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Is Love at Second Sight Possible?

by eharmony Editorial Team - June 22, 2011

Some people are worth another look, and here's why.

Some people are worth another look, and here’s why. The media and entertainment industry in our country—TV, movies, magazines, music—like to promote and peddle the notion of Love At First Sight.  We’ve been trained to expect love to strike like lightning: quick, hot, and instantly life-changing. While some people do live that story, the rest of us risk thinking it has to happen that way, or it won’t happen at all.

If an opportunity for new love comes along that doesn’t leave our hair on fire, most of us are tempted to wonder what’s wrong. Worse, we assume this can’t possibly be “it,” and miss the boat while waiting to get hit by a romantic train.

Bonnie Raitt’s 1990s hit song “Something to Talk About” features two characters who’ve known each other awhile. Apparently they aren’t the beneficiaries of love at first sight, because they are caught by surprise when their circle of friends starts to buzz with a juicy rumor—that they are lovers “kept undercover.” It appears they often “laugh just a little too loud” and “stand just a little too close.” Rather than fight it, Bonnie wisely sings: “Maybe they’re seeing something we don’t, Darlin’…”

Here’s the real deal: Love sometimes does strike like the proverbial lightning bolt—but often it arrives slowly, like the early morning sunrise that very gradually lights up the sky. Love at second sight may not make for a thrilling box-office hit, but it is just as likely to end in “happily ever after”—maybe even more so. Here are three characteristics of second-sight love that demonstrate why:

Friendship forms a foundation

A common complaint among people who have just lived through a meteoric “love at first sight” dating disaster is that all the high-octane attraction blinded them to otherwise obvious red flags. In the rush to savor the sizzle, first-sight lovers often forget to find out if they even like each other. But when love creeps up on you with someone you have previously overlooked, chances are you’ve already covered that ground. You’ve spent time together at work, in your church group, or hanging out with mutual friends. You’ve seen the other person in action, at least enough to assess your basic compatibility. In the long run, friendship is the foundation upon which all lasting relationships are built—so much the better if yours is already established before either of you considers more.

Slow and steady wins the race

Some first-sight relationships don’t last, not because of underlying incompatibility the would-be partners failed to see, but due to a common danger anywhere high voltage is found: burnout. Hollywood-style romance is exhausting, physically and emotionally. Sooner or later, relationships must mellow and meld with the ordinary pace of daily life. Romance that begins gradually and unexpectedly is less likely to flame out before reaching a sustainable equilibrium.

Some incredible people do not make an indelible first impression

Our culture celebrates those who are flashy and funny, charismatic and captivating. People who “present well” draw attention and accolades, while low-key and laid-back individuals often go unnoticed. Still, some of the deep-down qualities that contribute powerfully to lasting love are not the ones that turn heads or immediately impress. The best partner just might be the person who’s not a flash in the pan but a “slow simmer” that builds to a boil. Perhaps there is someone in your life who deserves a second look, and you’ll soon be singing with Bonnie: “Now that we know it, let’s really show it, Darlin’…”

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