Love at First Sight and First Impressions

Love at first sight

by Jayaram V

Summary: The essay suggests the reasons or the psychological and spiritual factors behinds love at first sight and first impressions, and how people should deal with them.

Question: Why do some people fall in love at first sight? Why do people feel attraction or aversion to total strangers without any apparent cause? Sometimes, you meet a person and feel as if you met that person many times before. You may also experience the same when you visit a place or a house. Why do these experiences happen? Are karma and past life impressions responsible for them?

There are many psychological theories and explanations about love at first sight and first impressions, but without conclusive proof. According to one opinion reactions such as love at first sight are surface impressions. Those feelings may not survive, unless they are reinforced and become deep and intense, which again depends upon many factors.

According to another opinion, romantic love at first sight is an absurd idea, which does not really happen except in your imagination. The initial reactions in such cases are usually sexual in nature and cannot be truly considered romantic or genuine love. With regard to first impressions, which people form when they first see others, they may be shallow and may not truly reflect the people observed. However, they may be initially helpful to perceive others and make necessary choices.

Many factors influence our thinking and perception about others such as age, appearance, race, language, culture, language, gender, accent, education, voice, status, and so on. Similar factors are also responsible for love at first sight and surface impressions or first impressions, which people form about others in brief encounters. The mind uses many shortcuts in forming judgments and drawing conclusions about people and situations to conserve energy. Those initial judgments and first impressions persist in many people and influence their thinking and behavior, as they instinctively rely upon them without further confirmation or validation.

Probably the same mechanism which is responsible for our intuition may be at work in case of experiences such as love at first sight or first impressions. The intuitive mind may perceive a person and make an instant judgment about the  opportunity or possibility of a relationship with him or her, which the rational mind cannot easily do in normal circumstances since it looks for reliable evidence before coming to any conclusion. It is difficult to say whether such offhand responses, hunches or gut feelings are always accurate or reliable, and how far you can trust them.

Spiritual perspective

From a spiritual perspective, first impressions and love at first sight experiences are often attributed to karma and past life memories. There is a school of opinion that we keep interacting with the same set of people, life after life. They are part of our collective karma, who participate in our lives and play an important role in our spiritual evolution. Enacting positive and negative roles according to their destinies and self-assigned roles in the collective, social drama, they teach important lessons to each other about life and the world. When we meet them for the first time in this life, our souls may recognize them and send out a deep signal which we may experience as a strong feeling.

Whether it is your past lives or your current life, you are largely responsible for what happens in your life. Even random events such as chance meetings or coincidences may happen due to your involvement, thoughts and desires only. Therefore, if you want to know the truth about first impressions or love at first sight encounters, you must use your own experiences and look into yourself to know why they happen. You can recall such incidences from your life and begin the exploration.

Your mental imagery and prototypes

You are a continuation of your past. Much of what happens to you now is because of what has happened already. When you fall in love with someone at first sight, most likely it is not the person you met who is responsible for it. It is your mind which drives you into that state with its own imagery. Your mind is a storehouse of images, thought objects and impressions, which are created by your desires and attachments. You might have retained some of them from your past lives also. They keep accumulating during your existence upon earth and shape your perceptions, thinking and relationships

As time goes by, those images and impressions coalesce into composite images, stereotypes or representative prototypes. They become your conscious or subconscious ideals, predominant thoughts, habits, habitual thought patterns, typical behavior, desires and expectations, habitual responses, and likes and dislikes. In short, they represent your worldview, value system, and your personality. They also help you discern people and form opinions, relationships and judgments. You may not be aware of all the prototypes that influence your thinking and behavior since some of them remain hidden in your mind.

When you meet people, your mind activates those prototypes or stereotypes or models, to help you form instant opinions, judgments and first impressions. Depending upon the person and the situation you may respond with feelings of attraction or aversion or indifference. If the person fits into a positive prototype or stereotype, you will perceive that person as likeable, friendly or attractive. If the same person invokes a negative stereotype or prototype, you will experience negativity, hostility or aversion. Since we keep accumulating new prototypes, our equation with the world and people keep changing and evolving.

It is why when you meet certain people for the first time, you are caught in the duality of attraction and aversion, or positivity and negativity. The problem is not with the person you met, because you are seeing that person for the first time, but with the images that you have built in your mind which seem to represent that person. For the same reason, you may meet a stranger and feel that you already met him, or you visit a new place and feel that you had been there before. These responses seem to be irrational, but they have their own basis in your mind.

A simple experiment

If you ever fell in love at the first sight or were deeply attracted to a person on first impression, it was because that person represented certain ideals or images which you cherished. He or she may fit into a prototype or stereotype that exists in your mind and may apparently seem to satisfy one or more of your needs or desires. You may not be aware of them and may not have consciously created them. They arise from the bits and pieces of your own perceptions and the images that accumulate in your mind. You gather them from daily perceptions and your past interactions with the people and things in your life such as your parents, elders, role models, movies, books, teachers, friends, family members, brothers, sisters, or anyone who leaves a strong impression upon you.

If you really want to know why you were attracted to a person or why you feel in a certain way in the presence of someone, you can do this simple exercise. Think of that person deeply with concentration, closing your eyes, and let your mind bring out all the images, thoughts and impressions associated with that feeling, or the impression of that person. If you persist, you will begin to see many images floating across your consciousness.

You will not only see the prototype but also find all the associated images from your past which went into its making. You will see images and memories of people from your past who contributed to the formation of that prototype or ideal image. If you see totally unfamiliar images during that exercise, you may assume that probably they were from your past lives or you might have met them when you were small and your memory was not fully established.

Thus, however mysterious first impressions and love at first sight experiences may appear, they all have a basis in your mind. Much of what happens to you in your life arises from there only, and you are their ultimate cause. You are the source of the drama called your life. You write, direct and enact it with the help of the information which you accumulate through your life experiences. Your likes and dislikes arise from there only. They are responsible for your desires, attachments and your predominant behavior, and in turn influence your relationships, beliefs, thoughts, habits, opinions, prejudices, and so on.

Those who experience love-at-first-sight are primarily influenced by not what they see but how they perceive the people towards whom they feel an irresistible attraction. Those people may not even truly fit into their prototypes. However, since their minds are clouded by desires and expectations, they do not see the reality. They see in them what they want to see rather than what they truly are and experience love, lust, romance or inexplicable attraction.

Hence, many love at first sight relationships fail to take root, as the love between  them does not deepen or intensify. Sometimes, the initial feelings may degenerate into bitterness and hostility. Further, it is not always necessary that love at fist sight experiences are mutual. It can be one sided and may even remain unexpressed.

Need for discretion

Most people do not live in the present or pay attention to the people and situations in their lives. Their perceptions and opinions of others remain colored and clouded by their own thinking and beliefs, as they cannot perceive things or people without mental filters and past impressions. If you are mindful and stay in the present, and if you pay attention you will have better discernment in knowing people and forming relationships with them. You will not be motivated by surface impressions but the reality of the people or situations.

First impressions, falling in love at first sight, or feeling attracted to people at first sight are not unusual experiences. They are a part of the typical human behavior, and maybe even a part of the mind’s heuristics to improve its efficiency and self-preservation. Those experiences open your mind to certain possibilities and opportunities so that you can begin the process of exploration and validation.

The problem is when you go by your shallow impressions, without knowing the process or investing time and energy to understand the motivation that leads to them. If people are mindful, they will perceive the truth, here and now, with an open and unassuming mind and act accordingly. For them, love at first sight or first impressions serve as the starting points for insight and profound experiences.

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