I enjoyed our debate last weekend about how close to true love, love at first sight (LAFS) actually comes. You say that LAFS is not love at all, but rather just infatuation or lust. So you seem to believe that LAFS is not a useful indicator of how much in love we might fall, and so should be ignored while selecting a lover. If I understood you correctly, we should not use it therefore, to determine who we’re the most likely to fall in love with. I say however, that LAFS is love, or more precisely, it can be, because it often and quickly leads to the kind of life-long love the folks the world over revere. Allow me to further clarify my position.
I suppose that how meaningful love at first sight is, depends on the particular qualities you’re looking for. If you seek primarily a person’s “surface” or immediately-visible traits that attract you, then you needn’t delve too deeply to find those, as by definition, they are apparent at first sight. Example: How about the man who is moved romantically by a long pair of slender female legs? He need know little about her deepest, inner workings to know that she attracts him in the ways that he prefers. On the other hand, if you’re searching for less visible traits, such as a person’s pet peeves, their political views, or how they’ll treat you when you’re sick, then LAFS probably won’t occur for you, since you’ll have to spend some months digging for those “deeper” facts before your heart will allow you to “fall.” Since the qualities sought here are not apparent at first sight, then LAFS will not happen.
Of course, most people don’t seek just one quality; they like several to many. Our leg man may also like women who speak with southern accents (an indicator of the preferred background he’s seeking). And / or, he may be drawn to a flautist or anyone who is deeply involved with music. If we observe a lady playing the piccolo, and a piccolo player is the sort of person that really turns us on, then we needn’t know any more about her than that she plays piccolo in order to feel the romantic draw of LAFS. Then, if the piccolo player thanks us for our applause with a southern accent, and has great legs to boot, we get even more excited. My point: There are many readily discernible qualities therefore that can trigger the LAFS sensations; qualities that tell us much about the deep recesses of the person even though they are immediately visible.
To me, a person’s “surface” traits as you call them, are probably no less indicative of their attractiveness than their more obscure “inner” traits like personality, values, how they act once they really know someone well, and so on. If they look pretty outside, then they probably have the sort of mental constitution on the inside I’m looking for. Conversely, if they have the lifestyles, intellect, and values that I prefer on the inside, then I’ll usually find them attractive on the outside too. The outside tells us much about the inside if you know how to read it. Therefore, you really can judge a book by its cover.
Now I must say that I’m reluctant to split humans into an outer or surface half, and an inner, personality-based half because the physical body resembles the personality and the personality resembles the physical body. The two are so heavily connected and dependent on one another that they cannot be meaningfully discussed separately, since so much of what’s in the one is derived from what’s in the other. I make the distinction here though, because in your arguments on Saturday, you did it when you referred to the “surface” qualities Vs. the deeper, “inner” qualities of a lady. I do it here just to show that it can’t really be done. See my article, Outer Vs. Inner Beauty for further arguments in this vein.
I agree that LAFS is based primarily on more surface qualities than the more slowly developed love that you’ve experienced with your current girlfriend. But does this invalidate LAFS? I think not. Why? People resist the usefulness of LAFS, believing that how a person looks on the outside says nothing about who they are on the inside. This is wrong in my view. How they look and who they are, are essentially just different manifestations of a person’s whole essence. Their looks are very indicative of their total nature as human beings, just as are their personalities. Click here for arguments that without personality (the insides) to animate a body (the outsides), the body cannot be attractive.
But, people can make themselves look more attractive than they actually are. It’s true that the outsides can be made to misrepresent the insides through the use of makeup, elevated shoes, toilet paper in the bra, cosmetic surgery, and so on. So you might argue that the outsides so manipulated, would not necessarily show the true, inner person, and you’d probably be right. But in this case, it’s the manipulation of the readily visible traits that renders them less useful; it’s nothing inherent in the traits themselves. However, they do show that the person is not comfortable in their own skin, which could indicate a host of hidden psychological problems and low self esteem issues.
I’ll admit that LAFS tells us little about the beloved’s capacity to love us back. The fact that we love them at first sight does not mean they will love us in return. To figure that out, we must take the necessary time to learn how they’ll treat us once romance begins to flourish. LAFS is therefore no crystal ball. Indeed, it often misleads us to people not well-suited for us. Just as sugar in and of itself makes not the perfect cake, so it is that LAFS does not by itself, create the forever-perfect relationship. In my view, love at first sight (LAFS) is a necessary ingredient for a passionate, deep, and lasting relationship, just as sugar is for a cake that tastes good. But it’s not a sufficient ingredient.
Without sugar, the cake is not sweet at all and so there would be little reason to eat it. Yet LAFS does sweeten the cake; it predisposes us to view our beloved’s behaviors more favorably, and to love them with greater devotion; especially if they love us too. It boosts our tolerance of their idiosyncrasies, and thus, makes it easier to put up with them over the long haul. It causes us to reshape our goals and values to better accommodate our lover’s. In this way, LAFS can inspire a deeper love eventually that makes it easier to stay with the beloved through the rough times. Thus, I’d say that LAFS a necessary precursor to the most successful marriages. So while LAFS is no guarantee of lasting love, it often results in such. See here for examples of how the quickest born romances in my life indeed lasted the longest. Thus, if you want the deepest and most lasting love, then LAFS would be a sure way to raise the odds of getting just that. LAFS can indeed be a significant indicator of lasting love to come.