Is there really such a thing as love at first sight? Can this kind of love be sincere and lasting? Can it be the only kind of love, as suggested? In As You Like It, Shakespeare has Phebe quote from...

Is there really such a thing as love at first sight?

Can this kind of love be sincere and lasting? Can it be the only kind of love, as suggested?

In As You Like It, Shakespeare has Phebe quote from Christopher Marlowe's poem as follows:

Dead shepherd! now I find thy saw of might:
"Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?"

Romeo falls in love with Juliet at first sight, but Romeo was ready to fall in love at the earliest opportunity.

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is interesting, and encouraging, to note that, a domain usually dominated by female opinions, is receiving some male attention! Love at first sight is absolutely real; it is definitely possible and long-lasting. The distinction is not in the reality of it, but whether it can endure. Relationships that do not last do not lessen love at first sight, do not change its existence or make it fickle. Love is such a complicated emotion and, human nature is so inward- looking and selfish that misunderstanding abounds. Poor communication skills, a lack of self-awareness, destructive partnerships or perhaps a passion that is not shared can, unfortunately, render relationships unmanageable.  

A person who does experience love at first sight will not, contrary to the romantic version of it, have it easy. Even, and probably particularly, when it is love at first sight, confusion, conflicting personalities or an inability to interpret a partner's "signs" makes it even harder to sustain. Everything is more intense; hurt is unbearable because to be betrayed by the person you love the most and whom you thought loved you, makes some people irrational. Living without the person you love may also be unthinkable  Look at Romeo. Fickle by nature, but as Kipling pointed out, no less sincere at any particular point, thinks there is nothing more to life, once his beloved Juliet (whom he thinks is dead)is gone. 

Experiencing love at first sight makes life more difficult because that person who wants so much from this relationship must also give so much more than he or she anticipated. Love is so much more than being in love and many people make the mistake that "I love you" is enough. Showing love through actions and selfless behavior reflects real love. An ability to see past all those idiosyncrasies only discovered after a person has already committed to a relationship, can be difficult and make that love at first sight seem more like an illusion or a terrible mistake! 

The possibility that love only exists if it is immediate could really get a person into trouble. So many relationships develop over time and become fulfilling, lasting and meaningful relationships. Perhaps it wasn't that the feelings weren't immediate, it was just that it wasn't recognized for what it was at first. People can be quite obtuse and not realize what is in front of them sometimes. Many opportunities are lost because people fail to appreciate or identify what is right there.

Love at first sight does not exclude it happening more than once either. How many people do you know who have had relationships that were based on the love at first sight principal? Plenty! Some of them, surprisingly, do not last and one or other person goes on to other deeply-felt and successful relationships. Perhaps they are just very lucky or perhaps they are more open to emotions. Others search to recapture it and fail miserably and make others miserable in the process. 

Consider Twelfth Night. Orsino, sets the scene: "If music be the food of love, play on, / Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, / The appetite may sicken and so die (I.i.1-4) There is so much love at first sight, misunderstanding, misrepresentation and confusion and, in a modern context, that would suggest all sorts of possibilities for love that are not gender-based as characters fall in love most unexpectedly. This gives hope to all the romantics. 

Unfortunately, some people never seem to find love at all - at first sight or otherwise - sad! 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I will take the bait.  There can be love at first sight.  I mean, it will be impossible to prove it, but it does exist.  The "Good Will Hunting" example is really good.  I believe that much of it depends on your cosmological view of the universe.  If an individual believes that the universe has some type of meaning or structure that underscores it, I think that it becomes more likely to embrace love at first sight.  Consider that one potential view of the universe is one in which an individual might have "been here before."  Love at first sight might be a realization in this life of something that has happened in previous lives, that in seeing an individual at a particular instant, one has recognized them before.  For those who believe this point of view, "love at first sight" is only a reflection of this birth and this existence.  When we recognize someone in this life for the first time as someone we love, it might be our soul's acknowledgement that we have met this person before previously.  When I saw my wife for the first time, I fell in love with her, in part, because I sensed that there was some comfort I felt with her that I had not experienced with anyone else.  As time as passed, I am convinced that we knew one another before, our physical "first sight" was two soul's acknowledgement that "we have met before." In this light, I think that there can be love at first sight, but it has to be conceded that it can be easily abused and manipulated by others who have an ulterior and self- serving agenda to advance.

kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of my favorite films is “Good Will Hunting.”  There’s a scene in that film when Sean, the psychologist played by Robin Williams, is telling Will (Matt Damon) about how he sacrificed his ticket to Game Six of the World Series – the memorable game in which Carlton Fisk hit his home run to beat the Reds – because he fell immediately and deeply for a girl who had just walked into the bar near Fenway Park where he and his friends were killing time before the game.  Is that kind of immediate and visceral attraction possible in real life?  I believe it is.  On some level, it can be psychologically disturbing to fall that deeply for someone you don’t know, but it is possible.  Romeo was clearly in a moment of emotional vulnerability, having been spurned by Rosaline, but that didn’t make the depth of his emotions any less real.  Admittedly, I am straining for real-life examples, but they elude me, especially if we, as presumably is required, separate “lust at first sight” from “love at first sight.”  Additionally, we may not wish to publicize our histories when particular events preceded our current marital arrangements.  The fact remains, however, that love at first sight does not necessarily extend through eternity, as idiosyncrasies only discovered later in a relationship can certainly derail that relationship.  In any event, given the subjective nature of the question, and acknowledging that others will present responses far more insightful than mine, I do believe that love at first sight is possible.

Wiggin42 | Student

Many of the answers before this one qualify a positive answer with something along the lines of " the relationship may not last over time for x, y, and z reasons " . 

I'd like to say that that itself is answer enough that love at first sight is not real. Its most definitely not real in the way we see it in pop culture.

There is a difference between love, lust, and obsession.

Lust at first sight is very much possible since it doesn't require people to really know each other. Likewise, obsession at first sight is possible--its like having a crush.

But love, real love, the kind that requires you to truly understand a person, forgive their errors, and accept their flaws, comes from shared experiences.

Granted, I'm 17 and its easy to brush off what I say. However, I'd just like to ask: Would you believe someone who says they passionately and irrevocably love you just after seeing you for the first time?

rachellopez | Student

It is possible for love at first sight to happen, however I wouldn't think it could truly be a lasting relationship unless you know the person. You may think you love someone, but until you experience, first hand, what they are like as a person, there is no way you could truly love them. For example, a lot of people say that they love celebrities and that they've loved them ever since they first saw them (it is possible that they actually love them), but those celebrities could be different once you meet them. Same goes for people you may hear about but have never met. Love isn't love until you know them well enough for yourself.

parama9000 | Student

There is a concept of love at first sight, but such occurrences are relatively rare in reality. However, pop culture does perpetuate the concept of love at first sight, in ballads etc.