Is love at first sight real? A psychologist breaks down the science of romance

Ryan Johnson, left, smiles while posing with Anna Craven outside their home, Friday, Feb. 10, 2023, in Nashua, N.H. The recently engaged couple have also established a transparent financial relationship including being open about individual budgets and having mutual financial goals. Talking about money with your significant other might not be the most romantic topic, but it's a key element of a healthy relationship. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) (Charles Krupa, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Valentine’s Day has finally arrived, and you may hear some people say they knew they were in love at first sight – but is that actually possible?

“Over 60% of individuals indicate that they have felt love at first sight at one point in their life. However, infatuation and attraction may be a more accurate term to describe this phenomenon,” explained Dr. Susan Albers, a psychologist for Cleveland Clinic.

Albers said according to the triangle theory of love, there are three components to true love: intimacy, passion and commitment.

Love at first sight is only one aspect of the triangle, which is passion.

Albers said when someone says they fell in love at first sight, it could also be a case of selective memory bias.

Meaning, they rewrote their love story to match their expectation of how they believe people fall in love.

That’s not to say the feelings they had when they first met aren’t necessarily real.

She said certain chemicals are released when you are attracted to someone.

“Once we become aware of that attraction, all of a sudden our bodies become flooded with dopamine, that pleasure neurotransmitter, and oxytocin, that chemical that makes us feel close and bonded to other people,” said Albers. “So although we may not have a genuine connection with someone, the chemicals in our body are sending us signals that we feel close to someone.”

Albers said if you think you are experiencing love at first sight, it’s important to pause and make sure it’s going to be a lasting connection.

She recommends thinking about whether you have similar values and hobbies. Those types of things are important in building a strong foundation.