Imagine you’re cruising through the UU one Friday with your head buried in the Mustang Daily, trying to figure out the damn Sodoku, when you accidentally collide with a stranger. You look up to apologize, but as your eyes meet hers, you both become speechless. Inside your ribcage, your hearts do the mamba. Little blue bolts of electricity radiate from your love-charged bodies, and a wedding ring materializes out of thin air. Your lips and your souls become one, and the universe smiles upon you both as soul mates and happy customers of love at first sight.
Somehow that seems a little too fictional to be real.
People swoon at the idea of falling instantly into love, and it’s not difficult to observe where these ideals come from. Fictional characters advance from complete strangers to loving lovers within a matter of hours in movies. Or, if they do spend months and years together falling in love, the hands of time fly by in a handful of pages in novels. The so-many true but mundane details of life are left unwritten for the sake of better entertainment. As entertainment, its great, I love it – you get a free ride through the length of the tunnel of love. But, of course, that’s not the way things go in real life. Real people aren’t written by clever screenwriters to behave as though they love each other moments after they meet. The concept of love at first sight, though inspiring, is unrealistic; it is a fantasy. But for some, a problematic side effect is that fantasy infiltrates their real expectations about love. We have to realize that conceiving of fantasies more desirable than the true course of things does not make those fantasies a reality. Someone might daydream about being an Olympian athlete, yet they truly wouldn’t be capable without years of training. Someone else might imagine being a rock and roll hero, but it would be impossible without them having ever picked up an instrument.
Just like the next person, I would enjoy it if I fell madly in love at first sight, but that’s not to say I’m holding my breath waiting for that to occur. But that’s not to say I’m dismaying, either. The next best thing, the thing that exists in reality, is that first spark when you meet somebody: seeing the “window of love” at first sight, if you like.
The results of multiple studies, including one recently conducted by researchers at Ohio State University, suggest “people decide what kind of relationship they want within minutes of meeting.” This implies that the potential for love can be either happily discovered or painfully absent (perhaps happily absent in some situations) as you make your first impressions. So, given that you’ve met the right person, you easily decide that you want to pursue them romantically. The effort comes naturally when there’s the desire. Then, maybe you hit it off on a couple dates. Then, maybe you decide to make things more serious. Then, maybe it’s a year later and you’ve stuck together, both have careers, and have moved into an apartment together. Then, maybe you have spent one month’s salary on that fateful rock and are about to take the knee. Is the first time you said the word “love” really the first time you felt it? If you stop to think about it, could you really draw a line between when love was, and when love wasn’t?
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