Love At First Sight – How it Happens (by John Alex Clark)

Love at First Sight - How it Happens

The subconscious mind works in a very simplistic manner. In fact, this simplicity has been the cause of many misjudgements, stereotypes and wrong beliefs all throughout the ages. You see, our subconscious mind forms opinions without us even realising it. These then spill through to our conscious thinking and we react according to them.

Put simply, our subconscious mind is not perfect. It makes mistakes. And one such mistake (which is the focal point of this article) it makes is assuming that people who have similar facial features … have the same personality type. This mistake can directly affect the process of falling in love at first sight. 

Let’s dig into details.

Let’s first clarify our definition of “love at first sight”. Here, I’m using the phrase ‘love at first sight’ as meaning falling in love with someone after seeing them for the very first time (and not necessarily having spoken to them). 

Each of us has our own perception of beauty based on our own background. We all see beauty differently. To give you an example, if you were to see someone in the street who resembled: 

  • A person you loved before;
  • A family member or relative that you really like; or
  • A friend you get along well with, etc,

then there is a strong possibility that you’d find him/her physically appealing, even if other people think he/she is just average. The subconscious has formed a connection between the physical appearance of this new person and a person from your past or in your circle (who looks like him/her) who has made a positive impact in your life.

You may be unconscious of the fact that this new person looks like someone else from your life who has influenced you in a positive way, but your subconscious will have picked up on it right away.

The Role of Impression Formation

Impression formation is the psychological term for the way the subconscious mind interprets facial features like this. We tend to relate facial features with characteristics. For example, you may have met a person who reminded you of someone from your past who you didn’t like (maybe a bully from school, or a teacher you didn’t get along with), and you found yourself not liking this new person very much because of it.

It doesn’t make any sense for the subconscious mind to dislike this new person just because he/she looks like a person you don’t like. But this is what happens. This shows us how illogical the subconscious mind can be. 

We can also see this illogicality in the way our subconscious minds causes us to fall in love at first sight. People can fall in love at first sight if the new person they see looks like someone they once loved before or someone who had a positive impact on your life. The subconscious makes the opinion that because this new person looks like someone from your past that was good for you, this new person might be good for you too. 

You see, the subconscious will always try to look out for your well-being, and this is what it is trying to do here. It is trying to make you attracted to this new person so that you will do everything in your power to get with them, and hopefully (according to the subconscious mind and its opinion), this new person will give you positive emotions just like the person from your past did. 

Love At First Sight Has Nothing To Do With ‘Good Looks’

Love at first sight has nothing to do with good looks. If love were dependent on good looks, then we would all fall in love every time we walked down the street and saw good looking people. By the time we’d get home, we’d have fallen in love multiple times. 

The real secret behind why we fall in love at first sight is because something in the way this particular person happens to look, has triggered a comparison in our subconscious mind to someone from our past who meant a lot to us. This is why I, for example, might fall in love with someone at first sight, while you might think they are just average.  

When a person experiences love at first sight, he tends to think that because he “loved” the person the moment he saw her, it must be “destiny” and thinks that the person is “The One”. While thinking we have found “The One” can make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, if a breakup then occurs we would be devastated because we will think we have lost someone magical because of the magical way we just happened to be attracted to them when we first saw them. 

The only one to blame for this is the person’s subconscious mind. If you have an ex from your past who you thought was “fated” for you because you fell in love with him/her at first sight, realize that there wasn’t anything really special at all about them but instead your subconscious mind just tricked you into becoming attached to them.

Unsatisfied Needs Can Lead to Love At First Sight

“Love at first sight” is sometimes interpreted as falling in love with the person upon meeting him for the first time (and not on the first time you actually “saw” him/her). In this case, something must have happened in the first meeting itself that triggered your subconscious into becoming attracted to his person.

I know this only too well because it happened to me! Here’s what happened …

Several years ago, I was at a party when I met this girl. We were talking away when all of a sudden, “boom” I fell for her. It happened really quickly. I fell in “love at first sight” and I loved that girl for a long afterwards.

It wasn’t until years later when I studied the psychology of love that I realised what had happened in that first meeting. It wasn’t “destiny,” “fate”. Nor was she “The One”. It was actually nothing like that. You see, I was at a low point in my life when I met her. I was in need of nurturing. And this particular girl was very friendly. 

So, here I was with an unmet need in my life (I needed nurturing) and here was a woman who was giving it to me. My subconscious immediately recognised that this person could fix a problem in my life and bring me back in balance. And what did it do to make sure I would do everything in my power to bring this woman into my life? It made me fall in love with her. This would be a fail-proof way to make sure that I would try to get her into my life any which way I could so that she could satisfy my unmet need.

Doesn’t sound very romantic does it? But that’s what my subconscious mind did. And that’s what it does for lots of people out there. This is how and why the subconscious mind makes people fall in love. 

Final Thought

What we’ve gone through in this article may not be the view of love which you would have liked to read about. But this is simply how love works. But there is a positive to be taken from this. A big positive. 

If “The One” has just dumped you, or if there is an ex from your past that you just can’t get over, you should be able to see now how irrational it is to be longing for someone who your subconscious simply tricked you into falling in love with. 

When you understand how love is really induced in you, it can free you from this type of pain where you find yourself still in love with someone that you can’t have. 


John Alex Clark
About the Author: John Alex Clark

John Alex Clark is a Relationship Coach & NLP Practitioner from Dublin Ireland. He is also an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, and an author. 

His background in relationship coaching, neuro-linguistic-programming, science, psychology and perhaps most importantly – innovation, have created a unique skill-set which he has concentrated mainly in the field of love psychology. He is recognized as the world’s leading expert in the field of Lovemaps (the field of study into how to make someone fall in love with you).

He is the founder of the relationship advice website www.RelationshipPsychology.com and is the author of the two best-selling relationship programs:

•   THE LOVEMAP CODE: How To Make Someone Fall In Love With You Using Psychology; and

•   THE ERASE CODE: How To Get Over Anyone In Less Than A Week Using Psychology

His book THE LOVEMAP CODE is the first book to be released on the topic of Lovemaps since Dr. John Moneys (the man who coined the term Lovemap) death in 2006 and marks a major step forward in our understanding of this field.

You can find John Alex at RelationshipPsychology.com, and check out the main sections of his website “How To Make Someone Fall In Love With You” and “How To Fall Out Of Love With Someone” …and learn more about him at About Me.

22 Comments

David

We are so desperate to explain everything in physical, scientific way. There is number of cases that this theory does not fit in any way. Brain and cognitive functions are only reactions to something that is pulling your strings. There always will be a hard problem.

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Don

I think I had the same feeling before. I have been in love with women almost the same look. Kumbe it was the subconscious mind controlling.. Now I wanna know how to erase the subconscious thoughts and images

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BEATRICE

I a guy and i deeply fell for him so i told my friend and she said oh!he is handsome, and cool so i will talk to him and text you his number.everything succeeded so i called him and he was asking a lot of questions,like,how and what comes into my mind for me to fall at the first time of seeing him?i dont no what to do and say/tell him.can someone help me out?please.

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Carla

I believe “love at first sight” can happen in two ways:

When someone has some inner healing to do, maybe isn’t aware of it or is avoiding it, and then projects that need onto someone else, hoping that person will come into their lives and “save” them or “heal” them, so they don’t have to do any of the difficult inner work themselves. This is what you’re talking about in this article and usually this backfires very badly.

The second is when someone is whole by themselves, is happy living their life, has done the inner healing and is in a good place in their lifes at all levels. Then you can meet someone very special, maybe even a deep soul connection, and what happens in that “love at first sight” is a recognition. They recognize each other. But this recognition can only happen when you’re open and ready, and this can lead to a life-long healthy relationship.

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Lily

I’ve never believe in love at first sight until I met this guy. Before we even knew each other’s name we were complete strangers. The moment our eyes met, it was as though all time stopped, there wasn’t anyone else around us (although there are) & you can’t hear anything else. The world just stopped in a way. In reality it was a few seconds but the attraction was so strong that I know for sure it wasn’t just me who felt it. Alas, there has not been any progress from then now. We’re both single, btw. Sounds unbelievable (trust me, I’m cynical of love at first sight. Have always felt that it only happen in dramas) but wait until you encounter it… It is very magical for the lack of a better word… guess it can be a matter of the right person at the right place at the right time

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Lourine

Hello, my name is Lourine and I met this guy, who was an invited worshipper, in my church. It was my first time that we saw each other. He was leading the choir, and I ended up leaving before the service was over because I was getting a bit late so I didn’t get the chance to talk to him neither did he.
When I saw I felt something so special in me and up to now I can’t seem to get him out of my mind.
I’ve really been hoping to see him again but I haven’t. How can I handle my situation?

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Angie

Always t! ake a second or third look before you leap. I have been married to my husband for nearly 3 years. I dated him for a long time though just to make sure. I did have a very special pull toward him the first time we met. I just wanted to make sure and there is nothing like the security of knowing that the person is the one for sure. It is so much better than just going on blind trust or a feeling. I realized in the end that I wanted to be with him, not because I couldn’t live without him. I wanted to be with him because I wanted to be with him it hasn’t all been bliss but pretty close. I look better than I have in years and all my stress is mostly gone. No more searching. He is here.

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Qriiz

If “The One” has just dumped you, or if there is an ex from your past that you just can’t get over, you should be able to see now how irrational it is to be longing for someone who your subconscious simply tricked you into falling in love with.

When you understand how love is really induced in you, it can free you from this type of pain where you find yourself still in love with someone that you can’t have.
~~~
Dude, you really need to work on your “Ending”, I like your article, it’s factual. But while it’s good to know how it happen, it doesn’t have to do with actually doing something to it.
Emotion is always irrational, love even more so. Being told how stupid and irrational it is, won’t change how we feel about it. As someone who have love and lost, as an adult, as a human, you should have known that unlike in cartoon being told “Let it go, it’s stupid.” won’t make our feeling (pain most likely) magically disappear, it make us want to punch the idiot that said that in the face. You can only wait for time to make it a distant memory. Even then it’s never that simple.

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Stephanie C.

This was a real eye-opener 😀 I’ve wondered for a very long time how people (myself included) could fall so heavily for a person, oftentimes without being able to name a single reason why. It was baffling.

But as I read through this, a few things immediately began to click while remembering my own experiences with “Love At First Sight”, and this gave me some much-needed insight. Thank you very much for this article 😀

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John H

A friend and I went to celebrate another friends 30th birthday party. As we walked in I instantly felt a gaze hit me. We locked eyes for only a moment in real time, but it seemed like an eternity. As I met new people at the party, it seemed we both unconsciously moved closer and closer to each other until we were sitting next to each other. I felt like i’ve known her all my life.

Long story short, we both share many of the signs of Love at first sight:

-We both want to know every single thing about each other.
-We both feel like we’ve known each other for years even though we’ve only known each other for a couple months.
-She is not my usual type and i definitely am not hers but we both have an incredible attraction to each other.
-We have what we call a ‘magnetism’ for each other. Just like in the movie Hancock, where Hancock has lost his memory, he always finds his way back to Mary.
– we both cannot stop thinking about each other
All of these feeling are mutual and we talk about them each time we talk to each other.

Sounds perfect right?

I am married with a baby on the way. I love my wife and have loved two other women in my life, but have never felt this way before and can’t understand how this is even possible?

I cannot disagree with anything this article says. Maybe it is my subconscious. But none of the reasons it would be my subconscious apply to this situation.

She and I bothwant to just go our own ways to live out our lives, but have found daily life impossible to cope with.

I don’t know what to do.

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Uduak U

Do not allow yourself to become a slave to the twists and turns of Feelings. In a lifetime we have the capacity to develop feelings for a ton of people. But we cannot just pursue all of them! That would be insane. You are married now. You need to apply boundaries and self control in order to protect your sanity and your integrity and marriage.
What you focus on will grow and grow. So deliberately focus on your wife and your feelings for her will grow. Starve this other lady out and the feelings will die. I wish you all the best.

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Anonymous

Its real. I once was walking through a crowd, he was walking the oppositw way towards me through the crowd as well. As we got nearer it was like time slowed down, i heard no noise, saw nothing else but his face, he was also looking at me directly in the eyes, we didnt smile but instead it was like we were in awe and as we walked past each other our eyes still fixated. We looked nowhere else. After that I felt this intense feeling of oh my god who is he he is beautiful and mysterious, i have to know him. And by the way he has no resemblance to anyone in my past. So after that moment i could not get that image of us walking past each other out of my head. Nothing else mattered and i kept thinking where is he. So a bit later on I went outside bymyself and it was like my body knew which direction to go in becuse i was walking straight towards him without even knowing. As i looked up he was standing a few metres head talking to his friends. He saw me and turned my way and started walking straight towards me…without sayinh a word to each other we embraced and i felt this comfort. We embraced for about 10 seconds at least before saying hi im so and so. And we smiled at each other and felt so at ease. It was like our souls knew each other. I dont know. After introducing ourselves we spome for a while and i said i had a boyfriend already and he understood but we knew our encounter was not in vain and that we would see each other again…a couple year later we did…and we went on to become very good friends and have been ever since. You may ask why we never got together. It was our timing. When we met i was in a relationship. Then he was in one long one, and so forth. Also if we were together we would have broken our group of friends up but it never stopped us from telling each other how we felt about each other, and when we were together or with our friends we always felt love towards each other, and for a few seconds every so often we would gaze into each others eyes and tell each other through our eyes what we felt. 8 years later its never changed, it feels the same everytime we see each other, like that first time. Who knows maybe one day it will be our turn and the right time. So maybe im crazy but I still cant explain that first embrace encounter without knowing each other, no mutual friends, not saying a word till after holding each other…

Reply
Sylvia

Yes, it’s true. I fell in love with a guy the first second I saw him. He did not remind me of anyone from my past (as I have never been close to anybody) and I had no “unfulfilled” needs at the time. I was balanced. He just opened me right up. And does so even today, even though we have never been together because of our respective situations. I do know, though, that he will be the man I grow old with. I am just allowing time to guide us.

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Miss Hopeful

I too had the same feelings and still have for a complete stranger that I had met on a train station in 2011. We both looked at each other and it was a totally unreal experience that I ever felt and had. I know that he too felt exactly the same. I have not seen him since because we lives miles apart. I know he thinks of me just as I think of him. I just know. I remember his smell, standing next to him and it took all my courage to not reach out and touch him. even though it was our only encounter, I think of him always, and I know he does of me, I just know it, I think I’m in love with him, I can’t get him out of my mind. I’m going back for another trip hoping to see him again.

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Lakhan

Very right Sir,
Your article really helps to forget the person who is not interested in me, and I cannot sleep or concentrate beacause I think that she is the one. Love at first sight is highly out of contorl. I always thaought I am a man who will never loave anybody, but I m devastated.
Don’t know how to get back to my normal hard life.

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Robbed_ofLife

Lakhan, I am in the same boat and after reading this article I believe it makes a lot of sense. However, even after knowing this, my irrational mind keeps me in a devastated state. I hear what is being said but I can’t let the hurt and pain go. Several points completely describe my situation, yet I still hold on.

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How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.
When things feel hard or the world feels big, children will be looking to their important adults for signs of safety. They will be asking, ‘Do you think I'm safe?' 'Do you think I can do this?' With everything in us, we have to send the message, ‘Yes! Yes love, this is hard and you are safe. You can do hard things.'

Even if we believe they are up to the challenge, it can be difficult to communicate this with absolute confidence. We love them, and when they're distressed, we're going to feel it. Inadvertently, we can align with their fear and send signals of danger, especially through nonverbals. 

What they need is for us to align with their 'brave' - that part of them that wants to do hard things and has the courage to do them. It might be small but it will be there. Like a muscle, courage strengthens with use - little by little, but the potential is always there.

First, let them feel you inside their world, not outside of it. This lets their anxious brain know that support is here - that you see what they see and you get it. This happens through validation. It doesn't mean you agree. It means that you see what they see, and feel what they feel. Meet the intensity of their emotion, so they can feel you with them. It can come off as insincere if your nonverbals are overly calm in the face of their distress. (Think a zen-like low, monotone voice and neutral face - both can be read as threat by an anxious brain). Try:

'This is big for you isn't it!' 
'It's awful having to do things you haven't done before. What you are feeling makes so much sense. I'd feel the same!

Once they really feel you there with them, then they can trust what comes next, which is your felt belief that they will be safe, and that they can do hard things. 

Even if things don't go to plan, you know they will cope. This can be hard, especially because it is so easy to 'catch' their anxiety. When it feels like anxiety is drawing you both in, take a moment, breathe, and ask, 'Do I believe in them, or their anxiety?' Let your answer guide you, because you know your young one was built for big, beautiful things. It's in them. Anxiety is part of their move towards brave, not the end of it.

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