“Love at first sight” was coined by poet Christopher Marlowe when he wrote, “Who ever lov’d, that lov’d not at first sight?” This implied that love is instantaneous. But how true is this outside of romantic literature? In other words, how often does love at first sight happen to people today?
We surveyed over 1,000 people both in and out of relationships to learn exactly that. Beyond belief in the concept, we dug into where people found love at first sight and the effect that first feeling had on the relationship later. Certain dating apps may even affect the likelihood of love at first sight. Continue reading to see just how real the modern American romantic scene considers instant love.
Of the more than 1,000 people surveyed, exactly half believed in love at first sight, while the other half did not. Men and women were split nearly down the middle as well, with 49 percent and 51 percent believing in love at first sight, respectively.
The more serious the relationship was, the more likely respondents were to believe in love at first sight. Fifty-four percent each of married and divorced participants had faith in the concept, compared to just 47 percent of single people and 50 percent of those in a relationship. Perhaps a fervent faith in love at first sight propels marital status forward at faster rates than those where love grows over time.
Generational gaps also divided the believers and nonbelievers: 64 percent of baby boomers believed in love at first sight, compared to 48 percent of Gen Xers and 49 percent of millennials. Perhaps portions of the younger generations will come to believe in love at first sight someday, depending on the people they encounter in the future.
THE SITE OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Even if you don’t fully believe in love at first sight, you might want to know where people who do have found it. The most popular way, occurring 43 percent of the time, was in person. According to one 24-year-old woman who fell in love at first sight, “It felt like angels were singing.” Another 37-year-old woman described the feeling that “time seemed to slow like in a movie.” Although these in-person experiences describe magic and wonderment, love at first sight can also occur online.
Sixteen percent of people claimed to have fallen in love at first sight on social media, while another 13 percent said it happened on a dating app. For millennials, this was a much more common experience. In fact, 1 in 5 millennials said they fell in love at first sight on social media or a dating app, compared to 1 in 10 baby boomers. No wonder the dating app industry is expected to grow to $3.2 billion by 2020.
SWIPING FOR LOVE
If you’re open to the idea of meeting someone online, you may want to do your research because, according to our respondents, certain apps have higher success rates for finding love. Overall, a third of married respondents found their significant other on social media or a dating app.
Tinder and Facebook were, by far, the most successful, leading to committed relationships for 22 percent and 21 percent of respondents, respectively. OkCupid came in a not-so-close third place, resulting in relationships for only 10 percent of respondents who met their significant other online. Crazy enough, for those who were married and met online, 25 percent had used Facebook to find their spouse.
One 21-year-old woman had particularly good luck with Tinder. In her story, love at first sight and love at first kiss happened simultaneously. She told us that she and her current boyfriend connected through Tinder after he “Super Liked” her. In her own words, “I noticed he was over 150 miles away but decided to give him a chance … [we] kissed 30 seconds after meeting. The rest is history.” For this particular couple, a “Super Like” translated quite literally into love at first sight.
PROFILE PICTURE IMPRESSIONS
As the phrase implies, falling in love at first sight requires a great first impression. In the digital dating world, this first impression takes the form of a profile page. According to our respondents who had come across these pages, there are definite do’s and don’ts.
In scanning dating profiles, men were most attracted to intelligence (49 percent), cuteness (47 percent), and shared interests or hobbies (47 percent). Signs of a lack of intelligence were some of the most immediate turnoffs for men online. These included things like immaturity (44 percent disliked this) and bad grammar, which offended another 39 percent.
While women were attracted to relatively similar profiles (intelligence and shared interests or hobbies), their No. 1 desire was humor. Fifty percent of women hoped to find signs of comedy on the page of a potential partner. According to modern psychiatry, humor wields a beneficial power for the health of a relationship, so women’s search for this quality may be a very helpful instinct down the line.
Women, like men, also hated immaturity and bad grammar, but another 37 percent mentioned overconfidence. The hashtag #stayhumble has more than 2.5 million posts and counting, so remember to maintain a level of humility online and otherwise.
Men and women could stand to learn from each other regarding online dating, as most of what they’re hoping for is encouragingly not superficial. In spite of this, people tend to focus on their looks as they create their dating profile pages. While 1 in 4 men prioritized their physical activity in their profiles, only 12 percent of women said that most attracted them. Almost 1 in 5 women prioritized taking selfies, while just 10 percent of men said it most attracted them. In the world of online dating, the power of intelligence and interest in life both prevail over selfies and specific physiques.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE FIRST MEETING
While the success stories of people who found love online are wonderful to hear, there were some relatively unfortunate patterns in these relationships, especially compared to those who met in person. Of course, there are limitless ways to dissect the health of a relationship, but we started by looking at four key barometers: the length of the relationship, as well as self-reported satisfaction, mutual trust, and sexual attraction. Ultimately, those who met their significant other in person (as opposed to online) stayed together longer and rated their relationship higher in satisfaction, trust, and sexual attraction.
That said, relationships that began online were self-evaluated positively overall. Those who met their partner either through social media or a dating app rated their relationship satisfaction, mutual trust, and shared sexual attraction at a 6.5 or higher on average.
Another relationship challenge for people who met online was their embarrassment. One in 3 respondents who met their significant other online were embarrassed to admit it to their families. Forty-six percent even went so far as to make up a false story for their parents about how they actually met.
Overly worrying about what other people think, however, won’t improve the relationship no matter how you met. By focusing on the presentand maintaining perspective, you can soften the embarrassment that doesn’t have to come with your romantic decisions.
FIRST SIGHT OF MY SIGNIFICANT OTHER
Thirty percent of people in a relationship said they believe their love began the first time they saw their partner, and 38 percent of married couples felt the same way about their current husband and wife. Even if love didn’t occur immediately, however, it often grew stronger over time for the remaining respondents.
If a couple didn’t fall in love at first sight, they said it took them an average of six and a half months to fall completely in love with each other. If they were married, this number dropped to just 5.9 months. Somewhat ironically, married people who said it was love at first sight actually took longer to fall completely in love with their current spouse, taking them an average of 8.3 months. Although they felt the love spark instantaneously, the truer, deeper love for their partner took roughly 2.4 months longer to develop.
THE LENGTH OF LOVE
Compared to previous generations, millennials are waiting longer to get married. Evidently, this might be because they’re considering the most mind-centric approach to the idea. Millennials were more likely than any other generation to use their head when deciding if someone was “right” for them (16 percent). Baby boomers, on the other hand, were the most likely to use both their head and heart when making this decision. Seventy-seven percent used their heart and head, while another 17 percent were able to decide from the heart. If the strength of these decisions is evaluated purely by divorce rates, it may appear that millennials’ and Gen Xers’ tendencies to use their head in love is leading to more successful marriages.
Whether you use your head, heart, or big pieces of each, most respondents (56 percent) agreed that love needs time to develop. Spouses also tended to stumble upon each other at different ages depending on the method they used to look for love. People who met their spouse on social media were just 26.2 years old, while people who met their spouse on a dating app were an average age of 28.9.
FIRST SIGHT FEELINGS
Even if you fall into the roughly 50 percent of people who don’t believe in love at first sight, a lot of people claim to have experienced it firsthand. Whether they use social media, meet in a coffee shop, or swipe on Tinder, instant love reportedly happens to many Americans today.
Whether you fall completely in love in an instant or over many years, the odds of love’s occurrence are much higher if you can clearly see a potential romance. Stay present and appreciative of your current surroundings, whether these include a current partnership. Of course, ensure your vision is as clear and uninterrupted as possible, as you never know what you might miss otherwise. Visit 1800contacts.com to effortlessly keep up with your vision needs today.
METHODOLOGY AND LIMITATIONS
For this study, we conducted an online survey of 1,005 respondents – 503 who were single, and 502 who were in a relationship – using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Forty-two percent were single; 25 percent were married; 22 percent were in a relationship; 8 percent were divorced and not remarried; 2 percent were engaged; and 1 percent were divorced and remarried. As for gender, 49 percent were male, and 51 percent were female.
The average age of our respondents was 35 with a standard deviation of 11. In terms of generational breakdowns, 4 percent were a part of Generation Z (born 1998 to 2017); 63 percent were millennials (born 1981 to 1997); 25 percent were a part of Generation X (born 1965 to 1980); and 8 percent were baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964).
To qualify for this study, participants must have completed the entire study and passed an attention-check question in the middle of the survey. Participants who failed to do either of these were not included in our data.
Unique scales were used throughout this study, as respondents in relationships were asked to rate their relationship satisfaction, mutual trust, and mutual sexual attraction on a scale of 1 to 10. Those results were then averaged. Outliers were excluded from any calculations using quantitative values. An exhaustive list of dating apps and social media platforms was also included in the survey for respondents to choose from.
A limitation of the study is that we relied on self-reported data, which may come with the issues of selective memory, exaggeration, attribution, and telescoping. All claims are also based on means, and we did not perform any statistical testing on the data. These data are intended to be used for entertainment use only, and future research should approach this topic in a more academic and rigorous manner.
FAIR USE STATEMENT
So are you a believer in love at first sight? Feel free to use this study for noncommercial purposes to vouch for your opinions, so long as you are sure to link back to this page and its contributors.