection. Was it something from a past life? Was it something supernatural? Did she feel it too? Certainly when we talked to each other, we seemed to have some sort of bond there and we got along very well (she's still a Facebook friend of mine).

Actually I have many of the same questions as you do so I probably can't give you any sort of theory or explanation on it. It is probably the most bizarre thing that has happened in my life and it felt so wrong and yet so wonderful. It was a passion and a love beyond anything I can remember experiencing.

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Response to RFKHumphreyObama (Reply #12)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:42 AM

14. You do a great job of describing it in words.

Instant soul-mate, that was it. Even though I abominate the expression soul-mate. The feeling has nothing really to do with lust, it is seemingly spiritual in nature (but those who prefer mechanistic explanations for things will snort at the spiritual at any cost). While sexual reaction was certainly included in the package, the emotional or psychological instant-link feeling was really the overriding part.

It would be useful, for this scientific study, if you could ask her about it to find out if it is mutual. Of course, such conversation would be difficult under the circumstances you describe. You'd have to cast it carefully in terms of curiousity, and not a hope of making life-changing decisions. I doubt, in any event, it is anything you should feel guilty about, since it was completely involuntary.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #14)


Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:41 AM

13. It's an interesting notion...

It happened to me exactly once. I was 19 years old at Uni, and during the first day of a class I don't even recall any longer, I was staring out the window, feeding my teenage priapism by watching the cheerleaders practice when SHE walked in. From across the room, our eyes met. There was something like recognition... It startled us both... She moved all the way across the room and sat next to me, making it appear as though that seat was as good as any other. She was actually of a type I didn't normally admire: A redhead, all prim and proper, very well-dressed, not a hair out of place and fully made up. Was it a history class? I truly can't recall... After the professor's first question to the class, we locked eyes and talked for the rest of the hour, oblivious of all else around us, both of us knowing that this was a moment of cosmic significance. The bell must have rung at some point as we found ourselves alone in an empty classroom, having lost all track of time. Awkwardly, and yet fully confident of ourselves, we parted.

Ah, dear reader, no doubt you anticipate the ending: The next class session, I could barely contain my sense of anticipation, but she never came... She'd dropped the class and I never saw her again. I never even found out her name.

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #13)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:44 AM

15. So amazingly similar to my first encounter with this...

... except she fit quite well into my default aesthetic. French grad course. Sat next to me, laughed at my jokes... and I never saw her again.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #15)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:55 AM

18. I think that's the key...

That we never saw them again. I've no doubt we're projecting all sorts of wonderful qualities on these women just because these relationships never progressed beyond "it might have been...". Had they been fully consummated, as they ought to have been, these women would have become ordinary people. Friends, I daresay, but not the godesses we imagine them to be now.

I don't know about you, but I treasure the memory of those that might have been more than many that were... I like to think she thinks about me that same way, but it's not really realistic, is it?

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Response to Ron Obvious (Reply #18)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:02 AM

19. Mmm, I don't project here, because I'm attributing nothing.

I did feel the attraction, that's what I'm ruminating about. Not what might have been -- that's a different rumination, and since it is counter-factual, anything goes.

I usually do my projecting on the young girl who wrote in my high school yearbook "I love you!" Which inscription I did not see until several years after the fact. Don't have to project a lot there... but one thing I do project is that she must have been mighty sad, waiting for the answer that never came.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:49 AM

16. You are thinking too much

Get to know a woman and if things are right a crowbar couldn't keep you apart.

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Response to indie9197 (Reply #16)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 02:54 AM

17. But of course.

I am, however, specifically looking here at a phenomenon where it appears the crowbar comes before the knowing, which seems rather backwards, you know?

-- Mal

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Response to indie9197 (Reply #16)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 07:02 PM

43. You never really get to know someone..

I thought so for thirty years of marriage but eventually I found out I was dead wrong..

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:12 AM

20. It happened to me 25 years ago in High School.

 

I'm still married to her.

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #20)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:15 AM

21. Great, but it leaves open the question at the bottom:

Was the extraordinary attraction mutual, or did you sweep her off her feet?

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #21)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:46 AM

22. It happened to me and

it was mutual.

The minute I looked into my husband's eyes the first time that was it. We were both dating other people and ended those relationships before we got together and he said he felt the same way the night we met.

We've been through hell and even a divorce (after a miscarriage that screwed me up royally) but got back together, remarried and are still soul mates. Should he die before I do, which is somewhat likely since he is 10 years older, I can't imagine being with anyone else. He still gives me butterflies.

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #21)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:38 AM

28. Mutual for my husband and I as well. Instantly. Married 26 years. nt

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #21)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 04:04 PM

32. I would say it was mutual.

 

There wasn't some long pursuit, we talked a few times. The kind were you just kind of stare and smile at each other.

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Response to Arctic Dave (Reply #32)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:50 PM

40. Like this one:

"..."
"I..."
"Yeah."
"..."
"..."
"..."
"Wow, isn't this great?"

-- mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #40)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 06:57 PM

42. Exactly. ;)

 

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 04:23 AM

23. it happened to me at an art fair, tho not the same. more a flooding feeling of recognition.

turns out we were like compatible on 95% of things, but long distance + death. praying it happens again. had lesser moments previously tho. scary how compatible we were.

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:00 AM

24. The boner works in mysterious ways.

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Response to Son of Gob (Reply #24)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:27 AM

26. LOL!

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 08:22 AM

25. That's never happened to me.

What has happened - twice - is that I've been friends with a woman and then all of a sudden one day been SLAMMED with attraction to her. The first time, she was a college friend. We were out to eat and the sun came through a window and hit her just right, and holy crap, I was in love. I literally swayed in my seat from the intensity of it. I would have done anything to put a ring on her finger, but she didn't feel the same way. We're still friends. I went to her wedding because she wanted her best college friends there and just bled inside the entire time. Thankfully, her husband was and is a super guy who I had to admit was better for her than I could be, so I didn't have to deal with her marrying a jerk in addition to not loving me in that fashion. I loved her so much that her marrying a great guy was actually some consolation. The weird thing was that I didn't get to see her for a couple of years and the next time I saw her I had zero attraction to her. It was such a relief to just have feelings of friendship.

The second time, again, we had known each other for some time and were developing a friendship. We were talking, and she smiled at something I said, and KA-POW! I was smitten. Unfortunately for me, she was married. I didn't have a clue because she didn't wear her rings (she's lost a lot of weight since getting married and is afraid they'll fall off, and doesn't have the $$ for replacement or resizing), or mention her marriage. When I found out, it was difficult for me to get past the whole idea because I'd pictured her as single for some time. But I had to. I told her about it because I knew it'd help me get over her, and she told me the last thing I needed to hear: she would have gone out with me in a heartbeat if I was single. Kindly meant, but that made it hurt worse for a while. I managed to not absolutely fall in love with her, just have a major crush. So it hurt for a while, but I've gotten over her, too.

I'm good friends with both. Neither of them stir up those feelings any more. Man alive, though, I'd really like to have this happen with someone who feels the same way in return. I'd give just about anything to have that feeling where the two of us kind of circle each other, the more we get to know each other the more we like, and there's almost a sense of inevitability about it. I've had a couple of relationships like that, but they didn't match the other 2 for intensity - which is, I suppose, why they ended.

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 09:50 AM

29. Yes. Twice.

The first time was at a car dealership, of all places.

I was in my early twenties and went there to buy a new car. A salesman appeared, and WHAM! I was hit with a feeling of attraction that was entirely new to me. It was pretty short-lived though. We went on a couple of dates and discovered that we had absolutely nothing in common -- except that nutty attraction.

Second time was at work. A new guy appeared in my department and WHAM again! This time our attraction was long-lived. Seven years, to be exact.

The problem? It was unrequited on my part. Sure, we were the best of pals, had tons of fun, laughed, cried and enjoyed each other immensely. It went nowhere, but I remember those happy days fondly.

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 10:36 AM

30. That's what happened with me and my wife - instant connection.

 

I met her at a party in a land far, far, away. I was afraid I would never see her again. Two weeks later, she showed up in my apartment building (staying with the girl I'd taken the trip with) and we've been together ever since. That was '84.

It happens.

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 03:18 PM

31. Every time that has happened to me...

...the relationship was a trainwreck.

I have learned to put that kind of attraction in the category of "interesting phenomenon, do not pursue".

Lovely to hear from others that they had happier endings, though!

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 04:13 PM

33. That happened to me once.

A young woman I did not know walked into my junior-year honors poli-sci seminar when I was in college (I was 27 at the time - I started college at 25). Immediately I felt like someone had cracked me smartly over the head with a 2 x 4 and felt dazed and zoned out. We became somewhat friendly - the honors program was a very small place and we were both in Campus Democrats - but nothing ever came of it, mainly because I am (and was then though I didn't know the term) Asperger's and can't read people or initiate interactions in most cases, most especially with women I find attractive and interesting.

I wound up having to go through junior and senior years together in college and we wound up admitted to the same law school, though I seldom saw her there. I still look up her faculty profile on the web site of the law school where she teaches every now and then.

Sigh.

Yeah, it can happen.

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 04:22 PM

34. Well, it happened to hubby and I

when we met at a DU meetup seven years ago this summer. And we'll be celebrating our fifth anniversary this fall. Sometimes it really does happen to even middle-aged adults (we're upper forties, upper fifties) and sometimes it's truly successful!

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:02 PM

35. I want to thank everyone for participating...

This has been a fascinating thread for me. And quite comforting, in a way.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Original post)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:25 PM

36. probably an instantaneous

sub-conscious assessment. the sub-conscious can assess external stimuli before our conscious mind can fully process it. that sub-conscious assessment is experienced via our emotions.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #36)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:41 PM

38. Okay, but what's being assessed?

I'm open to the idea that people have psychic auras, and that the subconscious could process cues as to the personality of someone else. I'd want to see some work on it, though. It's as if the subconscious were telling us, "You're really gonna like this one." Some of the comments upthread tend to indicate that the subconscious may make the odd mistake here and there, though.

-- Mal

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Response to malthaussen (Reply #38)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:47 PM

39. not necessarily the sub-conscious making the mistake

the sub-conscious just sends you the good feeling, it's the conscious that does the interpreting. the sub-conscious never explicitly says "this will be a good romantic partner for you.". we could be attaching more meaning to the person than the feeling actually warrants.

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Response to Shankapotomus (Reply #39)

Thu Aug 2, 2012, 05:56 PM

41. Yup, the interpretation is on the conscious mind.

Reduce the subconscious message to, say, "This one is special." Special in what way, not yet discovered.

Who knows, might be a question of resonance of coinciding biorhythms. Fascinating when it happens.

-- Mal

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