I have been gorging my brain on historical romances these past weeks, with the dog days of summer bearing down on us and nowhere to go. Nowhere we can go. As of August 1, Massachusetts’s travel ban makes vacations more than 190 miles (the width of the state) illegal.
*Sigh* Good thing for books.
Since I read (as well as write) romance, the recurring theme I see in many of the stories is “Love at First Sight.” A very romantic notion but has to be fictional, right? We would all like to believe there is a knight in shining armor waiting to kneel at our feet, right?
Well, is it real? Here’s what some researchers who published this article in Psychology Today concluded:
“In sum, science favors the romantics. Love at first sight actually is experienced by people, but it’s not so much “love” or “passion.” Instead, it’s a strong pull or attraction that makes someone particularly open to the possibilities of a relationship (Zsoks et al., 2017). Love at first sight can happen multiple times, and maybe the instances where it fizzles or simply never translates into a relationship are forgotten. But when love at first sight does launch a sustained relationship, the story is a great one.”
Hmm. So scientific studies back the notion. No wonder it’s the favorite trope of romance novels. You know, that spark when two people’s eyes meet for the first time. The electricity when they shake hands (get out the hand sanitizer). That invisible magnet, drawing you to another person without any real rhyme or reason…
Do you believe in love at first sight? Do I? Oh, yes indeedy. And it doesn’t always happen at the most expected times.
Rewind fifty years or so. I am in the seventh grade of what they then called Jr. High School. I am a nerdy, overweight, painfully shy transfer from Catholic school. Thirteen years old and WAY less farther along maturity-wise than any teenager today.
I hated math. I particularly hated my math teacher, Mr. Brown, who was overbearing, rude, full of himself, and took every opportunity he could to embarrass me. I couldn’t stand the man and dreaded the hour I had to spend in his classroom every day.
Until the day he knocked into me and caused my brand-new box of colored pencils (we were map-making in Geography class) all over the floor.
It was an innocent mistake. He was deep in conversation with the school principal and I tried to slip past him when class was over. I was fat, remember? My generously proportioned body + a stack of textbooks half as tall as I was (I was short too) = a tight fit between desks.
Mr. Brown’s elbow came back and knocked into my books. I managed to hold onto the texts, but the box of colored pencils (brand-new, remember?) went flying. When they hit the floor, they scattered everywhere.
Through tears of frustration and embarrassment, I went to my knees to gather them. My fingers were getting stepped on by other kids trying to leave class when I suddenly realized I had help. It was Mr. Brown, down on one knee (I tell you no lie), helping me to gather my colored pencils. When our eyes met, lightning struck. I felt . . . something.
From that day forward, I had a crush on Mr. Brown. An impossible dream. He was fourteen years older than me and married. With kids. I cried myself to sleep many a night pining over Mr. Brown. I got over it, moved onto high school, and heard he had moved away to another state.
He gave me a “C” in math, by the way. The lowest grade on my entire transcript. I have never forgiven him for that.
Fast-forward six years. I am in college, dating a guy in my chemistry class. He was a very nice fellow. Okay, so I was dating him mostly because I sucked at chemistry and he was very good at it.
Billy was a car guy. Months earlier, I had crashed my car into a deer on a dark country road. I’d had it fixed, but the body work and paint job were terrible. He said he had a friend who painted cars on the side. He took me to the guy’s house on a Friday night.
Was I surprised when who came stomping out of his massive, three-car garage, covered in grease but . . . Mr. Brown–who was now divorced.
Spark . . . flicker . . . flicker . . . flame. Whoosh!
Four months later, we were married. That was almost forty-two years and three children ago. Very happy years. Ridiculously wondrous, fictionally romantic years!
So the next time you read about love at first sight in a romance novel and think “what a crock of bull,” think again. Science backs it. And I lived it. I continue to live it, every single day.
“…when love at first sight does launch a sustained relationship, the story is a great one.”